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Old meets new in the Arabian Gulf


Grounded in the past but with its eyes on the future, the Arabian Gulf is a truly timeless destination

Khasab Fort in Oman

Khasab Fort in Oman

The Arabian Gulf is an exciting and enchanting part of the world, filled with timeless landscapes and rich with captivating culture.


Among the region’s many charms is its striking contrast between old and new. Ancient forts and temples sit alongside glittering skyscrapers; colourful souks coexist with high-end shopping malls. It’s a region with thousands of years of history brought into the modern world, shiny and new.


On a Dubai & Arabian Gulf fly-cruise, you can discover the region’s formidable past and its dynamic present. Many cruises feature overnight stops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, giving you even more time to immerse yourself in this land of contrasts. Whatever type of adventure you’re looking for on a holiday to the Arabian Gulf, you’re sure to find it.


Old world

The Arabian Gulf is famed for its forts, temples and mosques. The UNESCO-listed Qalat Al Bahrain fort dates back to the 15th century and sits atop an archaeological mound, excavations of which have revealed several layers of houses and places of worship that date between 2,300BC and the 18th century. You can also visit Job’s Tomb in Salalah, where it’s said the remains of the prophet Job were found. In Oman, the well-preserved 17th-century Khasab Fort and its inner museum offer a fascinating window into local history and culture.


Souks have long played an important role in the region’s history, servicing traders and acting as social meeting places. Dubai’s Gold Souk is a shining example. Practise your haggling skills and score a great deal on jewellery, coins and more. In Bahrain, the sprawling Manama Souk is divided into two parts, old and new, and is a good place to buy traditional clothing, clay pottery, spices, jewellery and local sweets, such as sticky halwa.


For a unique experience on the water, take a tour in a dhow, a traditional wooden fishing boat. The history of these vessels stretches back to the ancient world, and their design has changed little over the centuries. Muscat is a great place to enjoy a dhow cruise, taking in the spectacular sights of the city’s coastline.


The Tree of Life in Bahrain is one of the country’s most talked-about attractions. Lush and green, the 400-year-old tree is located in the middle of the desert outside Manama­, where temperatures soar above 50°C. How it survives remains a mystery to scientists, as it has no apparent source of water. 

High-rise buildings dominate Dubai’s skyline

High-rise buildings dominate Dubai’s skyline

New world

Towering skyscrapers – particularly those in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – have become a visual symbol of the modern incarnation of the Arabian Gulf. As the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is perhaps the best example. Visit the viewing gallery on the 125th floor for vistas that will leave you dazzled. A drive down nearby Sheikh Zayed Road, often called the ‘Manhattan of Dubai’, will have you craning your neck to take in the high-rise glass buildings.


Smaller and visually interesting in an entirely different way is the Bahrain National Museum in Manama. Its intriguing exhibits are housed in an equally fascinating postmodern building, which seems to draw the water of the Persian Gulf right up to its windows.


With some 1,200 shops, the Dubai Mall could keep you occupied for days. To cover more ground, take the golf cart taxis available on each floor. Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall, meanwhile, is one of the biggest in the city and occupies a picturesque position on the breakwater along the Corniche.


The Arabian Gulf’s penchant for spectacular man-made wonders also extends to hotels and resorts. Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago shaped like a palm and home to residential units and luxury resorts, including the spectacular Atlantis, The Palm. Viewed from above on the Seaplane over Dubai shore excursion, it’s a sight to behold. Nearby, the ultra-luxe Burj Al Arab is instantly recognisable with its sail-inspired shape. In Abu Dhabi, the Yas Marina Formula 1 racetrack and neighbouring Ferrari World Theme Park are a must-see for anyone with a need for speed.


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