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Depart home and fly overnight to Doha, Qatar
This evening, you’ll fly overnight Doha, Qatar.
A day of 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. After settling in, your Adventure Leader will conduct a Welcome Briefing; then the balance of the day is yours to relax and enjoy dinner on your own. Our hotel offers four international dining venues on the premises.
The best of Doha: The Pearl, Museum of Islamic Art, and Souk Waqif
After breakfast, 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 Waqif, 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.
Discover Qatari heritage at the National Museum of Qatar and Al Shaqab Equestrian Center
Your first stop today is the brand-new National Museum of Qatar, whose modern, delicate-looking façade — inspired by the desert rose crystal — envelops the restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al-Thani, one of Qatar’s early rulers. Here, through immersive audiovisual exhibits accompanied by the museum’s collection of artifacts, you’ll learn about the natural history of the arid Persian Gulf and how Qatar developed from a tribal settlement into the independent nation it is today.
Next, we'll have lunch at a local restaurant at Pearl-Qatar. Afterwards, we'll transfer to the Al Shaqab Equestrian Center. Enjoy exploring 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 and beauty. 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 it 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.
In contrast, the Royal Opera House Muscat is a stunning example of contemporary Omani architecture. During your tour of the opera house, you’ll find interiors featuring a medley of motifs incorporating Islamic, Mughal, and European influences. You may also have the chance to step into the auditorium (if no rehearsals are taking place) and admire its exquisitely decorated pipe organ! 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, before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure, but if you’re wondering what it’s like to live in Oman, join us as we meet with an Omani woman who shares her perspective on family life, native customs, and the changing role of women in contemporary Oman. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Lunch and chat with Omanis in Muscat
Today is an opportunity for you meet with everyday Omanis as we visit the Oman National Hospitality Institute. Here is where locals can undertake vocational training to work in hotels, tour companies, or catering firms; you’ll get to chat with some students and learn more about Oman’s popularity as a tourist destination — and perhaps glean some local cultural insights!
Enjoy a lunch prepared by the institute’s students before returning to your hotel, when you can enjoy the afternoon at your leisure. This evening, we’ll savor a delightful dinner a local restaurant.
Fly to Dubai and stand atop the tallest building in the world
After breakfast, we’ll fly to the city of Dubai, the capital of the Emirate of Dubai and the region’s largest and most populous global economic hub, where you'll check in and settle into your 5-star hotel.
This evening, venture downtown for a particularly singular experience: a visit to “At The Top”, the observation deck of the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa. The world below looks different from this heady height (you’ll be on the 125th floor of this massive building!), and you can tell your friends back home that you were at the top of this record‐breaking structure. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
Explore the Dubai Museum and Gold & Spice Souks
Today, you’ll embark on an enlightening half-day cultural tour of Dubai. The discoveries will come in waves, as you visit the Dubai Museum and the surrounding historic district of Al Bastakiya before crossing Dubai Creek on an abra, or traditional wooden boat used as a water taxi, to visit the Gold and Spice Souks. After lunch in a local restaurant, the rest of your day will be at leisure. If you’d like to pick out some unique souvenirs at Dubai Mall, look out for specialties such as gourmet dates and camel milk chocolates! Dinner is on your own tonight.
Enjoy a thrilling 4x4 Desert Adventure
Take the morning to relax or explore as you wish. If you enjoy tasting exotic food, perhaps you’ll seek out one of several local restaurants that serve camel burgers or camel steak for lunch.
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. We’ll also be treated to a falconry demonstration and learn how this ancient sport has been kept alive in the United Arab Emirates. 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.
A morning of discovery: Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Souk Madinat, and more
On a half day tour of Dubai City, you’ll visit the Palm Jumeirah — that oft-photographed island of glitz and glamor that resembles a palm tree from above — as well as going for a ride on the monorail that runs through it. We’ll also stop to take photos at Atlantis the Palm (a famous 5-star resort here), the Dubai Marina, the Burj Al Arab, and the Souk Madinat. Then, get a glimpse of the region’s cultural riches at Saga World, a mall specializing in artwork, jewelry, carpets, and exquisite home décor. After a fun and active morning of discovery, you’ll have the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is at your hotel tonight.
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. We’ll get a tour of the neighborhood, which is close to Corniche Park, beaches and the business and shopping district. Get your cameras ready for our final stop: Qasr Al Watan, the brand-new Presidential Palace that was completed in 2018 and opened to the public just this year. The marble-and-mosaic adorned Great Hall, the vast collections of Arabian scholarship in the palace libraries, and the Spirit of Collaboration — the official meeting space for the region’s diplomats — are just a few highlights of this grand building.
After enjoying lunch at our hotel, you’ll check in and have the afternoon at your leisure. Perhaps you’ll take advantage of your free entry to the Observation Deck at 300 on the 74th floor, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Tonight, we regroup for dinner at the Emirates Palace hotel.
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 dinner tonight at your leisure, perhaps at one of the world-class restaurants within your hotel complex.
Abu Dhabi community pastimes: Falcon Hospital, Al Mina Fish market, and Louvre Abu Dhabi
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 see the more avant-garde side of the country when we visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi, currently the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula with 260,000 square feet of artworks collected from around the world. This evening, savor delicious food and warm camaraderie at your 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. If you’re 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.
Please note: Depending on flight itineraries, some travelers will fly home late tonight; others will return home on Day 16.
Depart Abu Dhabi for home, or commence optional Petra extension
This morning you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight home; or continue on to Jordan for your optional post-trip extension in Petra.
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.