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Rayya Wellness Retreats at The Retreat, Palm Jumeirah

In Need Of A Mini-Break?

Recharge, reboot and unwind with the UAE’S brand new wellness, staycation and daycation portal.

Global travel may still be a no-go as we continue the battle against Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean a well-deserved mini-break is totally out of the question.

According to recent research by Colliers International and Arabian Travel Market, local tourism and domestic travel are leading the UAE and the wider GCC’s recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic, with figures revealing the percentage of staycation bookings in Abu Dhabi within a 48km radius of the capital increased from just 20% in January 2020 to 43% in March.

And since staying healthy and local is now what 2020 is all about, the launch of a new wellness travel site couldn’t have been better timed.

Founded by qualified STOTT Pilates teacher and Nutritionist Stacey Elizabeth Sharp with the aim to make wellness travel more accessible to general travellers, Retreatmi.com was born – the world’s first custom-made retreat builder. An online platform and healthy adventure hub designed to make planning wellness holidays and retreat experiences hassle-free, the Dubai-based site combines unique locations, top instructors and a variety of beauty, food and fitness services that allows each user to curate, select and book their own custom wellness holiday or short break. 

“Active wellness is essential right now,’ says the site’s founder, Stacey. ‘With the new WFH mentality, it’s essential that we don’t become disconnected from all that we are inateley programmed to connect with, like nature, fresh air and movement.’

‘The benefits of wellness holidays, both physically and mentally, are immense. It allows us to get away from the daily stresses of life, but knowing that we’re taking a guilt-free getaway is all the more rewarding because you can relax and unwind as well as take away new skills you can utilise in your daily life.”

Offering glorious getaway options from all over the globe, handpicked by an expert, in-house team, the site also provides a wealth of UAE-based staycations allowing exploration without having to board a flight. Whether it’s goal-driven experiences to push urbanites of their comfort zones, back to nature desert retreats that nourish the soul or micro-breaks that transform and engage through physical exploration, getting fit, detoxing, learning a new skill or simply just chilling out the healthy way are the focal points of each specially-selected destination. 

‘The aim is to allow travelers to connect in order to be able to disconnect in a way that they feel comfortable with,’ explains Stacey. ‘From custom made options to working with our wellness warriors, inspiring people to take a step towards wellness is all we want. And we don’t just mean physical wellness – we mean mental wellness too, which is why we’re passionate about bringing in services that offer stress management teachings.”

Sound like just what you need? We hear you! Here are three fab-sounding mini-breaks The Gaggler have got on their getaway radar:

ICE THERAPY Workshop – Wim Hof Method

October 24  – AED 380 per person

Discover the benefits of cold exposure, breathing techniques and the power of the mind to conquer the cold and overcome fear. 

Weekend in Hajjar

October 23/24 (2 nights), AED 660 per person

Just an hour’s drive from Dubai, this trip takes you deep inside the Hajjar Range of Musandam where your base is a secluded farm at an altitude of 950 metres and temperatures drop by up to 10C compared to sea level. Guests can hike the wadi, sleep outdoors at high altitude and enjoy nights by the campfire.

Chilling by the pool at Rayya

Rayya Wellness Retreats at The Retreat, Palm Jumeirah  – 3,5 and 7-night options

Various dates – Packages start from AED 5,380 per person

The Rayya Wellness Centre provides 360-degree wellness solutions designed to help guests achieve a personal transformation of body, mind and soul, through a variety of treatments and retreat packages with varying levels of immersion into the wellness experience.

For more information follow @Retreatmi or visit www.retreatmi.com

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5 Hidden Gems Worth Exploring This Summer

Bonus: they’re all family-friendly.

Summer’s here, and schools will be closed before you know it, resulting in that all-too-familiar feeling of restlessness. But jetting off to a foreign destination isn’t always an option, which is why we’ve scoured the city of Dubai for a handful of hidden gems, each of which caters to all ages. Win-win.

1. Courtyard Playhouse

For those who think Dubai lacks culture, listen up. Independent theatre Courtyard Playhouse, located in Al Quoz, is where it all happens – acting classes, improv workshops, theatrical productions by amateur theatre groups, and more. Culture vultures will love National Theatre Live, an initiative by National Theatre to broadcast the best of British theatre live from the London stage to cinemas around the world. 

And as Courtyard Playhouse is a partner venue, past screenings have included the likes of Fleabag, Hamlet, and Hedda Gabler. The ultimate family-friendly offering, meanwhile, are the highly interactive Improvised Kids’ Storytime sessions held every Saturday. They’re especially popular amongst families as children aged 4-11 can get in on the action, volunteering on stage or directing the actions of the actors, resulting in a wonderfully whimsical afternoon every time.

Visit www.courtyardplayhouse.com for more information.

2. TheJamJar

It’s no secret that art is easily one of the best ways to express oneself – or just a great way to while away the hours during summer. Enter: thejamjar, a community arts space rooted in supporting the development of Dubai’s arts scene through educational initiatives, community projects, and more. Tucked away in Alserkal Avenue, the studio hosts everything from guided DIY sessions to classes that cover drawing techniques and even workshops on connecting with your deeper self through art. 

Young ones, meanwhile, are welcome to attend the bi-weekly Jam Time sessions where anyone over the age of four can paint for two hours together and take home the artworks. And if your kids are even younger? Opt for Toddlers Artsploration, which serve as bonding sessions between toddlers (ages 1-3) and their guardians while helping them develop their motor skills.

Visit www.thejamjardubai.com for more information.

3. History of Cinema Museum

To walk into the intimately sized History of Cinema Museum is to step into a world of mechanical wonders. A hidden gem in every sense of the word, it’s open by appointment only and discreetly located in Barsha Heights, chronicling the progression of visual entertainment from its inception to the advent of early cinema through a collection of over 300 antiques. 

The magic of the moving image comes to life through interactive exhibits that take visitors on a journey through time and technology – they can peep into an 18th century peep box or turn the reel of an early 20th century mutoscope to see the flicker effect. As for the rarest piece? A toy magic lantern with a 1001 Arabian Nights theme from Germany circa 1860. A guided tour, for obvious reasons, comes highly recommended.

Visit www.hocmuseum.com for more information.

4. Mirzam

Artisan chocolatier Mirzam offers so much more than its beautifully wrapped creations. Workshops and tours are also offered at its facility, so there’s always something to look forward to – like the Coffee & Cocoa Pairing Workshop, for example. This one’s a must for anyone who loves chocolate and coffee as it takes attendees on a sensory journey expertly pairing signature single-origin chocolates from its Maps collection with single drip V60 coffee from El Salvador, Brazil, and Ethiopia. 

And if restless kids are in the picture, we suggest booking the Chocolate Factory Tour & Custom Wrapper Making Workshop instead. Fun for all ages, the workshop allows participants to design their own wrappers, which they can then use to wrap their custom chocolate bar, followed by a  tour of Mirzam’s chocolate-making process.

Visit www.mirzam.com for more information.

5. Mazmi Café

While there is no shortage of memorable sunset spots across Dubai, Mazmi Café gets our vote for its backstory and location. Owned by an Italian woman and her Emirati husband, this seriously underrated destination is located in Old Dubai and serves up an honest snapshot of the city – especially as Textile Souk, Shiva Temple, and Grand Mosque are all in the vicinity. 

But it’s the must-try homemade gelato (flavours include stracciatella, saffron, and pistachio) that makes it popular with kids and adults alike. And because it sits at the edge of Dubai Creek, Mazmi is not only frequented by residents in need of a change of pace, but it also translates to endless photography opportunities. Incidentally, Mazmi also houses a three-room B&B, where Afghan fabrics, black-and-white photographs depicting fishing scenes, and coffee table books dominate the soothing aesthetic. 

Visit www.mazmi.me for more information.

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Packing Lists Hacks

Pack Happy: Your Summer Holiday Starts Here

A checklist for every vacation type.

Every day brings with it a hit of dopamine as more countries lift travel restrictions, whetting our appetites for adventure and kicking our summer plans into high gear. But exploring a new destination starts with one rather tedious aspect: making a packing list. Here, we do the legwork, putting together a list of tips and hacks by holiday type.

Beach

Packing Lists Hacks

You’re in dire need of some vitamin sea. We hear you. But whether you’re headed to Boracay, Bora Bora, or Zanzibar in search of palm-fringed beaches and crystalline waters, there are a few things to keep in mind.

  • You’ll need a beach bag, so use yours as a carry-on baggage
  • Reef-safe sunscreen 
  • A kindle packed with beach reads (why lug books around?)
  • Two to three pieces of swimwear
  • One or two cover-ups to take you from the beach to dinner
  • A light sweater for chilly evenings
  • Polarised sunglasses
  • A wide-brim sun hat
  • SPF lip balm
  • Flip-flops and a pair of dressy sandals
  • Wet wipes aplenty 
  • An after-sun hair product, like the multitasking Solar Sun Oil by System Professional

City

Summer Holiday Starts Here

City breaks bring with them a bit of everything – food, culture, art, history, and adventure, all in a matter of days. But first? A few packing reminders rooted in comfort and practicality.

  • A lightweight rain jacket
  • A handful of statement accessories
  • Comfortable sneakers
  • Light layers to dress according to weather changes
  • An anti-theft backpack
  • A power bank or portable charger
  • A travel document holder
  • Dresses – they’re light to pack and can be dressed up or down
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A lightweight travel camera
  • A portable WiFi device
  • Packing cubes

Cruise

Packing Lists and Hacks by Holiday Type

Taking a cruise is a great way to explore several new destinations without long layovers and having to pack and unpack multiple times. Bonus: someone else is responsible for all the planning.

  • Seasickness bands/patches
  • Eveningwear in case dinner comes with a dress code
  • A hanging toiletry bag with clear pockets
  • A backpack or beach bag
  • A travel-size wrinkle-release spray 
  • Necessary medication and a copy of your prescriptions
  • An international travel adapter
  • Destination-appropriate outerwear
  • A waterproof phone case
  • Activated charcoal tablets in case of food poisoning
  • Specialised attire for themed nights
  • Oh, and steer clear of the pineapple motif – it’s code for wife-swapping!

Safari

Going on safari is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the memories you’ll make while wildlife-spotting are priceless. As for what you’ll need in the midst of a sprawling savanna? Read on.

  • Insect repellent
  • A wide-brim safari hat
  • Moisture-wicking clothing in neutral hues
  • Local currency for tipping and snacks
  • A lightweight scarf
  • Lightweight pants and long-sleeve shirts to prevent scrapes and mosquito bites
  • A utility jacket
  • Sturdy closed-toe shoes
  • A multitasking antiseptic, like Sudocrem
  • Proof of inoculations
  • Soft-shell luggage (hard-shell suitcases are banned on the small planes flying into the parks)
  • A sizable dry bag to protect your belongings from rain and mud

Skiing

 packing lists and hacks

Between the surge of adrenaline during the day and the après-ski traditions that follow, escaping the summer heatwave for powdery pistes is a no-brainer. Just be sure to follow these packing tips.

  • Resist the temptation to buy pricy ski equipment – rent instead
  • 1 to 3 waterproof ski jackets and pants
  • Thermal base layers and fleece layers
  • A non-cotton balaclava or ski mask
  • Goggles, ideally with changeable lenses for sunshine and low visibility
  • Bring your own ski boots, and roll up small clothing items inside them
  • Sunscreen and lip balm, both high in SPF
  • A daypack to carry all your essentials on the slopes
  • Windproof and waterproof gloves
  • Thick, moisture-wicking socks
  • An insulated flask for hot liquids
  • Disposable hand and foot warmers
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Travel Guide to Zanzibar

Spice Makes Nice on This African Archipelago

Your trip to Zanzibar starts here.

Sun-drenched shores, picturesque sunsets, and palm-fringed beaches blend seamlessly with chaos of the best kind – meet Zanzibar, an archipelago of four major and several small islands with charisma to spare. Located 35km off the Tanzanian coast, Unguja (more commonly known as Zanzibar) is the largest and most populated of these islands. And to say Zanzibar is the ultimate Indian Ocean experience is an understatement. 

Ride aboard a traditional sailing dhow, stop to admire weathered doors with intricate carvings, and explore the heady scents of the many spices that have earned Zanzibar its nickname, ‘Spice Island’. Here, diversity reigns supreme. The Assyrians, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Omanis, and Shirazis have all been here, some settling down and marrying into local families – thus turning Zanzibar’s modern-day residents into true symbols of its colourful heritage.

Travel Guide to Zanzibar Island

Living History

Any trip to Zanzibar should be anchored in exploring Stone Town, its historical capital and the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. Located on the island’s central-west coast, its cobbled streets and crumbling 19th century architecture make it easy to see why it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. While you could simply stroll around its bathhouses, craft centres, mosques, and colourful backstreet markets at your own pace, a guided tour comes highly recommended for true insights into this traditional society – and tidbits that you would undoubtedly miss on your own. For example, Zanzibar’s iconic doorways are not only functioning works of art, but they’re also storytellers, revealing the origin, occupation, religious beliefs, and social status of their original owners.

The town has changed little during the past 200 years, and boasts a multitude of important architectural highlights. History buffs should start at the imposing Palace Museum. Once the official residence of the Sultan of Zanzibar, it was renamed the Peoples’ Palace following the revolution in 1964 and turned into a museum in 1994. Another defining feature is the Old Fort, the first defensive structure erected by the Omani Arabs when they seized the island from the Portuguese in 1698. The structure once performed double duty as both a prison and place of execution. These days, its restored rooms house offices for the Cultural Arts Centre Zanzibar, while the open-air amphitheatre provides a dramatic screening venue for the Zanzibar International Film Festival. On the lookout for authentic souvenirs? Be sure to make a pitstop at the Cultural Arts Gallery – which is housed within the fort – to watch local artists in action and purchase their works.

Trip to Zanzibar

The most attractive landmark in the cultural heart of the island, however, is the Old Dispensary. This late 19th century building was commissioned by prominent Indian merchant Tharia Topan, and has been successfully restored after falling into disrepair in the 1970s, so a visit to admire its peppermint-green latticework balconies is a must-do. But no trip is complete without exploring Zanzibar’s beleaguered past, as the island remained a hub of slave trade in East Africa for several centuries. Christ Church is built on the site of the world’s last open slave market, its altar marking the spot where slaves for sale were lashed. While you’re here, be sure to walk over to the poignant slave memorial outside that depicts five slaves standing in a pit wearing original neck collars and chains, their haunting expressions serving as a grim reminder of a not-so-distant past.

Food Matters

An evening spent at the waterside Forodhani Gardens comes highly recommended. Here awaits a carnivalesque atmosphere, courtesy of the al fresco food market that comes alive every night. This is the place to sample everything from crab claws and calamari steaks to the hearty Urojo soup, hand-pressed sugar cane juice, and Zanzibar’s take on pizza – all on a budget, too. Celebrating a special occasion or in the mood to splurge? Head to Tea House Restaurant at Emerson on Hurumzi hotel. Pairing authentic Swahili cuisine with expertly made cocktails, it’s the magical setting of this restaurant that you’ll long remember – think: vibrant floor cushions, dimly lit lanterns, live taarab music, and views over the motley roofs of Stone Town. Just be sure to book ahead and get there in time for sunset.

What Lies Beyond

At least one day trip outside of Stone Town is needed for a change of pace and, considering Zanzibar is blessed with several offshore islands, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Prison Island, originally used by the Arabs to detain insubordinate slaves, is only a 30-minute boat ride away. You can sunbathe or simply gaze at the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean on its powdery-white beach, or snorkel as it is also fringed with a beautiful coral reef. Prison Island is also home to a family of giant tortoises – some of which are over 100 years old – that were imported from the Seychelles in the late 19th century.

Trip to Zanzibar Island

Another jaunt not to be missed is the Princess Salme & The Spices tour operated by Zanzibar Different. Because many of the islands produce nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, it incorporates a guided tour through a spice plantation as well as tracing the footsteps of Zanzibar’s rebel princess by way of Mtoni Palace ruins, Persian baths, and a coffee ceremony amidst spice plantations. The company also runs Mrembo Spa, where employment is offered to blind and deaf therapists with a deft touch. The menu here spans everything from henna application to aromatherapy massages, but for a treatment rooted in tradition? Opt for the Singo Scrub that Swahili women undergo before their wedding day and is made using the likes of ylang ylang, sandalwood powder, rose petals, and rosewater – any excuse for a little R&R after navigating Stone Town’s labyrinth of alleys.

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Bahrain Sea View

This Isn’t Your Typical Island Getaway

Is Bahrain on your bucket list yet?

A five-day Eid break is headed our way, but not everyone is keen on the idea of long-haul travel. And that’s understandable. Still looking to explore a new destination and satiate your wanderlust? One word: Bahrain.

Not only is it the only archipelago in the region, but it’s only a mere 70-minute flight away. And between its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, trendy eateries, old-school souks, cultural institutions, and endless island-hopping opportunities, it’s also seriously underrated – especially if a quick getaway is all you can manage.

Sleeping In

By now, many of the major luxury hotel groups have landed in Bahrain – Sofitel, Four Seasons, and Ritz-Carlton included. But we’re slightly biased towards boutique hotels, preferring to stay at properties that have an entirely distinct personality of their own. Enter: The Merchant House, an ultra-contemporary property that boasts 46 beautifully appointed suites, a lush rooftop terrace, a library curated by The Ultimate Library of Oxford, and an eclectic collection of artworks by emerging and established artists. Another plus? Location, location, location. The Merchant House is ideally placed in the always-vibrant Bab Al Bahrain area.

Stepping Out

Speaking of which: a stroll through Manama Souq is part retail therapy, part cultural experience, so skip the malls and head here instead. The main entrance is the historic Bab Al Bahrain, taking you back in time as you browse shops specialising in everything from jewellery and antiques to calligraphy, handpainted room dividers, embroidered poufs, perfumes, and more. It’s not just kitschy souvenirs, we promise. Oh, and keep an eye out for the art installation inspired by the traditional Bahraini necklace ‘martasha’ while you’re around. Strategically located at the entrance of Manama Souq, it is composed of 20,000 gold-plated coins that are attached to seven-metre strings suspended from the ceiling. 

All that walking around will leave you famished, and no trip to Manama Souq is complete without pausing at Haji’s Cafe, where time has essentially stood still 1950. Sitting on those bright-blue benches surrounded by vintage photos and platters of delicious food in a narrow alley is such an unadulterated joy. Bahrain’s tolerance of all faiths is well-documented, so try to visit the Shri Krishna Temple, even if it’s tricky to find at first. Not only was it built in 1817 – making it a whopping 204 years old – but it has also recently been renovated and decorated in the traditional Mewar style of art that originates in Rajasthan. 

Take a couple of moments to appreciate the colourful detailing before stepping into Manama Post Office. No ordinary post office, this museum houses an archive of photographs from the postal service since its inception, an extensive catalogue of stamps from Bahrain and all over the world, and a collection of vintage scales and franking machines. As for its claim to fame? It was designed by none other than interior designer Ammar Basheir.

Food Matters

Bahrain is an island beloved amongst foodies, and it’s easy to see why. A district by the name of Block 338 is where everything from Nikkei cuisine hotspot Clay and patisserie Café Lilou to Japanese restaurant Mirai and Mexican eatery Calexico reside. Elsewhere, rustic-chic Italian restaurant L’ORTO is still the hottest ticket in town, bringing a taste of the Tuscan countryside to Manama – after all, everything chef Susy Massetti touches turns to gold.

Another firm favourite is Fusions By Tala, a dynamic eatery where Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi – the poster child for culinary experimentation – captures the essence and flavours of local cuisine while transforming it into lighter, more elevated fare. But if an entirely unexpected experience is what you’re seeking, make a beeline for Japanese teahouse Chawan. Here, a Bahraini tea master by the name of Budoor Steele hosts traditional tea ceremonies, celebrates Japanese festivals such as Tanabata and Tsukimi, and serves intricately crafted nibbles like onigiri, mochi, and nerikiri.

A visit to Bahrain

Culture Quest

The island’s art and culture scene is constantly evolving, but Muharraq is where it’s at if you’re pressed for time. You don’t have to go looking for its charm either – it’s there in spades, especially if you’re guilty of Golden Age thinking. And the best way to discover the neighbourhood? A walk down the Pearling Path, a 3.5km trail that snakes through its storied alleyways, rehabilitating this urban center of yesteryear while introducing contemporary infrastructure to match modern-day lifestyles. It’s especially suited to those interested in street photography, public art, street food, and coffee pitstops. 

Most people don’t realise that Pearling Path includes 17 public squares that are dotted along the different neighbourhoods that the path crosses, with strategically placed lamp posts guiding visitors through the streets. For an optimum introduction to Bahrain’s pearling era, start at the Pearling Path Visitor and Experience Centre, which sits at the entrance of Qayssareyah Suq and hosts rotating exhibits on pearling history alongside a café and an auditorium. Alternatively, you can begin at the trail’s southern starting point, Bu Mahir Fort (from where boats used to set off for oyster beds) and its glass-walled visitor centre. 

While you’re around, be sure to see the Vertical Garden up close – what it lacks in size, it makes up for in innovation. This living laboratory at the entrance of Muharraq is home to over 200 plant species, mostly from subtropical and desertic areas around the world and is the first of its kind in the region. Sheikh Isa Bin Ali House, one of the most impressive examples of Gulf Islamic architecture in Bahrain, is another interesting spot. Stroll around its multiple courtyards and walk up and down the various staircases to take in the carved wooden doors, ingenious wind towers, and perforated gypsum panels for insights into royal life circa 19th century.

Journey Back

There’s no shortage of ancient sites on the island, and one’s more intriguing than the last. The UNESCO-recognised burial mounds from the Dilmun era, for example, are a must-visit. Unique and mysterious, they continue to dominate the A’ali landscape due to their sheer number – there are over 11,000 of them and therefore impossible to miss. Prefer to time-travel within the comfort of a cultural landmark? Of the many exhibition halls at Bahrain National Museum, one focuses on the artifacts and history of the Dilmun civilisation, while another showcases its fascinating burial practices – it even features an actual burial mound that was transported from A’ali and reassembled onsite!

Meanwhile, as Bahrain residents turn to trendy rooftop bars for great views, we suggest Qal’at al- Bahrain (or Bahrain Fort as it is commonly known) instead. Walk around this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll encounter plenty of vantage points while breathing in the soothing ocean air. On your left, you’ll see the adjoining Karbabad Beach, which explains that aforementioned breeze. Straight ahead? An excavated coastal fortress dating back to the 3rd century AD, with the glistening city skyline rising above the horizon. The site is also surrounded by groves of palm trees, which you’ll notice on your right. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exceptional example of human occupation that spans nearly 4,500 years.

Sun, Sea, Sand

You’d think an island would entail plenty of beach clubs to choose from, but alas, that is not the case. Luckily, boho-chic Solymar Beach brings dining, partying, swimming, sunbathing, and lounging in luxury to one highly Instagrammable venue. However, what makes Bahrain truly unique in this part of the world is that it’s composed of 70 natural and 33 artificial islands. Jaradah Island is arguably the most famous as it’s only visible during low tide. Another great option is Al Dar Island, despite its size. 

For starters, it’s just a 10-minute boat ride from Sitra Fishing Port. If facilities are high on your agenda, this one’s for you – everything from palm leaf huts and chalets to fishing trips, dolphin-watching excursions, and water sports are on offer. There’s even a burger joint on the island in case you get peckish. For something a little more serene, think Nurana Islands. Whether you head here for a run, a horse ride, a swim, or killer views, it’s utter bliss.

beaches in Bahrain

The Great Escape

A journey deep into the lush green mangroves in Tubli Bay is one that every tourist should take. This one-of-a-kind eco tour feels like a true escape, taking you away from the commotion of the city centre and introducing you to the aquatic plants and diverse wildlife of this protected ecosystem. Birdwatchers are also bound to enjoy the boat ride due to the sheer variety of resident and migratory birds spotted throughout. 

The Great Escape

Mother Nature has blessed the island with so much more than the aforementioned mangroves, though. The height and density of the trees at Karzakan Forest is unexpected, to say the least, making it a popular place for impromptu photoshoots and early morning cycle rides. But if you’re going to make the time to visit only one natural wonder, it has to be the Tree of Life. For over 400 years now, this 32-foot mesquite tree has stood all by its lonesome in the barren desert with no water source in sight, making it an enigma to many – and a source of pride for Bahrain.

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Special Ramadan festival lamps in dessert in dubai

9 Activities & Events to Explore This Ramadan

Gather the family together for these.

Ramadan is not only rooted in self-discipline and introspection, but it’s also the perfect month to spend quality time with loved ones. To guide you on how to make the most out it, we’ve rounded up the nine best activities you can do with friends and family in Dubai.

Dhow Cruise

Indulge in iftar – with a twist! Enjoy up to two hours of continental dinner delights as you cruise alongside cultural sites such as Dubai Museum, Heritage Village, Gold Souq, and more. Choose between the dhow’s lower or upper deck and soak in the beautiful sights as you break your fast.

Dhow Cruise, 055 728 5588, [email protected]

Al Seef

This cultural attraction features both classic and contemporary architecture that shows the beautiful contrast between the old and new Dubai. Catch a glimpse of the past as you take a stroll down the creek and enjoy its various shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Top tip: make a quick detour at the unique Starbucks branch and take that Insta-worthy shot.

Al Seef, Al Seef Village, Dubai Creek, 800-738245, alseef.ae

Ramadan Activities in Ramadan

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding

Learn about the country’s history through SMCCU’s guided walking tour along the neighbourhood. Then, relish in the rich flavours of traditional Emirati cuisine through a cultural dining experience led by its very own local hosts. The motto Open Doors, Open Minds means that any inquiry – big or small – is welcome, so don’t hesitate to ask questions in order to make the most out of your experience.

SMCCU, House 26 & 47, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood, Al Musallah Street, Bur Dubai, 04 353 6666, [email protected]

Infinity Des Lumières

Watch the most iconic art come to life as you walk through the impressive 2,700-square-metre structure located inside The Dubai Mall. This attraction uses 130 projectors, 58 speakers, and 3,000 HD digital images, holding the record for the largest digital attraction in the region. Learn more about the life of Van Gogh or take a digital stroll across Japan through this surreal visual activity.

Infinity Des Lumières, Level 2 The Dubai Mall, Downtown Dubai, Financial Center Rd, 050 358 3001, infinitylumieres.com

Box Park

If you prefer a more laidback Ramadan activity, meandering through Box Park on Al Wasl Road might be for you. It’s a modern lifestyle destination that offers unique dining and shopping experiences for everyone. And if you schedule your visit during the evening, you can also enjoy its lively atmosphere and colourful display of lights.

Box Park, Al Wasl Road, 800 738245, boxpark.ae

Dubai Water Canal

Take a relaxing post-iftar walk along Dubai Water Canal, where you can choose among various attractions along its path, such as watching a show at La Perle or cruise along its waters from Marasi Marina in Business Bay. If you prefer a more physical activity, you can bike along its cycle paths and take in the beauty of Dubai on your own time.

Dubai Water Canal, Sheikh Zayed Road, visitdubai.com 

Dubai Frame

This unique Dubai landmark treats its visitors to a 360-degree view of Dubai’s past and present. Witness the amazing growth of the city through three different attractions showing its past, present, and future. Don’t forget to step on its interactive 50-metre Skydeck that will make you feel like you’re walking on air.

Dubai Frame, Zabeel Park Jogging Track, Za’abeel, Al Kifaf, 800 900, dubaiframe.ae

City Walk

Take your shopping experience to the next level by visiting City Walk. This shopping establishment boasts modern, open-architecture that’s perfect for spending weekends with the family. Visit its trendy dining spots and overwhelm your senses with the endless array of flavours from around the globe. 

City Walk, Al Safa St, Al Wasl, 04 590 5090, citywalk.ae

Give Back

What better way is there to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan than by giving back? We suggest discovering the many government-recognised charities before creating a positive impact by donating or volunteering. You never know, your small act of kindness might just make a big difference.

See the full list of charities here.

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Women talking each other in beachside

Ladies’ Day: The Best Beach Clubs in Dubai

Sunscreen at the ready.

Planning for a day out with your girls? Not sure where to go? Want to go somewhere different instead of your typical venues? Well, then it’s time to pack your swimsuits and head over to one of the following beach clubs, each boasting some incredible ladies’ day offers. Between the bargains and dreamy weather, you’ll want to make it a weekly ritual.

Five Palm Jumeirah

Spanning across 150 metres on PalmJumeirah, this beach club features double-width sun loungers, cabanas, and a deck for dining. It also hosts an Instaworthy glass-lined pool with a chandelier. Mediterranean in theme, it has a carefully crafted menu that is highly hyped amongst guests – and for good reason. Its ‘Praia Ladies Day’ features unlimited cocktails, pool access, and a lunch platter. 

Five Palm Jumeirah,Palm Jumeirah, 058 870 0708, https://palmjumeirah.fivehotelsandresorts.com, every Thursday 12pm-4pm  

Cove Beach 

Located on Bluewaters Island, this is a place rife with modern vibes and R&B tunes playing in the evenings, creating the perfect setting to watch a breathtaking sunset. With a stretch of soft white sandy beach and open lounge spaces, the beach club offers a lavish retreat.Named ‘Rosé All Day’, its offering is arguably one of Dubai’s most popular ladies’ days, offering unlimited rosé and pink gin tonic, a lunch platter, and a free sunbed. 

Caesars Palace, Bluewater Island, 050 454 6920, https://www.caesars.com/dubai/cove-beach/, every Wednesday 12pm-5pm

bla bla,best beach clubs in Dubai

Bla Bla

A supersized new addition to Dubai’s beach club scene, Bla Bla is a lively spot with a dedicated bar, a regular programme of live entertainment, and uninterrupted views of Ain Dubai. The beach club is very active by the massive infinity pool, where four-poster cabanas and daybeds dot the pool’s edges. For ladies’ day, it offers four hours of free-flowing house white or red wine, sangria, mocktails, or soft drinks plus one bar snack. 

Bla Bla Beach Club, The Beach opposite JBR, 058 606 3535, https://blabladubai.ae/, every Tuesday 12pm-4pm  

White Beach

Located in Atlantis, White Beach is one of Dubai’s new and hottest beach clubs, complete with ladies’ day. It features an infinity pool, a chic outdoor restaurant, and a breezy open-air-terrace for sundowners. With some amazing views of the Dubai skyline, this place is accented with some seriously boho detailing – think: whitewashed furniture and wooden cabanas with plush sofas. Its ‘Daysies Ladies’ Day’ offers four hours of free-flowing beverages and cocktails. 

Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah, 054 582 2778, https://www.atlantis.com/dubai/bars-and-nightlife/white-beach-club, every Tuesday 12pm-4pm

Zero Gravity

Located next to Skydive Dubai’s Drop Zone, this beach club hosts one of the city’s longest-standing ladies’ days. Spanning 2,000 square metres with a 39-metre glass-fronted infinite swimming pool, this place is always filled with tourists and residents alike. With a focus on relaxation, its ladies’ day offers free access to the pool, free yoga sessions, a drink on arrival, and a gift from a leading beauty brand. 

Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone – King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St, 04 399 0009, https://www.0-gravity.ae/, every Sunday and Tuesday 9:30am-5pm 

Beach Club In Dubai

Nikki Beach 

One of the pioneers of ladies’ day offerings at beach clubs, Nikki Beach serves up a lively atmosphere with live music in an ultra-modern setting featuring cutting-edge architecture and interiors. The pool area is filled with oversized luxury daybeds, single beds, and private cabanas along with sofa seating and three VIP cabanas. Its ladies’ day deals offer four complimentary beverages, a two-course lunch, and a complimentary daybed with pool access.

Nikki Beach, Pearl Jumeirah, 04 376 6162, https://dubai.nikkibeach.com/, every Tuesday 11am-6pm 

Riva Beach Club

Known as the best beach club in Dubai for families, Riva Beach Club is an ideal destination for a relaxed day out with kids. Hosting a private stretch of beach, it has an expansive swimming pool and dedicated children’s pool. There are plenty of food and beverage services across the pool and beach areas to keep guests indulged in various delicacies. Its ladies’ day offer comes at half the regular price and features free beach and pool access with a complimentary starter dish. 

Building 8, The Shoreline, Palm Jumeirah, 04 430 9466, https://riva-beach.com/, every Wednesday 10am-5pm 

Azure Beach

As a favourite beachside hangout at Rixos Premium Dubai, JBR, Azure Beach is the perfect destination to soak up the sun while relaxing with your girls. It has recently elevated its luxury offering with the introduction of six exclusive cabanas to create the ultimate poolside experience. Azure Beach has a variety of packages to choose from, with its ladies’ day offering a discounted price along with five select drinks vouchers. 

Azure Beach, Rixos Premium, JBR, 052 777 9472, https://azure-beach.com/dubai/, every Monday and Tuesday 10am-8pm 

Andreea’s

This beautiful beach club has a chic atmosphere with elegant interiors that perfectly blend with its newly expanded pool and a terrace adorned with palm trees. It is filled with a variety of modern amenities, private cabanas, and sunbeds. Granting views of the Dubai Marina skyline and gorgeous sunsets, this beach club is the ultimate hideaway for a time-out with your girls. Its exclusive ladies’ day deals come with six hours of free-flowing drinks and light bites along with pool/beach access. 

Andreea’s, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection, Dubai Marina, 04 408 4400, https://andreeas.ae/, every Thursday and Sunday 10am-11pm 

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bucket list travel

Wandermust: 6 Bucket List Travel Experiences That Are Surprisingly Accessible

Each is five hours or less from the UAE.

Just when the world was starting to look forward to the holiday season, news of the Omicron variant broke, making us reconsider any long-haul travel plans. The good news? There are six travel experiences that not only belong on any bucket list, but are also easily accessible from Dubai – each destination is only five hours or less from the UAE, eliminating the additional stress that comes with layovers and stopovers. Let the planning begin! 

Cruise Down the Nile

Egypt 

Cruise Down the Nile

Just as a visit to the pyramids is practically obligatory, a cruise along the Nile River is, too. But don’t just book a trip with any cruise ship because the Steam Ship Sudan – or SS Sudan – is truly special. Built in 1885 as a gift for King Fouad and launched as a cruise vessel in 1921, this historic paddle steamer retains the Belle Époque grace that inspired Agatha Christie to write her famous 1937 novel, Death on the Nile. Today, the ship regularly traverses the Nile on five-night cruises that launch from either Luxor or Aswan, chugging along at a relaxed eight kilometres an hour.

Float in the Dead Sea

Jordan

Float in the Dead Sea

The ancient city of Petra is what attracts hordes of tourists to Jordan, but a dip in the Dead Sea is seriously underrated. Formed three million years ago, this super-salty lake is the lowest point on land (423 metres below sea level) and the world’s oldest natural health resort – its mineral-rich waters are loaded with healing properties for several skin conditions, making it a prized ingredient in the world of beauty. Besides, effortlessly floating in the Dead Sea is just plain fun! But the time to visit this natural wonder is now; the Dead Sea is shrinking at an alarming rate, with experts estimating that its surface level is falling by more than a metre each year.

Sleep in a Yurt

Kyrgyzstan

Sleep in a Yurt

A longstanding symbol of nomadic culture, yurts have been around for thousands of years. This circular dwelling is not only portable, but also steeped in tradition as it is made of animal skin or felt and serves as the primary style of home across Central Asian countries such as Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. In Kyrgyzstan, the concept has been taken up a notch, pairing glamping with yurt life at Supara Chunkurchak ethnoresort. Located just 37 kilometres south of the capital Bishkek, it’s immersed in untouched rural beauty, yet offers creature comforts, cultural activities aplenty, and even an onsite spa – because why not?

Fly Through the Mountains

Nepal

The average adventurer will tell you that Everest Base Camp deserves a spot in your bucket list, but let’s face it – this once-in-a-lifetime trek isn’t exactly accessible to all. Yes, it requires no mountaineering skills nor technical expertise, but altitude sickness can strike as Everest Base Camp sits at 5,364 metres above sea level. Now factor in that you’ll be walking for somewhere between 12 and 15 days, and you’re looking at a bucket list experience that’s not for everyone. Enter: the mountain flight. This shortcut to Mount Everest by domestic airlines such as Yeti Airlines offers passengers a front-row seat to the breathtaking, snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas, bringing them back to Kathmandu in an hour.

Take a Scenic Train Ride

Sri Lanka

Take a Scenic Train Ride

Considering its bounty of natural beauty, Sri Lanka boasts some of the most scenic train rides in the world – at a bargain price, too. Arguably the most spectacular route is the seven-hour ride from the centrally located city of Kandy to the small town of Ella. In fact, it’s even been dubbed “Sri Lanka’s most popular tourist attraction” as the vistas comprise everything from rolling rice fields and lush forests to towering mountains, sweeping tea plantations, waterfalls, and more. A word to the wise: avoid taking this train ride midday or on a weekend as it’s extremely popular with locals and tourists alike (read: uncomfortably crowded). 

See the Whirling Dervishes

Turkey

See the Whirling Dervishes

The phrase ‘an embarrassment of riches’ comes to mind when it comes to bucket list musts in Istanbul – taking a ferry across the Bosphorus, getting scrubbed at a traditional hammam, gorging on a kumpir with countless toppings in Ortaköy. But if a truly cultural experience is what you’re after, head straight to Hodjapasha Culture Centre, home of the famous whirling dervishes. Declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity, the mystical Mevlevi Sema ceremony depicts a journey of man’s spiritual ascent to “perfection” through mind and love, making it an unmissable blend of music and moves. For the uninitiated, the Mevleviye is an ascetic Sufi order founded in 1273 and renowned for their whirling dances.

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New Year Evening in Dubai

10 Exciting Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Dubai

Let the countdown to 2022 begin!

If there’s one place to be during New Year’s Eve, it’s definitely Dubai – the city has mastered the art of ringing in a new year. And with numerous ways to celebrate the coming of 2022, it can be a little tough to settle on only one. Enter: this round-up of the best in town by The Gaggler

Luxury Dinner Cruise

You can wave 2021 goodbye and enjoy a luxury dinner cruise that will sail on the Dubai Water Canal. From here, you can witness many New Year fireworks taking place all across the city alongside an unlimited buffet of local specialities, grilled meats, salads, and delicious Arabic desserts. You’ll also enjoy unlimited drinks and a ride back home!

Dubai Water Canal, www.luxurycruise.com, timings according to booking

Atlantis, The Palm

Are you looking for an elegant New Year’s Eve? Well, you can never go wrong with Atlantis! The resort has a variety of restaurants offering distinct menus, each specially curated for an unforgettable evening, which means you can spend your night feasting on various regional and international delicacies to your heart’s content. 

Atlantis, The Palm, 04 426 2000, www.atlantis.com, timings according to booking

New Year’s Show at Dubai Opera

For New Year’s Eve, Dubai Opera is offering a glamorous and sumptuous cocktail dinner, unlimited drinks, and different musical performances by live bands and some of the best DJs – truly a music lover’s paradise. Get your tickets early so you can catch performances by DJ Said Mrad, DJ Saif & Sound, and Carrie Gibson’s Nuvo Soul.

Dubai Opera, Downtown Dubai, 04 440 8888, www.dubaiopera.com, Dec 31 6:30pm onwards

New Year Evening Dubai

Level 43 Sky Lounge 

Take your New Year’s Eve celebrations to new heights (literally!) by celebrating at the Level 43 Sky Lounge, located 155 metres above the ground. Being a rooftop bar, you will get a front-row seat to the New Year fireworks taking place across Dubai. It also has a buffet with special in-house beverage options, so drink in style while being surrounded by the city’s tallest skyscrapers. 

Level 43 Sky Lounge, Four Points by Sheraton, Sheikh Zayed Road, 056 414 2213, www.level43lounge.com, 2pm-2am

Queen Elizabeth 2

After sailing around the world, Queen Elizabeth 2 is here to stay at Port Rashid and has exciting things to offer, this New Year’s Eve included. You can board the ship for an elegant British-style gala dinner, complete with live music and DJ sets. You could even stay in one of its luxurious cabins.

Queen Elizabeth 2, Port Rashid, 600 500400, www.qe2.com, timings vary with booking

Global Village

Global Village goes all out for New Year’s Eve, hosting numerous firework shows going on through the night, which ends with a bang at midnight. You can also enter 2022 with a bit of retail therapy! Another bright side? There’s a huge variety of restaurants and food kiosks to choose from.

Global Village, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road and Emirates Road – Exit 37 – E311,  04 362 4114, www.globalvillage.ae, 4pm onwards

La Perle by Dragone

Produced by Italian artist Franco Dragone, La Perle by Dragone is known for being the best live show in the city as it brings a mix of music, dance, astounding acrobatics, lights, and special effects together. The show has received the highest accolades from world critics and amazes millions of spectators worldwide, so why not head here to ring in 2022? 

La Perle by Dragone, Al Habtoor City, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.laperle.com, timings vary with booking

Dubai Desert 

New Year’s Eve in the desert? Trust us when we say that it is truly magical. You can enjoy a traditional Bedouin dinner and celebrate the big event under the starry sky, far away from city life. Stay overnight, and wake up to a royal treatment. And if you’re looking for a slightly less expensive option, it offers that as well! 

Dubai Conservation Reserve, Overnight Bedouin Safari, Red Dunes Overnight Camp, timings vary with booking

Zero Gravity Party 

New Year’s Eve and DJ Sigala? Sign us up! Dance your way into 2022 at the Zero Gravity Party, where you can witness several firework shows while jamming to fantastic music by the English DJ and record producer, making memories you’ll never forget. 

Zero Gravity, Skydive Dubai Drop Zone, 04 399 0009, www.0-gravity.ae

Top Golf Party

Top Golf never fails to go all out. This year, it’s hosting a neon New Year’s Eve party featuring an array of mind-blowing entertainment. The party will feature unlimited drinks, appetiser platters, and a live DJ, all while enjoying the fireworks show and so much more. Don’t forget to book in advance! 

Top Golf Party, Emirates Golf Club, 04 371 9999, www.topgolfdubai.ae, 9pm to midnight

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Christmas celebration in a desert

5 Must-Visit Christmas Markets in Dubai

‘Tis the season for festive markets across town.

We all look forward to the festive season since it is one of the most joyous occasions of the year – and between its twinkling lights, towering Christmas trees, and delicious food, it’s exactly what the end of 2021 calls for. Are you as excited as we are? Dubai boasts a variety of Christmas markets, each unique in its own way, which will keep you brimming with festive spirit.

The Ripe Market

Ripe Market is a community market that features upcoming artists, makers, and entrepreneurs. This winter season, it will be buzzing with activities and stalls for you and your familyevery weekend from December 4 to 26. From meeting Santa himself to Christmas workshops and cookie decorations, there’s plenty to look forward to.

The Ripe Market, Academy Park, @ripemarket, Fri (9am-7pm) and Sat (10am-7pm)

The Walk

JBR Dubai is going all out this Christmas – with light shows, snowball fights, mini-golf, inflated slides, live music, and appearances by Santa Claus, this market is a must-visit destination if you have children. Oh, and don’t miss out on the wonderful Christmas delicacies as well!

The Walk, JBR, @jbr_official

Winter Wonderland at Madinat Jumeirah

Every winter, Madinat Jumeirah turns into a German-style Christmas market, filled with fun activities and stalls, a train to the North Pole, and even Santa Claus himself! Every nook and cranny is so lively and vibrant – we dare you to not get into the Christmas spirit.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah, 3pm-12am on weekdays & 1pm-12am on weekends

Desert Winter Wonderland

No, you read that right – Bab al Shams Desert Resort is shaking things up by hosting a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Visit the resort from December 12 to 20 for Christmas dishes, mulled wine, hot chocolate, gifts, and activities for the young ones to enjoy!

Al Forsan Garden, Bab Al Shams, https://babalshams.com/, 6pm-10pm

Habtoor Palace Dubai

Enjoy one of the most glorious Christmas markets coming at Habtoor Palace Hotel. From December 5 to 28, you can find Santa, an extremely tall Christmas tree, bouncy slides, train rides, cheery carolling, andcarnival games for the kids. Bonus: entry is free!

Al Habtoor Palace Dubai, 04 438 4479, Al Habtoor Palace, 5pm-12am

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girl walking on raod

5 Unique Outdoor Activities to Try This Winter

Wake up from summer hibernation already!

With temperatures falling and winter approaching, it’s time to step out of the air conditioning and head outside. Here, we’ve compiled a list of five unique outdoor activities that you can try this winter in the UAE.

1. Freediving

We’ve all heard of scuba diving, and you might have even tried it at some point. But what about freediving – a.k.a. diving without an oxygen tank? Sound impossible? You might be surprised. Anyone can learn to freedive and hold their breath for longer periods of time with the appropriate training. After all, humans have been doing it for centuries. Not only can you get closer to marine life without scaring them off with the bubbles from an oxygen tank, but you can also delve into a journey of personal exploration and learn to push your limits. Diving centres like Nemo Diving Center, Freediving UAE, and Deep Dive Dubai offer introductory courses for beginners.

2. Stargazing

Whether you’re into astronomy or merely want to try something new, stargazing is an exciting activity that can humble you to the grandeur of the universe. Observatories such as Al Thuraya Astronomy Center offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about the cosmos through guided night sky observations and various shows. On the other hand, if you wish to venture into the wild – and have the expertise to do so – you can always head out to the vast swath of desert that is the Rub’ al Khali (otherwise called The Empty Quarter), where light pollution is minimal and stars are visible to the naked eye. You can also visit Al Quaa desert in Abu Dhabi, which is famous for being one of the best places in the country to view the Milky Way.

3. Dinner in the Sky

If you have a fear of heights, this one might not be for you. Located in Al Sufoh, Dinner in the Sky is one of the most unique restaurants in Dubai – if not the whole country. The experience involves being lifted 50 metres from the ground by a crane, after which you will be served a three-course meal with a view that’s hard to beat. Guests are secured with safety belts, and standing presenters and crews are attached to safety harnesses. The whole event lasts for 90 minutes, and 22 guests can be seated at once for a meal of a lifetime. 

4. Falconry

Falconry is strongly intertwined with the UAE’s culture, so you can get a glimpse of this ancient tradition through a falconry show. Here, you can get up and close with these majestic birds and learn about various falconry techniques, watch displays of these birds in action, and handle the birds directly – all in a beautiful desert location. Head out to Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, Wild Flight (which also offers a falconry course!), or any other centre that offers visitors a chance to interact with these unique creatures. 

5. Photo Walks

Have a camera that’s collecting dust in some corner of your house? It’s time to put it to good use. Guided photo walks in the UAE take you through scenic or historic parts of the country with experts who can advise you on how to get the perfect shot. Not only will you get a chance to improve your camera skills, but you will also learn to look at familiar sights through a new lens (pun intended) – and maybe even make a few friends along the way! Check out Gulf Photo Plus and Aperture Tours to book a photo walk or head to meetup.com to find walks organised by shutterbugs in your community.

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