With inputs from Shibani Bawa and Anita Rao Kashi.
In this special on the Middle East, we have put together a list on what to experience, explore and expect from the region now and in time to come. If you think you have travelled there enough to know all about it, think again. We challenge you to read on and see if you can strike off all 101.
1. Western Hajar Mountains - Oman
Rising over 2,000 metres above the surrounding countryside, the Western Hajar mountains form Oman’s geological backbone. The rugged mountains are ideal for driving around to take in the untouched beauty of the historic old mudbrick towns and date plantations. If you are in the mood for a sweat-inducing, stamina-testing hike; then head to the Bahla fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Jabrin Castle.
2. Umm Qais - Jordan
Away from much of Jordan’s regular tourist hubs, Umm Qais is discreetly tucked away in the South of Amman. While the region is known for its gorgeous ruins and panoramic views of the countryside, its seascapes will enthral you for sure. Take a geography quiz and try to spot Israel, the sea of Galilee, and Golan Heights.
3. Salalah - Oman
Located in the Southern part of Oman, the colourful Salalah is largely unexplored and ideal for those looking for a novel Middle-Eastern experience. Explore its tombs, ruins, and the rustic country steeped in history, legends, and myths. At the same time, enjoy its modern side by heading to the beaches for scuba diving, snorkelling, jet skiing and diving.
4. Ras Al Khaimah
In the bygone era, the people of UAE headed to Ras Al Khaimah’s Nakheel area to spend their summers. Today, luxury resorts grace the region. While you may be tempted to just sit back and relax by the long beaches here, take time out to explore the Khatt area and its hot water springs. Also see the old forts and castles such as Fort Dhaya, or visit the traditional houses and villages and meet the locals.
5. Al Hail fortress - Fujairah
The Emirate of Fujairah includes some of the most important museums in the United Arab Emirates. These museums record the ancestral history and heritage of the region. One such museum is the Al Hail fortress, also regarded as the most dramatic and strongest in the region. Built with gravel, clay, wood, and palm leaves, you can note its unique defensive construction or visit for the panoramic views it aff ords.
6. Wadi Ham - Fujairah
While wadi-bashing is common in Wadi Siji, Wadi Saham and Wadi Mai; it is Wadi Ham that is gaining popularity for being the longest valley with stunning mountain routes. Running over staggering 30 kilometres, go here to capture the surreal valley filled with towering stony promontories and sandy beds.
7 Wareea Valley
Wareea valley is a traveller’s paradise with beautiful waterfalls that can be seen all year round. The most magnificent of the lot is the 8 Masafi waterfalls, which flows Entrance to Umm al- Quwain Museum into Fujairah’s beautiful Siji valley. The Middle East is also all about manmade wonders. A resident of the Masafi village, Ali Al Mahrazi, is so in love with waterfalls that over the last 20 years he has made several artificial waterfalls. He invites tourists into his property to look at them and also have lunch with him.
8. Umm Al Quwain Fort
Least populous of the seven Emirates, Umm Al Quwain has many treasures waiting to be explored like the spectacular fort located at the entrance to the old town overlooking the sea. If you are curious to discover to discover the ancient Emirates, visit the museum to see local artefacts and a collection of weapons used by the rulers of the Emirate.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
9. Pop up Stores
Of course Dubai is every shoppers’ paradise. If you have missed the shopping festival then don’t stress as besides the wonderfully surplous malls that the city has, there is a new, albeit temporary format that is catching everyone’s attention—pop-up stores. Every Saturday, exhibitions featuring Indian, Pakistani, and other Asian designers set up stalls that offer indigenous labels as well as products from international luxury brands. It’ll be a good idea to catch up on few such exhibitions showcasing around your time of travel.
10. Largest mall in Qatar
Just when you thought that you’ve shopped everywhere and know every mall—the Mall of Qatar is all set to open its doors in 2016. It is said to become the biggest shopping and entertainment complex in Qatar. A glass-domed space equal to the size of three football fields, appropriately called the Oasis, has been designed to bring natural light and greenery to the indoor retail centre. Make sure the Mall of Qatar features on your to-do list next year.
11. More means more
The Mall of the Emirates will no longer look the same—it is undergoing a multi-stage redevelopment, worth more than US$0.27 billion. The stunning new additions to the mall will include 24-screen VOX Cinema and other latest forms of entertainment, dining, and retail experiences. New fashion labels and luxury brands will mark their presence here soon.
12. Shopping Festival
If you are tired of visiting the good ol’ Dubai shopping festival and looking for a different experience the coming year then Umm Al Quwain is an interesting option.It is garnering acclaim for its rich cultural offerings and traditional diversity, providing shoppers with a much more localised experience.
AN ARTY TREAT
From a spectacular congregation of the world’s best illusionists to a new art district and opening of the Louvre, this region is all set to dazzle the culture seeker.
13. 19th Century Magic
The Illusionists 1903 featuring six brand new magicians and eight of the world’s most popular illusionists will perform in Dubai from November 6 to 9 at Shaikh Rashid Hall in Dubai World Trade Centre. They will repeat the performance in Abu Dhabi from November 11 to 14 at du Forum in Yas Island. The true art of magic will be explored in exquisite spectacles that transformed stage entertainment over 100 years ago.
14. The Fantastic Three
Saadiyat Island oﬀers a heady dose of art and culture. Wander around this island a little and you will chance upon various cultural centres. Come December, the island will be home of its first museum—Louvre Abu Dhabi. In the year to follow, the grand openings will include those of Guggenheim and Zayed National museums. A seven-ton dome with a diameter of 180 metres is said to become the Louvre’s architectural masterpiece.
15. A Film Festival to Catch
The third annual Ajyal Youth Film Festival, presented by the Doha Film Institute, will start on November 29 till December 6, at Katara Cultural Village. The festival is slated to open with the Middle East Premiere of The Idol, from Academy Award-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad. If you are keen to be a part of this filmy festivity then the full line-up and schedule will be announced early November.
16. The New Art district
With its souks and industry, warehouse and markets, Al Mina is one of the most vibrant places in Abu Dhabi. This is also where Warehouse421 will open on November 19. Visitors can engage with the arts, not just via exhibitions, but also through workshops, lectures, and a whole range of other activities. The launch will feature a three-day festival, Explore Your World that will include nightly performances by international musicians including Grammy Award-winning group Tinariwen, public workshops, and a temporary food market.
17. For the Bookworms
The 34th Sharjah International Book Fair is scheduled to be held from November 4 to 14 and will witness participation of as many as 1,502 publishing houses from 64 countries, oﬀering a display of over 1.5 million books. There will be 33 seminars, spanning various literary and cultural topics, book reviews and discussion panels—if you are a bookworm then November sure is a month to be in Sharjah. Interestingly, a popular feature at the fair is the Cooking Corner that will host famous chefs.
18. The love of Orchestra
Catch a performance of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and get a taste of classical music. Performed by 101 musicians from 30 countries at the Katara Cultural Village, it combines Arabic and Western streams. The unique outcome is one you will not forget for days to come.
19. Let there be Light
Experience a unique amalgamation of light and sound at the international festival of lights in Sharjah. Here, drawings are made using light and are a sight to behold. The experience turns truly surreal with the soothing music playing in the background.
20. Maraya Art Centre
During your next visit to Sharjah, block some time to visit the Maraya Art Centre, a venue that features art exhibitions and other related events at all times of the year. On its three fl oors are the Maraya Community, the Barjeel Art Foundation, and the Maraya Art Gallery that give an insight into the craft of the region and promote local artists.
21. A Starry Affair
Plain old popcorn as movie-viewing food will soon be passé in the Middle East. At least, at the gold class movie viewing section of the Vox Mall in Dubai as they are all set to serve dishes prepared by renowned chefs, including Michelin-star holders. The menu will also change to suit the theme of the movie on show.
ME TO - DO
Interesting events that can change your travel plans.
22. Equestrian Eloquence
The impressive Al Shaqab equestrian complex will host the Doha Longines Global Champions Tour from November 12 to 14. Besides watching the international participants, keep your
eyes out for the impressive competitors from Qatar.
23. A Sword Festival
The Emir 25th International Equestrian Sword Festival is slated for late February at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club. The week-long event will attract internationally-renowned jockeys.
24. Fun Run
Nike Middle East has announced We Run DXB, a 10K race in Downtown Dubai on November 13. The race is part of the global Nike We Run series hosted in 18 cities.
25. Welcome Aboard
On sale from November 2015, Thomson Cruises will begin operating from Dubai. Starting December next year, you can choose from two seven-night itineraries— Arabian Nights and Cities of Gold. The cruise will visit six destinations including Khasab and Muscat, Oman; Manama, Bahrain; Doha, Qatar and Abu Dhabi and Khor Fakkan, UAE. You will get time to enjoy the Burj al Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Grand Mosque in Muscat, the Musafi Mountains in Khor Fakkan, and even get your adrenaline soaring at the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.
26. Forget parking voes
HotPotato, the only on-demand public valet app, will launch its parking service in Dubai and Abu Dhabi soon. Costing US$4 per park for three hours or US$136 for a monthly pass, the app will help motorists save time and money in some of the most congested areas in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Customers can also opt for a gas fill-up, a car wash, and other car services while the car is parked.
LOVED ONES IN TOW
Whether travelling with teenagers or with friends, if you like to travel with your loved one then read on.
27. New at Dubai International Airport
Travelling with tots through Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3? Head to the Zen Garden at Concourse B. It has a children’s area between Gates B7 and B8, complete with creative play equipment, television screens featuring children’s programmes, and more.
28. Time to Party
Located four kilometres off the coast of Dubai, The Island, on ‘Lebanon’, is the only one of the 300 islands in The World—Dubai’s portfolio that partygoers can visit. Accessible via speedboat, ferry, private luxury yacht or seaplane, the 22,000-square-metre island boasts two beaches, six chalets, a volleyball court, a pool, more than 30 kayaks, a Mediterranean restaurant, a DJ booth, and a stage. The Gourmet package, for a minimum of 45 guests, is US$136 per head and includes transportation, a barbecue buffet, and two hours of unlimited soft drinks.
29. Local Market
Ripe Market at Saadiyat Island brings lots of delicious, local, seasonal, and organic produce along with eggs, local honey and great superfoods. More than just a farmer’s market, you will find vendors for everything from art and crafts, to fashion, jewellery, food and gifts. After a successful launch in Duabi and Sharhaj, Ripe has come to Abu Dhabi at The Collection at the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort.
30. Family Sojourn in Jordan
The Kempinski Hotel, Ishtar goes all out to make their young guests feel special. The hotel staff welcomes them with stuffed camels and a personalised play passport. The well-equipped Kids Club offers a host of other activities to keep them busy, like face painting, Wii competitions, story time and movie time. The Indiana Jones Treasure Hunt will take them all over the resort looking for clues. The water babies can also take a dip in one of the nine swimming pools in the hotel.
NEW ON THE BLOCK
You may have your favourite hotel and your preferred room chalked out but these new entrants might make you reconsider.
31. Underwater Suite
What does it feel like to sleep inside an aquarium? If this gets your inquisitive then the underwater suite in Dubai’s Atlantis the Palm is where you’ll find yourself surrounded by fi sh and a variety of marine creatures. And if that’s not enough, it now comes with a complimentary dolphin encounter!
32. An Apartment for You
Ascott Tahlia are modern serviced apartments offering panoramic views of the city of Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On offer are five categories of comfortable apartments, located on the city’s main commercial avenue but designed to provide a relaxing cocoon for guests. Don’t miss the attractive introductory offers running till January.
33. Get Pampered
Kick back, put up your feet, lounge amidst stylish Mediterranean elegance and start the next year in suites that have their own terraced swimming pools. And then get thoroughly spoilt for choice with four restaurants serving decadent Japanese, seafood, Arabic, and Italian fare. We are talking about Langham Palm Jumeirah that will open doors in Dubai early next year. Oh, and did we tell you about the five lounges—tea, tapas, juice, executive, and traveller.
34. Dream Package
The iconic Burj Al Arab is eponymous with Dubai. Till May 10, 2016, the hotel is oﬀering a Dream Package that includes a complimentary stay for three children (11 years old and younger) at a duplex suite, complimentary daily buﬀet breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres and beverages, lunch or dinner buﬀet for two at Junsui and Al Iwan restaurants, 25-minute back, neck and shoulder massage for two once per stay, a 24-hour private butler service, a complimentary access to Wild Wadi Waterpark, and a full-size Hermes amenities for him and her, among other extravagances.
35. Fashionably in Dubai
Experience luxury at its best in the soon-to-be-opened Palazzo Versace from the house of one of the world’s most acclaimed fashion brands. From the linen, crockery to cutlery and interiors, everything around you will be created by the brand’s team of designers. Additionally, the designer developed a perfume exclusively for the luxury hotel.
36. Calling honeymooning couples
Looking to impress your bride? Look no further than the Armani Hotel Dubai. For a minimum of a two-night stay, the hotel will make your honeymoon extra special with a complimentary Bentley pick and drop service from the airport, and an upgrade including signature amenities and a congratulatory bottle of sparkling wine. You’ll even get a welcome drink at Armani Lounge and get pampered with a daily US$40 Armani SPA credit for yourselves.
37. Desert Fun
Want to enjoy dune bashing, sand boarding, camel riding, zip lining and star gazing? The Al Nahda Resort & Spa in Wadi Al Abiyad oﬀers all this and more in its recently-opened 30-room desert resort, Dunes by Al Nahda. There are six executive rooms with stunning views of the desert, while 12 VIP rooms and tents allow you to get an authentic desert experience.
38. Frequent Visitors
The Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana in Jordan is just the place for luxury dwellers. Nearly 400 Lavish Apartments are up for choice with an array of dining options, and offering spectacular views of Amman. Now, you can even have a romantic feast at its newly-opened French Restaurant Cafe Margaux.
39. Fujairah for luxury
Sit back and gaze at the dramatic Hajar Mountains from the comfort of your room in the newly-opened Millennium Hotel, between Dubai and Sharjah. The calm and serene hotel has easy access to the beach and forts, and is a short drive to Dubai.
40. Cross Continents
Experience Japanese charm, elegance, and design excellence as Nobu Riyadh debuts in the Middle East with a beautiful hotel in Saudi Arabia. The interiors of the hotel combine Japanese intricacy with subtle Arabic references featuring raw materials such as wood and stone done in earth colours, while the lighting is inspired by origami.
41. Making a mark
The Oberoi Group opened its first property in the Middle East in 2013 in Dubai. Those who swear by The Oberoi hospitality will soon have two new properties to choose from as the group begins managing a 250-key hotel in the West Bay area of Doha and a 148-key luxury serviced apartment building located in Lusail, Doha.
42. Romance in Arabic Luxury
Head to Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara to experience a perfectly, secluded getaway. The views of the Liwa Desert aﬀorded by the property instantly awaken feelings of love and romance. Ideal for honeymooners is the Desert Romance package. Starting from US$708, it is available all through next year. It includes a bottle of sparkling wine or date juice on arrival, daily buﬀet breakfast for two, a 90-minute signature couple’s massage and a romantic room set up.
43. A Luxurious Day
The Palatial Day Experience at the Ritz Carlton property in Oman—Al Bustan Palace is the perfect way to spend a day in the hotel that oﬀers access to the longest private beach in Muscat. The US$234 package is available for use of two adults and two children below 12 years of age from 10 am to 6 pm and does not include overnight accommodation.
44. Opulent Vacation
The Royal Residences at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray oﬀers a range of accommodation options for your family. Choose from the five-bedroom beach residence, with direct access to a private beach or the four-bedroom lagoon residence with a private pool. The Suite Sensation package allows you to book four nights in one of the Suites or Royal Residences and get the fifth night complimentary. The oﬀer also includes exclusive access to Sinbad’s Kids Club, and two complimentary tickets to Wild Wadi Waterpark.
45. Wedding Package
Conrad Dubai offers a chance to win an incredible honeymoon at Conrad New York if you book a wedding package before January 31. Upon booking a wedding package starting from US$68 per person, the bride and groom will get a one-night stay in an executive suite, a 5-tier cake, complementary pick up for the bride in a Maserati Quattroporte, and more. The offer is valid for weddings scheduled before June 30.
46. Fleet Addition
Oman Air has recently added the new 787 Dreamliner to its fleet. This will dramatically improve air travel experience of passengers flying to Saudi Arabia and Europe.
47. More flights to Abu Dhabi
Jet Airways is set to launch daily international flights from Ahmedabad, Pune, and Mangalore, to Abu Dhabi. Jet Airways is currently the only private Indian airline to operate over 50 daily flights to multiple destinations in the Gulf. Guests travelling onwards from the UAE’s capital city to the United States can access the US Preclearance at Abu Dhabi airport.
48. Private on Twitter
Etihad Airways’ Gold and Platinum members can now access a private Twitter account, @ EtihadPremium, for real-time feedback to requests and questions. The airline has guaranteed that the response time will take no more than five minutes. This channel aims to enhance the experience of guests by offering them a personalised service and delivering a range of unique benefits.
49. Customs, Preclearance
The UAE flag carrier Etihad announced that preclearance through US Customs and Border Protection will now be available for all its passengers enabling them to arrive in the US as domestic passengers and avoiding having to queue at immigration upon arrival. They can check their luggage directly to their final destinations by meeting TSA security screening standards at the originating airport.
50. New in Saudi Arabia
Qatar Airways has launched a new service to its eighth destination in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with four flights a week to Abha. The new route will bring additional flexibility for passengers connecting from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. An Airbus A320 with an average flight time of just over two hours will operate this service.
Often in the Middle East for business? Here’s the latest you need to know.
51. VISA Fee Waiver
The Jordanian government has approved visa fees to be waived for tourists of all nationalities with immediate effect. The waiver will be on a condition that the traveller spends a minimum of two consecutive nights in Jordan.
The King Khaled International Airport in Saudi Arabia is currently undergoing massive development and expansion that aims at increasing its capacity to cope with growing tourism requirements.
53. Me Connect
Come February, Emirates Airlines will launch the longest flight in the world from Dubai to Panama City, lasting more than 17 hours. Panama’s capital will also be the airline’s first destination in Central America.
TREATS BY THE BEACH
There is nothing better than relaxing by the beach, soaking up the sun while reading your favourite book, and going for an occasional dip.
54. Marsa Malaz Kempinski – Qatar
When Europe meets Arabian Nights, the result is probably something like the newly-opened Marsa Malaz Kempinski. Located on The Pearl Doha, a man-made island, the island is secluded and oﬀers immense privacy to those who desire so. However, if you want to experience The city on a given day, then Qatar’s major attractions are just a short drive away.
55. Luxury for you
If you’re looking for exclusivity and luxury packaged together beautifully, then Zaya Nurai Island is the place to be. Touted as the hottest new address in Abu Dhabi, it is a boutique hotel with just 32 sprawling beach villas which come complete with a 24-hour dedicated butler.
56. View Worthy
You’ll not get tired of looking out over the sea from this new 68-storey Four Seasons Bahrain Bay which stands on its own five-hectare island. But more fascinating are the two sky bridges which house all of the hotel’s hotspots including seven concept restaurants.
JET SET GO
New services, new planes and more. Find out how these Arab airlines are trying to outdo each other.
57. Sea for Company
If you are at the recently-opened Fairmont Ajman, the azure blue waters of the Arabian Sea will be your constant companion. Envelop yourself in comfort and luxury, especially in the two bi-level royal penthouse suites.
58. Low Point, Definitely Not
Joining the elite brands along the Dead Sea and making a mark on its own is the Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa. It is located at the lowest point on earth—more than 1,300 feet below sea level in the Jordan Valley. The hotel provides direct access to the beach via two lifts that scale the gorge and is the only one to have a pontoon and sun deck for its guests. It also has a luxurious spa, and six bars and restaurants.
59. See it to believe it
With spectacular ocean views of the Arabian Gulf from every room and a warm welcome by a dancing fountain, the Art Rotana Amwaj Island is where you'd want to be for a bout of rejuvenation. A Private beach, tropical splendour, captivating display of art, and refined elegance of the hotel add to the experience.
60. Stay Afloat
If staying on the beach is not close enough to water for you, then book yourself in Jawhara Floating Suites in Dubai. An oasis in the middle of the sea, the suite floats gently on water and provides a tranquil abode with lovely food, great views, and an indoor fishing area. You can even get complimentary fishing sessions now for extended stays.
61. Health Club and Spa at Warwick Hotel
Dubai For the health conscious, what could be more satisfying than a well-equipped fitness centre and spa located high in the sky affording views that’ll motivate you further. The new Kirana Spa and Health Club is on the 45th floor of the Warwick Hotel. There’s even a tennis court on this level.
62. Golf on the beach, Dubai
Imagine playing golf on the beach! Putting in water is possible at Sofitel, The Palm which has turned the beach into a golf course and the sea into its greens. What’s more, putters hit biodegradable golf balls into the water.
63. Six Senses Spa in Ritz Carlton, Muscat, Oman
If relaxation is on your mind, then there is nothing that beats the treatments offered at a Six Senses Spa. The Ritz Cartlon in Muscat recently opened one for its discerning guests. Opulent, comfortable, and stylish, the sprawling spa accommodates guests in extreme privacy and provides a wide range of treatments, massages, and services.
64. Provocateur Club in Jumeirah Beach, Dubai
Groove and bogey away in style and lavishness at the Provocateur Club in Jumeirah beach, labelled as most trendy place to be for a rocking nightlife. With emphasis on throbbing electronic music, the club grants exclusive access and promises to be an unforgettable experience.
65. Chameleon Club, Dubai
Refitted, renovated, and with many new offerings, the exclusive Chameleon Club has a new VIP zone with a large dance floor, many DJs and acrobats performing through the night. However, the massive chameleon statue continues to hold centre stage, lit brilliantly in coloured lights.
66. Chinawhite, Dubai
If you want to see how exclusive a nightclub can get, head to Chinawhite inside the Grand Hyatt. Currently, it is the place to see and be seen at. Open from 10 pm to 3am only on Thursday and Friday, the club is dramatically designed with an Oriental theme. It plays funky house, hip-hop, EDM, and R&B music.
Grilled halloumi, falafel, hummus, tabouleh, fattoush, shawarma, baklava—all these beautiful fresh, wholesome and aromatic dishes make our mouth water. What about you?
67. Yummy Package
The Banyan Tree Al Wadi offers the Soul Food package starting from US$80 per person. Available every Saturday morning until December 31, it will take you on a gastronomic journey to discover the traditional cuisine of the area. More than just a standard cookery class, the experience includes a trip to Ras Al Khaimah’s fish or poultry market, under the guidance of one of the hotel’s chefs. Here you can stop to shop for local ingredients before you are taught how to incorporate delicate Middle Eastern flavours to create a delectable dish.
68. Cupcakes of Gold
Middle East’s obsession with gold is not the one die. Just when you thought that having experimented with the precious metal in almost every thinkable way, they are done, the Bloomsbury Bakery in Abu Dhabi created a cupcake to prove you wrong. Known for its delicious bakes, the bakery infuses its famous cupcakes with 24-carat gold flecks. Taste it to know if they meet the your standard of luxury.
69. A taste of Japan
Taste dishes from the globally-acclaimed, Japanese restaurant Nobu helmed by the eponymous chef as it debuts in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It comes in a beautifully-done space with Japanese gardens, wooden interiors, juice bar, spacious dining space and inimitable food.
70. Zero Gravity
If Dubai’s bustling atmosphere leaves you wanting a more exclusive experience, then head to Zero Gravity. At this newly-opened exclusive bar you can savour stunning views of the beach as you sit in the gorgeous ambience savouring an exceptional fare.
71. The English Kitchen
Now you can get a taste of the notorious English chef Gordon Ramsey’s brilliant cooking at the Bread Street Kitchen in Atlantis the Palm. Specialising in English food, the restaurant promises to be big, boisterous and overall fun with such dishes as pea soup, curried lobster, and Scottish salmon
72. Served with Style
Celebrity chef Tom Aikens debuts in the UAE with his evocatively named eatery Pots Pans and Boards. Sample English, Mediterranean, and French fare at the restaurant, but as the name suggests the dish you order is either served on a pot, a pan, or a board! Don’t miss the black squid tempura, lamb meatballs, treacle-marinated salmon, and red fruit and apple crumble.
73. A Sensory Experience
Fancy eating your food blindfolded? At the W Hotel in Doha be prepared to take your senses on a unique journey. Chef Kim Hyung Gyu invites various other chefs to the restaurant to design the menu. Dishes are then paired with wines while blindfolded guests are led to their chairs and carefully handed cutlery, making each meal a brand new experience.
74. Indian Signature
Get an elaborate tasting of authentic Indian food in a fine-dining setting at Signature, the latest venture by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor in the Melia Hotel, Qatar. The restaurant presents on its menu quintessential Indian ingredients and cooking techniques, but in an interactive atmosphere. Opt for the degustation menu that can be paired with the best wines.
75. What a cuppa!
How about coffee with a dose of history, news, and interactive media? Do all this and more at the Al Jazeera Cafe in Qatar, started recently by the eponymous news group. Meant to be a community cafe, it aims to provide a contemporary experience with such delectable eats as rye bread sandwiches, pastries, date brulee and halwa among other things.
76. Japanese Fare
Dine on delectable and delicate Japanese dishes at the latest hotspot in Doha—Nozomi Doha. Charmingly located amidst the gardens of the Marsa Malaz Kempinski, Nozomi’s highlights include yellow-tail sashimi, soft shell crabs, black cod, kobe beef, and lobster tempura.
77. A Meal to Remember
Get a taste of Russian and other Slavic dishes at the rare Slavic-theme restaurant Vesna in Dubai, which translates to spring in Russian, which opened this October. Though the mainstay is dishes such as the Ukranian borscht, the restaurant creatively uses Indian spices as well as Asian and European influences in its food.
78. Sporty Affair
This is stuff that a sports-lover’s dreams are made of—a sports-themed gastropub inside a sports facility. The Sportsman’s Arms in Abu Dhabi is American-Irish-themed and opened in September this year. Located inside the tennis stadium of Zayed Sports City, its menu featuring a variety of beers and pub grub comes highly recommended.
For a travel plan that offers variety, here are some interesting activities .
79. Indian Dubai Police Launches Tourist Friendly Campaign
The ‘Emirates Welcomes Cultures’ campaign has been launched by Dubai Police to educate tourists about the local code of conduct, as well as to encourage visitors to Dubai to reach out to tourism police whenever necessary. The campaign will run through December 31, with the Tourism Police officials placed in malls, airports, beaches and hotels to assist visitors.
80. Futuristic Project
In a few years’ time, it will be possible to travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in less than 15 minutes thanks to Hyperloop Technologies. Hyperloop is a transportation system wherein a full-length tube is built between destinations. The controlled environment inside the tube allows people or cargo to travel at an extremely fast speed.
FUN AND FROLIC
When adventure is on your mind always, there is no place better than the Middle East. From sand dune bashing, to diving in an aquarium, watching the F1 races to bull fighting, you name it and it’s here.
81. Scuba Diving For Kids
Perfect for 8-10 years old, the Bubble Maker course at Atlantis The Palm, Dubai is a great way for children to experience scuba diving through play in a shallow pool environment under the direct supervision of PADI qualifi ed Dive Atlantis instructors. This experience is conducted over two hours, with a brief classroom session followed by an underwater skills session in a safe, controlled and confined pool environment.
82. The Thrilling Seabreacher
The Seabreacher is a two-seater, fully submersible watercraft in the shape of a shark. Not only does the seabreacher look exciting with jaws et al, it also has the ability to skim the surface of the sea at 100 kilometres per hour, dive below waves and do quick turns and spins. You can experience this thrilling activity at Rixos The Palm in Palm Jumeirah. The hotel’s pro-surfer day package includes a ride for two, plus a private cabana, bucket of drinks, and paddleboarding session.
83. Adventurous in Jordan
Now is a great time to get outdoors in Jordan. When the temperature dips from October through April, discover a 80-kilometre route through the deserts, mountains, and peaks of Jordan. Besides the iconic sites of the Siq, soak in the energy and mystical vibes at the Treasury, the Monastery, the Place of High Sacrifice and the Great Temple. And if you have the time, there is a 630-kilometre 36-day hiking trail, part of which has been rated amongst the top 10 multi-day hikes in the world.
84. IMG Worlds of Adventure
The largest indoor theme park in the world is scheduled to open in Dubai later this year. It will have four zones, including Marvel, Cartoon Network, Lost Valley- Dinosaur Adventure and IMG Boulevard. Besides having trilling rides along with some for the faint-hearted as well, it will feature a 12-screen Novo Cinema multiplex with an IMAX screen and two VIP theatres.
85. Drift Driving
Drifting is an extreme sport that involves exceeding your car tyre’s limits of adhesion, exhibiting a lateral slip, and resulting in an oversteer condition. The Dubai Autodrome offers this thrill for US$300 for an hour-long session.
86. Grand Prix
Book your tickets now for Middle East’s greatest international sporting event. Scheduled for November 27, 28 and 29, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix promises to be bigger and better than ever before. It will host GP2 and GP3 as the support races, the final race of the 2015 season.
87. Motocross Championships
The FIM Motocross World Championships will be held in Doha on February 26 and 27 this coming year with the world’s greatest motorbike racers competing against one another. Adding to the thrill of the sport, this is the only round of the world championships that will take place at night under the floodlit track at Losail.
88. Pearl of Dubai
A new underwater attraction in Dubai, inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, aims to attract scuba diving and snorkelling tourists. Designed by the art team behind the Hollywood production Avatar and the five Pirates of the Caribbean features, the Pearl of Dubai is set to open soon and promises to oﬀer an adventure-filled and Hollywood-style real life experience.
If the regular water park has become just too plain Jane for you, then head over to Aquaventure at the Atlantis where you can swim near or take rides over shark-infested waters and get an adrenaline-pumping experience.
90. Petra by night
Petra, the fabulous Jordan location, is an awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping experience by day. But to get a mysterious experience, take the Petra by Night tour. It is held on a handful of nights every week. A fascinating storyteller will bring to life historic tales as you walk along paths lit by candles.
Get your adrenaline pumping as you try your hand at kitesurfing. Experience the rush on water with the wind for company in this unique sport where you balance on a surfboard as you are pulled away by a kite. Changing wind patterns and altering speed add an element of surprise and uncertainty to the experience.
Flyboarding is the the latest craze to hit Dubai's waters and is more exhilarating than it looks- after all you bound and bounce off the sea. The rider is strapped into boots attached to a board with a special air nozzle and within no time one is able to perform tricks and back flips as well. Name any thrill seeking celebrity and they're sure to have tried it.
For those fascinated by the sport of fencing, especially after watching Madonna as an instructor in the Bond film Die Another Day, here’s a chance to take a few lessons. The Qatar Fencing Club offers tuition and guidance and even supplies equipment for beginners.
94. Sand dune bashing and camping
Though sand dune bashing has been around for some time in Dubai, it is the newer destinations of Qatar and other places in the UAE that are gaining much popularity for the stomach-dropping and heart-pumping action they provide. Add camping in the desert to the mix and your Middle Eastern experience is bound to be exquisite.
Touted as the largest water park in Umm Al Quwain, the Dreamland Aqua Park is a treat for the entire family but more so for children. Set amidst lush green landscaped gardens along the coastline, its many gravity-defying and adrenaline-pumping rides are highly recommended by the brave hearted. To make it more fun, you can camp overnight here with friends or family.
Forget the open seas; head inland in Abu Dhabi along the thick mangroves in the Eastern Mangroves Lagoon National Park and kayak along silently to witness the unique eco-system, the various species of birds and fi sh and the mysterious dark trees with twisted roots that make an intriguing pattern.
97. Wildlife Watching
As one of Abu Dhabi largest natural islands, Sir Bani Yas Island is the core component of the planned Desert Islands multi-experiential destination 240 km west of the UAE Capital. The island is home to one of Arabia’s largest wildlife reserves—the Arabian Wildlife park – which has more than 10,000 animals including gazelles, giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs. Guests can take 4x4 nature and Wildlife Drives of the park in specially-made vehicles accompanied by expert island staff.
98. Race Weekend
Yas Viceroy unveils a series of parties, concerts, sporting events, art exhibitions and food festivals with Viceroy Moments. Here, fast cars meet fashion, as Yas Viceroy will host poolside parties and international club nights for stylish celebrations that go beyond the sport during the week of the Formula1 racing. The hotel’s rooftop bar will also be in on the action, allowing guests to enjoy post-race mingling whilst overlooking the stunning pool and soaking in views of Yas Marina.
99. An Active Experience
If your idea of a perfect holiday is one jam-packed with activity, adventure and exhilaration, with different experiences to challenge mind and body each day, then the Abercrombie and Kent Vacations ‘Active Experience’ is just right for you. This 6-day Abu Dhabi package costing US$1,120 per person will take you to Yas Island, the Ferrari World, on a Sup Boat Expedition and a desert adventure.
100. Atlantis Dive
Atlantis the Palm has come up with the innovative Atlantis DIVE programme that will train you to dive into the largest open- air aquarium in the Middle East and Africa—The Ambassador Lagoon. It allows you to dive alongside the majestic sea creatures, and marvel at ancient artefacts that are strategically placed in the aquarium.
101. Musical Performance
The Arab League is announcing the emirate, Sharjah, as the Capital of Arab Tourism for 2015 and forthcoming celebrations include a wide array of art and cultural events and popular international musical performances and concerts at the Al Majaz Amphitheatre. These will include a thrilling performance by the highly-accomplished Greek musician, Yanni, on November 6.
This article was first published in Travel and Leisure India South Asia. To read more stories like this one click here.