Holidays to the Middle East are a journey into a mystical land, with a rich heritage that’s as vast as the sprawling deserts. Here, you can experience everything from towering mountain ranges to enchanting grand palaces, ancient fortresses to bustling souks and the glistening Gulf to yacht-filled marinas. And let’s not forget its sweeping beaches, toasty winters and scorching summers.
Places to stay
Arguably the most glamorous of all the Middle East holidays, Dubai offers a taste of opulence like no other. It’s home to cloud-piercing skyscrapers, including the world's tallest, the Burj Khalifa, and the man-made wonder, Palm Jumeirah island. And if it’s thrills you're seeking, you can sandboard down massive dunes, hop aboard a helicopter or jet ski across the waterfront.
Dubai’s little sister, Abu Dhabi is the futuristic capital of the UAE, with an equally impressive skyline, but much more traditional Emirati culture. Amidst the steel and glass, you'll discover majestic fortresses and stylish gardens. And for an adrenaline rush, it’s where you’ll find the world's fastest rollercoaster and the Yas Marina Circuit.
Oman, ‘Arabia's Jewel’, is packed with history and set in a mesmerising desert landscape. Unearth the emergence of Islam at Bait Al Barandah and Bait Al-Zubair museums. Dive into the azure waters, go whale watching, uncover ancient forts, or embark on off-roading adventures in the desert. That's when you're not basking on glorious beaches.
Ras Al Khaimah
Fancy an off-the-beaten track feel? Ras Al Khaimah is a must. No flashy futuristic skyline here. Instead you'll find dazzling luxury hotels, desert springs, the Shimal tombs, incredible treks on the Jais mountain, and warm waters teeming with exotic fish – a scuba diver's paradise. All just 45 minutes from Dubai airport.
Fujairah, one of the UAE's most historically important areas, invites you to explore ancient villages and coastal bliss. Scout out the oldest mud-brick mosque in the UAE, Al Bidya, or dive into the pristine waters for some of the best snorkelling and diving Middle East holidays have to offer. For a change of pace, venture into the rugged foothills of the soaring Hajar Mountains or wind your way through the Friday Market (open daily).
The newest up-and-coming hotspot on the Middle East holidays map, though, is Qatar. With a rich 50,000-year history, and thriving capital, Doha. Soak up its vibrant art scene, pop-up museums at Katara Cultural Village, and the must-see indoor canal system at the Villaggio Mall. Or venture through vibrant souks like the Waqif before relaxing on the man-made beaches of The Pearl Island. Perfect for snorkelling, boat rides, and lazy beach days. And don't forget to hop on a traditional dhow boat ride for a bucket-list-worthy experience.
And last but not least, just a half-hour from Dubai Airport, is Ajman. A laid-back hideaway with powdery white sands, an 18th-century fort and a sparkling coastline. It's the perfect place to kick back and soak up that Middle Eastern heat.