Please visit The World – Through My Eyes (An Introduction to My Travels), which explains the purpose and motivation for documenting my travels.
Dubai & Jordan
This visit to Masjid al-‘Aqṣā in al-Quds (Jerusalem), Palestine, rates right at the top of my travels, level with the visits to Makkah al-Mukarramah & Madīnah al-Munawwarah.
One of our colleagues, Shaikh Rafīq Ṣūfī had been blessed with a visit to al-Quds in July 2011. His account of The Holy Lands upon his return got us all going at the Muslim Welfare Institute (MWI) and we all made a firm intention of travelling at the earliest opportunity. We booked our tickets some 3 months early, getting a complete bargain at £240 on Emirates Airlines to Amman (Jordan), with a 12 hour stopover in Dubai, outbound and inbound.
Eight of us from MWI left at 6:00am on Monday 30th April with Ḥāji Bashīr of Troy Street in his 15-seater minibus and met up with Shaikh Muḥammad ‘Ālī Nagdi at Manchester Airport. Our flight departed at 9:40am, and touched down in Dubai at 8pm local time (3 hours ahead of the UK). As the luggage had been checked in through to Amman, we had only our hand baggage with us.
We were received by Ḥāfiẓ Shahzād & his brother Sajjād, whom very kindly hosted us for the next 6 hours. We started with a bit of shopping in Deira (pronounced Dayra) and then moved onto the border of Dubai and Sharjah for a traditional Afghan meal at an Afghan Restaurant.
We then did a tour of Dubai by night taking in Marina, Jumeirah (pronounced Jumayrā), The Palms and Atlantis. This was a real treat for Shaikh Muḥammad ‘Ālī Nagdi and Shaikh Ḥasan Sidāt who were first timers in Dubai. Ḥāfiẓ Shahzād & Sajjād Bhai returned us back to the airport at 3am and, after resting for a few hours, we took the connecting flight to Amman (pronounced ‘Ammān) at 7.25am, landing at Queen Alia International Airport at 10am. Jordan was one hour behind Dubai and 2 hours ahead of the UK.
The real journey was just about to begin. We had already made a little kitty for our travels, in which everyone had put in £100 to start off with; this saw us through to Manchester Airport and also the Jordan entry visa fees. The officials were very welcoming and there was an atmosphere of joy and happiness at the Airport. As the Jordanian Dinar (known as JD) is similar, in value, to the pound sterling, we got 1.02JD to £1. It was easy to change currencies at the airport.
As we came out, our host for Jordan, Muḥammad Shuraim, was waiting for us with my name on a board. A very jolly middle aged gentleman, who couldn’t be missed, was accompanied by Khalid, one of his drivers. They had brought 2 vehicles, an 8-seater and a 5-seater. Soon we were driving through the desert of Jordan, heading for the King Hussein Bridge crossing, famously known as the Allenby Bridge.This is the only direct border crossing between the Palestinian Territories and Jordan.
We had some drinks and snacks en route, arriving at the border crossing point in 45 minutes to an hour. Jordanian taxis are not allowed beyond this point so we got out, collected our luggage, said our farewells, for the time being, to Muḥammad Shuraim and Khalid, and made our way into the departures terminal on the Jordanian side.
The trip from the airport to the border had been a very lively one for some of us, with Muḥammad Shuraim providing a non-stop commentary on the history of Jordan and Amman. In contrast, Khalid was a much quieter person. According to Muḥammad Shuraim, Jordanians had a good standard of living, and the government was looking after its people very well. Jordan is majority Sunni.
Continued in Al-Quds (Apr 2012) – Part 2