12 ways to get the best out of the UAE's colder months
- 21 November 2018
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The UAE is blessed with a mild and pleasant winter that provides the perfect ambiance to explore its inspiring natural wonders. Simply getting into your car on the weekend and driving to the ends of the nation is a rewarding experience, but in recent years, a range of new experiences have opened up the great outdoors far beyond the traditional desert safari. From adrenaline-fuelled adventure sports to more sedate activities for the entire family, My Salaam rounds up some of the best ways to make the most of the wonderful weather.
CARS, PEARLS OR BOTH?
Experience two facets of the UAE’s great outdoors at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. Rent a Lamborghini Huracan or a Ferrari 488 Spider for upwards of AED 8,200 for two days or a total of 600 km.
Or discover the emirate’s heritage at the Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm, where you can open your own oysters, dive for pearls and tuck into an Emirati lunch for upwards of AED 300. Call 07 203 5533 for details.
GLAMPING IN SHARJAH
The new Kingfisher Lodge on Sharjah’s East Coast channels the old Bedouin tradition of camping in luxurious UAE style: with an espresso machine and an AC! The beachfront venue, which has just 20 luxury tents in the heart of the Khor Kalba mangrove nature reserve, lets you get up close to birds and turtles on nature trails. Rates start at AED 1,700.
UNDERWATER MARVELS IN FUJAIRAH
Fancy swimming with sharks? How about a look at the UAE’s own underwater car cemetery? Divers Down in Fujairah has daytime and night diving trips to 13 sites in the Indian Ocean. Seahorses, anemones, gorgeous teddy-bear coral and more will leave you with a new appreciation of the deep blue. Prices start from AED 155 for trained divers. On the way, stop at Al Bidiya Mosque, the UAE’s oldest.
ADRENALINE HIGHS IN R.A.K.
Will this be the winter you finally conquer your limits in the UAE’s adventure capital? The world’s longest zipline, Jebel Jais, is right here in Ras Al Khaimah, offering a bird’s eye view of the majestic Hajjar mountains while coasting along at 120 kmph to 150 kmph. All this is for just AED325 per person. If you think you need a rehearsal, try X Dubai’s X Line at Dubai Marina for a different perspective.
SAY YAS TO THE WATER
Wave goodbye to the summer! Boasting the region’s only outdoor water cinema, the Middle East’s longest suspended roller-coaster and an indoor mermaid school among its 40 attractions, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Waterworld offers non-stop thrills and fun for all ages for AED 250 onwards. Every emirate has its own water park, from Aquaventure in Dubai to Al Montazah in Sharjah, so pick one that’s convenient to you.
WAKEBOARD LIKE A PRO IN AJMAN
A sport that’s easier than it looks, wakeboarding caters for all levels of experience, and it’s a fun way to try something new in tiny Ajman! Or if you fancy something a little more peaceful, why not a serene kayak ride? Quest for Adventure organises water sports experiences from at the Al Zorah Nature Reserve. Call 800 2596724 for details.
SOME ROYAL INDULGENCE
Is lying back and soaking up nature more your speed? If so, you’ll want to head over to Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, whose Wellness in the Dunes day package is designed to make you feel like an Arabian royal. For AED 877, the award-winning resort employs pure organic essential oils and age-old wellness traditions of the Middle East and Southeast Asia to help relax your body and mind in a mesmerizing desert setting where gazelles and Arabian oryx wander freely in nature.
FREE FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT IN J.B.R.
Who says there’s nothing free in Dubai? New Dubai springs back into gear this weekend (November 15) with its annual #WOWJBR festivities, as Jumeirah Beach Residence is transformed into a family entertainment hub with live music, interactive art and an outdoor cinema, all without paying a fil. There’s a different theme each month, beginning with a Latin American carnival.
OBSTACLES ON THE WATER
Challenge the family sports champion to a massive obstacle course on the water at AquaFun. The emirates’ first inflatable parks sit just off the corniche in Abu Dhabi and off Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai. With ramps, bridges, slides and steps, they promise a fun workout at AED 90 onwards in Abu Dhabi and AED 120 onwards in Dubai.
MIDDLE EASTERN SAFARI
Perfect for a weekend trip from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the hunting lodge that is the Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara on Sir Bani Yas Island is home to free-roaming gazelle, hyenas, giraffes and the near-extinct Arabian oryx. With falconry, archery and land-sailing activities, it’s one of the country’s best-kept secrets and makes for a great family weekend. The rates begin at AED 1,125 per night.
UNPARALLELED ABU DHABI
Even for those who call the Emirates home, the capital holds many delights. Maqta Fort, now overshadowed by Zaha Hadid’s magnificent bridge, once provided refuge to weary travellers, while the awe-inspiring Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a beacon of Islamic values. Both are visible, along with many other sights, on one-hour boat tours from Captain Tony’s, which also provides dolphin and mangrove eco-boat tours hosted by a marine biologist. Priced from AED 250 onwards.
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