Diving, desert, mountains and museums. Whatever kind of escape you’re craving, the UAE has got it
The Emirates at a glance:
Dubai: One of the world’s biggest and best cities is practically on our doorstop, offering everything from exciting culinary experiences to extreme sports to supreme relaxation opportunities.
Abu Dhabi: The country’s capital offers the same leisure opportunities as Dubai, just on a more bijou scale. No visit is complete without seeing the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Al Ain, the ‘garden city’, is famed for being a lush green oasis in Abu Dhabi. It’s also home to a zoo and white water rafting park Wadi Adventure.
Ajman: The smallest of the seven emirates boasts one of the UAE’s prettiest stretches of white sandy beach.
Fujairah: Like neighbouring Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah boasts both beach and mountain views. It is a hotspot for watersports, particularly diving. But for a more outlandish activity, head here on a Friday to witness ‘bull-butting’.
Ras Al Khaimah: The northernmost emirate literally means ‘top of the tent’. Nestled between the beach and the Hajar Mountains, it’s a haven for the outdoorsy types.
Sharjah: Dubbed a cultural heartland of the Middle East by Unesco, the UAE’s cultural capital is worth a visit for its museums and art galleries. And don’t miss the Blue Souk while you’re there.
Umm Al Quwain: This beach state is best known for its rather vintage Dreamland Aqua Park, but it will also give you a nostalgic taste of the UAE’s pre-oil past.
Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi • Free activities • Best for visitors Stay two nights in the capital and two nights at the Dusit Thani Dubai, and you’ll be able to enjoy a number of included activities. Thrown in with your stay are round trip visits to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Mirage Islamic Art centre, and a desert safari from Dubai. There’s also a free shuttle bus to and from major attractions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Book ten days in advance and you’ll get a free upgrade too. BD72 per room per night. Until September 30. Muroor Street, Abu Dhabi, www.dusit.com (+971 2 698 8888).
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi • Best for families • Free activities This summer, the resort is offering a feast of discounts. Opt for the early-bird package and get rooms from BD52 per night when you book 21 days in advance of your stay (a saving of approximately 15 percent). The family plan package will give you 50 percent off a connecting deluxe room when you book a deluxe suite (from BD162 per night). The splash or speed package includes a free day at Yas Waterworld or Ferrari World (from BD94 per night). Finally, if you opt for the suite, stay and play package you’ll get BD20 credit per day to use at the hotel’s restaurants or spa. From BD52 per night. Until September 30. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com (+971 2 656 0700).
Ajman Saray • Best for families This glamorous beachside resort offers special reduced rates on rooms during summer. Buffet breakfast and dinner for two guests is included with accommodation. There’s also free use of pool, beach and gym facilities, and families can use the kids’ club for free. Better still, children under four can eat and sleep at the resort for free. BD67 per room per night. Valid until September 30. Sheikh Humaid Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi Street, Ajman, www.ajmansaray.com (+971 6 714 2222).
City Seasons Al Ain Hotel • Family friendly • Free activities This hotel, situated in Al Ain’s pretty and green town centre, is offering a package aimed at families, with activities at Wadi Adventure thrown in. Book a stay in a family room, which will cater for two adults and two children (with breakfast included), and you’ll also get access for the day to this high-adrenaline waterpark where you can cool down and the kids can have a splash around. From BD62 per room per night. Until June 30. Al Muwaiji area, Al Ain, email@example.com (+971 3 755 0220).
Atlantis The Palm • Free activities • Best for visitors This famed sunken-world-themed resort is offering exclusive summer deals when booking with a Visa card. The price is for two adults and two children and includes accommodation, a daily buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner (in one of 15 different outlets), access to The Lost Chambers Aquarium and Aquaventure Waterpark, two for one on massages at ShuiQi Spa & Fitness and daily access to the kids club. From BD164 per night. Book before September 17. Valid for stays until September 30. Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (+971 4 426 2000).
Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa • Free activities • Best for visitors This glamorous desert resort on the outskirts of Dubai is holding ‘The Great Escape’ promotion. This package offers accommodation, ‘lawn’ activities (such as volleyball and archery), 25 percent discount at food and beverage outlets, spa treatments, tennis programmes and safaris. You can also make use of 55 percent off car rentals and 20 percent off entry fees to Dubai attractions such as KidZania, Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, Dubai Ice Rink and Sega Republic. From BD51 per room per night. Until September 30. firstname.lastname@example.org, www.meydanhotels.com/theGreatEscape (+971 4 809 6100).
Jumeirah Creekside Hotel • Free for kids • Free activities The hotel, which is near Dubai International Airport, is offering a 20 percent discount on the best available room rate, when booking for a minimum of three nights stay. Stays at this promotional price include free breakfast, access to Wild Wadi Waterpark or the private beach and a 20 percent discount for use at the spa and in selected restaurants. Children under 12 also stay for free. From BD56 per room per night. Until September 30. Garhoud, JCHinfo@jumeirah.com, www.jumeirah.com (+971 4 230 8555).
Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort • Corporate rate Enjoy a 230-metre stretch of beach, alongside impressive views of both the Indian Ocean and the Hajar Mountains at this resort. This summer, the hotel is also offering a deal on corporate stays until September 30, priced from BD41 per person for bed and breakfast. BD36 per person (half board). Valid weekdays only. Valid until September 30. Dibba Road, Fujairah, www.lemeridien-alaqah.com (+971 9 244 9000).
Ras Al Khaimah
Banyan Tree Al Wadi • Best for nature lovers One of two luxurious Banyan Tree escapes in Ras Al Khaimah, Banyan Tree Al Wadi is located in the desert amid 500 hectares of private nature reserve. The resort boasts an award-winning spa, activities such as falconry and archery, as well as opportunities to spot local wildlife. Stay this summer, and you can take advantage of ‘the credit goes to you’ promotion.
This offers guests free credit to be used for food and beverage, spa treatments, activities and also at the kids club. A one night stay will come with BD18 free credit, while a two night stay will come with BD51 of free credit. Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach will also be offering free credit to hotel guests. From BD192 per night. Valid until September 30 (excluding July 17-25). Al Mazraa, Ras Al Khaimah, www.banyantree.com (+971 7 206 7777).
Rixos Bab Al Bahr • All inclusive This summer deal in the northern emirate dubs itself ultra-all-inclusive. During your stay, the room rate includes all food and beverage, with as many as ten eateries and five bars to choose from. Even the mini-bar is thrown in. And, in addition to the existing five stunning pools at the resort, a brand-new adults-only infinity pool and bar has recently been launched. From BD99 per room (weekdays). From BD110 per room (weekends). Valid until September 22 (excluding Eid). Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, www.babalbhar.rixos.com (+971 7 244 4400).
Citymax Hotels Sharjah • Under Dhs300 In case you are planning a cultural weekend at Sharjah’s museums, or are looking for ultra-cheap overnight accommodation, this summer rate is hard to beat on price. BD13 per person per night (room only). Until September 30. www.citymaxhotels.com (+971 6 598 5000).