Family Vacations to the Middle East

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The Middle East – Family Vacation Guide

A family holiday in the Middle East is destined to be an amazing experience for even the youngest kids.

You’ll seek out landscapes unlike any others and have adventures like never before. Easily navigate from city to desert, climb the world’s tallest building, go for a dune buggy ride, swim in the bluest of waters and explore some of the most colorful markets you’ll ever lay your eyes on.

Why Go

  • Ancient History

    The Middle East is mentioned in some of the earliest written texts. Explore some of the oldest places in the world!

  • Spirituality

    With history comes religion and spirituality. You have the chance to learn about both just by walking down city streets.

  • Architecture

    From mausoleums and pyramids to grand bazaars and the tallest building in the world, the architecture in the Middle East will leave you breathless.

  • Landscapes

    Go from the middle of the desert with its endless rolling sand dunes to the middle of the most futuristic city in the world with only the blink of an eye.

  • Cuisine

    Spices are the secret to the unique flavors of Middle Eastern food. Pick some of your favorites up at local souks to bring back a piece of your vacation.

Where to Go

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the United Arab Emirate’s capital built across 200 islands on the Arabian Gulf. Less than two hours south of Dubai, this is the city dominated by the immense Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque rather than towering hotels. The gorgeous coastline is a protected conservation area so the beaches aren’t disturbed by noisier water sports (the quieter kind are plentiful). And, for every exciting attraction or glossy mall, there are museums, galleries, ancient souks, colorful food markets and local shops. The family resorts here are remarkable and Abu Dhabi’s traditions are well balanced by theme parks, waterparks and the desert adventure that’s second nature in this part of the world.

Take Me to Abu Dhabi
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How could Cairo fail to enchant kids? Read the stories behind the building of the pyramids while you travel through the middle of the desert to see them. Make sure to visit the Sphinx of Giza, Valley of Kings and Queens and Sakkara. The sun-filled skies mean hot temperatures so make sure to get out and explore early in the day and don’t forget a hat and sunscreen!

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One of the Middle East’s richest countries, Qatar is also one of the newest to family holidays. But, visit the vibrant capital, Doha, and it’s difficult to imagine you aren’t in the company of a veteran. This is the city with acre upon acre of beaches, outstanding luxury resorts and a range of fun attractions good enough to give old-hands like Dubai stiff competition. And even a lack of ancient history doesn’t disconcert Doha, it simply makes up for monuments with fine museums, interesting galleries and heritage experiences from traditional sailing to falconry.

Take Me to Qatar
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Dubai is dazzling. It’s the city for the world’s biggest and tallest everything, from shopping malls to ski-slopes and luxury hotels. Few places have a more instantly recognizable skyline and nowhere else is so powerfully associated with ostentatious wealth and opulence. Visit and get to know the city a little better and beneath the glitter you have gorgeous beaches, the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, ancient markets and traditional wooden sail boats on the enchanting creek. And no matter how high Dubai builds, nothing manmade can ever compete with its magnificent desert landscape and the imperious beauty of the incredible Hajar Mountains. High-energy, low key or a bit of both? Dubai is an all-round thrilling family holiday.

Take Me to Dubai
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From the dramatic Musandam Peninsula in the north to the famous blooming deserts of the south, Oman’s subtle charm is perfect for family holidays. The capital, Muscat, is bustling and lively, not short on malls and dramatic architecture but equally admired for its historic port, traditional souks and elegant, sweeping corniche. Less than half-an-hour south, holiday villages like Barra al Jissah have all you want from Arabian Gulf resorts in terms of luxury hotels, fantastic water sports and fun activities. But mixed in with the shiny and new are delightful distractions like dolphin and whale spotting, turtle farms, heritage villages, wild wadi swimming and eco-adventures in ruggedly magnificent.

Take Me to Oman
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Ras al-Khaimah

The most northerly of the Arab Emirates, Ras al Khaimah (RAK) is 45 minutes by road from Dubai and shares many of its neighbor’s finer qualities: lovely beaches, year-round sunshine and resort islands and villages with every luxury detail down to a fine art. But where Dubai is all shine, RAK is the emirate with more history and heritage, the highest mountains and considerably less development. Here you can go dune-bashing, jet-skiing and extreme driving if you want. Or you can just as easily spend a night in a Bedouin camp watching Sufi dancing, trek across the desert on stately camels and watch traditional falconry in the heart of a lush, green oasis – RAK is more famous for parks and mangrove forests than skyscrapers.

Take Me to Ras al Khaimah
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What to Do

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

  •  The Sphinx of Giza

  • Desert Dune Buggy Ride

  • Visit Qatar’s capital, Doha

  • Climb the Burj Khalifa

  • History and heritage in RAK

Getting Around in the Middle East

You’ll have to drive almost everywhere in the Middle East, as stretches of desert connect each bustling emirate. Car rentals are easy to access at the airport, or at some city center locations. Expect about an hour to two between your destinations, no matter which emirate you’re travelling to or from.

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