Lost in translation? Dubai apps guide tourists as they explore city

Visitors using the Metro Moments would get information on attractions found along the Dubai Metro route between Dubai Airport Terminal 3 and The Dubai Mall. (Courtesy Dubai Media Office)
Updated 01 February 2018
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Lost in translation? Dubai apps guide tourists as they explore city

DUBAI: It is always difficult to know where to visit when you are in a new city, but this issue might have been solved for visitors in Dubai thanks to a mobile app that offers audio guides to the city’s landmarks and historical sites.
The app-based tours, Metro Moments and Al Fahidi Architecture Tour, use audio tours to guide visitors through the city, drawing the user from one point of interest to the next in real time, depending on the person’s location.
The audio guides are available in English, Chinese and German and both tours also come in text form, accompanied by a map to help with navigation. They can be downloaded for free from Apple Store and Google Play.
International tourist arrivals in Dubai were up 6.75 percent as of November last year to 14.24 million from 13.34 million during the same period in 2016.
And people are traveling from all over the world to see the city, including India with 1.86 million visitors; Saudi Arabia with 1.43 million; the UK with 1.14 million; Oman with 791,000; China with 696,000 and the US with 564,000.
With Metro Moments, available on Voice Map, visitors are given information on attractions found along the Dubai Metro route between Dubai International Airport, Terminal 3 and Dubai Mall, where the iconic dancing fountains and Burj Khalifa are the premier tourist spots.
Meanwhile, those using the Al Fahidi Architecture Tour, which can be found on the Pocket Guide app, get an insight into the history and heritage of Dubai’s popular Al Fahidi District, part of the wider Dubai Historic District.
“The launch of these audio tours will help people from all over the world gain an enhanced understanding of Dubai and some of its most historically and culturally important sites. Moving forward, we are working to develop further applications and services that enable visitors to discover more of the city’s tourism highlights through smart, convenient and accessible platforms,” Yousuf Lootah, Executive Director of Tourism Development and Investments at Dubai Tourism, said.


ThePlace: Habala village, the sanctuary of flowers

Photo/Getty images
Updated 17 November 2018
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ThePlace: Habala village, the sanctuary of flowers

  • The valley is dotted with small huts that were once the villagers’ homes

Can abandoned places, with empty echoes of what were once people’s homes, be beautiful? The answer, at least in the case of the mountain village of Habala in Saudi Arabia, is a resounding yes. The haunting sense of history there adds to the sheer natural beauty of the place.
Habala is located at a one-hour drive from Abha. The village was established during the Ottoman Empire when the locals tried to flee the Turks.
With its mountain views and lush green vegetation, Habala is breathtakingly beautiful. The main village is located in a valley about 300 yards below the summit of the mountain that overlooks it, which rises 1.23 miles above sea level. At one time the village was only accessible by rope ladder, which is why its name is derived from “habal,” the Arabic word for rope. Nowadays it is a lot easier to reach, thanks to cable cars that carry visitors up to the valley.
The former residents of the village were known as the “flower men” because of their custom of wearing garlands of dried flowers and herbs in their hair, and modern-day visitors to Habala are greeted by men in the traditional dress of the villagers, including the flowers. Tourists can even buy floral crowns as souvenirs.
The valley is dotted with small huts that were once the villagers’ homes. In these huts you can sit and enjoy a cup of Qahwa — Arabic coffee — while enjoying the spectacular view. In winter, when fog often envelops the mountain, the village looks as though it is floating on a cloud. It is a sight not to be missed.