You may not recognise the name Ajman now, but we have a feeling that’s all about to change, very soon.
The smallest of the seven United Arab Emirates, Ajman punches well above its weight internationally. In fact, it was recently named the world’s fourth safest city. Both an incredible accolade and testimony to how well the natural and cultural heritage has been cared for here. You’ll probably be aware that most of the neighbours have been building tall, taller, tallest. Conversely, Ajman has played the long game and focused on sustainability and ways to build a desirable destination without impacting on what makes it desirable in the first place. So why should you choose the more thoughtful emirate for a family holiday?
Ajman beaches gleam under cloudless blue skies
Since the UAE is the land of endless sunshine, let’s start in the coolest spot, down on the Arabian Gulf. If you’re at all interested in acre after acre of flawless white sand, Ajman’s beaches will fascinate you. Practically gleaming beneath cloudless skies, some of them seem to go on forever, or at least a good 16km. Several of them are also playgrounds for everything from paddle boarding and windsurfing to kayaking. Plus, uncrowded is another distinctive feature, so if kids are keen to learn some new water sports on holiday, more room on the beach makes that a lot easier to do.
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Kayak through mangroves and meet flamingo
Speaking of kayaking, Ajman is also home to the one million square metre Al Zorah Nature Reserve, which invites you to spend hours paddling around its mangroves, lagoons and hidden beaches. Although we can’t promise you complete solitude, as nearly 58 bird species are also at home in the reserve. But what child wouldn’t mind sharing their personal space with stately flamingo, elegant heron or egret? And let’s not forget the mangroves, which never fail to amaze with their otherwordly root systems seeming to defy every law of nature by growing out of nowhere.
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Discover an emirate city with a heart and soul
Of course Ajman city has a spectacular corniche, that’s as good as an urban planning rule in the UAE. But there its similarities to most of the neighbours ends. This is a city that feels like a community rather than a tourist destination. Dip into the souq here and you get a sense of local life. Traditions like camel racing still thrive, there are museums to browse, and you can even watch history being made by dhow boat builders.
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Explore the magnificent Masfout region with your kids
Explore beyond the beach and the city and you’ll be rewarded time and again by natural wonders. The Masfout region is part of Ajman and remarkable on several counts, not least for being cool, when all else is hot. That extraordinary feat in a desert area all comes down to its high altitude, which you might think would also make it inaccessible, not even slightly.
In a landscape characterised by marble and the dramatic Hajar mountains this is where the real adventure begins. Escape the heat and go hiking or just pack a picnic and take a walk. The more energetic will be delighted to know that Masfout is also mountain biking heaven. And if you like a bit of history with your natural splendour, a trek up to Masfout Castle rewards you with legends of 19th century bandits and other spine-tingling stories that could have been invented for the amazement of kids.
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Stay awhile and experience legendary Ajman hospitality
For all its delightful differences, you’ll find Ajman is a true emirate when it comes to hospitality. Families can look forward to a wide choice of accommodation here to fit most budgets. In fact Ajman is generally one of the more affordable places to stay in the UAE. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to hotels and resorts. In a recent innovative move, the Ajman Department of Tourism Development (ADTD) created a new policy allowing local homeowners and businesses to register their properties as holiday rentals. Of course this is particularly good news for families and another way in which Ajman is proving itself to be the more thoughtful emirate. As well as the safest, one of the beachiest and definitely the most undiscovered, for now.
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How to plan a family holiday in Ajman
How to get there
Direct UK flights to Dubai take from just under 7 hours, Ajman is 30 minutes north of Dubai.
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