Why I love the Middle East

It was in Damascus that I first fell for the Middle East. Here was a city of storytellers, of warm and welcoming people, of history brought alive at every turn. Ten years later (a decade in which I had marvelled at the peerless beauty of Esfahan and struck out into the Sahara at Siwa, among many Middle Eastern journeys), I returned to Damascus and fell in love all over again. War may since have engulfed the country,... Read More

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Middle East activities

$85.37 Outdoor Activities

4x4 Dubai Desert Safari with Dune Bashing, Sandboarding, Camel Riding and BBQ Dinner

After a pickup from your centrally located Dubai hotel, relax in an air-conditioned 4x4 vehicle as you head to the desert that surrounds the city. Admire views of the barren yet enchanting landscape on the way, and listen to your guide’s tales about the region and its fascinating geology. First stop on your desert rendezvous is a traditional camel farm to see herds of the magnificent hump-backed herbivores. After showing off your balancing skills on a camel ride around the enclosures, learn about the different types of camels that are commonly seen in the desert around Dubai.Continue by 4x4 across the desert plains to the campsite in the desert and try your hand at a popular local pastime: sandboarding! Learn to master the art of 'surfing on sand' and race your friends and fellow travelers down the sand dunes during in an adrenaline-rushing experience. Show off your balance skills on a camel ride or relax and take a seat outside to watch your show as the sun sets over the craggy canyons and sun-baked plains. Get a henna tattoo design on your hands or feet, watch a traditional tanoura folk dance, and feast on a delicious barbecue dinner. Why not upgrade to a Exclusive Dubai Desert Safari by enjoying the delicious barbecue dinner at your exclusive table with a bottle of sparkling wine & fruit basket.After dinner, smoke a shisha (Arabic water pipe), if you wish, and watch a live belly-dance performance around the campfire. Relax under a canopy of twinkling stars and enjoy an experience that could be straight out of One Thousand and One Nights! Your tour then finishes with a drop-off at your Dubai hotel.Sample MenuFirst course (choose from following selection): Hummus, green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, olives, coleslaw and Arabic bread Second course (choose from following selection): Lamb chops, marinated chicken, beef burgers, barbequed potatoes, sauteed onions, steamed rice and lentil curry Third course: Arabic coffee and dates

$38.10 Sightseeing Tickets & Passes

Burj Khalifa 'At the Top' Entrance Ticket

Make your way to the lower-ground level of Dubai Mall and start your journey to 'At the Top' at Burj Khalifa by stepping aboard the attraction’s 213-foot (65-meter) moving sidewalk that transports you to the elevator. As you ride, watch a state-of-the-art multi-media presentation that chronicles the city’s history and gives information about the construction of Burj Khalifa. After a quick stop at a viewing point for a close-up view of the iconic skyscraper, arrive at the elevator, and then start your vertical ascent to the observation deck. Traveling at a speed of 33 feet (10 meters) per second, the elevator shuttles you up to the 124th floor in little time at all.As the elevator doors open, walk right up to the floor-to-ceiling glass walls that provide breathtaking views of the city, desert and ocean. Gaze down at the mansions of Palm Jumeirah, admire the sleek façade of Burj Al Arab hotel, and look out for the glitzy yachts cruising around Dubai Marina. If you select an evening entrance ticket, the sparkling city lights and starry night sky vie for your attention instead.Walk around the observation deck and admire 360-degree panoramic views over the city. Perhaps use the specially adapted telescopes to zoom in on city views and see images of certain attractions at different phases in their history. If the weather is good, head outside to the open-air terrace to enjoy a different perspective of the sweeping views below.Most people find that spending one hour 'At the Top' is sufficient to see everything, but your ticket allows you to spend as long as you like at the observation deck. Shop for Burj Khalifa souvenirs, if you wish, and then travel back down the elevator and moving sidewalk to Dubai Mall, where your experience finishes.

$15.15 Transfers & Ground Transport

Dubai Private Arrival Airport Transfer

When making a booking, you will need to advise your flight details and your Dubai city, Jumairah, Palm Jumairah, Sharjah, Jebel Ali Hotel or Cruise Ship details. Your transfer will be confirmed within 24 hours of booking and you will be provided with a travel voucher to present to the driver.It's that easy!Price is per person, based on 8 adults per car/vehicleAt time of booking, YOU MUST include the following flight and hotel details in the "Special Requirements" box: Airline Flight Number Departing City / Arrival City Arrival Time Hotel Name Hotel Address Please select the appropriate hotel zone at time of booking.

$149.70 Cultural & Theme Tours

Desert Experience: Dinner and Emirati Activities with Vintage Land Rover Transport from Dubai

Start your experience with a pickup from your Dubai hotel, and then travel into the desert. Once in the desert climb aboard your open-roof vintage land rover – a mode of transport used extensively in 1950’s desert expeditions. As you travel, your guide will regale you with stories of Dubai’s past and present as well as the many customs and traditions that you’ll experience throughout the evening.Head through Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, looking out for wildlife such as Arabian gazelles and oryx, after which, marvel at the UAE’s national bird- the falcon- before sunset during the a falconry display. Make your way back to your Land Rovers and travel to the Bedouin-inspired camp in the grounds of a private royal retreat. Make your way past the gently flickering flames of the lights that mark the entranceway, and then hop out of your Land Rover to take a seat at your shared table.Before your meal starts, enjoy a range of cultural activities are demonstrated around the tables. Enjoy an Arabic coffee, live bread making, henna artists and camel rides before a beautiful 4 course Emirati dinner in authentic goat hair tents on low Bedouin tables. The dishes are mostly traditional Emirati specialties, combining flavors from the Middle East and Asia, after which you can enjoy shisha and cultural dancing.Take a seat back at your table in time for a cookery demonstration, where you’ll learn how to make local bread. Then, all that’s left to do is to feast on your 4-course dinner under the stars. Like the activities at the camp, the dishes are mostly traditional Emirati specialties, combining flavors from the Middle East and Asia.After your meal, return to your Land Rover with your guide and journey through the desert back to the camp entrance. From here, board your air-conditioned van to your Dubai hotel, where your experience finishes.Sample Menu:First course:• Shorbat adas (mildly spiced lentil soup)• Tomato and onion salad• Fresh garden saladSecond course:• Selection of mezze including harees (cracked wheat dumplings with meat), kibbeh (minced meat and rice), sambousek (lamb- or cheese-stuffed pastries), hummus and tabbouleh (cracked wheat salad with parsley, mint, tomatoes and lemon juice)Third course:• Ouzi (succulent lamb)• Chicken kebabs• Vegetable and ouzi riceFourth course:• Fruit salad• Lgeimat (saffron-flavored fritters)

$68.07 Tours & Sightseeing

Big Bus Dubai Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Dubai is a city of fascinating contrasts, offering a distinctive blend of old and new; it’s where east meets west. In less than a century, under the visionary leadership of Dubai's ruling Al Maktoum family, the city has been transformed from a small fishing village into a modern vibrant city full of surprises.Whether you are seeking a relaxing break away from clouds and crowds or a new and exciting experience, Dubai has it all: sea, sand, sun and shopping! Explore the city and see all its sights on your Big Bus hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. Travel by open-top double-decker bus and enjoy unbeatable views as you travel around Dubai on two different routes. In addition to unlimited circuits during your chosen time period (24-hour or 48-hour ticket), your tour ticket also includes a range of ‘extras’ including admission to Dubai Museum and Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum’s House, and an Arabian dhow (masted ship) cruise. See the Itinerary for more information and a full list of additional benefits.City Tour or Red Route (full-loop duration of 1 hour 45 minutes): Deira City Centre Shindagha Museum Dubai Mall (changing point) Old Town Dubai Fountain BurJuman shopping mall Wafi City shopping mall (changing point) Al Fahidi Fort (Dubai Museum) Dubai old/textile souk in Bur Dubai Gold Souk Dubai Spice Souk Old Souk Old Watchtower Heritage Village Riviera Creek Views Baniyas Abra station Dhow Wharfage Beach Tour or Green Route (full - loop duration of 2 hours 30 minutes): Mall of the Emirates (changing point) Dubai Mall (changing point) Old Town Dubai Fountain City Walk Union House Jumeirah Mosque Mercato Jumeirah Kite Beach Jumeirah Public Beach Burj Al Arab Souk Madinat (changing point) Palm View Beach Atlantis the Palm Itihad Park Beach Tour or Blue Route (full-loop duration of 2.5 hours): Mall of the Emirates (changing point) Madinat Souk in Jumeirah (changing point) Palm View Beach Palm Monorail Station Marina Walk Dubai Marina Marina Mall Pier 7 The Beach Beach Resorts Marina Promenade Marina Quays Boulevard Bayside Tallest Block Media City

$36.86 Tours & Sightseeing

Dubai City Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

After a pickup from your centrally located Dubai hotel, relax in your comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle on the way to your first Dubai city stop: the striking Burj Al-Arab hotel. Located on the sands of Jumeirah Beach, on an artificial island, the luxury hotel is one of the tallest in the world, standing at roughly 1,053 feet (321 meters). Stop for a photo, and then continue with your guide along the shoreline to Jumeirah, one of Dubai's upmarket residential areas.Next, head to Bastakiya to see the contrast between the two neighborhoods. Explore the winding lanes that lead to hidden courtyards and the mud-brick homes topped by traditional wind towers, designed to catch cooling offshore breezes. Continue to old Al-Fahidi Fort, home to Dubai Museum, and take in views of the fort’s cannons, turrets and fortified walls. Then, cross Dubai's central waterway, Dubai Creek, in a traditional abra; it’s a must-do activity in Dubai!On the Deira side of Dubai Creek, soak up the colors and perfumes of the famous Spice Souq. Then enjoy free time to shop for souvenirs or glimmering accessories in the nearby Deira Gold Souq before returning to your hotel.