Escape with an Excursion to the Emirates

In spite of recent struggles with the recession, Dubai, situated within the United Arab Emirates, maintains a strong pull for holidaymakers looking for a sunny getaway. If you’re looking for a little exotic glamour then look no further as there are plenty of things to do in the Emirates.

Dubai’s highly cosmopolitan atmosphere buzzes through the skyscrapers, giving the incredible skyline a real touch of class. With winter setting in, holidays in Dubai are a great choice for a romantic getaway under the sun or a real family adventure. It’s a fantastic place for water sports, with snorkelling, parasailing, wakeboarding and donut rides on offer from a number of different providers. There are also diving experiences available, with wrecks to the west and fascinating marine life to the east. Search online before you go for more information and price guides.

For a cultural excursion, why not check out Bastakiya, which takes its name from the old Iranian town of Bastak. Surrounded by the high walls that were built to keep the lives of the wealthy citizens private, Bastakiya is much more beautiful inside than these barricades would suggest. The walls are tops with wind towers, built to trap the wind and funnel it down into the houses below – a charming example of early air-conditioning! The cafes and shops within the walls remain true to their original architecture, so visitors will be transported back to the bygone days of this beautiful site.

While you’re in the area, the Dubai Museum is also definitely worth a visit. Located within the Al Fahidi fort, there are a number of fantastic exhibits and dioramas showing like in the UAE before oil became big business. The Al Fahidi fort is the oldest known building in Dubai. Built in around 1787, it has played a number of roles in the emirate’s history, including a ruler’s residence and a jail. Definitely worth a photograph or two!

Also of interest is the Jumeirah Mosque, which over the last decade has become a pioneer of the “Open Doors, Open Minds” initiative, particularly dedicated to receiving non-Muslim visitors. Visits take place on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10am. Guests are advised to arrive around 15 minutes early with the tour lasting a little over an hour. It is advisable to dress modestly if you wish to take part in the tour, though traditional dress can be borrowed from the Mosque if necessary.

Visitors arriving in January may be interested to note the dates of the Dubai Shopping Festival. Taking place annually, there is a great range of discounts, traditional crafts and competitions going on throughout. The opening ceremony, filled with fireworks and frivolity sets the scene for the rest of the festival, where performers and musicians really bring the streets to life!

Depending on the type of trip you’re looking for, you should probably budget for a reasonable spend. Holidays in Dubai are great fun but, like any major city, things tend to get pricey if you’re not careful with your money.

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