Arabian Peninsula: UAE, Yemen, Oman
The Arabian Peninsula is located south of Jordan, Iraq and Iran and northeast of East Africa; with coastlines on the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf. Huge expanses of desert cover much of the Arabian Peninula, limiting settlements to oases, mountains along the Red Sea and coastal belts. The most populous area is the fertile highlands of Yemen. Yemen and Oman are the least developed of the Arabian states, with large rural populations.
We will start with arrival in United Arab Emirates UAE) where we will spend two days touring and enjoying the natural beauty of the coast and beaches. From here we fly to Oman and then to Yemen. You may join us for Oman or Yemen separately. If time and interest allow, continue on with us to Ethiopia. Yemen is like nothing you have ever seen before – the land of the Queen of Sheba, where time might have stood still for centuries, with a history dating back over 3000 years, many of its towns and villages redate the arrival of Islam in the ninth century. It was once very wealthy because of its trade in frankincense, Myrrh, spices and gold.
Evening arrival in Dubai. Met at airport and transfer to hotel. Mina Salam or Al Qasr, 5* sea facing boutique hotel with view of Madinat Jumeirah.
Day 2 Half day private sightseeing tour (4 hrs)
The route takes you to some of Dubai’s beautiful landmarks. The most magnificent Mosque in Jumierah, Jumeriah Beach, passing bay Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Burj Al Arab the No. 1 tower hotel in the world, Camel Race Track, Dubai Race & Golf Club. Passing by the Sheikh’s palace, then take a short break by the creak to view the amazing architecture of Deira Towers. We then visit the fascinating underground Dubai Museum, then continue through the colourful textile market, stop at the gold souq and find ourselves amazed at the sheer volume of dazzling gold jewellery.
Day 3 Half day excursion (3hrs)
The Emirates of Sharjah lies 15 minutes away from Dubai. We start our journey at the Cultural Square, American University of Sharjah only one of its kind in the entire Gulf. Visit Ajman’s enchanting museum – housed in an ancient fort and giving intriguing insights into lifestyles before changes brought by oil. Majahrah souq with its intricate mosaics and golden dome; 150-year old of Al Naboodah House. Pass by majestic King Faisal Mosque, the Pearl Monument, symbol of the UAE Federation, the fabulous Blue Souk, where more than 600 shops sell carpets, gold, silver, antiques, perfumes, clothes and many other goods.
Transfer to airport for flight to Muscat. Upon arrival you proceed to the immigration counter . Immigration & customs are quick & simple. Afterwards, you will be met in the general arrival lounge and transfer to hotel Muscat Intercontinental 5* beach resort.
Half day Muscat City Tour Morning, you will be met by your tour guide for the “Mystical Muscat” experience. Proceed to Grand Mosque ( ladies have to cover their head with scarf and full sleeve covering shoulders ). After Grand Mosque your tour will take you through the seaside residential area of Qurum to the National Museum. After a tour of the museum continue drive to Old Muscat en-route stopping at the Zawawi Mosque for a photo stop. Continue drive through the city to corniche water front to visit the Muttrah souq (market place) probably the oldest in Oman with charm & choice. Here you will be left on your own to wander around in the narrow lanes and admire the goods on sale & enjoy the thrill of discovery. After visiting the souq, drive through the old city to the Al Alam Palace an architectural marvel for both the design & location between the twin forts of Jalali & Mirani. The Jalali fort was built in 1558 AD during the presence of the Portuguese in the Sultanate. This fort was Muscat’s main prison for many years, a sinister & awesome building. The Mirani Fort located at the end of the Western wall of old Muscat, facing the sea was built on top of a mountain to be a governing center. Drive back to the hotel.
Day 6 Quriyat/Tiwi/Fins Beach/Wadi Shaab/Sur
After breakfast at the hotel, you will be met by your guide in the lobby to embark upon your 4 wheel drive soft adventure program. This tour along the coast line to Sur offers breath taking glimpses of the blue waters of the Gulf of Oman offset by pristine beaches The adventure starts from Quriyat, a very large fishing village between the lagoon and the sea. The port of Quiriyat is still guarded by a watch tower dating back to 1635. Continue on the bumpy track, sometimes touching the sea following a creek or overlooking superb white beaches hundreds of metres long. Arrive at Fins beach (White beach) stop for a short swim or just laze under the sun, and continue to ‘Wadi Shaab. ‘ (Shaab in Arabic, literally means ‘Ravine between Cliffs “). Shallow green pools and abundant shade give wadi shaab a perfect setting for a picnic. You will enjoy your picnic lunch here. After lunch you may take a long walk inside the wadi, return to your vehicle and proceed to Sur. Check in at Sur Plaza Hotel. Rest of the evening at leisure.
Day 7 Sur/Wadi Bani Khalid/Wahiba Sands/Nizwa
After breakfast, a tour of Sur town visiting the dhow building yard before proceeding to Wadi Bani Khalid, which stands out like an oasis in the desert with clear green natural spring water pools, a stark contrast to Wahiba Sands. the great desert of Oman. After a brief stop, continue to ‘Wahiba Sands, often described as a perfect example of a sand sea. It consists of large ranges of dunes running from North to South, some attaining a height of about 100 mts and orange in colour. The Wahiba Sands is the home of the traditional bedouin tribe who are known for their hospitality and their knowledge of the sands. Our experienced driver will take you on a drive through the undulating sand dunes to experience the thrills of dune driving. There is a possibility of meeting one of the Bedouin families to enjoy a cup of coffee with them & know about their living style. Lunch after the tour. After spending some time in the desert we continue to Nizwa. On arrival check in at Falaj Daris hotel. Evening at leisure.
Day 8 Nizwa/Bahla/Jabreen/Al Hamra/Al Ain
Morning tour of the Oasis city of Nizwa, which was once the capital of Julanda Dynasty in the 6th & 7th Century AD. Today it remains a popular attraction with its historical buildings & imposing fort.
The first stop is the colorful souq which is renowned for its intricately hand-carved “Khanjar” and ornately designed silver jewelry. Also visit the other traditional shops before proceeding to the Nizwa fort with its enormous round tower, built in the 17th century by the great Imam Sultan Bin Seif to safeguard the route to the interiors. The fort dominates the entire area, with the town having grown around the edifice. Access to the top is only by means of a narrow, twisting staircase barred by heavy wooden doors, studded with metal. From the top of the tower one can get a bird’s eye view of the Nizwa city.
Next, is a quick stop at the Bahla Fort (photo stop) now on UNESCO list of heritage sites. Continue to Jabrin Fort to visit the castle, the finest of Oman’s castle built in the late 17th century, which became a seat of Omani learning. This castle has extremely well planned layouts with room for the wali, the ladies room, the kitchen, the majlis etc. Most of the ceilings are decorated with beautiful paintings with Islamic motifs. The view from the top of the castle is really mesmerising.
Aftr lunch, drive 3 hours to Al Ain (on the UAE side of the border). Entering Al Ain we’ll pass magnificent sand dunes sculpted by the wind with knife-sharp edges. Al Ain seems to be more in touch with its Bedouin heritage than the UAE’s other cities. Overnight at Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet hotel.
Day 9 Al Ain
This morning we will meet our UAE guide at the hotel and visit the colorful camel market where traditional Bedouin come to socialize and bargain. Next a visit to Al-Khandaq Fort–a vision straight out of a fairytale. Afternoon we wander through the atmospheric oasis with its shady date palms, labyrinthine paths and traditional irrigation channels. We can stop for a refreshing mint/lime drink or snack at Oasis Cafe. Some independent time to browse the souq.
Day 9 Al Ain/Abu Dhabi/Dubai
Morning visit the national museum (impressive archaeological section). Then drive 2 hours to Abu Dhabi. Visit Cultural Foundation, Qasr al-Husn, Women’s Handicraft Center. Afternoon continue to Dubai (1.5 hr). Transfer to hotel.
Day 10 Sana’a
Morning transfer to airport for flight to Sana’a. Fly from Muscat to Saana. Arrival in Sana’a at approx 900 am. Met at airport and transfer to Hotel Taj Sheba. Sana’a was founded by Shem son of Noah’s and is one of the first sites of human settlement. Legend says that Shem came to Yemen from the north seeking somewhere to settle and chose the place shown to him by a bird. The legend still flourishes in Sana’a and the town bears the nickname “Sam City.”
Our representative will meet you on arrival and we will proceed to Wadi Dhahr for a sightseeing tour through the Green Valley, a fertile and very pleasant valley of small villages and clan- walled orchards, green all year round and growing all kinds of Mediterranean fruits. Visit Imam Palace Dar Al-Hajar (Rock Palace) former Imam Summer Residence.
Lunch at the tent restaurant andtransfer to the hotel for check in and some relaxation time.
Late afternoon walking tour in the old Sana’a city, ‘Bab Al Yemen ‘ and the medieval “Souq” market, where you can soak up the atmosphere of the old Sana’a city by night. Dinner at Arabia Felix Funduk in old Sana’a , enjoying traditional ambiance and cuisine.
Day 11 Sana’a – Kawkaban – Shibam – Thula – Sana’a
Drive to Wadi Dhahr to visit the rock Palace ” Dar Al Hajjar” the Summer Palace of Imam Yahy. Continue to Kawkaban, a village built on the most inaccessible mountainside. After a walk about the village, a 10 min drive down to Shibam (or one can walk down 11/2 hr and see the old caves which were built into the mountain rocks). A typical Yemeni lunch will be provided in guest house in Shibam. Shibam was an inhabited area well before Islam came to Yemen. During the 1st century AD it served as a capital, not of Yemen but of a small and short-lived independent state; these states were common in the highlands when the kingdom of Sheba was weakening and the Himyarite state, with its capital, Dhafar, was rising. Both Sabaean and Himyarite inscriptions can be found on stones reused in the city gate of Shibam, in the mosque and in other older constructions; you may be able to spot a few. Some stone pillars in the old market area are of Sabaen origin. From 845 to 1004 AD Shibam was again the capital, this time of much of the highlands, when the Bani Ya’fur dynasty ruled here. Shibam is the name of one of the old Yemeni king’s and this name was given to many villages , the famous one is Shibam Hadhramaut, also called the “Manhattan of the Desert.” It would be 4 days round-trip to visit Shibam Hadhramaut. Continue driving to Thula. Thula is a rare example of an almost perfectly preserved highland town of stone tower houses, it has always been a free town. During the Turkish occupation in the 16th century, it remained unconquered, with Imam Muttahar Sharaf ad-Din leading the successful battle against aggressors equipped with firearms.
Day 12 Sana’a – Manakha – al Hajjrah – Hodeidah
After early breakfast drive to Manakha the urban capital of the reunion to al Hajjrah. Yemeni typical lunch will be provided at Al- Hajjrah Funduk with folkloric dances. After lunch drive on to Al-Hoteib the famous pilgrimage center for the Dawoudi Bohra (Ismaili Muslims of India). Continue to Hodeidah. Overnight at Ambassador Hotel, 3 star. (in Hodeidah there are only 3 star hotels. )
Day 13 Hodeidah – Zabid – Taiz
Early morning visit fish market. Afterwards, visit to Bait Al Faqih, the 18th century coffee-trading center. Currently its one of the biggest weekly market(Souq/Fri ). We can also see can also see the handcraft shops where they make cloths,Drive on to Zabid UNESCO world heritage site. Lunch at local restaurant. Continue to Taiz. Overnight at Sofitel 5 Star
Day 14 Taiz
Drive to Yafrus to visit the mosque and the tomb of Ahmed Bin Alwan, one of the most famous Sufis of the 16th century. Continue to Saber Mountain for a great view of Taiz City. In afternoon explore Taiz:. visit the Ashrafia mosque ( photo from outside ), and walk through the Sunday souq, one of the most interesting in Taiz.. Overnight at Sofitel .
Day 15 Taiz – Jiblah – Ibb – Sana’a
Depart via Jiblah to see the great mosque with its column prayer hall, and the finely decorated tomb of the Queen. Continue to Ibb. Visit of the old town of Ibb, lunch en route. Continue to Sana’a passing through Sumarah Mountain. Visit the old city of Sana’a and Bab Al-Yemen medieval souq-market. Overnight at Mercure or Taj Sherba.
Day 16 Transfer to airport for flight home.