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7 days Emirates culture tour
Dubai - Sharjah - Ajman - Umm Al-Qaiwain - Ras Al-Khaimah - Dubai
The United Arab Emirates is a group of seven sheikhdoms which united into a federation in 1971. The Emirates cover a total area of just 83,600 km≤ (32,600 sq miles), and it's population of more than 2 million comprises over 70 nationalities. One of the fascinating aspects of the UAE is that expatriates vastly outnumber citizens. The economy functions entirely on the skills and labour of peoples as diverse as Americans, Pakistanis and Filipinos. This multi-ethnic transience, combined with the sheer modernity of the area and strict religious codes, produces a uniquely dynamic society.
From Dubai we travel north to the third largest of the emirates, Sharjah.
Spread out along the Khalid Lagoon, Sharjah is an old trading centre with a laid-back feel. We explore the waterfront region, including the old souk (bazaar) area, and we will have time to explore the huge Central Market where hundreds of shops and stalls sell a dizzying variety of goods. Before leaving the city state we will view the King Faisal Mosque, the largest place of worship in the UAE, capable of holding up to 3,000 people in prayer.
From Sharjah we travel through the three northernmost emirates in the UAE. The Hajar Mountains sweep out of Oman and into the northern and eastern parts of the UAE. With a higher level of precipitation in the mountainous regions than in the southern desert regions of the country, as we travel north from Dubai we watch as the countryside becomes more dramatic and greener.
Our first stop is in Umm Al-Qaiwain, the emirate with the smallest population of the seven states making up the UAE. Umm Al-Qaiwain is a simple, little place with no high-rise modern buildings. Here we get a feel of what the traditional towns of the Gulf were like before the oil boom rocketed them from the Middle Ages into the 21st century in less than 30 years. Here we can also see an extraordinarily well preserved Bronze Age tower.
Travelling north to the emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah we enter an area of unexpected greenery and well-tended fields. This emirate is the agricultural centre of the UAE. We visit the Ras Al-Khaimah Museum where we will learn about the many archaeological sites in the area, and we will also see a functioning wind tower. These towers were a feature of the old houses of this region and functioned as a form of natural air-conditioning in the hot climate. Tall, hollow towers were built onto the houses and open to the air near the top. Warm air in the house would rise up the tower and cause a cooling air circulation through the house. The old town of Ras Al-Khaimah, built around the harbour, is a charming place to wander and take lunch. North of the town we visit the archaeological site which spreads out around the so-called "Queen of Sheba's Palace".
On our journey back towards Dubai we stop at the smallest of the emirates, Ajman. Here, we stop at the excellent museum, built in an 18th century fort. Upon reaching Dubai we end our day with a journey across the creek by water taxi, known as an "abra". The abra is a wonderful vantage point from which to see the modern and old buildings sitting along the creekside.
Overnight in Dubai. Al Khaleej Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.
Dubai - Abu Dhabi
From Dubai we travel south to enter the largest of the emirates, Abu Dhabi, and make our way to its ultra-modern capital on the Arabian Gulf. Although Abu Dhabi city was founded in the late 18th century, the city exploded with oil wealth in the 1960s and the city was entirely rebuilt. There are almost no buildings in the city more than 30 years old. However, Abu Dhabi's citizens are very proud of their fabulously rich city with its broad avenues and futuristic buildings. The city's architecture is an intriguing interpretation of Islamic designs crafted in modern materials. We will see the magnificent waterfront boulevard and visit the Petroleum Exhibition where we will learn about the oil industry which has turned this piece of desert into one of the worlds' most technically advanced cities. We will also visit the whitewashed Al-Husn Palace, the oldest significant building in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is situated among a group of islands. Later this afternoon we take a cruise among the islands.
Overnnight in Abu Dhabi. Mina Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.
Abu Dhabi - Dubai
Today we explore two of the most futuristic cities in the world where manís architectural achievements seem to defy nature and gravity! Dubai is a dynamic city state at the heart of the UAE. Although it is one of the smallest of the emirates, Dubai is one of the wealthiest and most varied. Dubai is world famous as a duty free shopping centre, and it is on the basis of trade (not oil) that Dubai has built its wealth. The city is built around the Dubai Creek, a salt water inlet which bisects the city.
From the Creek traditional Arab 'dhow' ships set out for ports in India, the Gulf and East Africa-- just as they have done for centuries. As the business centre of the Gulf, Dubai has earned the title "The Hong Kong of the Middle East". Itís skyscraper modern architecture is impressive. We tour Dubai city to observe the city's lay-out and modern architecture. One of our stops is the World Trade Centre, the highest building in the Gulf. At 37 storeys high it forms a prime landmark and affords an excellent panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside.
Although an ultra-modern city in many respects, much of Dubai's heritage has been retained. Our first stop is at the Dubai Museum, housed in the restored Fort Fahidi. Inside this mud-walled fort, dating back to the early 19th Century, the displays chronicle the long history of the Arabian Gulf. There are finds from the Qusais archaeological site dating back 3,000 years, and displays on the pearl fishing industry which brought wealth to the Gulf in the 19th century. From the museum we will explore the Creek area and see the old houses in the Bastakia quarter.
Time permitting, we will take a 4WD vehicle excursion into the desert this afternoon.
Overnight in Dubai. Al Khaleej Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.
Dubai - Fujairah
Today we leave Dubai and travel east to the only one of the United Arab Emirates not located on the Arabian Gulf, Fujairah. At first we cross the flat desert but the scenery becomes wilder and greener as we rise into the foothills of the Hajar Mountains through steep mountain gorges and wadis. Politically, this is a very obscure region -- there are several small territorial enclaves isolated deep within the boundaries of other emirates. There is even a small enclave of Oman totally surrounded by the UAE.
We drive through the hills and down to the coast of the Gulf of Oman to the town of Dibba, on the border with the Omani enclave on the Musandem Peninsula. In Dibba we will view the old fort before heading south down the coast. The scenery on this drive is spectacular, with jagged mountains coming down to deserted white beaches lapped by the bluest of azure seas. At the town of Badiyah we will see the oldest mosque in the UAE, and at Khor Fakkan we enter a tiny enclave of the emirate of Sharjah. Before visiting the relaxed modern town of Fujairah we will stop at the old town. The original town of Fujairah was abandoned early in the 20th century and the old houses and fort have been untouched since.
Arriving in modern Fujairah late this afternoon the rest of the day is free to explore the town, visit the museum or enjoy the facilities of our hotel.
Overnight in Fujairah. Sijl Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.
Fujairah - Dubi
From Fujairah we head south to the Omani border. Once through the border procedures we enter a different world from the UAE. Oman is not principally a land of sand deserts but rather a dramatic area of dry, jagged mountains with narrow river valleys (wadis) between. The evidence of Omanís tribal past is everywhere, with ruined forts commanding every important vantage point. Although Oman is rich from oil revenues, the country has not opened up to foreigners. In the UAE expatriates seem to run every aspect of daily life but in Oman foreigners are limited to specific jobs - particularly those to do with the oil industry. Much of Oman remains hidden in remote valleys and there is a feeling of self-imposed isolation here at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Many of the forts in Oman, although national treasures, are closed to foreigners without special permits. They can, however, be viewed from outside.
The extensive plain of the Batinah runs between the sea and the mountains for 270 km (167 miles) from the frontier with the UAE south east to Muscat. Itís width varies, averaging about 25 km (15 miles) and it is one of the most densely inhabited regions of Oman. This is not saying much, however, since Oman only has a population of 1.65 million living in a country of over 300,000 km≤ (117,000 sq miles). Most of the people live in or around Muscat, the capital. The cultivation in the Batinah, and hence the villages, is concentrated in a narrow strip along the coast where about half of the cultivated land in all of Oman is located. The palm groves are densely green sheltering limes, bananas, pomegranates, figs, papaya, mangoes, guavas and vegetables. Fishing is also very important in this area.
The first major settlement we come to in Oman is the fishing village of Sohar. This town was once much bigger, being the centre of an empire stretching from India to Africa. This was where the legendary Sinbad the Sailor set out on his voyages. Today Sohar is a sleepy shadow of its former glory. The early 17th century Sohar Fort is unusual in that it is whitewashed rather than being earth-coloured like most Omani forts. Sohar was the centre of an ancient copper mining and exporting industry dating back 4500 years. The tower of the fort contains an interesting museum and the tomb of a 19th century ruler.
Near Al Khabura in a classic palm frond building there is a government-sponsored centre for rural women. In one room women learn to read and write while in another room women work on traditional ground looms. The government not only keeps this form of weaving alive by teaching the art but by buying the blankets produced.
At the town of Barka we will see another fort which contains a mosque, a well and a small museum. As we approach Muscat the agricultural plain narrows with the mountains closing in on the coast.
Overnight in Muscat. Al Falaj Hotel or similar. Breakfast and dinner.
Cost US$ 1487 Per person With hotel on double occupancy tours and breakfast. US$730.00 Single supplement Contact us to book this tour.
Above cost Includes tours as described in the Itinerary above all entrance fees taxes and English speaking Guide with the tour.
In case you chose a hotel we will book a 4 star hotel in Dubai for you. Contact us if you need any other info.
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Daily Desert Safaris
Enjoy the spirit of the Arabian desert Dune bashing in the sand and entertained by Belly dance over Dinner US.00 Per person More details and booking