United Arab Emirates ~ Featuring the Dubai Expo

United Arab Emirates ~ Featuring the Dubai Expo

Discover a tantalizing fusion of ancient and modern framed by golden desert dunes and sparkling gulf waters on this intriguing, eight-night journey in the United Arab Emirates. Whether it’s your first visit or a return to explore more deeply, enjoy a multifaceted immersion into Emirati history and culture all while in the care of a professional Travel Director. Explore Dubai and Abu Dhabi, forward-looking cities grounded in a heritage defined by the desert and sea, on engaging tours. Take in the World Expo Dubai, a global extravaganza of culture, innovation and entertainment with more than 190 participating countries. Chat with Emiratis during two fascinating cultural exchanges and learn about the importance of the UAE’s national bird at a falcon hospital. You’ll also delight in a magical night under the desert stars, complete with traditional dishes, music and belly dancing. Expert guides and lecturers, first-class and deluxe hotels, and an ample meal plan including wine at dinner round out this small-group experience. No single supplement!

Trip Itinerary:

February 11 Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: DXB.

February 12 Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Arrive at Dubai International Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Accommodations - Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton

February 13 Dubai

Discovery: UAE Cultural Exchange. Guided by the concept of “Open Doors, Open Minds,” the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding seeks to spread tolerance and break stereotypes through educational awareness. After an enlightening presentation by a scholar, participate in an expansive discussion about Emirati traditions, values, daily life and religion, where no question is off limits and dialogue is encouraged. Learn more about local customs as you share in a traditional meal. (Moderate)

Discovery: Traditional Dubai. The capital of the Emirate of Dubai, Dubai originated as a fishing village, then grew and thrived due to its pearl diving industry and trading. Life centered around Dubai Creek, which divided the city into two sections, Deira and Bur Dubai, the historic district. Discover more about Dubai’s rich past at the Dubai Museum inside the city’s oldest building, the Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787. In the Al Fahidi Historic Neighborhood, known locally as Al Bastakiya Quarter, walk along narrow sikkas, or alleyways, to see well-preserved merchant homes constructed with barjeels, or wind towers, an architectural element to create natural ventilation. Then board an abra water taxi to cross Dubai Creek and meander through the bustling aisles of the Gold and Spice Souks. In these traditional bazaars, you’ll appreciate Dubai’s long-standing renown as a trading center. They’re a true feast for the senses, packed with glittering necklaces, earrings and bracelets, colorful textiles and the enticing aromas of herbs and spices, including ginger, chili, saffron and cinnamon. (Moderate)

Get better acquainted with your fellow travelers during this evening’s Welcome Reception and Dinner at the hotel.

Accommodations - Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton
Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

February 14 Dubai

Discovery: Modern Dubai. In the early 20th century, Dubai prospered with the establishment of tax exemptions that attracted expatriates and improved trade. But it was the discovery of oil and the ability to export it that triggered explosive development beginning in the late 1960s. By 1972, seven of the small emirates in the Arabian Gulf region had formed a federation, becoming the United Arab Emirates. On today’s guided excursion, marvel at Dubai’s dramatic transformation into a cosmopolitan, international commercial and financial hub dominated by dazzling skyscrapers. Take in spectacular views from the skydeck of Dubai Frame, an iconic landmark in Zabeel Park. Next, see the grand Zabeel Palace and the Jumeirah Mosque, then visit the man-made archipelago, Palm Jumeirah. After lunch in Dubai Marina, spend time at the Dubai Mall, renowned for its retail shops and the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Crane your neck for a look at nearby Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building! (Active)

Free Time: Spend this afternoon and evening pursuing your own interests.

Accommodations - Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton
Meals - Breakfast, Lunch

February 15 Dubai

Discovery: World Expo Dubai. Dubai is the first Middle Eastern city to host the six-month Expo, the modern-day version of the World’s Fair. In the spirit of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the Dubai Expo welcomes nearly 200 countries, which offer immersive cultural experiences within their unique pavilions in themed districts on Mobility, Opportunity and Sustainability. As you explore, make interesting and unexpected discoveries, from Bahrain’s traditional embroidery demonstrations and Estonia’s cutting-edge digital solutions to Singapore’s three-dimensional gardens. Taste your way through a dining scene of more than 50 global cuisines, see groundbreaking architecture, plus delight in cultural events, art installations and much more! Shuttles back to the hotel will run during the afternoon and evening. (Moderate)

Free Time: Enjoy dinner on your own and the evening at leisure.

Accommodations - Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton
Meals - Breakfast

February 16 Arabian Desert

Enrichment: Arabian Desert Life. Join a local expert for a firsthand account of what living in the desert is like.

Check out of the hotel and head into the Arabian Desert.

Discovery: Arabian Days. As you travel into the Emirate of Sharjah, visit the Mleiha Archaeological Center, which traces the story of human life in this arid region. Archaeological discoveries in the surrounding plains and nearby mountains reveal much about the region’s settlers from the Paleolithic period to the modern era.

Arrive at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa in the Arabian Desert and check in.

Later this afternoon, take an exciting ride over the pristine sand dunes in a 4x4 desert vehicle. (Active)

Discovery: Arabian Nights. Beneath starry desert skies, relish a wonderful evening of dining and entertainment featuring delectable traditional dishes, live music and belly dancing.

Accommodations - Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa
Meals - Breakfast, Dinner

February 17 Al Ain | Abu Dhabi

Discovery: Desert Oasis. Inhabited since Neolithic times, Al Ain sits at the crossroads of ancient routes that connected the Arabian Peninsula, Oman, the Arabian Gulf and Mesopotamia. Many significant remnants of prehistoric cultures are spread across the region, and these cultural sites, along with the surrounding oases, have collectively been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, visit Hili Archaeological Park, which contains Bronze and Iron Age settlements and tombs, including the circular Grand Hili tomb, as well as an ancient aflaj irrigation system. Afterward, at the Al Ain National Museum, view more fascinating archaeological finds, including jewelry, weapons, pottery and farming implements. Continue to the lush Al Ain Oasis, a beautiful landscape of date palm plantations. More than 147,000 date palms fill this 3,000-acre site, fed by an underground irrigation system. After lunch in the area, enjoy a stroll along the peaceful, shaded paths of the Oasis. (Moderate)

Travel to Abu Dhabi and check into Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi. Later, gather with your group for dinner.

Accommodations - Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi
Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

February 18 Abu Dhabi

Discovery: Abu Dhabi. First settled in 1761 by the Bedouins of the Bani Yas tribe, Abu Dhabi has preserved its cultural heritage while maturing into one of the world’s richest cities. Explore its roots at Heritage Village, which brings to life Bedouin traditions. Then admire picturesque gulf views and famed landmarks, including the Emirates Palace, Etihad Towers and the Abu Dhabi Corniche, on your way to the Qasr al Watan, or Palace of the Nation. This impressive, modern complex is a working presidential palace splendidly crafted in homage to traditional Arabian artistry. On a guided tour, take in the breathtaking, glittering Great Hall; view extraordinary artifacts and manuscripts in the House of Knowledge that illuminate the Arab region’s contributions to science and the humanities; and learn about the UAE’s government and rulers.

For lunch today, visit an Emirati home, where you’ll enjoy a warm welcome and fellowship. Get to know more about everyday family life over a delicious, home-cooked meal with time for conversation and questions.

Your final stop after lunch is Abu Dhabi’s oldest heritage site, the gleaming Qasr al Hosn, now a national museum. Inside, you’ll discover two landmarks, the Inner Fort and the Outer Palace. The fort’s commanding watchtower, built in the 1790s, provided an important vantage point over the coastal trade routes and was the city’s first permanent structure. The fort served as a military headquarters and governmental seat until the early 20th century when the reigning sheikh enclosed the structure inside a new palace. (Moderate)

Enrichment: The Emirates. A local expert delves into the union formed between the individual Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ra’s al-Khaimah.

Free Time: Select a special place for dinner on your own this evening. Your Travel Director can offer suggestions and assist with reservations.

Accommodations - Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi
Meals - Breakfast, Lunch

February 19 Abu Dhabi

Discovery: Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital & Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Used for centuries by the Bedouins for hunting in the desert, falcons are revered throughout the Middle East for their beauty and speed. In the UAE today, they are primarily raised and trained for racing, where the fastest birds can win millions in prize money at the nation’s premier competition, the President’s Cup. Learn much more about these majestic creatures and observe them up close at a hospital dedicated to the UAE’s national bird. Next, tour the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s largest with room for 55,000 worshippers, which welcomes people of all faiths. Highlights include an awe-inspiring courtyard of marble mosaics, columns inlaid with amethyst and jasper, reflective pools, the world’s largest hand-woven carpet and Swarovski crystal chandeliers. (Moderate)

Free Time: Make your own plans for lunch and sightseeing this afternoon.

At tonight’s Farewell Reception and Dinner, meet as a group for the final time in celebration of your unforgettable exploration of the UAE.

Accommodations - Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi
Meals - Breakfast, Dinner

February 20 Depart for gateway city

After breakfast, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Abu Dhabi International Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals - Breakfast


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