From the Ghetto to the Gold Coast

“16 Shots! 16 Shots ! 16 Shots!”  Finally a protest that will not be ignored!! I’ve been glued to my PC since viewing the horrific killing of Laquan McDonald. A young African-American shot to death 16 times which was captured on a police dash camera.  The video, albeit being shown a year later, has shaken up the city at large and  upset the masses.  When the advertisements began posting to my Facebook timeline about a “Blackout” on “Black Friday” needless to say, I got excited.  I’ve watched  the protests in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York.  I’ve read  the stories, I harbor sympathy for the victims and families all effected by the current situations happening in urban communities across the United States.  Usually when we decide to protest, we stayed within our confines allowing our voices to only be heard within the corner blocks in the neighborhood.  This time, we decided to ventured outside and took the fight Downtown,  on the Gold Coast and the Magnificent Mile, where this protest wouldn’t surely be forgotten.  Enough is enough as cliche as that may sound!  Shot a kid sixteen times?  No I didn’t know him,  but I have researched his background and he defiantly didn’t deserved to die that way.  The videos, interviews, pictures and conversations about the unfortunate event are priceless!  Hopefully one lost soul would become enlightened by these recent catastrophes will get help educated.  To those who are educated and may have forgotten about hard times were tough for us coming up, especially during the crack era must now WAKE UP!!  What happened to Laquan, can happen to anybody.

The Sinkhole

By taking a nice scenic drive along the desert mountains, just about an hour away from Al Seeb, you can journey off the Hawiyat Park to take a dip in Bimmah Sink Hole.  The park is just a few kilometers away from the Arabian Peninsula and is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Oman.

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A great place to camp and cool off!
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The view from up top is breathtaking!
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I was even treated to fish nibbling pedicure.

As I venture out more, I’m starting to realize that Oman may have some

of the greenest cities in the Middle East.

Little Rock Arkansas: Retracing the steps of “The Little Rock Nine”

Nearly 5 years ago, I decided to explore my options, take a risk to travel across the globe to teach abroad in the Middle East.   At that time, the state of education had

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A collection of items donated from each of the students to the museum that was built to honor their legacy.
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These shoes belong to Elizabeth Eckford, a young  women who was brazen enough to withstand the anger, yelling and rage from segregationists when she made attempt to enter school.
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I had to capture this moment as I truly admire these unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement.
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A portrait created a art student from Little Rock High School.

it’s troubles but I learned to adapt and persevere to become a passionate Special Needs Educator. I took for granted the restorative natural of travel and how easy it is to explore the United States without a passport or visa.  That’s why every Summer I create an agenda and go on a road trip to visit places and/or states I’ve never seen.  This year, one of the many places I traveled to  was Little Rock, Arkansas. I had the liberty of walking the same route nine students took nearly 60 years ago to force their way into high school to get the educated.
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The Little Rock Nine were a group of nine African American students enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. Their enrollment was followed by the Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Orval Faubus, the Governor of Arkansas.

Muscat’s Marble Jewel

066Last week , I decided to cross the border for a quick get away to Muscat, Oman, a city five hours away from Dubai. Being my first visit, with not much time to explore, I toured the city’s main attraction The Royal Opera House.  The Opera House took 4 years to complete and opened it’s door in 2011.  The entire exterior of the building were carved and built from Omani marbled stone, while special wood trimmings and accessories were imported from country such as France and New Zealand.  At the start of the tour, we were lead through the main entrance way for the locals, tourists and later down the red carpet to were the Elites enter into the main hall. While in the hall, we were not permitted to snap photos of the stage, but we were given permission to capture the seating area as well as the encased musical instruments.  We soon made our way to the VIP sections, which overlooks the hall, to get a chance to embrace the scenery from the balconies. As this was my first visit to an Opera House, I was quite impressed with creativity of the wood carving and stained glass presentation, structure and ambiance.

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Donated antique instruments were savaged, saved and restored.
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The entry for the Royal Family and other Elite guests.
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The screen monitors subtitle in both English and Arabic.
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The Opera House shines at night!!
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Muscat’s crown jewel!!
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The concert hall was astonishing!!
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The VIP section of the hall which includes dining services, their own private rooms and security.
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My view on the way out.

068   048My visit here has won me over, I’m sold!!

I plan on making time to enjoy many jazz concerts, world winning stage performances and musicals this fall!!

The Camel Market

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About an hour and half outside of Dubai, nestled in the quiet city of Al Ain, in the back of one of the largest shopping centre, you’ll find The Camel Market. The camel is a key part of the UAE’s rich heritage. The Arabian Camel, the Dromedary, is a large even-toed ungulate and has one hump.  Historically, these camels were used for transportation, food and milk, which you can still be found on shelves in the diary department throughout the Middle East.  For just 10,000 Dirhams, you can buy you very own desert bred baby camel to have for a pet. The stalls are set up for you walk around and pet the camels from outside the cage and the keepers are friendly, in the beginning, when you walk up to inquire about the prices.  I’ve taken pictures near camels before, but for some reason I was nervous about the venture, since there was so many in the cage at one time.  When you walk up to a cage, the keeper will rush toward the rope, as the camels will walk towards you at one time, hoping to be freed and taken away to a home.  The market felt more like an orphanage for camels, than an actually market, the prices range from 10,000AED for a small child camel to 1 million Dirhams for an adult prized racing camel.

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Camel skin is used locally to make shoes, bags, water containers. In the Arab world, it’s wool is used for tents and rug-making.
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In the Arabic culture, a camel is assigned a new name every year. This camel responded immediately when the keeper called his name.

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At a glance, some of the body features scared me a bit.  I’m told by a  keeper, that they can be a bit selfish like people when it comes to eating the right foods and sharing. They hardly ever leave the cage, if so, they are transported to a track not far from the market to exercise to remain looking healthy and profitable.

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YES!!  I finally got him to turn around for a prize shoot!!

Sweet February featuring “Miss Sharifa”

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Miss Sharifa is a student at United Arab Emirates University majoring in Primary Education. U.A.E. University is one of the largest educational institutions in the Middle East.

Since starting my blog over a year ago, I’ve been fortunate to have visited and experience places around the world I’ve only read about in magazines and history books as a child. I also manage to take the time to speak to the local residents, who are quite friendly, to learn more about their culture and experiences.  A great meeting could start with a short tour around the villages, to studying different art pieces and clothing and ending with an opportunity to sample great food items happily prepared by a member of a family. In my short time here in the United Arab Emirates, I’ve met many interesting people and learned more the history of Dubai from listening to their stories than from visiting the museum.  Being the cultural junkie I am, I enjoy sharing my addiction and decided that outside of sharing the amazing photos of different places, it’s now time to share their stories.  Just off the brink of winning the Expo 2020, the city of Dubai, as well as other neighboring emirates, celebrated with a spectacular fireworks show and displays that let up the skies to let the world, WE HAVE ARRIVED!!  I was very excited for the city and hope to be around to enjoy the experience, but I know the feeling of the local residents were much more exuberant. I love chatting with many of my local friends here in Dubai when I’m out for coffee or strolling along the creek. To began my conversation series with these “Special Gems”on the rise, I decided to have a quick chat with my colleague Miss Sharifa, a future educator born and raised here in Dubai:

What brought you to the field of Education?

I enjoy teaching and like to help people. I want to become a part of a team of looking to help the education systems in the U.A.E. I am also working to build a strong career for myself by focusing on gaining knowledge and climbing high on the academic ladder to achieve a Phd.

Give me 2 words that describe you.

Friendly and Tenacious

What was your most memorable moment in Dubai.

I remember when my organization won the reward as the best medical institute in the Middle East, it was a great accomplishment for my city and we were all very proud.

What is you favorite place to visit in the U.A.E.? Why?

The Al Ain Zoo. You have to visit this place to understand that it’s not just a zoo but a wild life resort.

If you were to give advice to someone visiting the U.A.E. for the first 1st time, what would it be?

My advice would be to explore the Old Town part of the city before enjoying the nightlife and malls.  If you are here for a short time, visit some of the cafes to have tea and dates and chat the people in the community.

How do you plan to prepare for the Dubai 2020 Expo?

I am thinking of starting my own business, so it could grow internally and I could promote it internationally at the expo.

Good luck to you Miss Sharifa, we at Sandy Treasures are wishing you all the best!!