5 DAYS FROM $1,849
The most glamorous playgrounds on Earth await you in Qatar, Oman and the Emirate nations of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Here is where over-the-top luxury meets the ancient traditions of exotic Arabia, where wooden dhows nestle next to mega-yachts, gargantuan malls compete with vast traditional souks, and where the vertical audacity of sci-fi skyscrapers matches the horizontal expanse of the desert. Our journey indulges your taste for luxury with stays at 5-star hotels and world-class shopping and dining. But it also engages your spirit of discovery with visits to traditional Bedouin enclaves, exploration in historic fortresses and mosques, and forays into amazing desert and coastal preserves. By the end of our adventure you’ll understand that the vast wealth of these strategic Gulf kingdoms is not just a matter of capital, but culture.
Depart home and fly overnight to Doha, Qatar
Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Doha.
Enjoy 5-star luxury in Qatar, the world’s richest nation!
Touch down in Qatar, a peninsula on the Persian Gulf, and you can say you’ve set foot in the world’s richest country. Qatar has the highest GDP per capita on Earth, and as you ride to our 5-star hotel in ultra-modern capital of Doha, you’ll see evidence of that wealth all around you.
The best of Doha: The Pearl, Museum of Islamic Art, and Souk Wasif
After breakfast and a Welcome Briefing, we’ll embark on a panoramic tour that introduces you to some of Doha’s most spectacular landmarks. Riding along the bayside Corniche, we’ll admire the futuristic skyline, and pause for a photo stop at the Oyster & Pearl Fountain, which commemorates the traditional Qatari pearling industry that sustained the nation before the discovery of oil. We’ll also see a latter-day expression of that heritage at The Pearl-Qatar, a stunning man-made island of luxury homes, parks, and marinas. It resembles a string of pearls and has two perfectly circular bays that embrace two pearl-like islets.
Today’s highlight will be our visit to the acclaimed Museum of Islamic Art, which boasts the world’s largest collection of art from the Muslim world (plus secular art) from across three continents. The I.M. Pei-designed building is itself is a marvel, a stunning modern take on the ancient Islamic fortress based on striking geometric designs. It is set on its own man-made island so that no other buildings may obscure the view or impact the dramatic lighting. From here, we’ll adjourn to the bustling Souk Wasif, a 100-year-old marketplace where you can buy anything from spices to shoes to baubles to birds. Our included lunch is at one of the souk’s many traditional eateries; the balance of the day is free until we gather for our Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
Celebrate the sport of kings: King Faisal Camel Racetrack and Al Shaqab Equestrian Center
Today you’ll head outside the city to the Sheikh Faisal Camel Racetrack and Equestrian Club. This is where prized camels are bred and trained to race, with little robot jockeys driving them on. We'll also see the Sheikh Faisal Museum, with more than 15,000 Qatari artifacts (and an antique car collection). Next we’ll transfer to the Al Shaqab equestrian center to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table lunch at the Chef’s Garden restaurant. Afterwards, we’ll explore this beautiful modern facility where priceless royal thoroughbreds and the famed Arabian stallions are bred and trained. As handlers put these majestic animals through their paces, you’ll be moved by their grace, beauty, and speed. After journeying back into town, we’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel.
On to Muscat, Oman and our five-star beach resort
Today we’ll fly from Doha to Muscat, the capital of Oman. The day is then free for you to relax and enjoy the facilities at our palatial, 5-star hotel. Enjoy the pristine white sands of Shatti al Qurum beach, swim in the temperature-controlled pool and lazy river, enjoy the sauna or a spa treatment, or relax with a cocktail at one of the many restaurants and lounges. Dinner will be at the hotel.
Oman on an epic scale: Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Mutrah Souk, and Beit al Zubair Museum
Muscat has been an important port since the first century A.D., and its history is layered with the influences of indigenous tribes as well as the Abassid, Portuguese, Ottoman, and Persians who once ruled Oman. Today, Muscat is still a multicultural hub and you will get acquainted with it during our exploration, starting with the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Oman’s national mosque. Its giant prayer hall can hold 6,500 worshippers, and is illuminated by the world’s largest chandelier. Next we explore the famous Mutrah Souk, a sprawling labyrinth of shops and arcades where you can hunt for old khanjar daggers, silverware, Bedu jewelry, and yes, even frankincense, gold, and myrrh. More treasures await at the private Beit al Zubair Museum, whose collections include ethnographic artifacts, an exhibit of traditional Omani female attire, furniture, maps, and more.
As we depart, we’ll pause for a photo stop outside the stately Al Alam Palace, a royal residence of the ruling Sultan Qaboos. If you are wondering what it’s like to live in Oman, you’ll find out this afternoon when we meet with an Omani woman who shares her perspective on family life, native customs, and the changing role of women in contemporary Oman.
Coastal excursion to Seeb village and Nakhal Fort
Today we’ll ride north of the city to explore the fishermen’s village of Seeb. Set on the Arabian Sea along a broad, park-lined corniche, Seeb offers a breezy, easygoing contrast to the modern bustle of Muscat, and is a good place to see how everyday Omanis relax. Looping back southwards, we’ll visit Nakhal village to explore its massive fort, a structure that dates to pre-Islamic times and is built around an irregularly-shaped rock. Nakhal Fort boasts imposing watchtowers and battlements, as well as the living quarters of the ruling wali, including many antique furnishings. Take in the fort’s commanding views, then ride through the surrounding date palm plantations to observe the interesting irrigation system and hot spring that creates this lush oasis.
Fly to Dubai and get acquainted with the elegant waterfront Corniche
After breakfast, we’ll fly to the city of Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirate of Dubai and the region’s largest and most populous global economic hub. After settling into your 5-star hotel you’ll enjoy an orientation tour that acquaints you with the surrounding Deira neighborhood, which is Dubai’s historic center, and the lovely waterfront promenade, the Corniche. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel, which has three award-wining restaurants among its 10 distinct eateries.
Tradition & modernism, with the Burj Khalifa — Earth’s tallest building
Our city exploration begins with a half-day cultural city tour featuring the Dubai Museum, housed in the old Al Fahidi Fort where we’ll admire ethnographic displays and dioramas that present traditional Dubai life before the discovery of oil made transformed the emirate into the global powerhouse it is today. Then you’ll ride a traditional wooden abra boat across Dubai Creek to explore the old Spice Souk, with its eye-popping displays of herbs and spices piled in colorful mounds; and the equally eye-popping Gold Souk. We’ll also visit Saga World, a fine art and crafts mall where you can peruse and purchase everything from jewelry to leather goods to carpets. Enjoy a lunch featuring traditional local cuisine, before heading back to your hotel for a few hours to relax.
Later this afternoon, set out for a dinner in downtown Dubai, and admire the glittering lights of this modern metropolis. Tonight, you’ll witness the spectacle of the world’s tallest building from high above, with a visit to the top floors of the Burj Khalifa. You’ll get a bird’s-eye views of Dubai (and well beyond) from the observation deck – this spiraling tower pierces the sky at more than 2,716 feet.
Enjoy a thrilling 4x4 Desert Adventure
Take the morning to relax or explore as you wish. This afternoon we’ll head out to the Al Maha Conservation Reserve to enjoy an unforgettable 4x4 Desert Adventure. Boarding all-terrain safari vehicles, we’ll ride into the undulating dunes, perhaps spotting Arabian oryx and gazelle, and watching as the shifting light casts shadows and colors across the sands. As dusk approaches, we’ll toast the occasion with a sundowner, then adjourn to a desert camp. Here you will experience your own Arabian Nights-style fantasy in a billowing tent where we enjoy a typical barbecue dinner, and are entertained by musicians, belly dancers, and a desert sky full of twinkling stars.
Marvel at Dubai’s modern side
This morning after breakfast, you’re in for another treat—a half-day tour of Modern Dubai. Start at the Palm Jumeirah, an artificial archipelago that extends into the Persian Gulf and is built in the shape of a palm tree. Each of its “fronds” is a distinct neighborhood of luxury hotels, homes, and marinas. Then, hop aboard the Dubai Monorail and head to Atlantis, one of the world’s most impressive hotels. We’ll also visit Saga World, a fine art and crafts mall where you can peruse and purchase everything from jewelry to leather goods to carpets. Lunch is on your own before transferring back to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Travel overland to opulent Abu Dhabi
Today after breakfast, we’ll transfer overland to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and its capital city, also called Abu Dhabi, which lies on a T-shaped island. After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll settle into our hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Emirates Heritage Village experience and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
It’s hard not to be impressed by Abu Dhabi’s futuristic profile, but today we’ll step back in time at the Emirates Heritage Village, which re-creates a traditional oasis town. In addition to the goat hair tents, falaj irrigation system, and campfire area, there are workshops where traditional craftsmen demonstrate their skills. After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll proceed to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most opulent in the world. Its bulbous domes may remind you of the Taj Mahal, but officials say the mosque “unites the world” because it incorporates design motifs and materials from scores of countries. The prayer hall boasts 96 marble columns inlaid with mother of pearl. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before departing for dinner.
Abu Dhabi community pastimes: Falcon Hospital, Al Mina Fish market, and Gateway Art initiative
Today we will visit a unique avian veterinary center, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, which treats about 6,000 of these revered raptors a year. While here, we will learn about the falcon’s importance in Emirate culture; and also learn about the other veterinary programs offered here, including a shelter for the rare saluki breed of dogs. From here we head to the Al Mina Fish Market, where the local color is as vivid as the mounds of wriggling blue crabs, pink shrimp, and silvery tuna. Appetites sufficiently whetted, we’ll head next door to the Al Dhafra restaurant to sample some of this supremely fresh fare. After lunch, we’ll visit one of the art world’s most recent exciting developments: the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi. Then head back to your hotel to freshen up before tonight’s Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.
Delve into Abu Dhabi’s many delights on your own
Enjoy a free day to do last-minute shopping, lounge at one of the hotel’s palm-fringed pools, or do some more exploring. Art lovers won’t want to miss the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, 450,000 square feet of international modern and contemporary art. If you are a luxury sports car fanatic, head to Ferrari World, a racetrack and theme park (with the world’s fastest roller coaster). Your Adventure Leader can help you with plans. Tonight, enjoy an included dinner.
Please note: For travelers who reserved their airfare with Vantage and are not taking the post-trip extension, your flight will depart late night on Day 15.
Depart Abu Dhabi for home, or commence optional Petra and Amman extension
This morning, travelers who reserved our optional post-trip extension in Petra and Amman will continue on to Jordan.
The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.
The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.