Venture into centuries-old souks and zoom to the top of the world’s tallest skyscraper, exploring the past, present, and future of the United Arab Emirates as you make your way from the labyrinthine streets of old Dubai to the dunes and oases of the Arabian Desert to the innovation-focused city of Abu Dhabi.

Starting at: $5,490 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Boats on the bay in Dubai
 Downtown Dubai
 View of Dubai
 Al Fahidi
 Sheikh Zayed Mosque
 Dubai Marina
 Street Market in Dubai
 Palm Island
 Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Dubai and Abu Dhabi: A Stay in the United Arab Emirates

10 days from $5,490

Venture into centuries-old souks and zoom to the top of the world’s tallest skyscraper, exploring the past, present, and future of the United Arab Emirates as you make your way from the labyrinthine streets of old Dubai to the dunes and oases of the Arabian Desert to the innovation-focused city of Abu Dhabi.

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by October 28, 2022!

No single supplement for solo travelers! (Limited availability. Book early to ensure your place.)

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 

Overview

On the shores of the Persian Gulf, the glittering cities of the United Arab Emirates have sprung up in just the past few decades, becoming world-class centers of culture and innovation where not long ago there were only Bedouin villages and sandy trading ports. Delve into the past, present, and future of this exciting country on a journey that takes to you to two of its emirates: Dubai and Abu Dhabi plus spend one afternoon and evening at a stunning resort located deep in the desert.

Highlights Include

  • Old and New Dubai: Venture into enchanting souks where gold and spices have been traded for centuries, meander through the labyrinthine lanes of the historic center, and explore Emirati culture and cuisine with local scholars at the Sheikh Mohammed Center of Cultural Understanding. Then trace the city’s evolution at the Dubai Frame and zoom up to the highest floors of the city's most famous landmark: the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
  • Dubai Desert Conservation Preserve: Set out on wildlife drives to discover how indigenous animals such as the Arabian oryx have been reintroduced to the ecosystem. Enjoy a scenic sunset drive before a feast under the stars accompanied by traditional Emirati music and dance.
  • Abu Dhabi: See exquisite modern tributes to Arabian artistry at the Qasr al Watan presidential palace and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. Enjoy a meal with a family in a private home and then take a specially guided tour at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, with collections of art and artifacts from the Arab world, and around the globe all housed in a stunning floating dome of light and shade designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel.
  • Falconry: Visit the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the world’s first and largest hospital dedicated to the falcon, and view these majestic creatures up-close.

Itinerary

Days 1 — Depart the U.S. and arrive in Dubai

Depart on an overnight flight to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), arriving the following evening.

Day 2 — Dubai

Upon arrival, clear brief Immigration and Customs formalities. You’ll be met and assisted with transfer to the Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef, situated on the banks of Dubai Creek just across the water from the city’s celebrated souks. You’ll receive a customized welcome packet with maps and helpful information about Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, and your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be on hand to offer suggestions for restaurants, tours, and other activities to pursue during your free time. Take the remainder of the evening to settle-in.

Day 3 — Dubai

A full breakfast will be served each morning during your stay in the UAE. After breakfast, depart on a tour of Dubai starting at the Al Shindagha Museum, located in one of the city’s oldest sections. Then, stroll a maze of twisting alleys in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, known locally as Al Bastakiya. Settled in the 1800s by Persian merchants, the district is home to lovely courtyard houses topped with traditional wind towers designed to capture the breezes off Dubai Creek. Gather with a local scholar at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for a discussion about the history, culture, religion, and everyday life of Dubai and the UAE. Continue the conversation over a traditional Emirati meal. Later, delve into the fragrant Spice Souk and glittering lanes of the Gold Souk with a guide. This evening, gather with fellow travelers at a welcome reception and dinner with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. (B,L,R,D)

Day 4 — 21st Century Dubai

Step out of the past and into the future today, tracing Dubai’s rapid evolution from an ordinary fishing village to a cosmopolitan center of trade and innovation. Drive by Zabeel Park and see the opulent Zabeel Palace, once the home of the country’s prime minister and known for its resident peacocks. Follow the story of the city’s transformation at the enormous Dubai Frame, then zoom up to the Sky Deck for panoramic views of both old and new Dubai. Travel to the Dubai Marina, stopping to photograph iconic sites along the way, including the Jumeirah Mosque and the stunning, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab. Visit Palm Jumeirah, one of the world-famous Palm Islands—artificial archipelagos shaped like palm trees.

After a group lunch at the Marina, head to Dubai Mall site of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, which reaches a half mile into the air. You’ll be whisked to one of the top floors for breathtaking views. Meet up this evening for an informal discussion with your fellow travelers and Smithsonian Journeys Expert before dinner at your leisure. (B,L)

Day 5 — Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, festivities under the stars

Depart Dubai early this morning and journey into the Arabian Desert to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. Covering more than 55,000 acres, the reserve is home to rolling dunes and vast, sandy expanses that harbor unusual flora and fauna. Learn about efforts to reintroduce key native species and encourage the rewilding of the landscape on a wildlife drive with a local guide. The guide will explain the desert ecology while keeping a sharp look out for the recently reintroduced Arabian oryx. This evening, gather amidst the rolling desert dunes to feast under the stars and enjoy a night complete with traditional live music and dance. (B,D)

Day 6 — A Desert Sojourn

Depart Dubai and travel into a magical desert landscape where you’ll check in to the Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa. This afternoon is free of planned activities so you can  immerse yourself in the amenities of this stunning property, perhaps spend the afternoon by the sparkling pool or indulge in a spa experience (additional charge). Later gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for informal conversation about your UAE experiences so far before a festive dinner at the resort. (B,D)

Day 7 — Abu Dhabi

Today, travel from your desert resort to Abu Dhabi. There, learn about the two prominent “religions” in the UAE, Islam and Falconry. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is the world’s first and largest hospital dedicated to the falcon, the UAE’s national bird. Since opening their doors in 1999 under the direction of a prominent German veterinary surgeon, the unique hospital treats about 6,000 birds each year, occupying the 200 air-conditioned treatment rooms. The sport of falconry has deep roots in the nation’s culture and the valuable birds are issued passports to get access to high-quality check-ups and treatment. Take the “Falcon World Tour”, a fascinating and interactive tour about falcons from ancient to modern times. Afterward, there’s free time for an independent lunch. Continue exploring with a visit the world-renowned Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which stands out as one of the world’s largest mosques, and the only one that captures unique interactions between Islam and world cultures. Gather for dinner at a nearby restaurant. (B,D)

Day 8 — Abu Dhabi

Home to just 6,000 residents at the dawn of the 20th century, Abu Dhabi sprung up from the desert beginning in the 1960s and is now a world-class capital of culture and commerce. Drive along the seaside Corniche and admire the city’s remarkable architecture—from the opulent Emirates Palace to the elegant cluster of skyscrapers known as Etihad Towers. Encounter an exquisite, modern tribute to Arabian artistry at Qasr al Watan, a presidential palace known as the “Palace of the Nation.” Later, you’ll be welcomed by a local family for a home-cooked lunch and an intimate look at local customs and everyday life. Then visit the 18th-century fort of Qasr al Hosn and its original watchtower, the oldest standing building in Abu Dhabi. Over the centuries, the fort has served as home to the ruling family, the seat of government, a consultative council, and a national archive; it now stands as living monument to Abu Dhabi’s history. Gather for an informal discussion in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L)

Day 9 — Abu Dhabi

This morning, visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in 2017 after an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It’s the first museum of its kind in the Arab world, a universal museum that is a cultural beacon, bringing together different cultures. Enjoy a guided visit with a Museum Educator exploring highlights from the museum collection, the international exhibition and the museum’s architecture. Then, enjoy some time to explore the museum on your own before returning to the hotel. Lunch independently, then enjoy an afternoon free of planned activities. This evening gather for a festive farewell dinner high atop the hotel, marvel at the impressive views and twinkling lights of Abu Dhabi. (B,R,D)

Day 10 – Depart for the U.S.

After breakfast, transfer to either Dubai or Abu Dhabi International Airport in time for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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