Visiting Dubai can leave a serious hole in your wallet! The ultraluxurious city of glistening skyscrapers and expensive SUV-filled highways is certainly not for the budget conscious, so rather than trying to hunt down the few budget options in this beacon of excess, it is worth splurging for a few days to get a true feel for this (not so) sandy city.
The Middle East is famous for its mystical souks, where tantalising smells lure visitors deeper into the mesmerising lanes and alleyways of these historic marketplaces, where a confusing concoction of bright golds, oranges, greens, and blues flash by like a mirage, and boisterous sounds of people haggling thunder through the narrow streets of these centres of commerce.
Dubai has gleaming glass skyscrapers and Abu Dhabi has grand mosques and palaces, but the UAE has moreto offer so Food and Travel asked Joe Worthington to take a journey through the mesmerising tree-lined desert oasis and traditional Arabian heritage of Al Ain, the garden of the Gulf.
The northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is probably not the first place you think of when you plan to visit the United Arab Emirates, but this hidden gem on the Gulf coast is quickly emerging as one of the key cultural destination in the region.
The United Arab Emirates, and the wider Gulf as a whole, is well known for its contrasting differences, both geographically and socially. On a recent visit to Ras Al Khaimah, the most northerly Emirate in the UAE, I was struck by the sheer juxtaposition of the Emirate. Before I travelled there, via Dubai, I was expecting to see lots of migrant workers and extreme wealth standing side-by-side, but what I discovered was so much more than I had previously thought.
Locals are hard to come by in Ras Al Khaimah. Their perfectly clean villas and mansions are neatly laid out in rows amongst the date trees around the Jebel Jais mountains. There are mirrored windows on most of the mansions, luxurious sports cars and SUVs parked in the driveways, and countless security cameras glaring down onto the thick metal gates. It’s understandable why the local Emiratis have chosen to live around the mountains or along the coast in Ras Al Khaimah, the views are stunning, but arguably very disconnected from reality in the UAE.