Portrait of Arabia: The Emirates, Qatar & Oman 2021 (Westbound)
12 days with Tauck Rating:
Day 1 Arrive Muscat, Oman
Tour Begins: Muscat. Transfers are included from Muscat International Airport to the palatial Shangri-la Al Husn Resort and Spa, on a clifftop overlooking the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Oman. Join us this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.
Day 2 Muscat, a Mosque & an Opera House
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the few in the world that allow non-Muslim visitors, and it is worth the visit, grand in art and scale, big enough for 20,000 worshippers, with an ornate central dome 160 feet high; the vast Persian carpet in the prayer hall is the largest in the world, and took four years to weave by hand (inside visits are not allowed on Fridays). Depart next for the Royal Opera House, elegantly designed and equipped with cutting-edge technology, where many of the opera-world's great stars perform. Explore the indoor maze of streets, alleys and bazaars at the Muttrah Souk, where you can find anything from fruits and spices to frankincense and myrrh. Pause for a photo-op at Al Alam Palace in Muscat's historic Old Town and spend time on your own. Then embark your ship and sail for the port city of Sur.
(B, L, D)
Day 3 Dhow Factory & Sunaysilah Fort
Sur hugs a bay on the eastern tip of Oman, with craggy cliffs and desert behind it. The maritime city also occupies a place in Oman's history as a former shipbuilding center. Visit a factory where dhows, wooden two-masted boats that have plied the Gulf and the Indian Ocean for centuries, are still made by hand, and you can watch th e carpenters at work; the boats here are no longer bought by fishermen or merchants, but made for collectors and museums. Move further along to the center of town, where Sunaysilah Fort rises on a promontory, standing watch as it has for 300 years; climb up and share the amazing view. Dine aboard ship tonight.
(B, L, D)
Day 4 Khasab Fort & a Dhow Cruise
In the 17th century, the Portuguese built a castle on the Musandam Peninsula to control the Strait of Hormuz; but the Omanis soon took the castle and used it to defend themselves from the Portuguese. Today you'll visit the Khasab Fort with its impressive towers and strongholds, exhibits of traditional boats, and outstanding views of the bay. Then take a private cruise in a dhow on the captivating desert fjords of Musandam, often called the Norway of Arabia, where inland sea lanes wind among barren cliffs and mountains; the area is popular for swimming, snorkeling, and the dolphins that frequent there. Dine aboard ship as you sail for Qatar.
(B, L, D)
Day 5 At Sea / Doha
Spend most of today enjoying the amenities aboard ship. This afternoon, arrive in Doha, a metropolis bristling with ultra-modern skyscrapers. Take a scenic drive along the bay, with a photo-stop at Katara Cultural Village, an artists' community where you can see examples of traditional dwellings. (Katara is the ancient name for Qatar.) Return to the ship for dinner.
(B, L, D)
Day 6 Horses, Art & Avant-Garde Architecture
Visit Al Shaqab, an equestrian center dedicated to the breeding and training of Arabian horses. Alternatively, at the Museum of Islamic Art you'll explore 1400 years of art from three continents in a building – designed by I.M. Pei – with panoramic views of the Persian Gulf. Lunch at the city's oldest souk, where you can find everything from diamonds to spices to falcons. Steep yourself in art, artifacts, and natural history at the National Museum, housed in a jaw-dropping complex designed by architect Jean Nouvel that echoes the clustered "petals" of a Desert Rose; state-of-the-art exhibits walk you through Qatar's story from its earliest days to the discovery of oil and rapid modernization. Dine aboard ship tonight and sail for Sir Bani Yas Island, in the United Arab Emirates.
(B, L, D)
Day 7 Wildlife & Island Beaches
In the 1970s, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayan decided to turn a desert island (once inhabited by the Bani Yas tribe) into a sanctuary for endangered species native to the Middle East and Africa. So grasslands and forests were planted by hand and animals imported to what is now a wildlife park, home to giraffes, cheetahs, gazelles, flamingos, golden jackals, oryx (Arabian antelope), caracals, and more. Get a chance to see them on a safari drive with a naturalist guide. Sir Bani Yas Island is also home to luxury resorts, archaeological sites – including the ruins of a 7th-century Christian monastery – and glorious palm-lined beaches, where you can spend time on your own.
(B, L, D)
Day 8 Falcons in Abu Dhabi
Arrive in Abu Dhabi this morning, and visit the world's largest veterinary hospital for falcons. Love for the magnificent birds runs deep in Arab culture, since the days when trained falcons were essential for hunting and survival; more than sporting birds, they are symbols of pride and cultural identity. Learn about them up close, and maybe take a turn at feeding them. Next stop is Qasr Al Watan, the new presidential palace, stunning in scale and artistry, a white complex in classic Mughal style so light and airy it seems to float on a sea of polished marble; the palace is not only the headquarters of the President of the UAE and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi but a cultural landmark. Inside, immerse yourself in the sumptuous Great Hall, the Presidential Banquet Hall, and the Library, showcasing artifacts, maps, books, and manuscripts from the Arab Golden Age. Return to the ship for lunch, then visit the Sheik Zayed Mosque, a modern masterpiece inspired by the great mosques of Egypt, reflecting the diversity of the Islamic world in its Persian, Moorish, and Mughal influences, big enough to house 41,000 worshippers. Return to the ship for dinner and sail for Dubai tonight.
(B, L, D)
Day 9 Dubai
Dubai is an architect's dreamworld. A tour of must-see sights includes the Sky Observation Deck at the Burj Khalifa, Dubai's signature skyscraper, 2,717 feet high; an express elevator rockets you to the deck for breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. Then cruise the Sheik Zayed Road through a canyon of eye-opening commercial towers. Photostops include three of the city's flamboyant landmarks: Ain Duba, the world's tallest observation wheel, Burj Al Arab, a hotel that resembles a ship with a billowing sail, and Palm Jumeirah, an archipelago of islands shaped like the fronds of a giant palm tree; like the Burj Khalifa, that takes its shape from a desert flower, much of the ultra-modern architecture here is inspired by the ancient local culture. Enjoy free time to explore downtown your own, then join us for a desert safari in vintage Land Rovers; at a Bedouin camp you'll ride a camel, learn how to make Arabian coffee and bread, and enjoy dinner with traditional music and dancing.
(B, L, D)
Day 10 Disembark / Al Fahidi
Disembark ship this morning, and visit the Al Fahidi historic district for a walking tour of its centuries-old houses, streets, and winding alleys, preserved as a tribute to Dubai's old way of life. At the heart of the neighborhood the Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Cultural Center offers insights into Emerati traditions, religion, and art – as well as lunch. Check into your luxury hotel in the city center, overlooking the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa Lake, and hear a lecture on Dubai's architecture and urban development by a local expert. Dinner is on your own tonight.
Day 11 Dubai Museums & Bazaars
Take a walk back in time with a visit to the Al Fahidi Fort, home of the Dubai Museum; built in 1787, the fortress is Dubai's oldest building, housing archaeological artifacts, tombs, old weapons, boats, and galleries that tell the story of the city's rise from a pearl-diving and fishing village to a global financial center. Then visit the traditional bazaars in Deira, including the aromatic spice market and the dazzling Gold Souk, with over 350 dealers of gold, silver, platinum, diamonds, and designer jewelry. Spend free time on your own, then join us this evening at your hotel for a farewell dinner overlooking the magical Dubai Fountain.
Day 12 Journey Home
Tour Ends: Dubai. Fly home anytime. Transfers are included from the Palace Downtown to Dubai International Airport. Allow at least three hours for flight check-in. (B)
All This Included
Lose yourself in the immersive decorative art of the Qaboos Grand Mosque and the Qsar Al Watan Palace, in the view from the Sky deck of Dubai's tallest skyscraper, or in the eyes of a falcon. Cruise the desert fjords of Oman in a dhow, explore labyrinthine street bazaars, centuries-old castles, and a wildlife preserve on a desert island. Tour the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House in Muscat. Spectacular wealth has transformed the Arabian Peninsula, creating new worlds to explore, and your small ship is made to go to out of the way places
Sail the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to fascinating destinations in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman on this unforgettable 12-day trip, with an 8-day cruise, two hotel nights in Dubai, UAE, and one night in Muscat, Oman. Tour the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House in Muscat … In Sur, visit a boat factory where traditional dhows are still built by hand… Enjoy a private dhow cruise on the desert fjords of Musandam … Discover Qatar’s capital, Doha, with visits to a cultural village, the Qatar National Museum and a choice of more sightseeing… visit a Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi, the Presidential Palace, and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque… Enjoy an Arabian wildlife safari on the Sir Bani Yas Island nature preserve… and on a 2-night stay in Dubai, get to know the UAE’s largest city, famed for its iconic architecture, with a walking tour of Bastakia Quarter and a Q&A and private lunch at the Sheik Mohammed Cultural Center; an architectural lecture; a visit to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building; a Desert Heritage Safari, and more.
Muscat: Shangri-La Al Husn
Cruising: Stateroom onboard Le Jacques Cartier
Dubai: The Palace Downtown Dubai
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.