About United Arab Emirates & Oman Travel
Abu Dhabi: This is the capital and second largest city in the UAE. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis, center of politics, and home to the Emirati royal family. Modern Abu Dhabi traces its origins to the rise of an important tribal confederation of Bedu, the Bani Yas, in the late 18th century. Into the mid 20th century, the economy of Abu Dhabi was mainly sustained by camel herding, date farming, fishing, and pearl diving. Today, the UAE’s large hydrocarbon wealth gives it one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, and Abu Dhabi owns the majority of these resources – 95 percent of the oil and six percent of gas. One of the world’s largest producers of oil, Abu Dhabi has actively worked to diversify its economy with tourism investments. The new Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is inspiring, while the sporting and auto attractions of Yas Island are enticing. Another of Abu Dhabi’s main draws is the Empty Quarter and the historic Liwa Oasis. A visit to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is a fascinating experience.
Ajman: Located near the cities of Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain, Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates. It encompasses some interesting sites. One of the main attractions is the long expanse of powdery white sand beach, stretching for almost 20 miles along the Persian Gulf Coast. Its 18th-century fort, now a museum, displays collections of old manuscripts, artifacts relating to traditional life in Ajman and old weapons. This port city manages to retain a certain charm the other emirates lack, mostly due to its small size. The section called Masfout is an important agricultural area providing much of the local produce found throughout the region. It is known for its colorful marble. Of interest are the old waterfront, dhow boat building and the archaeological site of Mowaih.
Al Ain: A legendary stop for Bedu caravans en route to Oman, this oasis town has much historical significance. Over 4,000 years old, Al Ain sights include Al Nahyan Fort, a famous camel market, and the Al Ain National Museum. There is also a state-of-the-art go kart facility.
Dubai: A gem of sophistication between the desert and the Arabian Gulf, Dubai has come to epitomize the very concept of luxury. It boasts extraordinary hotels, amazing beach resorts and entertainments that include an indoor snow skiing complex and all manner of water sports. There is also a strong cultural heritage found in its centuries-old neighborhoods, mosques and markets. Dubai is famous for its nearly endless array of shopping venues, from the most upscale boutiques to the frenetic lanes of local souqs. The artist colony of Bastakiya and the up-and-coming art in the industrial area of Al Quoz offer a taste of Dubai that most visitors miss. Other sights include the Sudanese, Yemeni, and Somali Quarters, Gold and Spice souqs, Jumeirah Mosque and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
Fujairah: The only emirate located on the Gulf of Oman, Fujairah is dominated by the Hajjar Mountains and pristine beaches. Fujairah’s Heritage Village depicts traditional life here. Fujairah Fort was the first fort built in UAE. Fujairah is also home to the oldest mosque in the UAE, built in 1446 of mud and bricks. Al Bidyah Mosque has four domes, unlike other similar mosques, which have between seven and twelve, and lacks a minaret. Almost entirely in the mountains, it has a higher than average yearly rainfall, allowing farmers to produce one crop every year.
Liwa Oasis & The Empty Quarter: Also called Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter is the largest continuous body of sand in the world. It spreads across UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen. Nomads inhabit parts of the Empty Quarter at various times of year. The very northern edge of the Empty Quarter is accessible from the Liwa Oasis, a historic oasis town. It is possible to drive to Tal Mireb, the tallest dune in the country. Rub Al Khali is eerily beautiful.
Oman: Muscat is the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, and is a good base to explore the country. Archaeological remains in Oman have been discovered dating back to the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, and are the oldest signs of human settlement in the area. Known since the early first century as an important trading port between the west and the east, Muscat was ruled by various indigenous tribes as well as foreign powers such as the Persians and the Portuguese Empire at various points in its history. A regional military power in the 18th century, Muscat’s influence extended as far as East Africa and Zanzibar. As an important port-town in the Gulf of Oman, Muscat attracted foreign tradesmen and settlers such as the Persians, Balochs and Gujaratis. Oman has beaches, wadis with lush oases of palm trees, and forts and castles to explore. Activities include sand skiing in the desert, scuba diving, rock climbing, trekking, surfing, sailing, cave exploration, bird watching and camel races.
Ras Al Khaimah: This is probably the most relaxing emirate in the country. It has a beautiful stretch of coastline as well as desert landscapes. Here you can set your own pace. Relax on the beach in the Al Hamra; or head into the desert to explore the dunes, or trek in the Hajjar Mountains.
Sharjah: This is the cultural capital of the country. Indeed, UNESCO dubbed Sharjah ‘The Cultural capital of the Arab World’ in 1998. It boasts some 20 museums, a popular heritage area and Al Noor Mosque, all offer a glimpse into the past. One of the most moving sites is an old cloak from the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, on display in the Museum of Islamic Civilization. The Maritime Museum shows the importance the pearl diving industry once had for the emirate. Al Arsah Souq has a wide array of items to shop for including old foreign currency, antiques, spices and jewelry. This is the third largest and most populous city in the UAE, and sits along the northern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula. This was once one of the wealthiest towns in this region. It has been inhabited for more than 5,000 years. This emirate is known to stamp collectors due to the large numbers of stamps issued by the Sharjah post office before the formation of the UAE.
Umm al-Quwain: This northern emirate features a fort-cum-museum that overlooks the sea and houses artifacts and a collection of weapons. Traditional activities of fishing, falconry, camel racing and dhow building are still evident. The harbor is surrounded by old coral stone houses that display the original architecture and intricate sculptured plaster work. Skilled craftsmen continue to make traditional dhow boats. Umm Al Quwain sits where the town of Al Dour used to be. It was an important trading port from about 200 BC to 200 AD. In winter, camel racing can be watched in the early mornings on Thursdays and Fridays. Camel caravans are still a familiar site crossing the desert.
Suggested United Arab Emirates & Oman Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Abu Dhabi, UAE
The capital and second largest city in the UAE is the center of politics, industry, commerce and culture.
Day 2: Abu Dhabi
The city is home to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Yas Island, the sporting and concert venue, and part of the Empty Quarter, the largest sand desert in the world.
Day 3: Abu Dhabi/Dubai
Dubai is internationally known for its nearly endless array of shopping venues.
Day 4: Dubai
The emirate is also home to an active artists’ colony, Al Quoz, and historic souqs including traditional sites of Gold and Spice Souqs,
Day 5: Dubai/Sharjah/Ajman/Umm Al Quwain/Ras Al Khaimah
Experience five of the emirates in one day, including the cultural heart in Sharjah, and Ajman, the smallest of the seven emirates; and Umm Al Quwain.
Day 6: Ras Al Khaimah
A beautiful stretch of coastline and desert with unique wildlife welcome all who visit Ras Al Khaimah, an ideal destination to relax and end a vacation.
Day 7: Ras Al Khaimah/Dubai/Depart
Custom Travel Options
Al Ain (day trip)
This city is a legendary stop for Bedu caravans en route to Oman. It is an oasis town with a famous camel market. It has archaeological sites showing human settlement over thousands of years.
Fujairah (2 days)
Fujairah is dominated by the Hajjar Mountains and pristine beaches. Its heritage village depicts traditional life. It has the first fort built in the UAE, which dominates the coastline.
Liwa Oasis (2 days)
Liwa Oasis rests in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s western Al Gharbia region, where adventure options include mountain biking, desert and camel trekking and falconry.
Oman (5 days)
Muscat is the gateway to Oman, an ancient capital with souqs, Portuguese Forts, and impressive geological coastline seen nowhere else. Nizwa is the birthplace of Islam. Discover traditional Bedu life and help track green sea turtles in the Ras Al Jinz Sea Turtle Reserve.
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Approx. $500 - $3,000 per day.