Take this incredible region out of the too-hard basket and onto your must-do list. The path to fascination and adventure in the Middle East is paved with amazing hospitality (and unbeatable Indiana Jones-style photo ops).
Known for its luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and lively nightlife scene, Dubai is considered the gateway to the Middle East.
A popular stopover between Australia and Europe, there’s plenty to do in this relatively progressive UAE city that is working hard for the tourist dollar. Highlights in the city include the 830m-tall Burj Khalifa tower, the Dubai Fountain (with jets and lights choreographed to music) and the artificial islands just offshore (where you’ll find the famous Atlantis, The Palm Resort with water and marine-animal parks … super popular with children).
You can also drop all your hard earned cash at the Dubai Mall – the second largest mall in the world. This truly mind-boggling place boasts an iceskating rink, 250-room luxury hotel, 22 cinema screens, 120 restaurants and cafes and more than 1000 retailers.
Dubai is also an absolute paradise for foodies, with Michelin-starred restaurants as well as more cheap and cheerful traditional eats.
If you want to get away from the city and traffic of Dubai you can head to a super-luxe resort like Al Maha, deep within the desert sands.
A colourful collage of ancient traditions, modern architecture, abundant natural beauty and compelling events, Abu Dhabi is fast emerging as a must-visit destination.
The capital of the UAE is reinventing itself as a cultural hot spot with experiences unlike anywhere else in the world. On one hand there is a super modern side (they are well known for commissioning architectural giants to create world-best buildings, and there are first-class museums like The Louvre), but there’s also the deep tradition. Sites such as the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, lively date souq and the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital are all highlights on any itinerary.
The luxe accommodation options in Abu Dhabi are also out of this world. The Emirates Palace, Zaya Nurai Island Resort and the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara are all super high-end options worth exploring if you want to treat yourself.
In a region where the grand gesture rules, Oman is delightfully understated in its appeal. Its rich history dates back to ancient times, but it truly prospered as a trading post for frankincense, the aromatic resin used for incense and perfumes.
Jordan is perhaps best known for the lost city of Petra with its famous cliff-carved Treasury and Monastery. Delve deeper into Jordan and you’ll find the spectacular red desert sands of Wadi Rum, where you can dine around a crackling bonfire under the desert stars with the welcoming Bedouin tribes.
Swim the warm coral-filled waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea. With Crusader castles, incredible views of the Promised Land from sacred Mount Nebo, the Roman ruins of Jerash and so much more, Jordan makes for a truly awe-inspiring holiday destination.