Sailors Explore Emirates
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Dean M. Cates
AJMAN AND SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates - Sailors from aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 and guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) toured the emirates of Ajman and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), during a port visit to Jebel Ali, Feb. 19.

“It was a good experience. We were able to see what the culture is like outside of Dubai,” said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Chester Perez, assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125.

Sailors who participated in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored tour boarded buses in Jebel Ali, a port within the Dubai emirate, for the trip to Sharjah, the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates. In 1998, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in conjunction with the Arab League, declared the city of Sharjah, in the emirate of Sharjah, the Cultural City of the Arab World.

A visit to King Faisal’s Mosque allowed Sailors to see the largest mosque in the Sharjah emirate. The mosque was opened in 1987 and houses the Department of Islamic Affairs, as well as the government of Sharjah.

“The most interesting thing was the architecture,” said Yeoman Seaman Alejandro Gonzales, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25. The architecture featured unique-designed buildings, towering skyscrapers and traditional mosques, along with unfinished skyscrapers. “I loved looking at the designs of the buildings,” Gonzales added.

After leaving Sharjah, tour buses took the Sailors to the Ajman emirate. Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates, and is bordered by the Arabian Gulf and Sharjah. While in Ajman, the Sailors made a stop at the Ajman Museum and the Blue Souk. At the souk, Sailors were able to purchase gold jewelry.

“It’s always great to know the history of the place that you’re visiting,” said Perez, whose favorite part of the tour was the Ajman Museum. “I enjoyed seeing how people used to live more than 40 years ago here in UAE.”

Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing 17 Sailors are on their second port call since their departure from San Diego Nov. 30. The crew and embarked air wing also visited Hong Kong after their Christmas holiday.

Carl Vinson is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and air missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

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