3 nights from only $595
Single Supplement: $295
3 nights from: $995 Single Supplement: FREE
Experience the interplay of the United Arab Emirates’ sleepy Bedouin past and its bustling cosmopolitan present. Exquisite architecture, antique and modern, surrounds us as we explore the culture, history, and traditions of the UAE’s two most populous cities: Dubai, the gem of the Persian Gulf, and Abu Dhabi, the country’s capital.
- It's Included:
- Accommodations for 3 nights in Dubai
- 6 meals—3 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 dinners
- 2 small group activities
- Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Leader
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
- All transfers
We wake up for an early breakfast and take a morning flight to Dubai. After some time to freshen up and relax at the hotel, we’ll have a briefing with our Trip Leader and then venture into the city to discover Dubai’s history, traditions, and culture. We’ll pass the opulent palace of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Emir of Dubai. It is located near the Al Bastakiya Quarter, a densely packed neighborhood that houses historical sites, restaurants, cafes, galleries, mosques, and museums. The last surviving section of the Old City Wall—what remains of the defenses that surrounded the original town of Bur Dubai—is located here. We will see the 18th century Al Fahidi Fort, which houses the Dubai Museum and the beautifully restored home of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum.
The narrow, winding labyrinth of Al Bastakiya’s pedestrianized streets leads us past many traditional homes, with their shuttered gateways leading into peaceful courtyards—several of which are open to the public. The wind towers on most of the buildings here aren’t just beautiful works of architecture; they are ingenious devices that work as natural air-conditioners. The open towers invite cool breezes to rush into the home and circulate, while hot air rises and escapes.
While the artistry of the area’s exquisite decorative grilles, carved wooden doors, hanging oil lamps, and wooden lattices is breathtaking, it’s a good idea to take a break and go inside. An ideal place to do this is the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, an organization devoted to raising awareness of the different religions, cultures and customs of the United Arab Emirates and to removing the barriers dividing its peoples. Here, we’ll discover local foods and traditions. The Centre is housed in one of the most interesting buildings in the neighborhood.
This evening, the dazzling lights of Dubai dance before us as we enjoy dinner aboard a traditional Arabian dhow while sailing on Dubai Creek.
This morning we depart for Palm Jumeirah, an artificially created island in the shape of a palm tree within a crescent. The island is part of a series of projects, some of them controversial, all in various stages of completion. These projects, and many other kinds of enterprises and governmental reforms are the brainchildren of Sheikh Mohammed’s “Vision 2021”—a plan with the aim to make the UAE “one of the best countries in the world” by that year.
Next, we see another of these projects, the Burj Khalifa—the tallest artificial structure in the world. After stopping near this landmark, we’ll head over to the Karama Market, where you’ll have some time to browse and enjoy lunch on your own. You can easily find restaurants in the surrounding Al Bastakiya neighborhood that serve a traditional Emirati lunch.
After lunch, we return to the hotel to get ready for our Desert Safari. We’ll head out for a thrilling drive through the dunes in the sandy desert outside the city. We’ll stop at a camel farm to see how these animals are raised and used locally. We will also have the opportunity ride camels, which have a special place in the UAE—they are still ridden in the desert, but they are now also used for their meat and milk. You are likely to find a camel burger on the menu at a restaurant, or a camel milk cappuccino or ice cream at a café. Other products made from camel dairy are various cheeses and laban, a fermented product that is a healthy alternative to milk.
We'll watch the sun set over the desert and enjoy traditional Arabian hospitality during our sojourn, including a barbecue dinner and a dance performance. We return to our hotel later in the evening.
After breakfast we drive to Abu Dhabi. Upon arrival, we behold the almost surreal beauty of a modern wonder: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The façade of this regal, dream-like building is made of all white marble and looks as if it is floating, being held aloft by its 82 domes of various sizes.
We have a quick city orientation and then visit the unique Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the region’s first and only dedicated facility for falcons. There we will experience an enthralling show as a seasoned falconer displays his prowess and the magnificent raptor’s range of hunting skills. After the performance, you’ll have the opportunity for a close look at these graceful birds. We have lunch at a local restaurant, and then return to Dubai. You’ll have the rest of the evening free to explore the city, with dinner on your own.
This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Please note: If you make your own international air arrangements, your extension price will increase due to internal air transportation. This extension may not be available on all departures. Ask our Adventure Specialists for details. Call 1-800-955-1925.