Time Out has summer holiday inspiration for expats living in UAE. Check out these 20 summer holidays you can take from Dubai, including Africa and Asia
Get a glimpse of cultural crossroads in Cuba Barack Obama’s short trip to Cuba this year is likely to mark the point that holidays on the island sashayed their way into the mainstream. Havana attracts the visitor with its good looks, hot weather, chrome-festooned American cars and cigar lounges, as well as pretty buildings, hip-swivelling Afro-Cuban beats and friendly story-telling locals. The fear, for those who love passionate authenticity and vibrant originality, is that the boom will change it into a Latin Las Vegas. Visit before that change takes over. Air France flies to Havana via Paris for Dhs6,955. Flight time: 19 hours (with stops). www.airfrance.ae.
Go surfing in Durban South Africa should be on every Dubaian’s must-see list, but consider casting your net further than the obvious Cape Town. Durban is the largest port in Africa and is popular with surfers thanks to miles of wavy beaches. It has a large Indian population giving it an Asian feel, but it has a colonial heritage that creates a merging of cultures, which makes for fascinating street food, nightlife and art. You can still go on safaris similar to those in other South African cities, but with Durban’s altogether gentler pace compared to Johannesburg and Cape Town, it’s a great option for the repeat visitor looking to fall deeper in love with the country. Emirates flies to Durban for Dhs4,705. Flight time: eight hours. www.emirates.com.
Untouched nature in Madagascar There are 8,000 species of animal that don’t exist anywhere else in the world on this African island. Lemurs are probably the best known, but the diversity of animals, plants and even landscapes has to be seen to be believed, with mountains, rainforests, canyons, desert and 5,000km of coastline all featuring. A new-found political stability, plus cultural influences from Africa, India and the Arab world, make the capital city, Antananarivo, a must-visit before you get to the tourist beach hotspot of Nosy Komba. Kenya Airways flies to Antananarivo for Dhs5,265. Flight time: 13 hours (with stops). www.kenya-airways.com.
Experience culture in Sydney The Harbour and the Opera House for culture used to be the instruction. But in the past decade or so, Sydney has been treated to an envelope-pushing array of mass events, carnivals and gatherings, making it one of the liveliest world capitals to visit. Turn up in June, July or August and you’ll find a dizzying blend of food, film, music, arts and lifestyle being celebrated in a city built to party. You already know about the Opera House, Bondi Beach and the Harbour, but visit at these times and you’ll discover exactly what it is that makes it an energetic, pulsating beacon for tourists. Qantas flies to Sydney for Dhs5,995. Flight time: 14 hours. www.qantas.com.
Experience the great outdoors in Japan Despite formerly being Japan’s capital for more than a thousand years, Kyoto tends to lose out to Tokyo in the hyperbole stakes. But for ancient monuments (there are more than 2,000 in the city) and stunning gardens (such as the Ryoan-ji rock zen garden), you won’t find anywhere better. If you get too hot taking in the outdoor sights, step inside one of the city’s dozens of galleries, museums and tea houses. Emirates flies to Osaka (a one-hour drive from Kyoto) for Dhs5,345. Flight time: nine hours. www.emirates.com.
Marvel at the modern in Montenegro In between Italy and Greece there is much to be said for Montenegro. The highlight is the Bay of Kotor, and a visit to the Mediterranean fjord-like inlet is likely to fill your social media walls with coast-to-mountain scenery and boastful pictures of the Adriatic port. You get the advantage of the seaside vibe of a Mediterranean resort, but with Alpine-style mountains, lakes, Roman monuments and the legacy of the former Soviet rule, all in one place. Turkish Airlines flies to Podgorica for Dhs1,700. Flight time 8 hours. www.turkishairlines.com.
Sleep in the world’s best hotel in the maldives Gili Lankanfushi (www.gili-lankanfushi.com) in the Maldives is cartoonishly idyllic. It was rated by TripAdvisor as the world’s finest hotel in 2015. Perhaps it had something to do with the personal butler service, over water villas, private lagoon decks, turquoise waters and secluded beaches. Or maybe it was the fact that you can scuba dive from your bedroom to a coral lagoon or see an octopus swimming by your breakfast table. Or maybe it was the, oh, you get the point… Flydubai flies to Male for Dhs2,200. Flight time: four hours. www.flydubai.com.
Go to the Olympics in Brazil Rio’s annual carnival is a global party highlight and when you throw the Olympic Games into the mix, it’s clear that it will host a spectacle the likes of which the world has not seen before. Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, salsa, flamboyant football, stunning monuments and an enormous city throbbing with artistic, culinary and cultural appeal, make it a worthy holiday any time of year. Soak up the Olympic atmosphere between Friday August 5 and Saturday 21, but whenever you visit, drag yourself away from the beaches to see Tijuca National Park and its 8,000 acres of stunning rainforest. Emirates flies to Rio for Dhs8,895. Flight time: 14 hours. www.emirates.com.
Be a cowboy in Arizona Yeeeehaa! Go from the Middle East to the Wild West for a holiday with a difference when you sign up for a ranching trip in Arizona in the US. Just like in the film City Slickers, you can live the cowboy lifestyle and spend your holiday on horseback guiding horses and cows between working farms. The activities from a tour provider such as the Tombstone Monument Ranch include lessons in riding, roping and rustling cattle, plus O.K. Corral-style shoot-outs and visits to the occasional saloon. Ten gallon hats are, we assume, optional. Delta flies from Dubai to Tucson for Dhs4,835. Flight time: 22 hours (with stops). www.delta.com.
Sightsee in Toronto Often cited as the most multicultural city on Earth and labelled a more accessible version of New York, Toronto’s reputation is as hot as its winters are cold. It’s the only city in the world where you can join an axe-throwing league, visit the CAD$300 million (Dhs855 million) Aga Khan Museum devoted to Islamic art and see waterfalls from the top of the iconic CN Tower (on clear days you can see the Niagara Falls). There is plenty of sightseeing to be done here. Land any time in the summer and you’re likely to find a festival of jazz, film, food, art or culture taking place in the city. Turkish Airlines flies to Toronto for Dhs4,460. Flight time: 14 hours. www.turkishairlines.com.
Enjoy flamenco in Seville Andalucía, Spain’s romantic southern province, has fascinated great civilisations from the Romans to the Arabs. With flamenco deeply rooted in the region, you can expect to hear the fiery music in Seville’s cabarets and myriad tapas bars or simply hummed underneath the many orange trees. A short walk from the mighty Giralda will take you past the Alcázar, the Moorish Palace, and into the narrow streets of the historic Barrio Santa Cruz with its tiny squares and flower-filled patios. KLM flies to Seville for Dhs2,700. Flight time: 11.5 hours (with stops). www.klm.com.
City break in Addis Ababa Africa is usually recommended for safari holidays and while it’s possible to take a tour and see animals on a city break in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa is offering new experiences to tourists. Regarded as the political capital of the continent, it’s a modern city with urban appeal. Coffee-lovers and foodies should seriously consider a visit. Its market squares, museums, live music and growing art scene also make it a real contender in this category. Ethiopian Airlines flies to Addis Ababa from Dhs1,885. Flight time: four and a half hours. www.ethiopianairlines.com.
Take a Mediterranean break in Malta While islands such as Ibiza or the various Greek isles are seen as package holidays and clubbing destinations that are the preserve of those pre-30, Malta has been dismissed as something of a granny magnet. However, the resort towns on the northern coast offer the secluded turquoise coves, fishing ports, prehistoric monuments and flavours of the Med, but without the crowds, or the prices, of better-known islands. A visit this year could be wise, since holidaying here is likely to see a resurgence. Emirates flies to Malta for Dhs2,685. Flight time: eight and a quarter hours. www.emirates.com.
Celebrate Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-avon Spend a midsummer’s night and more with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the home of the greatest writer to have ever lived, on the 400th anniversary of his death. Theatre productions, poetry readings and medieval architecture make Stratford-upon-Avon an exciting alternative to London. Quaint, cosy and charming boutique hotels are picture-postcard centres from which to explore the countryside, with Bath, Glastonbury and Stonehenge all iconic locations to tick off on the same trip. Emirates flies to London for Dhs2,475. Flight time: seven hours. www.emirates.com.
Dive the Great Barrier Reef This natural wonder of the world is a sprawling living thing and covers an area of nearly 570,000 square kilometres. For scuba enthusiasts, it’s the ultimate destination, with around 1,500 species of fish (around ten percent of the world’s total) found among the coral reefs. Anybody who has seen documentarian and wildlife-lover David Attenborough’s recent series will almost certainly have fallen in love with the Aussie waters. Emirates flies to Brisbane for Dhs5,975. Flight time: 14 hours. www.emirates.com.
Safari in Gabon Much is made of the safaris of east and southern Africa, but it’s the west coast nation of Gabon that is emerging as a nature spotter’s favourite. Not as reliant on the big five, this is where to come if you want to see gorillas, hippos, forest elephants and whales. It’s regarded as a safer alternative to its politically troubled neighbours, and national parks and rain forests are the most appealing locations. Ethiopian Airlines flies from Dubai to Libreville for Dhs4,145. Flight time: ten hours (with stops). www.ethiopianairlines.com.
Be happy in Bhutan A few facts to explain how wonderful Bhutan is: It has, in Thimphu, the world’s only capital city without traffic lights, it aims to be a wholly organic nation within a decade, and it measures Gross National Happiness to help determine economic prosperity. A visit this year by British royals Prince William and his wife the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, has put one of the least visited countries in the world and its mystic monuments in the mountains, high-altitude trekking and unrivalled Himalayan views, under the spotlight. Druk Air flies to Paro from Delhi for Dhs1,500; Flydubai flies to Delhi from Dubai for Dhs1,000. Total flight time: six and a half hours. www.drukair.com.bt; www.flydubai.com.
Eat your way around Auckland A trip to New Zealand is about extreme adventure sports and spotting scenery from The Lord of the Rings movies, right? Well, yes, there is a lot of that, but a whole lot more besides. August marks Restaurant Month in capital city Auckland, and it’s a celebration of the burgeoning culinary scene of New Zealand. There is a Polynesian and Maori influence on the cooking and it’s a cuisine that has so far not travelled too far. A visit at this time of year also throws up the chance for some summer skiing and cold climate activities in the “Toronto of the Southern Hemisphere”. Emirates flies to Auckland for Dhs6,735. Flight time: 16 hours. www.emirates.com.
Land on St. Helena island A true collector’s edition for destination-seekers wanting to tick off a new location, the remote Atlantic island of St. Helena is set to get its first airport and scheduled flight later this month. A population of just 5,000 people means it’s never going to be the new Vegas, but the British isle already has three hotels that holidaymakers can make their base while taking in the stunning natural scenery that includes lush green valleys, attractive clifftops and rugged coast. A trip for anybody looking to visit a place nobody else has. Flights will become available after the airport’s official opening scheduled for the end of May. A single flight each week will be operated by British Airways via Johannesburg.
Visit the world’s newest Disney Resort in Shanghai The Shanghai Disney Resort is due to open in June and bring the Magical Kingdom, by way of a Dhs14 billion project, to mainland China. It’s likely to be as packed as the Hong Kong, Paris and Florida equivalents with fairy tale castles, a Toy Story-themed hotel and complete immersion into Disney-style family fun. If you can’t wait for Dubai’s own theme parks to open later in the year, this is the biggest news in roller coaster and it’ll tide you over until then. Emirates flies to Shanghai for Dhs2,315. Flight time: Eight and a half hours. www.emirates.com.