With the exception of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates is open to travelers around the globe and this Middle Eastern treasure has more to offer than first meets the eye. Savor Michelin-star cuisine, stay in ultra-luxe resorts, and go dune bashing in one of the most impressive destinations in the Middle East. Abu Dhabi is expected to follow suit, so it’s worth taking a look there as well.
Conveniently located near Dubai, Sharjah is the “Arab Capital of Culture” and is a must see for lovers of art and history. Travelers can see the Sharjah Art Museum, Natural History Museum, and the 5,000 artifacts of the Sharjah Islamic Heritage Museum.
Of particular note, the Sharjah Art Museum boasts one of the largest art exhibitions in the Gulf region, and the city also hosts the Sharjah Art Foundation with venues including the Al Mureijah Square and Calligraphy Square galleries.
Admittedly, this destination is often visited while staying in Dubai — which is a perfectly acceptable drive away, even for single-day travelers. However, as for accommodation, Sharjah offers the Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah. The resort lies among a 247-acre protected forest with lush, green mangroves and azure lagoons that border expansive, white sand beaches. Villas are even equipped with temperature controlled, private pools and spaces to host exclusive parties. All rooms and suites afford views of the sea and surrounding landscape through floor-to-ceiling windows or expansive, private balconies. This is also one of the few semi-urban retreats with notable natural surroundings that can be experienced on foot or by bike.
Set in the 16-square-mile Conservation Wildlife Reserve of Dubai, Al Maha resort is named for the Arabian oryx, one of many wild visitors to the nearby dunes. The Al Maha resort provides a rare luxury oasis, providing remarkable Bedouin-style suites and featuring temperature-controlled private pools and desert views.
The finest rooms are had at the opulent Presidential Suite. At 5,705 square feet, the Presidential Suite features three large bedrooms and Arabian artefacts decorate the walls and water features in the majlis.
According to legend, a curious wanderer stumbled upon a protruding twig after following his falcon and returned the next day to unearth a spring at Al Maha and brought life back to the barren desert. But there’s no need to go scrambling around the sand for twigs with Al Diwaan, which delivers dining from its alfresco veranda, where diners can savour exotic dishes and panoramic views over the desert.
Where to begin. This is quite simply the Middle Eastern capital of commerce and home to the most luxurious hotels on Earth. Dubai is a land of skyscrapers, Michelin stars, and fascinating culture. From the underwater restaurant at the iconic Burj Al Arab and sky high views of the Armani Hotel Dubai to the One&Only The Palm on the famous man-made island, nowhere else on earth has such a diversity of high-end pleasures.
One essential Dubai experience is to see it from the air, taking a chopper over this desert gem. Helidubai has the most diverse packages. For those interested in checking out the main points Dubai has to offer on the quick – including the Palm Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab’s iconic architecture – one option is a thrilling 12-minute helicopter expedition highlighting Dubai’s iconic cityscape. This circuit commences from the Dubai Marina Helipad and journeys over The World Islands – an impressive collection of 300 man-made private islands roughly constructed in the shape of a world map. If travelers prefer the ground, there are super cars to rent and even penguins to see.
There are (at least) three underwater dining venues in Dubai: Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara, Ossiano at The Palm Atlantis, or you can dine in your very own underwater suite at the The Palm Atlantis.
Featured Itinerary: LIVING THE HIGH LIFE: MALDIVES AND DUBAI
Both the Maldives and the UAE are open to travelers, so there has never been a better time to pair these destinations. This nine-day itinerary mixes the overwater pleasures of North Male Atoll with the wonders of Dubai. Journey by speedboat to the One&Only Reethi Rah for snorkeling and Maldivian charm before jetsetting off to Dubai for your choice of the world’s most decadent hotels.
- Capture both the Maldives and Dubai from the sky, on two revealing sea-plane rides
- Take a scuba lesson and explore the vibrant underwater world around North Malé Atoll
- Stay in some of the world’s most renowned, luxurious properties
- Visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man-made structure in the world