Explore 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this small group cultural tour through 5 countries in the Middle East, featuring places that are of outstanding universal value to mankind. As you travel through the heart of the Gulf, discover stunning landscapes, and astonishing ethnic and cultural diversity, shaped by centuries of a rich history. This unique journey provides you with a rare and fascinating glimpse of Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and all seven of the United Arab Emirates. Experience the sharp contrast between traditional and ultra-modern Arabia. Wander through mudbrick villages with exotic bazaars and gardens, explore quiet stretches of coast lined with palm trees and travel through beautiful desert and mountain landscapes featuring venerable forts on this comprehensive tour.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour|
|1.||Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy, Bahrain|
|2.||Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun, Bahrain|
|3.||Bahla Fort, Oman|
|4.||Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman|
|5.||Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, Qatar|
|6.||Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas), UAE|
|Tour Duration||:||15 days|
|Min. Tour Size||:||02 persons|
|Max. Tour Size||:||08 persons|
|Includes international air|
|Tour Price (from)||:||US$|
Day 01: Arrive Muscat (OMAN)
Marhaba! (Welcome) We arrive at Seeb International Airport and are warmly welcomed and transferred to our hotel. Check in time starts from 1400 hrs. Muscat, the capital of Oman is a unique blend of the ancient & the modern, Muscat is a beautiful clean city, which lies in the middle of a maze of brown pleated mountains, lulled by the Arabian Sea. The city has undergone dramatic development in the past two or three decades, taking great pride in retaining its heritage & culture. Muscat in many ways is very similar to the East African island of Zanzibar as the latter was a colony of Oman.
Overnight: Radisson Blu Hotel, Muscat (3 nights)
Day 02: Muscat
We start our tour of Muscat with a visit to the Grand Mosque, which is an architectural marvel. The mosque is open Sat to Thu 0800-1100 hrs only. Dressing code when visiting mosques throughout the Gulf region prohibits shorts, beach wear, and women are required to cover their head with scarf and avoid sleeveless outfits. Drive through the ministries area to see a number of modern buildings with touches of Islamic architecture. A drive along the Corniche takes us to Old Muscat, were we visit “Sidab Women’s Sewing Group” a non-profit community organization inspired and run by local women. The group helps women from this fishing village develop sewing skills, so that they can create handicrafts, which earn them an income. The women’s creations are colorful and reflect Omani culture which are sold by the artisans – often we may also meet the artisans. Next we stop at the magnificent Al Aalam Palace (the official residence of Sultan Qaboos), which is flanked by the twin Portuguese forts of Mirani & Jalali, followed by a visit of the Bait Al Zubair Museum, which has a fine exhibit of Omani history and culture. We then proceed to explore the enchanting Muttrah Souq, with its narrow covered alleys where the exotic smells of spices, coffees, ancient remedies and enticing perfumes fill the air. Afternoon is free. Evening we are entertained to an Omani dinner at a local restaurant, Bait Al Luban / Bin Ateeq Restaurant. (B, D)
Day 03: Nizwa Excursion
There are over 500 forts, castles and towers in Oman. Our visit today includes some the most remarkable and striking in terms of their architecture and style. We drive to Nizwa, Oman’s ancient capital, which was a seat of learning and the birthplace of Islam in Oman. We visit the 17th century round Nizwa Fort and the Nizwa Souq, famous for its displays of silver jewelry. On Fridays a popular cattle auction takes place and is an interesting sight to see. We continue to Jabreen, which was built as a defensive stronghold and is perhaps the finest of Omani castles, featuring dungeons, passages, rooms and ceilings decorated with fine carvings & paintings. Our day concludes at Bahla Fort*. The oasis of Bahla owes its prosperity to the Banu Nebhan, the dominant tribe in the area from the 12th to the end of the 15th century. The ruins of the immense fort, with its walls and towers of unbaked brick and its stone foundations, is a remarkable example of this type of fortification and attests to the power of the Banu Nebhan. We also see the Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman*, which is representative of some 3,000 such systems still in use in Oman. The origins of this system of irrigation dates back to AD 500, but archaeological evidence suggests that some sot of irrigation systems existed in this extremely arid area as early as 2500 BC. Using gravity, water is channelled from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use. The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns is still underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values guided by astronomical observations. Numerous watchtowers built to defend the water systems form part of the site reflecting the historic dependence of communities on the Aflaj system. (B, L)
Day 04: Muscat/Kuwait (Flight) (KUWAIT)
A short flight takes us to Kuwait, a country that changed the face of the Middle East to what it is today. Kuwait is an archetypical oil-rich state that was founded 300 years ago by the Al Sabah Family, whose descendants still rule the country. Kuwait means Òsmall fortress and this small settlement grew quickly; Ottomans and Persians influenced its history for nearly 200 years before it formally became a British Protectorate at the end of 19th century. The first oil wells were found in 1936. The 1950s and 1960s were the magical era of the oil boom. As we arrive we are welcomed and transferred to our hotel. Balance of the day is free. Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Salmiya, Kuwait (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 05: Kuwait
Kuwait is a cosmopolitan city-state with a population that has more non-Kuwaiti residents than locals. Our morning tour of Kuwait includes the Kuwait National Museum, Al Bader House, Sadu House, we will also be passing by the Liberation Tower, National Assembly House, Seif Palace, Jahra gate, the Fish Market , Kuwait Maritime Museum and enjoy a photo stop at the new dhow harbor and visit the Kuwait towers. Dinner at a local Arabic Restaurant - Mais Alghanim Restaurant. (B, D)
Day 06: Kuwait/Bahrain (Flight) (BAHRAIN)
A short flight gets us to Bahrain International Airport, where we are warmly received and transferred to our hotel. Bahrain, meaning, two seas, is an island kingdom and was amongst the first emirates in the Gulf to discover and refine oil. The country is ruled by Sheikhs from the Khalifa family who expelled the Persians. From 1861 to 1971 Bahrain was a British protectorate. Evening we take a taste of Lebanese cuisine at – Zahle Restaurant . This restaurant serves Lebanese food and feature renowned Lebanese singers along with time-honoured belly dancing routines, which usually starts after 10:30pm.
Overnight: Novotel Al Dana Resort, Bahrain (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 07: Bahrain
Our exploration of Bahrain starts with the Fateh Grand Mosque, the first in the region to open to tourists and a fine example of modern Bahraini architecture. At the Bahrain National Museum, we get the opportunity to see a wonderful collection of exhibits, from contemporary Bahraini paintings, sculptures and ceramics to scenes depicting life in the Dilmun civilization of 6000 years ago. The museum features a section of Arabic calligraphy, traditional trades and crafts displayed in a reconstruction of a typical souq of the 1930s. We then explore some buildings in Muharraq City, which are part of the Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy*. The site is the last remaining complete example of the cultural tradition of pearling and the wealth between 2nd century to the 1930s. We will visit Shaikh Isa Bin Ali House which was the seat of the government from 1869 - 1932. The house is designed in traditional style where the rooms are directly overlooking an open courtyard, with a wind tower, a feature of the traditional architecture in the Arabian Gulf region. Afterward we enjoy Arab delicacies at a local restaurant, followed by a visit to the famous Camel Farm. The 175 camels residing here are used for racing. We continue our exploration of Qal’at al-Bahrain - Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun*, a UNESCO WHS. The typical tell testifies to the continuous human presence from about 2300 BC to the 16th century AD. About 25% of the site has been excavated, revealing structures of different types: residential, public, commercial, religious and military. The site was the capital of the Dilmun, one of the most important ancient civilizations of the region. (B, L)
Day 08: Bahrain/Doha (Flight) (QATAR)
A short flight to the city that is becoming a capital of the region. At Doha we are warmly received and transferred to our hotel. Records indicate that the Qatar Peninsula was inhabited during the Stone Age, however there is little evidence of habitation between the most ancient times and now. Oil was struck in 1939 and the country features one of the largest natural gas fields in the world. Our afternoon tour begins with a drive along the beautiful Doha Corniche and a visit of the old Dhow Harbor, passing by the camel and sheep market. We stop at the Gold Souq to admire some beautiful jewels in silver and gold hand-crafted by skilled artisans. Drive past the Asian Games stadium and Aspire and the Villagio with its huge shopping complex and restaurants. Our last stop will be at the traditional Old Souq, where we walk around to see Arabian Falcons, the spice market, fabric and perfume stores, art galleries, traditional handicraft shops and many ethnic restaurants and Shisha-Cafés. We will be treated to a Qatari cuisine at a local restaurant for dinner.
Overnight: Swiss Bel Hotel, Doha (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 09: Doha
We start with the WHS of Al Zubarah Archaeological Site*. The walled coastal town of Al Zubarah in the Gulf flourished as a pearling and trading centre in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, before it was destroyed in 1811 and abandoned in the early 1900s. Founded by merchants from Kuwait, Al Zubarah had trading links across the Indian Ocean, Arabia and Western Asia. A layer of sand blown from the desert has protected the remains of the site’s palaces, mosques, streets, courtyard houses, and fishermen’s huts; its harbour and double defensive walls, a canal, walls, and cemeteries. We will also visit the Camel Training and the Camel Racing Track at Shahaniya, the Sheikh Faisal Museum and the Barzan Tower. (B, L)
Day 10: Doha/Abu Dhabi (Flight)/Dubai (Drive 168 Kms/2 hours) (UAE)
An early morning flight to Abu Dhabi the capital and richest of the emirates in the UAE. Upon arrival we visit the famous Sheik Zayed Mosque, the third biggest mosque in the world. After a tour of this huge and beautiful marvel of architecture we proceed to the Bateen area where the palaces of the ruling family are located. We drive past these palaces and stop at the heritage village and enjoy a photo stop at the breathtaking Abu Dhabi Corniche and visit the traditional date market. We will be treated to a lunch stop at Caravan Sterling Restaurant before heading for Dubai.
Overnight: Ramada Jumeirah Hotel, Dubai (5 nights) (B, L)
Day 11: Sharjah/Ajman/Fujairah/Dubai
The UAE comprises of 7 Emirates. These include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah. These were independent sheikhdoms which unified as the United Arab Emirates in December of 1971. Though a political union, the individual emirates still have their own kings and local rules. The Arab Sheikhdoms Tour will help us explore all the emirates. Our journey today takes us to the East Coast. We pass through the Al Dhaid agricultural areas, where the terrain changes from colorful desert landscape to spectacular mountain scenery. The coastline is scattered with small fishing villages as we visit the old village of Dibba with stunning views of the Indian Ocean. Continuing along the coastline, we arrive at the oldest and smallest mosque in the country, the Al Bidya Mosque, built in the 14th century. Driving through the port town of Khorfakhan we enjoy lunch at the Sandy Beach Hotel. Afternoon we explore the 300-year old Fort of Fujairah and the fortress of Bithnah Oasis. The emirates of Sharjah is an exciting and lively city with colorful souks and restored traditional houses with walls made of sea coral. We visit the Museum housed in the newly renovated Fort of Ajman and the Al Markazi Souk. We return to Dubai for an evening at leisure. (B, L)
Day 12: Dubai
Our morning tour of Dubai includes the Jumeirah Mosque, photo stops by the Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa buildings and a drive on the palm to visit the Atlantis Aquarium. We pass the palaces of the ruling family of Dubai, visit the Museum, as well as the Spice and Gold Souqs. In the afternoon, we experience an exciting desert safari. We drive through the magnificent sand dunes to experience the thrill of dune bashing. After sunset we reach a campsite equipped with traditional carpets and pillows. Ladies may get henna designs, before the evening entertainment begins authentic Arabic music and belly dances, followed by a barbecue dinner served under the stars. We return to our hotel at night. (B, D)
Day 13: Dubai/Al Ain/Dubai
Today we visit the Cultural Sites of Al Ain*, a WHS which constitute a serial property that testifies to sedentary human occupation of a desert region since the Neolithic period with vestiges of many prehistoric cultures. Remarkable vestiges in the property include circular stone tombs (ca 2500 B.C.), wells and a wide range of adobe constructions: residential buildings, towers, palaces and administrative buildings. Today’s excursion includes visits to Jebel Hafit, the nation’s tallest mountain offering the commanding views of the city, Al Jahili Fort and the famed Camel Market. We will be treated to a lunch stop at a local restaurant before returning to Dubai. (B, L)
Day 14: Dubai/Umm Al Quwain/Ras Al Khaiman/Dubai
We start early in the morning we visit the Emirates of Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah, including visits of the Ras Al Khaimah Museum, the old city, the fish market, the abandoned old village of Jazirat Al Hamrah and the Museum of Um al Quwain, located in a historic fort and return back to our hotel in Dubai. Evening we bid farewell to the Sheikhdoms in traditional style with farewell dinner on a Dhow. The dhow cruises the shoreline showing us the fascinating lights of Dubai creek with a Music and Tanura Dance show. (B, D)
Day 15: Depart Dubai
After witnessing the lifestyles of the rich desert people of these remarkable sheikdoms, we are transferred to the airport for our departure. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).
Feb 23*, Mar 09, Apr 27, Aug 31, Oct 05, Nov 09
(*) what's this?
Tour PriceWe accept payment in US $ (US Dollars), CA $ (Canadian Dollars) or equivalent EURO (for clients outside North America). Bestway Tours & Safaris offers conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received, and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here
|Departure(s)||Per Person on Twin Sharing||Single Room Supplement|
|2018||US$ 7190||US$ 1560|
Estimated International Airfare (International airfare is NOT included in this tour)
This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 08 participants
If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.
You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.