Photo by Alistair Blacklock/The Gazelle

Top five spring break spots in UAE

Photo by Alistair Blacklock/The Gazelle Why spend dirhams on flights to faraway countries over spring break when there are Emirates to explore? This ...

Mar 16, 2013

Photo by Alistair Blacklock/The Gazelle
Why spend dirhams on flights to faraway countries over spring break when there are Emirates to explore? This break, venture off the beaten path and discover more about the country you live in.
History: Ra’s al-Khaimah
Photo via fchmksfkcb/
History buffs willing to make the trek should check out Dhayah Fort in Ras al-Khaimah. Dhayah fort, located about 15 kilometers from the town of Ras al-Khaimah was originally constructed in the 16th century, and reconstructed in the early 19th century. It notably remained the last Qawasim tribe outpost to fall to the British in 1819. Until 1964 this scenic fortress, which overlooks the mountains and the sea, was home to the Ras al-Khaimah ruling family. Today visitors can tour the fort and the surrounding archaeological sites and visit the historic city of Ras al-Khaimah.
How to get there: Take a bus from Abu Dhabi bus station to Dubai’s Al Ittihad station. From there transfer to the E601 bus, which will take you to Ras al-Khaimah via Umm al-Quwain.
Wildlife: Sir Bani Yas
Photo via Mike Bitton/
Sir Bani Yas, a picturesque island 250 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi, is home Arabian Wildlife Park, one of the regions largest wildlife reserves. Over 10,000 free-roaming animals, including Arabian Oryxes, deer, gazelles, giraffes, cheetahs and hyenas live on Sir Bani Yas. The island has recently been developed to accommodate tourism. Activities include guided tours, horseback riding and kayaking in the surrounding mangrove forests.
How to get there: Take the X87 bus from Abu Dhabi bus station to Jebel Dhanna Ferry Terminal (approximately two and a half hours). From there, catch a ferry to Sir Bani Yas, which run hourly from 10:45 to 5:45 p.m.
Hiking: Hatta and Hajar Mountains
Photo via Andy Hayes/
Hatta, a sheikhdom in the Hajar mountains an hour east of Dubai, is an excellent destination for hikers and, if you have a car handy, off-roaders. Speckled with natural water pools and palm trees, this scenic and fascinating exclave of the Emirate of Dubai also has a reconstructed heritage village and a number of unmarked hikes in the surrounding jebels.
How to get there: From Dubai’s Al Sabhka bus station, catch the E16 bus to Hatta Terminus. Alternatively, tourism companies give desert safari tours through the mountains that originate in Dubai. For more info: Hatta Mountain Safari
Camping: Liwa
Photo courtesy of Sam Ridgeway
Liwa, the historic home of the al Nahyan family, is a stretch of small villages and oases at the southern edge of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Liwa is a great place to escape the city. It is popular among campers as it has rolling sand dunes and clear night skies for stargazing. If you plan on camping, be sure to bring a flashlight to ward off nighttime dune-bashers.
How to get there: Take the X60 bus from Abu Dhabi bus station to Mezaira’a Bus station, at the edge of the oasis. You may need to change at Tarif for Madinat Zayed where there’s a connection to Liwa. The bus leaves every hour.
A little bit of everything: Al Ain
Photo by Andres Rodriguez/The Gazelle
If you haven’t already visited Al Ain by now, the time has come. Al Ain, called The Garden City because of its greenery, is the fourth largest city in the United Arab Emirates. It is the site of the Al Ain National Museum, the oldest museum in the United Arab Emirates. Al Ain is also home to the Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, which displays artifacts of UAE history and culture and the Hili Archaeological Park, which dates back to the Bronze Age. Al Ain also has a Zoo, an oasis and Jebel Hafeet, a mountain with a panoramic view of the city and plenty of picnic spots.
How to get there: Take the 700 bus from the Abu Dhabi bus station all the way to its terminus station in Al Ain. There are a number of stops along the way, and buses run throughout the day.
Alistair Blacklock is editor in chief. Email him at
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