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The Middle East is usually in the news for all the wrong reasons, but there are many areas that are safe, relaxed, and bulging with unique experiences.

Even better is that these close-to-the-equator countries are the perfect temperature during the crappiest months of the year in England – namely September/October/November and February/March/April. Don’t be tempted by the cheap deals during June, July or August. You will barely be able to leave your room it’s so sweaty outside. Also Ramadan, when there is no drinking or loud music allowed so all the clubs close down, tends to fall in the summer months. Do remember to be respectful of local cultures with what you wear and how you behave, but otherwise, go and have yourself a ball...

United Arab Emirates:

It may not be the capital, but Dubai arguably wears the crown of the UAE. And it’s probably the world’s largest crown, and dripping with diamonds. It’s a strange-old place is Dubai, and if you are the kind of person who gets upset by double standards, we advise against a visit. (Read: gold Lamborghinis vs labourers working in the scorching sun for a pittance; Islamic culture and Sharia Law vs free-flowing booze and various related shenanigans.) Also, if you enjoy a holiday where you get to roam the streets, chat to locals and soak up the history, don’t visit Dubai

The place is basically built around a huge eight-lane motorway so it’s near-impossible to walk anywhere, the locals don’t tend to talk to anyone bar each other (and the place is full of expats anyway), and the UAE is 43 years old; the oldest skyscraper - the Dubai World Trade Centre - was built in 1978.

So why should you visit Dubai? Because it has to be seen to be believed. And, in truth, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. A sample of what you could do in a weekend covers shopping in one of the world’s largest malls before watching the world’s largest dancing water fountain in its grounds; going up to the 124th floor of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, sunning yourself on a beach with a view of the sail-shaped seven-star Burj Al Arab (Jumeirah Open Beach); heading for the gold and textile souks in the ‘old’ part of town (Deiraand Karama), buying a ‘Mulberry’ bag for non-Mulberry prices, and taking a trip on a dhow across the Creek for Dhs1 (approx 20p); skydiving over the man-made Palm Jumeirah island, jumping down the Leap of Faith waterslide in Aquaventure, part of the salmon-pink Atantis hotel; heading out into the Gulf on a jet ski or flyboard (that thing where you have jets of water attached to your feet), and finishing it all off with a Michelin-star meal and a 3am finish in a world class club.

For day trips out of Dubai, we recommend booking on a dhow trip in Kasab, Musandam. Dangle your feet off the edge as dolphins play in the water below and butter-coloured mountains provide a cinematic backdrop. The capital, Abu Dhabi, is also worth a visit, particularly if you are dying for a culture fix as it is soon to be home to Guggenheim and Louvre museums. The gold leaf plastered Emirates Palace is worth a visit for afternoon tea, but we advise against bothering with Ferrari World on Yas Island.To be frank, it’s dull.

Love to visit the Middle East? We offer a range of awesome trips there - find out more here.


Big trip: The Middle East
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