Category Archives: Middle East

Best of UAE – Famous Attractions in the Country

From stunning skyscrapers to palm shaped islands and city sized malls to terrific museums, the UAE is a beautiful mosaic of seven stunning emirates. Read on to learn about some of the country’s most amazing architectural wonders and top rated attractions.

Dubai

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa is a fascinating superstructure located in Dubai. Dominating the skyline, this popular 125 floor architectural marvel is the best place to enjoy the fantastic 360 degree panoramic view of the city and its surrounding landscape. An evening at Burj Khalifa is certainly an experience of a lifetime.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

A masterpiece of modern Islamic architecture, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is among the largest mosques in the world, located in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.  With over 80 marble domes, over 1000 columns, 24 carat golden chandeliers and the largest hand woven carpet, the mosque is truly unique. Take a guided tour of the mosque and explore the different facets of it.

Dubai Museum, Dubai

Paying tribute to the Emirate’s history and culture, Dubai Museum is among the oldest surviving structures in the city. Offering you an intriguing insight in to the past eras, this 1787 construction is home to the emirate’s ancient artefacts and archaeological digs dating back to the 3rd Millennium BC. Learn about the rich legacy of this former fishing village through the many exhibitions lined up here.

Fujairah Museum, Fujairah

Preserving a major chunk of the country’s ancestral history, Fujairah Museum is another vital structure in the country. Displaying artefacts and antiques, this museum features ancient weapons, costumes, Bedouin jewellery and other interesting collectables. The ornate baroque style ceiling and wall carvings are big hits with the travellers.

Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain

One of the most prominent cultural places in the city, Al Ain Palace Museum is a popular tourist attraction. Opened to the public in 2001, this former palace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is home to ancient collectables and valuables dating back to the emirate’s early years. Take a guided tour of the museum and experience the rich royal legacy of the city.

Al Fahidi Historic District, Dubai

Travel back in time and experience how the city looked without those tall skyscrapers and luxury malls. Make your way to the popular Al Fahidi Historic District to explore the rich historical legacy of the city by visiting some of the oldest sites, traditional souks, cultural museums and ancient craft shops.

5 of the Most Popular Attractions in Bahrain

Bahrain

Comprising of over 30 islands along the Persian Gulf, Bahrain is a terrific travel destination, boasting a long, rich history. The country is home to some ancient museums and several other interesting tourist attractions. Read on to learn about some of them.

Bahrain National Museum

Possessing a rich and varied collection of artefacts, Bahrain National Museum is one the oldest public museums in the country. Located in the city of Manama, the museum is home to a wide range of ancient collectables including traditional handicrafts, documents, pictures, sculptures, artefacts and manuscripts. Seals from the early Dilmun period and the Assyrian Clay Coffin, dating back to the 6th century, are the most popular attractions here.

Qal’at al-Bahrain

Also known as ‘Bahrain Fort’ or ‘Fort of Bahrain’, Qal’at al-Bahrain is a famous archaeological site. Founded way back in 2300 BC, the site is home to numerous structures and buildings used for residential, public, military, commercial and religious purposes. Items made of metal like copper pieces, fishing tools, socketed spearhead, steatite bowls, carnelian beads, a stone weight and a few potsherds are among the key attractions here.

Manama Souq

One of the oldest markets in the country, Manama Souq is a top attraction among travellers, especially the shopaholics. First set up in 1965, this popular old bazaar is home to a wide range of goods including souvenirs, electronics, clothes, spices, herbs, nuts, sheesha bottles along with other daily essentials. Moreover, there are numerous sweet shops and eateries serving some authentic cuisines and traditional gastronomic delights.

Al Fateh Grand Mosque

Built in 1987 and named after the founder of Bahrain, Al Fateh Grand Mosque is among the largest mosques in the world. Located in the heart of the capital, it is known for its architectural design and is home to around 7,000 books, chronicles and other printed materials dating back to the country’s early inception years. Copies from the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, the Global Arabic Encyclopaedia, the Encyclopaedia of Islamic Jurisprudence and Al-Azhar journals are among the most famous items found here.

Riffa Fort

Offering a glimpse into the royal life of the 19th century, Riffa Fort is one of the oldest structures in the country. Built in 1812 during the reign of Shaikh Salman bin Ahmed Al Fateh Al Khalifa, it is a major tourist attraction known for its Islamic design and architecture. Wall cravings, paintings, sculptures, stone figures and figurines belonging to that era are among the major draws here.

Egypt: Famous Ancient Monuments Other Than the Pyramids

Egyptian Pyramids are the only surviving ones out of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They are brilliant examples of the stunning architectural capabilities of ancient people and attract tourists from all over the world. But there is a lot more to Egypt as a holiday destination than just mighty Pyramids. Here is a list of four other historical monuments you must visit during holidays in Egypt.

Kom Ombo Temple

Kom-Ombo-Egypt

Located at a distance of 30 miles from Aswan, the Kom Ombo temple, also known as the Double Temple, dates from about 180 BC. The temple is unique as it is devoted to two gods – Horus, the falcon headed god, and Sobek, the crocodile god. You will be surprised to see two adjacent entrances to the same structure. The temple has a two of everything – two gods, two courts, two halls and so on!

Valley of the Kings

Valley-of-the-Kings

Valley of the Kings, situated on the West Bank of River Nile in the ancient city of Thebes is also known as the burial site of King Tutankhamun. It is said that the Valley of Kings is one of the most opulent tombs built by ancient Egyptians for enabling a better afterlife for their pharaohs. The extraordinarily carved walls, brilliantly crafted paintings and magnificently planned architecture inside the tomb will leave you spellbound.

Temple of Osiris

Temple-of-Osiris

The Temple of Osiris located in proximity to many other ancient temples in Abydos is among the biggest treasure after the pyramids in Egypt. The beautiful ruins of this temple will compel you to run your imagination back to the past and envisage the temple in all its glory. There are a few other ancient temples including the Portal Temple and the Funerary Complex located nearby this temple.

Abu Simbel

Abu-Simbel

Abu Simbel temple was built during the reign of the Ramesses II by cutting into a solid rock cliff located near the first and second cataract of the River Nile. It was built in such a way that every year precisely on February 22 and October 22 the sunlight would fall into the inner sanctuary and light up the three statues including one of the Pharaoh seated on a bench.

Holidays in Muscat: What to do

Shadowed by the rocky Al Hazar Mountains on the west and overlooking the Arabian Sea on the East, the ancient city and the capital of Oman, Muscat, is ranked amongst the most stunning destinations in the Middle East. Apart from the smorgasbord of places to explore and activities to indulge in, the city’s proximity to desert, forts and historical ruins leads to an ultimate holiday experience.

Muscat

Here is a list of places to explore and activities to indulge in Muscat.

Panoramic view from Muscat Gate Museum

Built above the official gate used to guard the old city of Muscat, the Muscat Gate Museum is a historical piece of architecture not to miss. The museum makes use of vintage photographs to narrate Muscat’s story and the way the ancient gate was used to check movement in and out of the city. The panoramic view from the top of the museum will leave you spellbound.

A show at Royal Opera House, Muscat

Royal Opera House is Oman’s premier venue for cultural and musical evenings. The list of legendary artist groups to have performed here includes the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Ballet Theatre, Soprano Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo and Yo Yo Ma. The pipe organ concert with the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra is a majestic experience.

A Persian Carpet weaved over four years!

The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is home to one of the largest Persian Carpets in the world. This marvel, weaved in over four years by more than 600 women, hangs in the impressively built main prayer hall. The Sulatn Qaboos Grand Mosque, located near the international airport is perhaps the best introduction to Oman and the city of Muscat.

A Walk by the Muttrah Cornice

Muttrah, the main port in Muscat resembles a beautiful small village situated by the stunning waters. The walk from Muttrah stretches all the way down to Old Muscat. There are multiple shops in between offering artefacts crafted by local artisans. You can also stop for a quick bite at the local eateries.  If you feel like cycling down the cornice, there are cycles available for free in the morning.

The Big Bus Tour

With first bus starting at around nine in the morning, the hop on hop off big bus tour is perhaps the best way to discover Muscat in a single day. The bus covers all the major buildings and other tourist attractions in fewer than 120 minutes. However, the passengers are free to hop off at locations of their choice, explore and hop on the next bus from the nearby stop. The view of the city from the Muttrah fort, a must visit attraction during the Muscat tour, is a lauding one.

Interesting things to do during your layover in Dubai Airport

Dubai-airport

While those tall skyscrapers, interesting architecture and giant shopping malls are best enjoyed on a long holiday in Dubai, a few hours’ stopover in this ultra-modern city isn’t a bad deal either. Here is a list of things to do and enjoy while you’re in transit in Dubai.

Enjoy the surroundings

Dubai International Airport offers free Wi-Fi access to the travellers. You can stream movies of your choice and enjoy music before boarding your flight. For the ones who have a long layover, there is the option of visiting the world’s second largest choreographed fountain, The Dubai Fountain, the tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa and other key tourist attractions of Dubai. Transit passengers can get a 96-hour visa at the Dubai airport. For more information on transit visa for British national, visit the FCO website.

Shop till you drop

A haven for shopaholics, Dubai International Airport is home to a wide selection of electronics, beverages, chocolates, perfumes, cosmetics, liquor and other stuff. A few hours’ stopover at this international airport surely promises a delightful experience but if there’s sufficient time before your next flight, things can get even more interesting for you as you can visit the nearby malls and old souks.

Wine and Dine

While in Dubai, enjoy a range of traditional as well as global cuisines at the famous restaurants and cafes. With some of the most terrific eateries located around the airport, it’s easy to treat your taste buds to the best of Arabic cuisine and popular dishes. Some of the airlines with stopovers in Dubai offer special discounted access to the airport lounges and bars. Make the most of your layover in Dubai and enjoy a fine dining experience in the emirate!

Lounge Around

For the ones on a quick stopover at Dubai airport, the best thing to do would be to laze around at the airport. Grab a quick bite along with your favourite beverage and wait for your next flight. The health club and snoozecubes on Terminal 1 of the airport add to your overall experience of the journey.

5 Of the Most Popular Attractions in Al Ain, UAE

uae

Popularly known as the ‘Garden City’, Al Ain is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the United Arab Emirates. Boasting a long historical legacy, this city is home to ancient buildings, royal forts and several museums. For the beautiful city offers something for everyone visiting it, here is a list of most explored attractions in and around Al Ain.

Al Ain National Museum

Officially established in 1969 under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Al Ain National Museum is among the most ancient museums in the city. Offering an insight into the rich tradition and culture, this museum is home to a wide collection of objects and artefacts used by the early settlers. The museum is divided across three different sections, each displaying a diverse and wide range of collectables.

Al Ain Zoo

One of the UAE’s largest zoos, Al Ain Zoo is a must visit attraction in the city. Officially opened in 1969, it is home to a wide range of animals including Arabian antelope, African gazelles, giraffes, eland, Oryx, lions, tigers, pumas, black spotted leopards and jaguars. The zoo is famous for its research facilities and animal breeding programmes especially for endangered animals. Apart from animal spotting, visitors can enjoy interesting activities like giraffe feeding, Jeep safari, camel rides and exhibitions focussed on the protection and preservation of wildlife from extinction.

Al-Jahili Fort

Al-Jahili Fort is one of the UAE’s most historic buildings. A former headquarter of the Oman Trucial Scouts, this 1891 construction today is known for its design and architecture. An exclusive exhibition devoted to prominent photographers, artists and paintings is a major draw among the visitors. The white photographs taken by the popular traveller ‘Wilfred Thesiger’ are big hits with the visitors. The west wing of the fort is dedicated to temporary exhibitions and cultural performances.

Al Ain Camel Market

Popularly known as ‘camel souk’, Al Ain Camel Market is among the most visited places in the city. A former meeting hub for merchants and travellers, the market offers visitors a chance to see camels up as they are exchanged. For the ones who wish to explore the market and experience the proceedings, special guided tours are available. The market operates daily from 6 am to 7 pm.

Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum

Located on the western end of the city, Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum is one of the oldest constructions in Al Ain. This former residence of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was converted into a museum in 1998. Presently, the museum is home to a wide collection of goods and items used by the king and his family. Gifts and donations made to him by other rulers and patrons, war weapons and valuables are exhibited here.

Top things to see in Fujairah, UAE

A city away from the glitz and glamour, Fujairah is the youngest and among the most industrious emirates in the UAE.

fujairah-fort

Located on the East Coast, it is home to some of the pristine beaches, terrific monuments and beautiful landscape. Indeed, the city is teeming with wonderful tourist spots and attractions; here is a list of the most popular ones.

Al-Bidyah Mosque

Also known as ‘Ottoman Mosque’, Al-Bidyah Mosque is the oldest mosque in the UAE. Built in 1446 AD, the structure is known for its beautifully crafted four helical domes. Each dome here consists of several small domes mounted one over the other. The entrance gate and walls here are dotted with beautiful decorative carvings and paintings. After a full day of exploring the beautiful site, you can enjoy a sumptuous range of authentic cuisines and delicacies at nearby food stalls and restaurants.

Fujairah Fort

Situated in the old village, Fujairah Fort is among the oldest forts in the UAE. Built in 1670, the fort stands as a classic example of traditional Arabian architecture. Constructed at an height of about 20 meters above sea level using locally available materials like stone, gravel, clay, hay and alsarooj substance (gypsum), the fort is a must visit. The entrance gate of the fort is dotted with beautifully crafted paintings and carvings. It has three major sections, several halls and a square tower preserved and maintained by Fujairah’s Department of Archaeology and Heritage. The weapons and items used and possessed by the royal family are among the most prized possession of the museum.

Fujairah Museum

Located in the heart of the city, Fujairah Museum is one of the most important museums in the UAE. Constructed in 1991, the structure is divided into three halls and is known for featuring some of the most ancient artefacts and antiques excavated during the time of the discovery of the city. While the first hall is designated to tools used by early humans for agriculture, fishing and trade, the second hall includes ancient weapons and utensils used by people in the past. The ancient rifle called Khedewi is an important possession of the museum.

Al Bithnah Fort

Nestled between Fujairah and Masafi, Al Bithnah Fort is another famous tourist spot. Excavated in 1987, the structure houses some of the ancient petroglyphs created and crafted during the war era. Constructed using stone, mud-brick, adobe bricks and palm-wood planking, it is a must visit attraction in the city. Some of the weapons used by the army at the time of the war are displayed here. Interestingly, there are a series of paintings and sculptures put on display from the entrance till the main hall.

Must Visit Museums and Cultural Centres in Sharjah

Located along the Southern coast of the Persian Gulf, Sharjah is one of the most populous cities in the UAE. Known for its rich history and culture, the city is recognized as the ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’.

Sharjah

Preserving a major chunk of Emirati history, Sharjah is home to several museums and cultural centres. For those of you looking to know more, here is a list of the most popular museums in Sharjah.

Sharjah Heritage Museum

Sharjah-Museum-of-Islamic-Civilization

First opened to public in 2005, Sharjah Heritage Museum is one of the famous museums in the city. Located in the heart of Sharjah, the popular preservatory is known for featuring durables, utilitarian items and other luxury goods, all highlighting different aspects of local life. The wide collection of items and objects at the museum include a ‘Loom’ or ‘Sadu’ (a wooden tool used for knitting woollen yarn), Aftakh (a golden ring generally worn by women on their toe), Soieih Abaya (a mantle for the head usually made of golden yarn) and crescent shaped glass bottles mostly used by babies. Exhibitions on subjects of literature and culture are organized regularly.

Maraya Art Centre

Located at the Al Majaz Waterfront, Maraya Art Centre is a famous art centre in Sharjah. Officially launched in 2006, the well known site is home to Maraya Video Archive. Featuring works of prominent Middle Eastern and International artists, the centre is home to several paintings and sculptures dating back to the early 19th century. The private collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi referred to as ‘Barjeel Art Foundation’ is a popular attraction at the centre. For tourists to have a firsthand experience of the arts and culture, regular exhibitions and informative workshops are organised at the centre from time to time.

Sharjah Archaeology Museum

Located in the heart of the city, Sharjah Archaeology Museum is a beautiful archaeological museum in Sharjah. Established in 1993, the preservatory is known for featuring age-old artefacts, currencies, jewellery, pottery and weapons excavated during the discovery of the city. The golden bible, ivory comb placed inside an alabaster bowl and the ceramic dome are among the popular exhibits at the museum. On display are beautifully crafted models of 2500 years old tombs, cemeteries and houses found in and around the city.

Sharjah Art Museum

Located in the Al Shuwaihiyeen area, Sharjah Art Museum is another famous museum in the emirate. Inaugurated in 1997, it features a collection of paintings and contemporary art forms by prominent artists from the Middle East. Paintings of famous artists dating back to the early 18th and 19th century are also displayed in the museum. Fresh exhibitions, displaying works of popular artists from across the world, are regular phenomena at the museum.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

Located in the Al-Majjarah area, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is a cultural museum. Opened to public in 2008, the preservatory is known for featuring over 5000 artefacts from across the Islamic world. Other objects at the museum include carvings, manuscripts, metalwork and scientific instruments dating back to the period. Exhibitions on Islamic culture and practices and informative workshops are organised for travellers visiting the site.

Exciting Things to Try On Your Next Dubai Visit

Dubai is such a beautiful and luxurious Middle Eastern land that people are usually lost in the glitz and glamour and go about doing the bare minimum on their visits! However, there is a sea of opportunities that you can indulge in here but you need to think beyond the obvious and find out things to do that might interest you.

The Gold Facial

If you’re feeling pricey, act like it! There is a splendid Gold Facial that you can have while in Dubai. It is obviously going to cost you a little higher than regular skin treatments, but the results they say are spectacular. It uses 24 karat gold sheets that are placed on your skin and then massaged; leaving your skin glowing and supple.

Living in an aquarium suite!

aquarium

Opt for the splendid Atlantis underwater suite that costs around £5,500 per night and you can spot hundreds of marine creatures while you enjoy a stay here! The two underwater suites – Poseidon and Neptune – boast floor-to-ceiling and look directly to Ambassador Lagoon aquarium.

Swimming with dolphins, diving with sharks!

Swimming-with-dolphins

Atlantis The Palm also provides opportunities for swimming with majestic and playful dolphins. When you get closer to this creature you will realise how docile, loving and fun they are, and you will have a great time watching them perform tricks. You can also go scuba diving and see sharks as well a number of other aquatic animals in their natural habitat. These are one of kind experiences and if you are looking to try something interesting, this can definitely be one of the things you do.

Skydiving

Dubai is famous for extreme adventure sports and you must try some of these interesting activities. Skydiving is a rare and once in a lifetime kind of experience and if it is something you have been meaning to try for a while Dubai offers the safest options for trying this extreme sport.

Fly boarding with a splash

Amongst all things new and exciting, Fly-boarding is a terrific new water sport and if you are up for trying exciting things in Dubai, this is definitely something you have to do. An inspired creation of a French Jet Ski designer, this sport will make you feel like an action movie star!

Shopping in Dubai – Check out Some of the Most Popular Souks in the Emirate!

Shopping in Dubai can be best enjoyed at one of those traditional souks and shopping complexes spread across the city, offering a flavour of authentic Arabic culture along with a wide range of products from across the region. For those of you hunting for a unique shopping experience, here is a list of some of the most popular souks in Dubai!

Gold Souk

gold-souk

For most people in the world, Dubai is the city of gold! Located in the heart of Deira, Gold Souk is Dubai’s most famous and visited souk. The popular market comprises of over 3000 gold merchants and traders dealing exclusively in 22 or 24 carat gold jewellery. Prices of these items are decided by the market rate of gold and include the charge of workmanship.

Spice Souk

spice-souk

Breathe in the rich aromas of authentic herbs and spices at the traditional spice souk in Dubai. Situated on Baniyas street in Deira, the souk is filled with an incredible range of spices and ingredients from across the Middle East and other parts of the world. Popular spices available at the souk include cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, and henna along with different sorts of dry fruits, incense sticks, sheesha and tobacco. Along with the variety of herbs and spices, it is the fragrance and aroma which attracts tourists and shoppers to this market.

Perfume Souk

For those of you obsessed with heavenly scents, Dubai’s Perfume Souk is just the place for you. Located on Sikkat Al Khali Street in Deira, the market is a perfect place to pick up your favourite scents and perfumes made by essential oils and traditional ingredients. You can choose from over thousand fragrances. If you don’t like any of the available ones, there’s always the option of creating your own perfume!

Textile Souk

textiles-souk

Also known as Old Souk, this popular souk is situated in Bur Dubai. The marketplace features a massive range of fabrics and textiles including cashmere, silk, cotton, wool along with souvenirs, gifts and other goods. Although the area is dedicated to fabrics and textiles, the souk is also home to some of the city’s most skilled tailors to help you stitch your favourite attire with the best material from the market. Fabric and textile prices are negotiable and most shops offer a sale on special days and occasions.

Naif Souk

One of the city’s oldest markets, Naif Souk is the most famous souks in Dubai. The former camel market today feature over 1000 shops and stalls selling a wide range of products, such as textiles, goods, scents, fabrics, electronics and souvenirs. For those of you who know how to bargain, this place can turn out some terrific deals. Shopping in Naif Souk is a great way to experience Dubai’s traditional culture!