Almost guaranteed sunshine and incredible manmade wonders – old and new
A landscape simultaneously timeless, yet bursting with modernity, Arabia is a place of contrasts. In parts unshakeably traditional, yet at the same time decadent and extravagant. Relax on the beach, explore the ancient and modern wonders of man, shop ‘til you drop and indulge at the world’s most luxurious hotels.
Across this whole region, from Amman in Jordan to Salalah in Oman, the very sands beneath your feet seem to whisper to the echoes of a thousand generations. Here, legacies have been written on the landscape as great monuments, some new and shiny, some almost as old as time itself.
The colours of Arabia are predominantly those of the desert, with golden hues, rusts and ochre set stark against cloudless blue skies and sparkling seas; here green is a novelty and something to behold and to be treasured.
And where the modern world has emerged, it has done so in such spectacular fashion as to almost monopolise superlatives like tallest, biggest, most expensive. Yet even in the high-rises of Dubai the ancient whispers of yesterday still carry on the wind.
Everywhere, ancient traditions and evocative customs are revered and sanctified. Arabic hospitality is legendary – the rituals of feasts and taking coffee, the habits of the barter and the haggle. Travelling in this region is like no other.
Visit Jordan, home to some of the oldest and most significant sites in human history: the ruined Roman city of Jeresh – the ‘Pompei of the East’; Mt Nebo from where Moses spotted the promised land and Petra, the ‘Rose Red’ city hiding in an empty desert. Natural wonders provide much of the setting for this history: the unique Dead Sea and spectacular Wadi Rum – setting for T.E. Lawrence’s great Arabic adventure.
Contrast Jordan with the modernity of the UAE, sparkling Abu Dhabi and ever-ambitious Dubai. Both cities competing with each other for pre-eminence, with ever more spectacular manmade wonders built typically taller and bigger than anywhere else on earth. Often overshadowed by their brash neighbours, the other emirates of Ajman, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah enjoy a more secluded charm as well as their own fabulous beachfronts and stylish hotels. For a Bedouin experience with added indulgence, visit the Banyan Tree Al Wadi – a spectacular desert escape hiding amongst the dunes of the empty interior of Ras Al Khaimah.
And then Oman, with its perfect combination of history and fabulous beaches, and its cosseting luxury hotels and authentic culture. Traditional, preserved and understated, Oman is somewhat quieter and certainly less brash than the noisier emirates to the north. And with its spectacular landscape of stark, rugged beauty, Oman is a delight to behold. Burnt and bare mountains cascade to the sea, shielding attractive bays host to sleepy beachfronts with fleets of traditional fishing dhows. Cruise the waters of the Gulf of Oman and spot whales, turtles and spectacular spinner dolphins. For the ultimate Oman experience, follow the ancient frankincense trail or explore the intricate waters and fjords of the Musandam Peninsula before indulging at one of the country’s array of superb luxury hotels.
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Sand dune bashing in the desert is an amazing, fun and thrilling experience. You’ll be picked up from your hotel in a jeep and, after about an hour’s drive, will find yourself in the middle of nowhere surrounded by sand. The drivers will let out some air of their tyres and off you go! Afterwards, enjoy dinner in the desert while gazing up at the magical stars."