How to travel to Jerusalem from Dubai Part 1
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not exactly impossible to travel to Jerusalem from Dubai. Ever since I did my own ‘pilgrimage’ almost ten years ago, I had met friends who had been in and out of the Holy Land and had no problems re-entering Dubai at all. A very tolerant country, the UAE is quite understanding and respectful of people’s religious beliefs. Christians are not exactly banned from returning to Dubai after traveling to the Holy Land. So check out below and learn how to travel to Jerusalem from Dubai Part 1.
My newfound friends from Germany and Poland enjoying a light breakfast at the hostel before heading out.
The spectacular, the jaw-dropping, the mesmerizing ‘The Treasury’ or ‘Al Khazneh’. Who wouldn’t fall in love with such a magnificent structure carved by hand out of a limestone cliff three centuries ago? Truly mind-boggling.
However, since you might never know if you will visit another Middle Eastern country afterwards, it is better to err on the side of caution. Having your passport marked with an Israeli stamp could get you in trouble as other Middle Eastern countries are not as tolerant. It happened to me. After granting me a visa to Syria, the Syrian consulate in Dubai canceled my visa after finding out that I had traveled to Jerusalem in the past 10 (note, not 5) years. No amount of explaining could dissuade them. It was heartbreaking as now there’s nothing left of Damascus for me to see. Even if I have a chance to go today, the historic places in Syria are nothing but rubble now. I did not have an Israeli stamp on my passport but I did not want to lie about visiting Israel either. That’s something you might want to take into consideration.
Exploring practically every nook and cranny of Petra. Without this three I doubt I would have seen half of Petra. Second guy on the right is from Czech Republic who we bumped into and decided to hang out with us. Good thing he did because he showed us places we would have otherwise missed.
So despite being surrounded by a host of naysayers, threats of not being allowed back into the UAE later, and a barrage of questions from flabbergasted colleagues, I did travel to Jerusalem from Dubai. I boarded an Emirates flight to Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan one fine day in 2008. You might want to check my eventful journey Touched by an Angel: Lost in Translation in Jordan to find out more. To make sure that I had stayed in Jordan long enough, I decided to pass by the world famous Petra. Petra is the rose red city carved out of limestone cliffs in southern Jordan. A historical and archaeological site, it was once a thriving Nabatean capital 3,000 years ago made famous in the 1980s by the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.
It happened to me, two of writers’ worst nightmares. First, I ran out of space on my camera. Second, my camera had run out of battery. We were almost done with our tour of Petra but there was still so much more to take in and record in my small digital camera. This is a classic example of ‘how to not explore Petra’.
Petra by Night, a must-experience. No electricity whatsoever, just gas-lit torches to light your path just like in the old days. While in the background, the soft music coming from the oud played by a Bedouin fills the air. The experience was almost ethereal. I could almost imagine the footsteps of the Nabatean ladies walking quietly by.
After an adrenaline-pumping three days exploring the tombs, the caverns, and high places of Petra, my newfound friends (Polish couple and German lady) and I decided to go to Wadi Rum and spend a night there. Wadi Rum, also known as The Valley of the Moon, is the mise en scene for ‘Lawrence of Arabia‘ and is the country’s largest wadi (dry river bed). Check ‘The Jordanian Bedouin and his super sweet ‘chai’’ to learn more. Wadi Rum was a sprawling sand desert dotted with jaw-dropping rock formations, expansive valleys, mountains, and centuries-old water wells as well as goat tents housing Jordanian Bedouins. We spent the night at one of the campsites and greeted the sunrise the following morning atop a jagged outcropping. Watching the vast land change color from grey, to light blue to orange to pink to dark reddish tints as the sun kissed different sections of the desert was probably one of the most spectacular sights I had ever seen. It took my breath away; a poignant reminder of how awesome creation was and how infallible our Creator was.
The Monastery, standing majestic albeit almost forlorn against a dry and arid background. What in the world were they thinking building a temple by hand at the top of an inhospitable mountain range? But it’s so captivating, isn’t it?
From Wadi Rum, having warmed up to the wonderful Polish couple I met, we decided to share a room in Aqaba for two days. We ended up in a rustic beachfront hostel with basic amenities. While in Aqaba, I also bumped into a friendly half Jordanian half German (though he looked nothing like a German) guy who turned out to be a master diver. Through him I had a blast snorkeling and exploring the most talked about Red Sea. I had never seen so many different types of fish and corals in my entire life. It is said that of the 1,200 or so coral reef fish species found in the Red Sea, about 10% are endemic. The Red Sea reef platforms are over 5,000 years old, and extends for at least 2,000 km along the shoreline. Snorkeling in the Red Sea is definitely a must-do if you happen to be in Jordan. Others also say the Egyptian (Sharm Al Sheikh) side of the Red Sea even offers a richer marine life. Either way both are worth checking out.
Just one of the many awe-striking rock formations dotting Wadi Rum.
On my last night in Saraya, after having had enough of the stares and advances of Jordanian men (something you will have to deal with if you’re a woman traveling alone) when eating alone in restaurants, I decided to have a light dinner. I bought a roll of shawarma (which turned out to be tastier than Dubai’s) and soda and walked to the beach. It was a starry night, with fresh breeze blowin’ my hair. I found a suitable spot and sat on the shore, across Israel’s resort town Eilat. I was surprised to see the town’s flickering lights. I thought ‘so near yet so far’. I couldn’t help reminiscing about Moses when he was pleading with God to let him go to the promised land. I wondered if I would suffer the same fate, of not being allowed to go.
The breathtaking Wadi Rum. One could easily lose himself in the vastness and richness of the land.
Before leaving Dubai I read horrible stories of people (including Americans and Jews) being interrogated at the airport. I learned that Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport was the toughest airport in the world. I learned of people being detained and refused entry completely. I wondered. I hoped. I prayed. I pleaded. I was almost there but not yet. If only I could swim across I thought. Even if I get caught at least I would have already stepped foot on the Holy Land, a life-long dream fulfilled. That’s how badly I wanted to go. The following day I took the public bus to Amman to board my Royal Jordanian flight to Tel Aviv. Not knowing whether I was going to enter the Holy Land. I believed but it was still up to my God to grant one of my heart’s deepest desires…To be continued.
A closer look at The Monastery, much higher and bigger than The Treasury. Standing at 50 m high x 45m wide, The Monastery easily dwarfs anyone who stands close to its columns.
Good to know:
The best way to go to Petra is by traveling by bus via JETT bus. This is the same bus company that I missed when I arrived on a Friday. Yes, please note that there are no JETT bus trips to Petra on Fridays. The JETT buses are modern and are equipped with ‘dual digital video disc players, cabin audio system with individual headphone controls at each passenger seats, satellite TV connection, cozy luxury seats and monitor for each’. It’s definitely an upgrade from the public transport that ply the same route. It’s very affordable too, at USD14 for the Amman – Petra route as of writing.
If you would rather stay in Amman, there are plenty of places to explore in the Jordanian capital too. This includes the Roman amphitheatre, with 6,000 seating capacity built in 170AED. It sure is a vestige of Amman’s glorious Roman past. It’s conveniently located along Quraysh Street, in Downtown Amman. Or check out the Citadel sitting atop Amman’s highest hill where you can get a sweeping view of the city. At the Citadel you will find the ruins of the Umayyad Palace which traces its roots to AD 720. There is also the Temple of Hercules, the domed audience hall, Byzantine Basilica & the National Archaeological Museum.
Or you can head up north to the ancient city of Jerash. It’s like the counterpart of Petra. Featuring paved and colonnaded streets, hilltop temples, sprawling theaters, public squares and plazas, baths, and Roman fountains, Jerash is considered one of the most preserved Roman towns in the world. It sure is a must-see. Too bad I missed it myself. Jerash is only 40 minutes away from Amman. Either hire a car or take a cab to the Amman north terminal bus station and from there take a bus to Jerash bus station. You will only spend 3-5 JD for the taxi and 1 JD for the bus.
Should you decide to go, don’t forget to book your flydubai flight via globetrottingfilipina.com. It will help me keep this site running and serve the Lord. Curios as to how I could be serving the Lord through this blog? Send me an email via the Contact Me page. Otherwise please like and share this post. That would also help me a lot.
How Globetrotting Filipina traveled to Jerusalem from Dubai Part 1