What to see and do in the Middle East

With all-year round sunshine and manageable journey times, the Middle East continues to be an exciting destination for those seeking a relaxing break in a far-flung and exotic destination. Popular destinations include Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, all home to some of the world’s best hotels, leisure facilities and shopping. Not only does the Middle East provide the perfect break for some well-deserved R&R, but its cultural scene is thriving with the advent of several art galleries, museums, palaces and UNSESCO World Heritage Sites. Whether you’re planning a jam-packed trip or just to put your feet up, we’ve got you covered and rounded up the must-see things to do and see in the Middle East, allowing you to make the most of your holiday.

Ras Al Khaimah

A short drive north of Dubai International Airport lies Ras Al Khaimah, offering visitors pristine beaches, terracotta deserts, breath-taking mountains, hospital locals excited to share their culture, and a range of 5-star hotels and resorts at 4-star prices. And whether you’re young or young at heart, there’s plenty for families to do.

Visitors can choose from boutique hotels to luxurious five-star properties and resorts, including The Cove Rotana Resort, Marjan Island Resort and Spa, Double Tree by Hilton Ras Al Khaimah, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, Double Tree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island, Mangrove Hotel, Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort and Al Hamra Residence & Village.   

For those with a quest for adrenaline fuelled adventure, the Jebel Jais Flight is a must. Located on Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE, Jebel Jais Flight is the Guinness World Record’s longest zipline at 2.83km long. Adventure seekers are propelled at speeds between 120 and 150kph from a height of 1,683m above sea level.

For more info visit: https://en.rasalkhaimah.ae/

Abu Dhabi

Must See: Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, conjures up images of beautiful blue skies and powder-white beaches, but it is also home to an array of must see historical and cultural attractions. Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which celebrates the universal creativity of mankind through stories that transcend civilisations, geographies and times. Visitors to the gallery will have the chance to view some artworks by some of world’s greatest artists including Da Vinci, Monet and Picasso. Feast on the breath-taking architecture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, home to 1,000 marble columns, 82 domes and the world’s largest handmade carpet. The green, oasis city of Al Ain – just 90 minutes east of Abu Dhabi city – is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements, and home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, museums and palaces, making it a great day trip away from the main city.

For more info visit: https://visitabudhabi.ae/uk-en/default.aspx  

Egypt

Must See: Couples seeking to immerse themselves in ancient history will delight in the magic of cruising down the longest river in the world, the Nile. Discover the myths of Pharaohs and legends of the Pyramids while taking in Egypt’s most captivating sights from the comfort of a river cruise, with shore excursions including a visit the Temple of Hatshepsut and Valley of the Queens. Travelers will be captivated as the time line of the Ancient Egyptian civilization unfolds during this iconic river cruise.

For more info visit: www.planetcruise.com

 Prices and Packages: Planet Cruise offers an 11-night fly river cruise onboard Discover Egypt’s MS Tulip from just £1,097pp (full board on cruise) flying from the UK on 27th April 2020. The trip includes return UK flights and daily onshore excursions.

Qatar

Immerse yourself in Qatar’s rich cultural heritage at new National Museum of Qatar which recently opened to the public. The concept behind the museum was to evoke the life of the Qatari people and celebrate the country’s connection between the desert and the sea.  Enjoy a leisurely lunch by the marina on The Pearl-Qatar or dine in one of the city’s many fine dining restaurants including the world’s largest Nobu, two Gordon Ramsay restaurants as well as the hip STK lounge and steakhouse at the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton hotel. Traditional dining options can also be discovered in restaurants such as Al Mourjan, which offers stunning views across the Corniche, or the Shay Al Shoomos restaurant in the heart of the Souq Waqif which serves Middle Eastern cuisine and traditional Arabic coffee. For an authentic taste of local life and traditional architecture, nothing can beat a wander through the bustling lanes of Souq Waqif. Besides the many treasures on offer to buy, it is a lively market area with cafés and food stalls and is ideal for people-watching. Spend the evening relaxing in Doha Bay on a traditional Dhow boat cruise and enjoy the panoramic views of the city’s glittering skyline before taking an evening stroll along the Corniche board walk.

For more info visit: www.visitqatar.qa 

Jordan

Cosmos’ sister brand Globus offers a 7-day ‘Passage to Petra’ escorted tour of Jordan, priced from £1,865 per person. Itinerary highlights for the platinum tour include a four-wheel drive through sand dunes and the chance to walk amidst the Roman ruins of Amman and the iconic Wadi Rum ravine. The trip is available for departures through 2018 and the price includes flights, transfers, accommodation, the services of a tour director, selected meals, porterage, excursions, all airport taxes and private home pick-up service. To book, call 0800 668 1365. For more info visit: www.cosmos.co.uk/tours/Passage-to-Petra

Key Adventures

Enjoy an unforgettable experience walking down the Siq, the narrow gorge made famous in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Visit the Crusader Castle and Wadi Mujib, the “Jordanian Grand Canyon”

Explore Wadi Rum is the largest wadi (ravine) in Jordan and made eternally famous through the movie Lawrence of Arabia

Enjoy spectacular four-wheeling through the Jordanian sand dunes