USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- After more than a month at sea, USS George Washington (CVN 73) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 pulled into the port of Jebel Ali for a respite March 14.
The five-day journey into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) proved to be a whirlwind of Arabic cultural experiences GW Sailors won't soon forget.
Lt. Cmdr. Matt Bartel capitalized on the acres of gold souk vendors and the bargains they offer tourists from all over the world. While he and many GW Sailors have visited UAE several times during other deployments, Dubai's gold prices and quality haven't lost their luster for buyers or wearers. "Dubai is a great city to buy gold in, and I've looked forward to getting something nice for my wife."
Shopping wasn't the only recreation GW Sailors enjoyed during their port visit. While in Dubai, many Sailors took in the tastier aspects of Arabic culture. Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class (AW) Paul Arnold said he used every meal as an opportunity to try as many Arabic flavors as possible. "The food was amazing," said Arnold. "I've tasted so many exotic dishes with names I couldn't pronounce, and they were all delicious."
As usual, GW's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) team offered Sailors a wide selection of tours to take the guesswork out of port exploration. Golfing, sandboarding and citywide sight seeing were all par for the course, as Sailors took advantage of MWR's tour schedule.
Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AW/SW) Jon Swenson teed off on a golf course adjacent to the course Mark O'Meara shredded during the recent Dubai Classic. "The golfing was great. The course was very difficult and is one of the very best in the world," he said.
During the Sunset Safari, Sailors enjoyed a white-knuckled off-road trip through the desert in industrial-strength SUVs, camel rides, gourmet food and even an impromptu belly dancing lesson. Aviation Electronics Technican 2nd Class Paul Apicella was one of the hundreds of safari goers. "It was an amazing evening. I had a great time and would love to do it all over again."
The port was not just a success for the fun and excitement had by GW's crew. GW Sailors left locals with a favorable impression with their courteous behavior and respectful demeanor.
"I have met many Sailors from [USS George Washington] during their visit," said Hamody al Masaj, a Dubai tour director. "I like them because they are very curious and excited to see another culture. The Sailors are very polite, and it is my hope they will return in the future."
The Sailors aboard GW, who departed Norfolk, Va., Jan. 20 for a scheduled deployment, returned to sea March 19 to continue operating in the Arabian Gulf in support of the global war on terrorism.
For related news, visit the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn73.