Traveler's Guide to the Best of Oman & United Arab Emirates (UAE)


Both Oman and the UAE are absolute dream destinations for lovers of architecture, design, art, history, authentic cultural experiences, fine dining, local delicacies, lavish accommodations or rustic desert adventures, shopping, outdoor and family adventures, romantic escapes, and more. Oman is much more undiscovered and will never stop amazing you with its palaces and mosques, mountain hikes through historic towns, camel rides in the desert, and oceanside pleasures. The UAE cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are bold and exciting blends of modern structures and Arabian charm.

UAE stands for the United Arab Emirates and has 7 Emirates, or provinces. The most well-known province is Dubai, and another is Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Each province has a ruling family with a Sheikh who rules over that specific region. Should you see someone with a license plate of 1-1000, those exclusively belong to the Sheikhs, and it'll probably be a pretty flashy car too, given the exorbitant wealth found here. Oman is an absolute monarchy ruled by a Sultan, and Qaboos bin Said, former Sultan of Oman, was the longest-serving ruler in the Middle East from the 1970s until his death last January. His cousin has stepped in for the time being.

UAE's local currency is called the Dirham, and 1 USD is about 3.60 Dirham, a bit more expensive than in the US. Credit cards are widely accepted, though if you're going shopping in a souk, you should bring local currency. The Oman Rial is the third highest currency in the world; 1 Oman Rial = $0.38 USD. Alcohol is incredibly expensive in Oman, so grab your favorite beverages at airport duty free when you arrive. In Oman they only serve alcohol at hotels, and even the cheap stuff can cost $100!

WHEN TO TRAVEL

The UAE's climate is driven by the desert environment, and there are pretty much two temperatures: hot and hotter. Oman's climate is dry and subtropical, so you can expect a hot desert with low annual rainfall. The best time to visit UAE is from October-March, and for Oman it's October-April when the sign is shining but you'll need a sweater or jacket for chilly nights. If you opt for the low seasons with lower prices around May-August, it's so hot you'll need to be careful not to melt the soles of your shoes.

WHAT TO WEAR

When out and about, men have no dress code. Women may find Dubai to be a little more liberal, but to draw less unwanted attention, dressing modestly is best such as in loose-fitting clothes without much exposed skin. When visiting a mosque, men need to cover their knees and shoulders, while women must cover everything except their face, hands, and feet. However we might feel about these observances, we travel to explore and come face to face with other cultures, and a spirit of respect and curiosity will always enhance any trip you take around the world. Nine Muses Travel can arrange a special lunch with an Emirati woman who can answer your questions about her culture, education, family life, and perspective on living in the UAE.

PREPARING TO GO

  • UAE has direct flights from over 13 major cities in the U.S. and Canada including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Toronto, and most people fly into Dubai International Airport (DXB). No visas are required, and Dubai is a popular layover destination for travelers. Though easy to navigate, the airport is massive, and Nine Muses Travel can arrange for you to be met at the gate as soon as you arrive or after baggage claim, whichever you prefer.

  • Oman's capital city is Muscat, home to five million. You can fly direct into Muscat International Airport (MCT) on approximately a one-hour flight from Dubai and also direct from Frankfurt. Visas are required and can be easily purchased in advance online for $20 for 10 days; just print it out and bring it with you. It's a clean, contemporary airport and quite easy to navigate. Nine Muses Travel can arrange for you to be met right off the plane and taken to a private lounge with refreshments as you complete your immigration paperwork before being escorted through a separate customs line.

HIGHLIGHTS OF DUBAI, UAE

Dubai is the heart of the UAE and a great home base for your day trips throughout the region.

  • Dubai Fountain Show - Enormous fountains choreographed to music

  • Burj Khalifa - At 2,717 feet, this is the tallest building in the world. Most tickets can get you to the 125th floor, but Nine Muses Travel can arrange a visit in a separate elevator to the 156th floor with its indoor and outdoor platform and views across the desert.

  • Dubai Mall - The largest mall in the world by land area. Shop til you drop!

  • Enjoy a guided Dubai drive tour to see the Frame, Burj Al Arab, and Palm Jumeriah architecture.

  • Visit Old Dubai and see the Gold Souq for the real flavor of the old Arabic world.

  • Explore the desert in a private safari style vehicle, have dinner in a Bedouin Camp, then enjoy henna tattoos before spectacular star gazing.

DUBAI EXPO 2021

The Dubai Expo is now scheduled from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 and is located about 30 minutes from downtown Dubai and about 50 minutes from Abu Dhabi. 192 countries are participating in this epic expo with a theme of "connecting minds, creating the future." Each country headlines the Expo for one day to highlight their innovations, achievements, cuisine, and performers. There will be over 60 live events each day and three pavilions: Opportunity, Sustainability, and Mobility. There's a business side to the expo too with Ted Talks, conferences, and workshops with global experts and leaders. The complex is huge, so trust Nine Muses Travel to arrange your passes and private transfers.

WHERE TO STAY IN DUBAI

  • Burj Al Arab Jameirah is the only 7-star property in the world and easily recognized by its sail-shaped design. Located right on the water with an infinity swimming pool and a manmade beach, it has 202 rooms, Michelin Star chef on site, gold-lined interior, Hermes products, Swarovski crystal ceiling - the overall picture of opulence. If you can't stay, visit for lunch or dinner!

  • The Palace Downtown Dubai has 242 rooms all with private balconies overlooking the Burj Khalifa and the fountain from its grounds. It's a perfect location right in the heart of downtown Dubai and within walking distance to Dubai Mall.

HIGHLIGHTS OF ABU DHABI, UAE

Abu Dhabi is roughly a 1.5 hours drive from Dubai, and these are some must-sees.

  • Sheik Zayed Mosque - One of the largest and most opulent in the world, it holds over 59,000 worshippers and contains the world's largest handwoven carpet.

  • The Louvre Abu Dhabi - The largest art museum in the Arabian peninsula.

  • Qasr Al Watain - A grand, royal palace newly opened to the public for self-guided or guided visits.

  • Ferrari World - Drive on a Formula One track and ride the world's faster roller!

WHERE TO STAY IN ABU DHABI

  • Emirates Palace is an Abu Dhabi landmark filled with Arabian influences in the design and architecture. It has 394 rooms (no smaller than 600 square feet) all with balconies, plus 13 restaurants, two pools, and a private beach. Can't stay overnight? Come here for lunch or the Palace Cappuccino sprinkled with 24 karat gold flakes!

HIGHLIGHTS OF MUSCAT, OMAN

Muscat is a rare tourist-free and tranquil national capital, and we can arrange wonderful authentic experiences throughout the region. Here are a few must-sees!

  • Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque - Walk through the doors and relax in its reverent silence and admire its beautiful and opulent design in blissful peace.

  • Muttrah Corniche and the Souq - Great shopping, easy walking, and breezes from the water.

  • Sultans Palace - Visit the palace of the former Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said,

  • Royal Opera House - Top tickets and VIP experiences at this monumental venue.

WHERE TO STAY IN MUSCAT

  • The Kempinski Muscat is a great value and only 15 minutes from the airport. It's got a beachfront location, infinity pool, and numerous restaurants, all near an area with shops.

  • The Al Bustan Palace is a five-star Ritz-Carlton option about an hour from the airport. It's another of the Sultan's old palaces (he has a lot), and the top floor is held for whenever he chooses to visit. It offers American style with Arab elements in 250 rooms, all with balconies. It's close to city as well as the souq but also on the ocean with plenty of water activities.

MOUNTAINS OF OMAN

You'll want to head to Jebel Akhdar (Green Mountain), just two hours drive from Muscat. A three day stay here is highly recommended. Along the way you'll see fortresses and ruins and learn how to make local delicacies. Stay at Al Jabal Al Akhdar Anatara and admire the views overlooking a canyon from your infinity pool overlooking a canyon. From here we can arrange hiking through tiny towns and abandoned villages, biking, yoga, rock climbing, and a waterfalls trail hike. Photography and star gazing are also perfect pursuits. Princess Diana was a visitor here!

OMAN DESERT EXPERIENCE

If you're looking for rustic, this is where you're going to go! About 2.5 hours from Muscat, you can explore red and white sand dunes of the Wahiba Sands by Range Rover, by camel, or by foot for a unique work out up those 300-foot dunes. Enjoy a Bedouin lunch experience and spend the night at more basic-level accommodations.

COASTAL OMAN

  • Salalah is a seafront vacation destination from July-August for Omanis about nine hours drive from Muscat or a two hour flight. Stay at Crowne Plaza Salalah for its central, waterfront location.

  • Wadi Bani Khalid is a signature nature experience in Oman about 2.5 hours drive from Muscat, but you must know how to swim because there's no life guard.

  • Turtle migrations happen between April and August when roughly 20,000 turtles come to shore to lay their eggs! Stay at Shangri La Barr Al Jissah Resort where turtles can be found nesting, 20 minutes from Muscat.

Nine Muses Travel works with exceptional land operators who add unparalleled value for my clients.

  • Expert guides for private tours: historians, naturalists, artists, unique locals with tips & insights

  • Flexibility with your touring - See and do as much, or as little, as you prefer!

  • Exclusive experiences

  • Custom-designed routings

  • 24/7 real-time support

  • Competitive rates at sought-after properties with strict health and safety protocols

  • Deep destination knowledge

  • Flexible and worry-free cancellation and change policies

Contact Nine Muses Travel when you're ready for an Arabian adventure and to learn more about me and what I can do for you!


I design journeys that inspire by highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.


Danielle Dybiec

Founder & President

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