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The Middle East has a new kid on the block, but how does Oman compare to the UAE gems?    

With intriguing culture, worldwide technological firsts and unwavering sun-splashed shores, the mystery of the Middle East has been uncovered and now travellers flock to the region for a variety of getaways. Dubai has firmly stated its position as the most visited emirate, with glitz and glamour at the heart of a city ahead of the pack when it comes to creating locations of epic proportions. Abu Dhabi is hot on Dubai’s heels and boasts a world class motor race, while Ras Al Khaimah offers the luxury of the emirate’s capital with a more modest price tag. However, there’s another middle eastern destination, poking its head above the dusty yellow desert sand. Oman, an adventurer’s paradise, is also home to five-star luxury properties and unforgettable scenery. Looking for a family getaway or a couple’s retreat but don’t know which location to choose? Don’t worry, Winged Boots is here to help. 

Seaside sanctuaries

Jumeirah Beach
Six Senses Zighy Bay
The feeling of dipping your toes in the sand, the sound of waves washing ashore and the heat of the midday sun shining down onto your skin… they’re all major parts of your perfect holiday. Lucky for you, stunning stretches of irresistible beaches can be found in both the UAE and Oman. Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach offers a selection of beautiful properties, all with private sands, vistas of the glittering skyscrapers one side, and the renowned The Palm the other. Ras Al Khaimah offers two contrasts: all-inclusive hotels perched where the sand meets the sea for all the family to enjoy, or pristine private beach areas in hotels like Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. Like a sandcastle among the crashing sea, this hub of luxury has been visited and given the thumbs up by us.

Oman also has a lot to offer when it comes to seaside downtime. Burning red mountains border azure waters in Muscat, and a sunbathe here will swap a backdrop of towering buildings with soaring mountains. The hilly terrain seems to stop itself just in time to make a private beach escape carved especially for you, with properties like Six Senses Zighy Bay showcasing the pinnacle of this scenery juxtaposition. The mountains behind your private cabana create ultimate seclusion, and we’d forgive you for mistaking the resort for an island in the middle of the ocean. The sea is transparent, like a moving sheet of glass brushing up against the powder-soft sands. The peninsula here encases some of the most accessible reefs, which are yours to explore either by swimming or by cruising. 

Did somebody say food?

Hell's Kitchen, Dubai
One major allure of the middle east is its culture, so different to other holiday destinations, yet so intriguing. Arabian traditions transcend throughout the UAE and Oman, whether it be the art, culture or food. Dubai fuses traditional tastes of the region with modern sophistication when it comes to the cuisine offerings, and sleek restaurants fill the record-size malls and line the pristine-clean streets. Friday brunch is a must when in the city, thought of by locals and repeat visitors like how we think of Sunday lunch. Whether it’s for the bottomless kind or a way to spend quality time together, take a look at our rundown of the best brunches in the emirate here. We've also scoured the emirate to find the hottest new restaurant openings, here. If you’re looking for the more traditional, you’ll find quintessential Emirati food dishes using meat, fish and spices such as cinnamon and saffron, in abundance in Abu Dhabi City. Make sure to head to the Fish Market where Al Arish and Al Dhafra serve an array of traditional food.

Oman brilliantly marries together influences from Indian, Persia, North Africa and Mediterranean cuisines, creating a fusion of staple dishes like chicken and rice, flatbread and marinated meat sandwiches, all enhanced with a healthy dash of aromatic spices. Upgrade your usual kebab wrap to a Shawarma, your Nandos to Majboos and your Sunday roast lamb to Shuwa. If it’s dreamy views and al fresco cuisine you’re seeking, The Beach restaurant at The Chedi, Muscat is a scene of international cuisine and Arabian sunsets. Here you’ll find the catch of the day among other seafood delights accompanied by an impressive wine collection, the smell of salty air and the feel of the refreshing sea breeze. 
 

We are family

Aquaventure Waterpark
Daymaniyat Islands
The UAE is overflowing with opportunities to embark on family adventure. For the adrenaline junkies in your family, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi houses the world’s fastest rollercoaster. For avid explorers, Bear Grylls is set to open the first survival academy in the UAE in 2020, located in the up and coming Ras Al Khaimah on the mountainous Jebel Jais. However, for the ultimate family fun day, Aquaventure at Atlantis, The Palm is guaranteed to impress every member of the group, no matter how young or old. Europe’s biggest waterpark encases 17 fun-filled hectares of lazy rivers, huge pools and, of course, kamikaze slides. A private beach and Dubai’s largest aquarium only add to the (water) bucket loads of thrills and spills. For natural ecstasies escape the urban life and retreat to the Dubai desert where groups are in their element. Buggy safari, jeep exploring, sandboarding, the list is as endless as the burning red sands. Bounce over the dunes while the sun rises on a morning safari and watch the children release their inner adventurer as you take in the mystical magical.

Oman may not be known for family fun, but its rugged terrain and diverse marine life make it one of the best places to satisfy the whole clan. Explore one of the largest cave chambers in the world, Majlis Al Jinn then camp under the stars in the A’Sharqiyah Sands and appreciate the true beauty that the Omani nature has carved out. If you and your young ones consider yourself water babies then the rainbow reefs of Daymaniyat Islands and their resident whale sharks, turtles and variety of fish will have you kicking your flippers with excitement. A boat trip across to these islands from Muscat Marina for the day is just enough to keep everyone entertained in the sun, but not too much to bring on unwelcome boredom. Vibrant turquoise waters invite the whole family in to play. For a fascinating brush with nature, the Ras Al Jinz Reserve is home to unspoiled shorelines and luscious oasis’. But the best part? The nesting of the endangered green turtle. This once in a lifetime opportunity will keep a place in the memories of the whole family forever, as you watch these gentle giants nest in the pure sands while taking all precautions to keep them uninterrupted. 

Building memories

Burj Khalifa
Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque
The UAE’s offering of architecture to marvel at is one of the most outrageous in the world. Dubai we’re looking at you. No image of the tech-forward city is complete without the tallest building on the planet, the Burj Khalifa and the iconic sail-shaped Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. The unforgettable skyline puts New York’s and London’s in the dark, and once the sun sets the glittering lights of the towering structures seem to blend seamlessly with the night stars. If you’re a lover of the more traditional, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a sea of pristine white intricate carvings. One of the world’s largest mosques, it’s just another record box to tick off for the UAE. 

Oman plays it cool when showing visitors its portfolio of offerings. The capital, Muscat, fuses the backdrop of the Al Hajar mountains with architectural masterpieces like the Sultan Quaboos Grand Mosque to create epic scenes. The mosaic dome imposes on the old city and gifts visitors with even more treasures once inside. Islamic design in the walls and Persian influences on the carpet that took 600 women four years to weave… it’s beauty redefined. The Royal Opera House is a blinding example of modern Omani architecture with its grand pillars and symmetrical design. It also happens to host world-class artists, breath-taking ballet, operas and musicals. 
 

Upgrade your usual kebab wrap to a Shawarma, your Nandos to Majboos and your Sunday roast lamb to Shuwa.

At first glance UAE and Oman may look similar with their equally stunning desert retreats, plethora of extravagant hotels and fascinating culture. But what sets them apart is the atmosphere. Oman offers a much calmer vibe with traditional architecture and varied natural landscapes to explore and adventure within, while the range of emirates attract families and couples looking to getaway from the everyday and experience opulence at its finest. To start exploring our pick of middle eastern hotels click here, or to design your bespoke holiday call one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 or enquire now.
Ellena Rowlin

Ellena Rowlin is a Content Writer

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