Kissed by a Camel in the UAE

Have you ever been kissed by a camel? Well, I have. And let me tell you … those lips are big! We were enroute from the busyness of Dubai to Al Ain, an Oasis city of green in the otherwise camel-coloured desert of the United Arab Emirates (UAE,) a Middle Eastern country just east of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf.

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Being kissed by a camel in the UAE is one of the highlights of my travel career, although at the time it didn’t seem too great!

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Don’t be surprised to see camels on the beach in Dubai. This photo was taken in Dubai, right along the beach of the Gulf of Arabia. It was almost surreal seeing camels stroll serenely past the looming hi-rise structures.

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We toured a number of mosques during my visit to the UAE. I learned that it is customary for worshippers to wash their feet, hands, and faces before entering a mosque.

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My stay in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi was highlighted by a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, built in 2007-2008, with landscaping completed later in 2008. I enjoyed a complimentary stay that showcased the first class service at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri located directly across the sparkling water from the Grand Mosque. The Grand Mosque is a truly amazing house of worship. Pictured above is one of the massive chandeliers made from Austrian crystal, and at the time of my visit in 2008, we were told that the Grand Mosque housed the largest crystal chandeliers in the world.

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This was my view from my room at the Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi. You can see the Grand Mosque on the other shore of the water.

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I wish I’d had more time to spend in my beautiful room at the Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi. The food, decor, and service were all amazing.

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The UAE is the farthest from my home in North America that I’ve ever been–physically, and culturally. Here, you’re quite likely to see camels off in the distance, just as we see deer and antelope scattered about the countryside in North America. And we did!

All of a sudden … we saw a few camels close enough to get excited about! They were no longer just dots in my camera’s viewfinder. For a moment, the otherwise conservative natured, John–my friend and driver for the day–became a completely four-wheeling free spirit–despite the fact that we were in a Honda Civic, not a Jeep! Before I knew it, we’d left the safety of the pavement, and were making a short cross-country (or should I say “cross-desert”?) trek over the sand and onto a smaller road, where we could get close to the camels. What an adventure this trip turned out to be! As if it wasn’t exciting enough to just get close to the camels, one of them actually made a move on me! Yes, I was kissed by a camel in the UAE.

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The Al Nassma Camel’s Milk Chocolate is made in Dubai.

I truly enjoyed my brief visit to the UAE and would love to return and continue the discovery. Not only for the unlimited cultural opportunities, but to learn more about the camel’s milk chocolate I have tasted from Al Nassma, a company based in Dubai that makes an assortment of chocolate using cocoa beans blended with camel’s milk, as well as some varieties that are pure dark chocolate with flavour infusions such as dates, almonds, and orange.

My gratitude to Etihad Airlines, who flew me Pearl (business class) to the UAE from Toronto on Etihad Airlines, based out of Abu Dhabi. Etihad provided impeccable service and was an absolutely wonderful introduction to my first experience in the Middle East. I was also invited to stay as a guest of the Shangri-La Hotel in Abu Dhabi. And enjoyed spending a week with my dear friends Mary-Anne (pictured above with the car and camel) and John who invited me to come and explore the UAE with them while they were living there. What a tremendous trip!

Have you tasted Al Nassma Chocolate? Have you experienced travel to the UAE? If so, please share a thought about something noteworthy that happened to you during your visit.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

37 Responses

  1. Kim Lear says:

    That’s a great shot!

  2. One thing that the original article on Dubai doesn’t mention is that it has a beautiful beach! It’s part of the Gulf of Arabia and I was amazed at how clean the water was and how inviting it was for swimming. An unexpected pleasure for a desert state!

  3. Congratulations on your new travel blog. I found Dubai gaudy and over-gilded, the traffic impossible, and the charming “old town” almost vanished. But skiing in the indoor glass-covered snow dome while watched by three floors of “mall” diners and gawkers, was the highlight of my trip — the slope was steep, the temp was 30 degrees F., they outfitted us in down, and no on e believed it. The ski dome, in my opinion, is the ONLY reason I could possibly see to go to Dubai – especially now.

    • Hi Margie:
      Thanks for stopping by the blog.

      I think my experience in Dubai was richer because I had the advantage of having friends who were living there at the time. They knew the insider’s tips, took me to off-the-beaten path highlights and because they had a car, we did a lot of road trips to neighbouring emirates. I therefore really enjoyed the cultural immersion into the Muslim world and am grateful for all that I learned while there.

  4. A.K.Andrew says:

    Congratulations on your new blog Doreen – you couldn’t have picked a better lead photo that’s for sure. Sounds like you were def. far from home. I’ve never been to that part of the world, but sandy beaches as you mention in a comment sound pretty great too. I think you’ll like WordPress. Do feel free to contact me with any questions however small. I’m no Sheryl or Leora , but have been using it for 2 years, and designed my own site etc.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Kickstart Your #Flash Fiction With #PhotoFlashMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      A.K., my wonderful friend. You hadn’t noticed that this article was originally written in 2009. I was going thru my blog posts to debunk deadlinks and realized that this post was written before I was on G+, so I gave it a +1. Thx for commenting!

      I ‘ve had this blog on a self-hosted WP site for a couple of years now and do indeed love it. Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…how to deliver an award-winning speechMy Profile

  5. Maryanne says:

    Always nice to reminisce about your visit with us in Dubai. Will be back there next month but only for a few days. Always a great city to visit, buildings are incredible.

  6. I had no idea you’d been to this part of the world! How exotic! And of course you found chocolate there! Being kissed by a camel is something not many can boast about…and is better than being spit upon my one, which I have heard they are sometimes liable to do! 🙂

  7. Sounds like a wonderful visit to Abu Dhabi made more convenient by Etihad Airways. I bet that camel smelled some chocolate on your lips:-)

  8. Not only were you kissed by a camel, you got to eat it’s milk! Wish you had a photo of the remarkable experience!

  9. Your comment made me smile, Irene! I didn’t have the camel’s milk chocolate while in the UAE, as I think they only started producing it after my visit. But I’ll tell you! That camel’s lips were huge and pretty intimidating for a first date!

  10. Hi Carol. I only got to try the camel’s milk chocolate once back in North America, as I wasn’t on the chocolate trail at the time of my visit to the UAE. but it’s definitely worth checking out, and I do hope to get back there one of these days. 🙂

  11. So what I want to know is what that kissing camel’s breath smelled like? Was it chocolaty?

  12. Sounds like an amazing trip. How fun that must have been. I haven’t been kissed by a camel but rode one once. They’re pretty cool even when they drool.

  13. I am yet to visit Abu Dhabi and have heard many comments on it- some good and others not so good. I have not been kissed by a camel – it must have felt rather weird. Imagine being on a beach and seeing camels walking towards you – surreal!

    • Hi Phoenicia and thx for your comment. Abu Dhabi is quite surreal. I love its authenticity as opposed to the westernized personality of Dubai. I would love to visit the new cultural centre in Abu Dhabi. It now has a Louvre and is expecting to open a Guggenheim in the years to come. I saw the prototypes of both of those during my visit in 2008.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Xocodiva Artisan Chocolates of Puerto VallartaMy Profile

  14. Carrie Ann says:

    Wow, I don’t think I could handle being kissed by a camel! He must have really liked you 🙂 Dubai has always been on my list of places I want to go, ever since I roomed with a girl in college who was from there. One of these days I’ll make the trip – I’d love to see (non-kissing) camels on the beach, and that camel’s milk chocolate sounds delicious!

  15. What an adventure! I’ve heard that camels can bite so I guess you can count yourself lucky yours was a more amorous type. The camel’s milk chocolate sounds really interesting. I’ve never heard of it so would be curious to try it!

  16. I’ve been to Dubai in the UAE a number of times, and it’s always fascinating. I’ve never tasted camel’s milk chocolate though, and I’m curious to give it a try next time I’m there! Every time I go to Dubai, I try to visit new over-the-top attractions, like the Miracle Garden or the Dubai Frame. Everything there is larger than life! I rode a camel into the desert in Egypt once; it was uncomfortable and pretty smelly, but I guess you have to do it once!

  17. Camels milk chocolate? Wow, now that I haven’t seen or bought before, although I have visited Dubai a couple of times. I loved your photos of the UAE, a fascinating place both scenically and culturally. Yes you really are immersed in a different landscape and way of life from the moment you touch down, aren’t you. Sharing on Social Media and coming from Boomer Travel Bloggers 🙂

  18. Loved the pic, It reminded me of my trip To Jaisalmer in India, there I clicked good selfies with the camel. I wish I could share one of them here. I really want to visit Dubai after your this post.

  19. Lori says:

    We have yet to visit this part of the world. Seeing and visiting magnificent mosques and experiencing the culture are on the list. And more so now that there’s a new chocolate confection to try.

  20. Sue Reddel says:

    Love the camel shots Doreen! I knew you wouldn’t get out of there without some chocolate. What a wonderful trip.

  21. Karen Warren says:

    Lucky you, staying in the Shangri-La! I’ve enjoyed drinks and brunch there – it’s a fabulous place.

  1. September 8, 2010

    […] Have you ever been kissed by a camel? Well, I have. And let me tell you … those lips are big! We were enroute from the busyness of Dubai to Al Ain, an Oasis city of green in the otherwise camel-coloured desert of the United Arab Emirates (UAE,) a Middle Eastern country just east of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. Here, you're quite likely to see camels off in the distance, just as we see deer and antelope scattered about the countryside in Ca … Read More […]

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