Example Itinerary

Traditions and Cultures of the Arabian Gulf

Duration
11 days / 10 nights
Price Per Person
Interests
Heritage
Destinations
Oman, UAE, Qatar

Discover the traditions and culture of the Arabian Gulf on this 11-day journey which takes you to Qatar, UAE, and Oman. With similar narratives as small states that depended on port trade and grew into modern day oil-rich independent countries, these three nations share much in common, though it’s the subtle differences that make up each country’s unique identity. In Qatar, see the endangered Arabian oryx at a sanctuary, admire the world’s largest collection of Islamic art, and visit the spot where Qatar local forces defended their homes from invading Ottoman forces. To the east in the UAE, discover Dubai’s colorful souks, Al Ain’s secret to a flourishing oasis in the desert, and Abu Dhabi’s falcon hospital and date market. Finally in Oman, go off-road to explore its hidden wadis, a coastal port town, and an ancient oasis settlement.  

This itinerary is an example. It’s designed to inspire you and provide you with thoughtfully curated ideas. You can choose to do this exact itinerary or completely personalize it. All trips are 100% bespoke.

Highlights

  • Arabian Wildlife: See the endangered Arabian oryx at a sanctuary where numbers are thriving, visit the camel races to see this tradition in action, and learn about the beloved falcons at the souq where they are sold as well as at a state-of-the-art hospital. 
  • UNESCO Landmarks: Visit the preserved ruins of a fishing village which gives a glimpse into the nation's past, see how an oasis flourished in the middle of a desert with ancient irrigation technology, and an ancient oasis settlement with remarkable technology that sustained habitation. Each of these remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites tell important tales of how these nations came to be.
  • Beautiful Landscapes: Golden dunes, palm oases, dramatic mountain ranges, turqouise ports and bays - the Arabian Gulf has it all. 

Day-by-Day

Day 1

Doha

Your journey across the Arabian Gulf begins in the small country of Qatar on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, and the rest of the peninsular country is surrounded by the Arabian gulf. Touch down in the capital city of Doha where you will be met at the airport and transferred via private vehicle to your hotel. Check in and unwind after your flight, and allow yourself to acclimate to the hot desert climes of the region. In the late afternoon and the heat of the day wanes, venture out to visit the Souq Waqif. A souq or souk is a traditional Arabian open-air street market. In operation for over 100 years, Souq Waqif maintains its traditional feel though it has evolved with the times to include more space for vendors. One special area of the souq not to be missed is the falcon souq, the premier place where locals come to purchase their birds. Falconry is a tradition in Qatar and across the Arabian gulf as a means of hunting for food, an integral part of the Bedouin lifestyle. Today, falconry is considered a national pastime. At the souq, you can speak to the vendors and see these beloved birds up close, some of which can fetch over half a million dollars. 

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: There is nothing quite like the private catamaran-accessible Banana Island Resort Doha in Qatar; with its golden strip of beach, spectacular views of the Arabian Sea, and a carefree environment, the resort is truly a special destination.

Variety: There are practically endless activities available for resort guests that range from high seas fishing excursions to late-night cinema screenings, ensuring that every day will be chock full of exciting, varied diversions.

Relaxation: Indulgent bathtubs complement every suite, the golden sands of the beach beckon, and an ample spa provides an array of treatments; in short, this resort is a haven for relaxation.

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Anantara Banana Island Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Dining Experiences: The expert in-house culinary team at the Four Seasons in Doha works to provide guests with one of the most diverse culinary experiences in the city. The chefs who lead the various fine dining options hail from all around the world.

Exquisite Design: Having undergone fresh renovations down to all restaurants and suites, the Four Seasons Doha deserves a nod as one of the finest offerings in the Four Seasons lineup.

An Urban Resort: The hotel’s layout – with the thriving business district on one side and a private beach on the other – makes it an oasis of leisure and hospitality in the capital city.

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Four Seasons Doha Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Marks of Distinction: The Ritz-Carlton Doha has several unique design touches and features that set it apart in the world of five-star luxury, including an ornate chandelier that is reputedly the largest of its kind in the Middle East.

Attention to Detail: Guests should expect to want for nothing during a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Doha. Available services for guests range from twice-daily housekeeping and 24-hour in-room dining to laundry and car-hire assistance.

Health and Wellness: The hotel’s in-house spa is among the finest in the city, with signature treatments that blend Arabic principles, Asian traditions, and European concepts.

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Ritz-Carlton Doha Preferred Hotel

Day 2

Doha

Head out of town today for a day-trip outside of Doha to learn about its history. As you leave the city, make a stop by the Barzan Towers, fortified watchtowers which served to keep an eye on pearl divers, look-out for approaching ships, and an observatory for keeping track of the moon. Though renovated and fitted with modern amenities, the traditional Qatari design and building methods were preserved. Continue to the very north of the peninsula where you will find the Al Jassasiya petroglyphs, a collection of more than 900 rock carvings found at a deserted quarry which are estimated to be at least a few centuries old. A short drive to the west coast brings you to Al Zubarah, a deserted and ruined town that flourished as a pearling and trading hub in the 1700s and 1800s. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a glimpse into life back in the days when Qatar was sustained by sea trade. It tells the story of how small independent states developed and flourished outside the control of the Ottoman, European, and Persian empires, eventually leading to the emergence of modern day Gulf States. After lunch, return to the city and visit the National Museum of Qatar. The impressive building, designed to resemble a desert rose, features a permanent exhibition that present the history of Qatar through artifacts, artworks, textiles, historical documents, and more.

Doha
Doha

Day 3

Doha

This morning, begin with a stroll along the corniche, a waterfront promenade that stretches over 4 miles long and offers views of the city’s skyline. Stop to visit the Museum of Islamic Art which sits on its own island jutting out from the corniche. This museum houses the most comprehensive collection of Islamic Art in the world, which spans three continents from the 7th to the 19th century.  The next site on today’s cultural immersion journey is Katara Cultural Village. This complex of narrow, cobbled alleyways lined with pale yellow flat-topped buildings, reminiscent of an old souq, houses dozens of galleries and venues hosting the creations of local and international painters, sculptors, photographers, and other artists. The spacious complex also has an open amphitheatre, an opera house, cinema, beach, boutiques, and a souq. In the late afternoon, head to Al-Shahaniya camel racing track to learn about this fascinating sport that has been part of Arabian culture for generations, tracing back to the seventh century. Modern day has seen child jockeys replaced with robot jockeys, and you can watch the practice runs which happen every evening around 18:30. You can also visit the camel stables and admire some of the best groomed and some of the most expensive camels in the world. 

Day 4

Abu Dhabi

A short morning flight takes you to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates located just east of Qatar. First, pay a visit to the falcon hospital, the world’s largest facility of its kind. Falconry is also popular in UAE and this state-of-the-art healthcare facility proves how adored the falcons are. Then, head to the Heritage Village to gain insight into the pre-oil era of the country. The walled complex houses recreations of traditional palm-leaf houses, ancient irrigation systems, and craftsmen at work showcasing leather tanning, pottery, sword smithing, and glass-blowing. Afterwards, take a cruise through the Eastern Mangroves on a traditional wooden boat. As you enjoy the scenery with traditional Arabian snacks, dates and strong coffee, learn about the mangroves ecosystem. Then, swing by the dates market where you can learn about and sample some of the 400 types of dates, a local favorite snack which is commonly served to guests and given as gifts. Finally, arrive at the Grand Mosque in time to see its stunning white marble domes basking in the soft glow of the sunset. The Grand Mosque is the biggest and most opulent in the country. 

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location:A beautiful palace situated on its own stretch of private beach, the façade of the building is simply breath-taking and close to everything you could need.

History: One of Abu Dhabi’s iconic landmarks, the gold and marble design embraces the rich culture and colourful traditions of this region.

Service:Personalized registration in the privacy of your suite, 24-hour butler service, luxury bathroom amenities, daily newspaper, fresh flower arrangements, evening turndown service, it’s hard not to be impressed by the flawless five-star luxury services offered.

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Emirates Palace Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Style: Designed by two top architectural companies, the hotel’s aesthetic perfectly balances sophistication, elegance, and warmth with its dark woods, beautiful furnishings, and water features.

Dining: Boasting eight different restaurants and bars, the hotel’s gourmet meals range from fresh seafood to authentic Cantonese cuisine.

Relaxation and Comfort: In addition to luxurious rooms and suites, the hotel houses a nine-room spa that offers several treatments and is equipped with a hammam, cold mist showers, a large whirlpool, and a sauna.

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Rosewood Abu Dhabi Preferred Hotel
About

Abu Dhabi is an opulent bastion of commerce and industry in the United Arab Emirates as well as the burgeoning nation’s capital. Situated on the waterfront of Al Bateen in the Abu Dhabi Marina, The Abu Dhabi Edition boast sleek, modern lines of décor in keeping with the modish high-rise buildings of the city set amid lines of palm trees and carefully manicured walkways.

If our Preferred Hotel is unavailable, this accommodation is a reliable alternative and has been personally vetted by the Remote Lands team. More information on this property is available on the “Hotels” tab at the top of the page.

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi

Day 5

Al Maha

Today, drive to Al Ain, an inland oasis city to the east which borders Oman. Al Ain Oasis is an UNESCO Heritage Site, a now lush space where the region’s inhabitants began taming the desert 4,000 years ago. Farmers tend to thousands of date palms and fruit trees, a delicate ecosystem that developed using traditional farming methods. The oasis is known for its use of an ancient falaj irrigation system which brings water to water farms and palm plantations. Take a leafy stroll through the plantations and visit the small museum. Nearby, see the lively camel market, the last of its kind in the UAE. Witness locals haggling over young Arabian camels that might grow up to become racers or entered into beauty pageants. Then visit Al Jahili Fort, located in the south of Al Ain city. Built in the late 1800s from mud bricks, the fort once protected the peace between the region’s tribes. A short drive into the desert brings you to your luxury desert oasis camp where you can spend the rest of the day at leisure. At this remote retreat, you can unwind and enjoy the tranquil desert landscape and vistas of sweeping plains from your tent or on a nature walk, camel trek, or horseback ride. You may also wish to join the resort’s signature desert safari, try your hand at archery, and enjoy sundowners in the dunes. 

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Set on a sandy canopy amongst a shady palm oasis in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, the Al Maha resort is the epitome of Bedouin luxury.

Service: Guests will be welcomed with warm Arabian hospitality upon arrival to Al Maha and will receive a personalized and attentive service throughout their stay, right up until the moment they leave.

History: According to legend, Al Maha was a wondrous oasis lost in the desert. A curious wanderer stumbled upon a protruding twig after following his falcon and returned the next day to unearth the spring hidden here and brought life back to the barren desert.

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Al Maha Preferred Hotel

Day 6

Dubai

After a leisurely breakfast in the desert, return to the coast to get to your next destination, Dubai. Known best for its ultramodern architecture and luxury entertainment outlets, Dubai’s cultural gems are often overlooked. Today, get in touch with Dubai’s cultural roots and discover another side to this glitzy city. Stroll through the narrow alleyways of the Bastakiya Quarter, enjoying the eclectic mix of art galleries and cafes housed in former Persian merchant shophouses. Engage in enlightening discourse about Emirati culture with the locals before sharing a traditional meal at SMCCU (Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding). In the afternoon, head the the Dubai Museum to learn about life in the region before the discovery of oil, from pearl diving, shipbuilding, and the bedouin lifestyle. Then, as the locals do, take an abra (water taxi) across the creek to visit the gold, spice, textiles, and perfume souks. These traditional markets are still teeming with activity, just as they did throughout the centuries when goods traveling from India, Africa, and Asia along the Silk Route were traded in these  bustling districts. 

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Only a 15-minute drive from the airport, yet strategically situated in the pulsing heart of downtown Dubai, proximity to the city’s main attractions as well as the property’s breathtaking views make the Address Downtown the ultimate address for a Dubai stay.

Accolades: The Address Downtown took home the award for the World’s Best Hotel Spa Suites at the World Spa Awards. A stay in the hotel’s Spa Suites or Signature Spa Suites includes a private terrace with an outdoor jacuzzi – the perfect place to enjoy the view.

Service: The Address family is known for contemporary design, excellent locations, elegant details and impeccable service. Address Downtown, being the brand’s flagship property, sets the bar high for exceptional hospitality and service standards.

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Address Downtown Dubai Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: One couldn’t possibly ask for a more superlative and exciting location for a hotel, with the Armani Hotel nestled into the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, overlooking downtown Dubai.

History: One of the world’s most fascinating construction projects, the Burj Khalifa was inaugurated in 2010, and is today known as a vertical city that rises into the sky.

Service: Everything in the hotel bears Armani’s signature touch, including the warm Italian-style hospitality and fine service shown to its guests.

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Armani Hotel Dubai Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: The iconic symbol of Dubai, the Burj Al Arab lives on its own island, and is a destination in itself, towering over the exciting, vibrant, and ever-flourishing city.

History: Construction began on this landmark hotel in 1994, and since then, it has slowly but surely grown into the most luxurious hotel in the world, frequented by royalty and celebrities alike.

Service: Often referred to as the world’s only 7-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab’s service is quite literally in a class by itself, with perks that include a 24-carat gold iPad for each guest’s use upon check-in.

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Burj Al Arab Preferred Hotel
Dubai
Dubai

Day 7

Dubai

This morning, get engaged with Dubai’s Middle Eastern communities and culture through food on a breakfast walking food tour. Feast on lesser known dishes from Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Iran as you listen to stories about where the foods came from and about the vendors who brought them to the city. Learn coffee etiquette, how to detect grades of saffron, and where the old timers shop for pomegranate syrup and sweets. In the afternoon, be ready for an off-road adventure out in the desert. Take a ride on the sand dunes, weaving through the trackless sand and tackling high and low dunes. Then, get up close with falcons and experience the art of falconry for yourself. Finally, arrive at a Bedouin camp set up amongst the rolling dunes. Watch a bellydancing performance, indulge in aromatic shisha, and get authentic henna tattoos. Enjoy a multi-course traditional Arab dinner by the bonfire under the stars.

Day 8

Muscat

Depart Dubai for neighboring Oman, the third and final country on this journey. The Sultanate of Oman is located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and is the oldest independent state in the Arab world. Explore the capital port town of Muscat, starting with the highly revered Grand Mosque, which takes on a distinctly classical Arab appearance despite being constructed as recently as 2001. From there, a driving tour takes you past the magnificent Al Alam Palace and the Royal Opera House. Stop at Bait Al Zubair Museum and admire its extensive collection of ancient weapons, household goods, and traditional costumes. Outside the museum is a full-scale Omani village and souk. Then, head to the marina and embark on a relaxed dhow cruise around Muscat’s coastline for dolphin spotting. Historically Oman’s strategic location made it the principal trading port of the Persian Gulf region, and amongst the most important trading ports of the Indian Ocean. Finally, wrap up the day with a drive along the corniche and a stroll in the shaded Mutrah souq.

Hotel Options
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Al Bustan Palace is in a divinely-scenic location, nestled between the jagged Al Hajar mountain range and the sparkling Sea of Oman.

Services: Every whim is attended to here with a comprehensive and personal service, reflecting the Omani hospitality and cultural way of life.

History: Muscat has a rich history that is believed to date back to the 6th millenium BC. The authentic architecture found concealed down rustic winding roads are redolent of the past and a display of ancient cultural heritage.

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Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Facilities: The Jumierah Muscat has everything one could want from a seaside retreat, from relaxing spa treatments, three outdoor pools, and beach to salon, tennis courts, and a wide selection of food and beverage.

Cuisine: Unabashedly seafood-forward and elegant, the dining venues at Jumeirah Muscat marries its beachside location, cultural heritage, and stylish vibes on the plate.

Premium Amenities: Higher tier villas and summer houses are esconced on an exclusive stretch of white-sand beach and include luxurious amenities such as 24/7 butler service, private pools, whirlpools and Jacuzzis, private gym, and access to the Premium Leisure Lounge.

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Jumeirah Muscat Bay Preferred Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel

Location: Overlooking the stunning turquoise water of the Sea of Oman, this incredible resort, which features three distinct luxury hotels, sits on 124 acres of rugged mountains and gorgeous beaches. And just 15 minutes from the bustling capital of Muscat, this resort combines the best of all worlds.

History: Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa opened in late 2005 and features Oman’s first family dedicated hotel, Al Waha.

Service: Throughout three hotels and multiple restaurants, the service at Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is nothing less than impeccable, in keeping with the high standards of the acclaimed Shangri-La brand.

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Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa Preferred Hotel
Muscat
Muscat

Day 9

Muscat

In the morning, get into a 4x4 vehicle to drive off-road into the desert through the Hajar Mountains via Fanja and Sumail. Travel to the village of Bahla, where traditions of pottery-making, magic, and weaving are still alive and well. Visit Bahla Fort, a fortified oasis settlement that is a designated UNESCO Heritage Site for its water engineering skill and stone and mud brick technology demonstrated by early inhabitants. Before heading back to Muscat, stop by the historic city of Nizwa, a regional capital and the birthplace of Islam in the Sultanate of Oman. Visit Nizwa Fort, which was built in the 1650s and is one of the most visited attractions in Oman. Also stop by the Nizwa Souq, renowned for selling intricately hand-carved khanjars (daggers) and ornamental silver jewelry. If arriving on a Friday morning, you can also see the famed cattle and animal market.

Day 10

Muscat

Today, take another 4x4 excursion out of Muscat to Wadi Bani Khalid, a deep valley that cuts into the mountainside, leaving space for refreshing pools of clear blue water to form. A wadi is akin to an oasis. They are found throughout Oman and are popular with locals as destinations for leisure. Pass through a series of mountain villages before enjoying a private BBQ lunch in the wadi, replete with an Arabian tent, carpet, and cushions positioned next to the creek. Afterwards, continue along the coast to the pretty coastal town of Sur. As one of the oldest cities in the country, the ancient town has one of the oldest ports in the world and was an important shipbuilding center. Peek into a dhow factory and see how these vessels are put together. While in Sur, don’t miss the opportunity to try a tasty Omani fish dish called Mashuai. Enjoy this grilled ocean fish marinated in a savory lemon and spice blend with a view of the harbor. On the way back to Muscat, make a stop at the Bimmah Sinkhole, a spectacular limestone crater with turquoise water and local favorite swimming hole.

Muscat
Muscat

Day 11

Departure

Your journey across the Arabian Gulf comes to an end today. Enjoy one last cup of traditional spiced tea with your breakfast and relax until your private transfer to the airport. Time-permitting, we suggest a dip in the warm Arabian sea right in front of your beachfront hotel or a relaxing rose oil spa treatment before your long flight home. 

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With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.

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