Pristine and Benjamin

Visiting the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

We’re almost seven years here in Dubai and this being a ‘small’ city, we feel we’ve been to the places, no more room to explore. Actually there are lots left to explore, we are just too lazy to go out on our day off.

Since it’s still searing hot outside, where else to go but to the temperature controlled shelters like the mall. Dubai Mall is wonderful on early Friday morning: there’s only very few people there! Most people stay up so late on Thursday nights (night before the weekend starts) so they are in still in bed until noon. That’s how it is I guess in hot countries: people go out at night while the sun is hiding.

I took the kids to the Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.

Dubai Mall Aquarium

It’s so huge this is the only aquarium in the world that can accommodate divers. There are people inside the aquarium, can you believe that?

Dubai Mall Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

We bought the Ultimate Aquarium Experience Package that includes the aquarium tunnel, underwater zoo, glass bottom boat ride and 40 dhs worth of gift certificate redeemable at the souvenir shop.

Honestly, I thought it would be boring…but then I enjoyed it! Lots and lots of fishes in the underwater zoo, we were all excited to see them all!

The kids can’t get enough of the fishes!

There’s this particular fish that needs a lipstick, according to Pristine, LOL!

lipstick fish

Then, I got excited when I saw Nemo…actually a LOT of Nemos! They were swirling round that thing (seaweed? coral?) – totally adorable!! I love clown fishes!


And Nemo’s aquarium friend Gil was also there!


My husband almost always works on Fridays so it’s just me and the kids, however, we thought we’d improvise our family time by going out with him (he works in the mall), spending time at the mall where there’s plenty of space to walk around and then having lunch with him on his break.

Croc play

We had so much fun, I would recommend it to anyone especially if you have kids.

Pristine and Benjamin

Unfortunately, Benjamin is not allowed to get into the glass bottomed boat and they wouldn’t take Pristine without an adult chaperone. But still, our trip was worth it.

glass bottom

I was too scared to stand on the glass bottomed flooring! (below is the deep aquarium)

Ben slept after lunch so I let him be. We strolled around and around Dubai Mall, and for the first time in my life, I spent 8 hours in a mall. You don’t want to know how my feet felt that night!

The Dubai Aquarium is located inside the Dubai Mall,open during mall hours.

Dubai Street Catwalk Fashion Show

Last Saturday was Dubai Street Catwalk fashion show at the Dubai Mall Promenade, just by the fountain. This event is part of the Dubai Shopping Festival.

Pristine was in high spirits that she is able to take part in the big fashion event Dubai Street Catwalk where 120 models (adults and about 20 children) sashayed down the 120-meter long runway. We did not expect she’ll be able to participate: we were refused registration because we went on the last day and at the last hour after a friend told me about it. There were too many children who registered already that they had to close it. Luckily, one of the organizers thought she was pretty and took her photo and profile.

And (after auditions), she’s in!

Pristine on the huge screen as she starts her walk. She’s representing the children’s clothing brand Gymboree.

Featuring a blend of models from numerous nationalities, “Street Catwalk” featured 40 professional models and 70 amateur models who were all oozing with confidence and in high spirits, right from the youngest model who was three years old.

It’s my first time being this close to models on a fashion show. The organizers gave us seats at the side of the runway so the ladies practically cat walked right before our eyes!

The “Street Catwalk” took place at three different times – 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. I’m proud of my girl for surviving all the shows and smiling till the very end!

Underwater Mini Cooper

I was at Dubai Mall, a.k.a. one of the largest mall in the world, a.k.a. a perfect place for heavily pregnant women – if they are the masochist type! “Where is the Kinokuniya Bookstore?”, I asked the concierge. Pristine was done with the Roald Dahl books she had at home and wanted to pick a new one.

The concierge looked at me, my belly, changed her expression from welcoming to worrying and replied: “2 levels up madame, then long way straight ahead, to the right.”

…and she added: “How many months are you now?”

I’m on my last month of pregnancy, thank you very much.

“Oh madame, you should not even thought of coming here at this stage! Take care!”

And boy she was absolutely RIGHT.

The walk to the bookstore was tough, as if I’m carrying those heavy metal rains. To add insult to injury, Kinokuniya Bookstore is a massive 68,000 square feet paragon book gallery.

I swear I had a few minor contractions last night!

You don’t even want to know how far I had to walk to get to the bus stop to go home! I am not going to that mall again – until I give birth, at least.

And while we were there, we passed by the huge aquarium where Pristine screamed: “A car! A car! A car inside the aquarium!”

It’s a mini cooper and I don’t have any idea what’s the story behind it. We went down for a closer look.

Nothing like a sting ray swimming about to prove that the mini cooper is indeed underwater.

Favorite dancing fountain show

I love going to the Dubai Mall because of the Dubai Fountain. It’s free entertainment and I can watch it for hours, song after song. However, of all the fountain dancing songs played so far, this is my favorite.

Time to say goodbye by Andrea Bocellie and Sarah Brightman. I think it’s the perfect accompaniment to the dancing fountain.


Sorry I didn’t get the whole show – camera ran out of memory! But I still think it’s beautiful. I will try to get the full version next time.

Dubai Fountain video for your viewing pleasure

In case you missed the update to that Dubai fountain post last week pointing to the video of the Dubai fountain posted at my friend’s blog, here’s the video of the dancing Dubai Fountain, taken by my friend Stacey:

Thank you Stacey for taking the video and letting me post this in my blog!

Dubai fountain, finally caught you in action!

After our tour of the big ship and Stacey’s show at 7 pm, we took her ashore to see Dubai at night. In boat/ship lingo, going out of the ship to explore the land is called “going ashore”.  That phrase intruigued me as I always associated “going ashore” to “swimming to shore” from a dinghy boat or something. I know this is just me.

The ship’s crew members would say to each other in the gangway, “Oh, are you going ashore?” or “Did so and so went ashore?”. The scene is interesting to see.

Well, anyway…

We went to Dubai Mall to see the much-talked about fountain in action. I had been waiting for this moment since February when they announced that the fountain will be functional on Valentine’s day but in true Dubai style, it has been postponed so many times.

We weren’t disappointed as we finally saw the spectacular water show that night!


The fountain is dubbed to be the biggest in the world, capable of shooting water sprays of up to 150 meters (500 ft) at times.

It is said that the fountain uses 22,000 gallons of water in the air at any given moment.  More than 6,600 lights and 50 colour projectors with 1,000 different water combinations to be displayed during the 20-minute show.


I did not take so much photos while there because I was busy counting the water combinations but lost count somewhere between 789 and 853. Will definitely remember to drink my vitamins and try harder next time. 😛

It was just so fun and awesome to see that I had to see it in my naked eyes rather than through the lens. Stacey, however, took a video of the fountain show. She might post that vid on her blog so watch out!

UPDATE! You can see an exciting video taken by Stacey of the Dubai fountain and posted on her blog!

Day 4, Dubai Mall and checking out the monster


Read Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 Part 1 & Part 2 if you want to catch up with this series.

It’s rather surprising – after a gruelling bout of migraine the day before and an almost sleepless night because of (single) bed sharing with Pristine, that I would wake up alive, alert and ready for another long day.

My friend was still sleeping even when the sun was already up at 8 am. Pristine and I woke up at 7:30 and got dressed for breakfast. We have a long day ahead. Outside, the Creek is already bustling with activities.

Pristine and I went to the restaurant for breakfast because my friend had no plan of waking up at this time. Oh, single women! She can really sleep until 12 noon, if possible. But me? I have not slept past 8 am for almost six years now. Well, this is not complaining, just sayin’!

There were so many tourists in the restaurants and I am surprised to see lots of Japanese there. The last week of December is off for many Japanese so they tend to go out and explore the world. Some remain in their warm kotatsus like my in-laws, though. Anyway, I find it really uncomfortable for people to stare at me whenever I am with my daughter if my husband is not around. They are clearly confused as to why a non-Japanese looking woman is talking Japanese to a child who looks Jap but not quite. Finally, someone was not able to resist and ask: “Is that your child?”


Should I just carry her birth certificate with me all the time? *shudder*

We were able to go out at 11 am when my friend had finished her round of breakfast, shower and makeup session. It’s another sunny day today and it got pretty warm when we arrived at the taxi stand. Since it’s a working day, there was traffic on the road and the usual war to get a taxi. They are either with passengers in them, the driver refusing to stop (for whatever reason ranging from because it’s prayer time or simply because they didn’t want to work). It took us one hour waiting at the stand. Luckily one passenger got off and I immediately opened the door and called in my friend and my daughter. A man standing a few meters away from me shouted, “Hey, I called that cab!” Well, random man, I called that cab too, as the other people on that side of the street but the cab stopped in front of me and I had the delicious opportunity to open the door and get in.

This is the way it works here in Dubai. If you’re a tourist reading this, remember that. If you’re a resident, I know you’re nodding and nodding.

Dubai mall was a blah on a weekday. The huge mall only had few shoppers. I took my friend to the giant aquarium. Pristine is always delighted to be here.


There was a diver inside the huge aquarium feeding the fishes! The sharks, were in their usual intimidating selves.


The Mall had a giant Christmas tree with a height that spanned 3 floors.

The Christmas tree changes lights every x seconds or so.  I have compared the size of the tree to a normal adult here.

Since I have talked about the Dubai Mall and all its glory here and here, I will share what’s outside of the mall. Dubai Mall is built at the foot of the Burj Dubai, the world’s would be tallest building when completed.

The world’s largest fountain is underway:


I guess those black covered things on the ground are for the lights and water spouts. And in case you’re wondering how tall the monster has become:


Burj Dubai now stands more than 780 meters. The final height is still undisclosed. My husband looks forward to the opening of the observation tower located somewhere in the one hundred xth floor. I am not sure if I can share his anticipation. (I’m afraid of heights)

We walked around a very nice community of old-style apartments. The area is called Old Town. I can’t believe I have not taken enough photos during our tour. I’ll upload photos of the area I have taken in another trip.

On Day 5, my friend and I are going to the Mall of the Emirates. Have you heard of it? It’s another popular huge mall in Dubai. The one with a ski resort, complete with ski lifts and of course, snow (however artificial) in it. All that snow jazz inside a mall – my friend can’t wait.

Visiting Dubai Mall


The first weekend after the grand opening of the Dubai Mall was overwhelming. The crowd, the mall itself and of course, Dubai traffic! It was like there was a pilgrimage of sorts going on and all roads leading to the mall were packed.

We went there just in time for the opening at 10 am. We always wake up early even during our day off (Friday) so we were lucky to avoid the traffic on the roads later that morning. As reported in the papers, drivers had to endure as long as two hours just to get to the car park from the nearby road. Some families abandoned their cars on the side of the roads and walked to the mall, creating severe traffic problems. 

Anyway, back to the mall.

In one word: ENORMOUS. Think 50 football stadiums. Think 1,200 retail stores, an olympic size skating rink and a VERY big aquarium inside it.

Here are some photos I took while on our visit there.

A view of the aquarium inside Dubai Mall – the world’s largest indoor marine mammal pavilion. The 50m long aquarium is flanked by two glass tunnels at varying levels offering windows into the incredible diversity of marine life.

Just part of the aquarium. I didn’t have the right lens or enough distance to fit the whole aquarium and capture it.


From the 2nd level, we can see the crowd in awe. Pristine couldn’t get enough of the fishes. She was too excited to see the marine life inside, it looks like she could stare at it for HOURS. I wouldn’t be surprised, I tend to forget about the time when looking at aquariums. There’s just something THERAPEUTIC in them.

We came face to face with the mean residents:



A look at marine life (compare the size of the aquarium to the heads/extended hands partly seen below the photo!).


Other parts of the mall:

Display of the UAE flag!


The Gold Souk (Gold Market) – which will be the largest gold retail market in the world.


Ceiling of the gold souk, near the entrance. The small dots glitter, as if you are looking at the stars in the night sky. Beautiful!



Exquisite ceiling lamps inside the Gold Souk.



Traditional Arabian style hallways.


Outside, the tall Burj Dubai (world’s tallest building when completed) is standing in its glory:


I am only able to take 3/4 of the whole building height. My neck hurts.

Other photos (not mine, just came in the forwarded mails from friends):

Front of Dubai Mall with the Burj Dubai in the background. 


The skating rink. If you stand near it, better put on your jacket!


The beautiful ceiling of the Gold Souk.


This is Pristine’s favorite fish. She loves the way this fish moves his eyes! The eyes look like those button eyes found in stuffed toys.



I can’t believe Dubai Mall was really able to get its act and finally open. One week before the grand opening, it was all endless construction mess and incompleteness all around.

On the opening day, the flyover leading to the mall was even completed. I am impressed. The laborers they hired really knows some magic.


Ritzy Dubai Mall gets desperate for opening

In a desperate attempt to open its doors on time, Dubai Mall gets really rough. Initial opening date was December 2007 then August 2008 and then moved to October 30, 2008.

We visited the area a day before the supposed opening and found this:

One lane road going to the entrance! It was packed with cars already – I don’t know what the others were doing there but maybe same with us, surveying the area before the big opening to plan ahead how to arrive in one piece battling the traffic. Traffic was as expected, a mess – one day before the opening. I couldn’t imagine what would happen on the actual opening day!

Below are just some of the workers in one small area. Look at those sand hills!

I have never seen so many workers concentrated in one project site.

The basement parking nowhere near “ready”.

Hazards were everywhere. Even the fine dust from construction was irritating my nose. I worry about the workers not wearing any protective mask.

A worker stops his busy work to pose for me.

Outside, workers are trying to fix hoses in the garden (I think so).

While the front side of the mall is taking shape and these signs are everywhere:



Ambitious, hey.

However, the back side was less than glamorous.

One week has passed since we visited. Knowing how the speed of construction is here in Dubai, I am sure so many things have changed. After all, they treat workers like elves – you know, those friendly little elves who can make a pair of shoes in one night?

By the way, the opening didn’t push through last October 30 (as expected again). The huge mall opened its doors to the public only after a week later – on Novermber 4th. We have yet to go see it.