Trip Plan Details
recommended Sheikh Zayed Grand MosqueIt's huge! It's white! It's glittering and gold! It's sort of like the Vegas of mosques (check out that chandelier, the largest in the world...), but it also is undeniably beautiful. A huge plus: the ... read moreguides who show you around are real, live Emiratis (who are hard to find and interact with on a typical tourist day), and open to all kinds of questions. Worth going to Abu Dhabi just for this. (Book nerds: there's a very nice little library in one of the minarets.)Zora O'Neill
I sort of agree with the others that AD doesn't have a lot going for it--at least for a visitor. Overall, it's more Arab-feeling, generally a bit more rooted and not so spread out. But for visiting, there's not a ton to do--except for the mosque. I'd say spend one night in AD, and go the mosque and the Emirates Palace, and walk on the corniche...
recommended DubaiI'm only giving Dubai a high rating because I'm sort of perverse and spent three weeks there just to see if it was really as crazy-horrible as I thought. It's not--it's really interesting, ... read moresuper-multicultural, slightly creepy futuristic. I would not at all recommend anyone just go on a random holiday there--you kind of have to be into urban planning, architecture, immigration issues, etc to find Dubai fascinating. It's also ridiculously expensive. But there are great and semi-cheap places to eat good food from all over the world.Zora O'Neill
Following up other commenters--Dubai has a lot more going for it than you might think. Oh, and by the time you go, the Frying Pan Food Tours might be running--great woman I met while I was there, who took me to some less-typical places to eat.recommended Dubaisome say it's a fake city. but Dubai has it's charm. and the ease of living here is irresistible to many people around the planet. A cosmopolitan city that attracts tourists from all around. lots of ... read morethings to do here, the beach, the shopping, the restaurants, the bars, the waterparks ... it's a full experience.Recommended for:Toufic Tawily
i would do dubai much more interesting than Abu Dhabi. Lots of attractions good food clubbing etc.. i find Abu Dhabi too boring honestly
- Souq WaqifNear Al Souq Street & Abdullah Bin Jassim Street, Doha, Qatarrecommended Souq WaqifThe stereotype of the Gulf states is that they're nothing but malls, and it can start to feel this way if you're there for any length of time. Souq Waqif is the antidote to all that--it's Doha's ... read moretraditional main souk, and it was restored very tastefully in the last decade. Purists say it's too touristy, but it is certainly not a mall, and you'll see lots of Qataris here--granted, they're mostly at the restaurants, and not shopping, but still. The souq has everything from spices to dates to live birds, and a couple of great halva-makers. There are loads of cafes and restaurants, as well as a plaza on the west side where street-food vendors set up in the late afternoons, from about 5pm till 10pm. It's all great traditional Gulf food, and nice women selling it.Zora O'Neill
Major selling point of Doha for me: this is a really nice community space. Convenient to the Museum of Islamic Art too.
recommended DohaI might've just been suffering a little Arab-culture withdrawal in Dubai, but I really, really liked Doha. It seems a bit more sensibly developed than the Emirates, and the focus on art and culture ... read morereally shows through. Plus, the corniche gives the place a logical center, after the nicely restored Souq Waqif. Plus, they have Tiffany's-blue taxis!Zora O'Neill
I spent a total of three nights in Doha, and I really liked it. A little more tasteful in the developed parts, and a little easier to get a feel for "normal" not-glitzy life.recommended DohaDoha, Qatar is fast becoming the cultural heartbeat of the Gulf. With the Tribeca Film Festival, the Asian and World Cups on the near horizon (not to mention the Al Jazeera News Network), Qatar boasts ... read morean openness and freedom of speech and expression that is unprecedented in this part of the Middle East. World class shopping, cinemas and sheesha joints galore add to its international flavor.Recommended for:
recommended JeddahJeddah is the best place to be in Saudi Arabia. You've got the Red Sea, the relaxed censors that allow women to go around without the veil. friendliest people. the shopping is everywhere there must be ... read moremore than a thousand indoor malls. the old town is cute and authentic. i recommend it if you are coming to Saudi Arabia.Recommended for:Toufic Tawily
With everything happening around the middle east i can tell you that saudi arabia is still one of the safest. Jeddah would be the place to go, Riyadh has too many restrictions and the weather is bad. you've got the red sea and it's summertime all year long.
recommended OmanIn the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, lies the often-overlooked Sultanate of Oman. Balanced delicately on the edge of tradition and modernity, no latter day towers of Babel reach to the ... read moreheavens here – only the jagged Hajar Mountains and the peaks of minarets silhouette the skyline. Still, modernity slips through the seams of time and custom – a cell phone fished from a camel herder’s dishdasha (a floor-length shirt-dress worn by Omani men); a Dolce Gabana bag on the shoulder of a veiled woman in an elegant black abeyya (a thin polyester gown of sorts); Lexus and Hummers cruising along a super-highway fringed with fluttering palm trees through Sohar, the boyhood home of Sinbad the Sailor. Real and mythic charms notwithstanding, Oman is most famous for its obscurity – a shame considering it hosts a surprising number of extreme sports opportunities (mountain climbing, hiking sandboarding kite-surfing and diving included) and some of the region’s most spectacular scenery. From the giant coppered-colored dunes of the Empty Quarter and the monsoon-green hills of Dhofar, to the fjords of Musandam, a surfeit of forts and thousands of kilometers of white, virginal beaches in between, Oman is the hidden jewel in the crown of Arabia.Recommended for:Baxter Jackson
If you're Abu Dhabi, you're just an hour and half a way by car from Oman, the crown jewel of Arabia. It'd be shame not to visit but you'll need at least a week to do it justice.
recommended ManamaManama is the Bangkok of the Middle East. Saudi tourists flock here to indulge in drink, dance and debauchery in much the same way that Western men descend upon Bangkok for the same reasons. Manama is ... read morein fact full of Thai bar girls who ply the skin trade in the hopes of making a better future for themselves and their families back home. Corporal exploitation notwithstanding, the city boasts a lovely corniche, some fine Islamic museums and some of the raunchiest nightlife in the Persian Gulf.Baxter Jackson
I spent a weekend in Bahrain, Harold and that was just about enough :-)
recommended Abu DhabiAbu Dhabi is Dubai's laid back, cultured cousin with a fine appreciation for the arts. With a Guggenheim Museum almost completed and Yas Island where you can rock out with stars like Guns n' Roses, ... read moreMaroon Five and Black Eyed Peas in the shadow of the world's fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World, you can see what I'm sayin'. The Abu Dhabi corniche is the finest on the Persian Gulf with plenty of places for picnics, skateboarding, rollerblading, strolling or just hangin' with the fam and having a homemade hooka. Malls galore, cinemas out both the yin and the yang and the clear blue water of the Gulf all there in a little place you might have seen in Sex in the City 2.Baxter Jackson
A long weekend in Abu Dhabi would give you a good taste of all that this Emirate has to offer, Harold.
commented on this trip
Hi Harold, Travis asked me to give you some tips. I travel to all these places on a very regular basis. Is there a reason that you aren't including Dubai on your itinerary? It's definitely more interesting than all the other places you have listed -- much more to see and do.
Abu Dhabi is nice but very corporate. Largely just offices and hotels. There are a few minor attractions, like good restaurants and one or two museums, and you can do a desert safari (which you can also do from Dubai) but that's about it. Doesn't warrant more than one night in my view -- maximum two nights. Nicest hotel is definitely the Palace, but the Jumeirah Etihad Towers are also nice.
Kuwait feels a lot less developed than the other GCC countries, and there also aren't very many tourist attractions. There aren't very many good hotels, either. Just the JW Marriott and the Sheraton. I personally do not see much reason to go to Kuwait if it is just for tourism. If you go, one night is sufficient.
Qatar is interesting. I would say that after Dubai, it is the second most interesting place in the GCC. Nice hotels, decent tourist infrastructure with beaches and pools, nice shopping area by the Corniche, good malls, a small old town area that is nice, and you can do fun things like falcon hunting. The W is a fun place to stay. Two or three nights is probably a good amount of time for Qatar.
I'm not as familiar with Bahrain, so can't speak to it, but have never heard of people going there for tourism. Only for business travel.