When to go – December through March
Cruises to the United Arab Emirates are one of the most enjoyable ways to experience the best the Arabian Gulf has to offer. A favourite with those seeking some winter sun and a bit of luxury, the country is known for its pristine beaches, bustling souks, bold architecture, opulent palaces, vast deserts and breath-taking historical sights.
Cruise ships set sail from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where you will find rich Arab history coexisting alongside ultra-modern and luxurious city centres. Dubai, the capital of abundance and the largest city in the Emirates, boasts the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa, the world’s biggest shopping centre – the Dubai Mall, and the world’s only seven-star hotel – the Burj al Arab. While in Abu Dhabi you’ll find more historical buildings, such as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and the Emirates Palace.
Other cruise highlights across the Emirates include the Grand Mosque in Muscat, the Gulf of Oman with its spectacular coral reef and the breathtakingly beautiful capital of Oman, Muscat. So if you’re feeling adventurous and looking to explore the Emirate’s most popular destinations in luxury, an Emirates cruise will not disappoint.
The best times to cruise around Dubai and the Emirates is around December through March.
Oman’s second city, Salalah, is home to the country’s biggest port, stunning beaches and brilliant sea life, but it is the Khareef rainy season which transforms the Arabian city into a lush subtropical oasis where bananas, coconuts and papayas thrive.
The Khareef’s influence can be seen most prominently in Wadi Darbat, a verdant natural park which comes to life during the rainy season. Mountains, cave systems, wildlife and a spectacular 100-metre waterfall make the park a photographer’s dream.
For a bit of history there’s the Museum of the Frankincense Land, which is situated within the atmospheric, 12th century ruins of Al Baleed. The museum charts the area’s seafaring history and from 2,000 BC up to the present day and explores the spice trade and the shipping of Frankincense.
Perhaps the most prominent name when it comes to travel in the Middle East, Dubai is known for luxury, world records and excess.
Dubai Mall, the second largest shopping centre in the world, is a day out in itself and features over a thousand retailers, an aquarium, theme park and an ice rink.
Burj Khalifa, the tallest artificial structure in the world, stands at 830 metres and is the city’s unavoidable must-see attraction. Visitors can see Iran on a clear from the observation deck and the surrounding park and Dubai Fountain are also a delight to wander through.
Dubai’s old town is also well worth a visit, aromatic souks selling perfumes, spices and jewellery are the very essence of Arabia and the Al Fahidi Fort doubles up as the Dubai Museum to give an excellent account of the region’s history.
Jordan’s only coastal city is has retained a small-town feel perfect for relaxing stopovers. It is a superb location for scuba diving and snorkelling, with gorgeous coral reefs and plenty of wrecks nearby.
Perhaps its biggest draw is its proximity to the ancient city of Petra, which lies within driving distance. The lost Nabataean city, dating back some 2,000 years, is carved into pink-hued cliffs and the Al-Khazneh temple is one of the world’s most recognisable and iconic temples.