A car creating a cloud of sand as it drives through the desert as part of the dune-bashing experience in Abu Dhabi

Trips of a lifetime: the Middle East for adventurers


An adventurous itinerary from Dubai to Doha, with plenty of thrills along the way

The Middle East’s deserts and epic landscapes will thrill adventurous travellers, especially those who chose to take the road less travelled.

Although they’re geographically close together, getting from Dubai to Doha makes for an exciting trip, with no direct route from the UAE to Qatar. Far from being a deterrent, it’s the chance to embark on a unique journey through the Middle East, via Oman.

Dubai for daredevils

Start your trip in glamorous Dubai, checking into the Mandarin Sea Front Suite at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai. Wake up to its jaw-dropping views across the Arabian Gulf, then embrace Dubai’s thrill-seeking side.

Get a glimpse of how the city has risen from the desert by heading to Skydive Dubai, one of the most memorable jump locations in the world. The launch is in Dubai Marina, with the incredible Palm Jumeirah as its background. Tandem skydives are a safe way to experience the thrill of freefall – and if ever there was an iconic selfie op, this is it. If that’s aiming a little too high, try the world’s longest urban zipline. The Dubai XLine is a kilometre long, speeding past skyscrapers and over superyachts before touching down.

Of course, high-octane activities aren’t the only kinds of adventure. For daring dining, claim a table at Netsu, where the specialty is Japanese-style warayaki (straw fire) cooking, with mesmerising views over the grill’s leaping flames.

Get set for the next part of the trip with a visit to The Spa and signature Nomadic Dreaming treatment – a two-hour, profoundly grounding experience, spanning singing bowls, stretches and massage.

When you’re ready, hire a car – making the most of your Fans of M.O. member benefits with Hertz – and head onwards to Abu Dhabi, just over an hour’s drive away.

Abu Dhabi for adventure seekers

The largest of the seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s vast expanses of desert stretch to the Saudi Arabian border. Experienced off-road drivers will take you dune-bashing at high speeds and unbelievable angles. For something less frenetic, head across the water to Sir Bani Yas Island.

It’s home to the Arabian Wildlife Park, whose residents run from Arabian oryx to fleet-footed cheetahs.

As the sun sets, relax back at your suite at Emirates Palace, before heading for dinner under the stars at the BBQ Al Qasr.

Your next stop? Muscat, via a private transfer with NetJets’ Fans of M.O. benefits.

Muscat Marvels

Although Muscat is only a transit stop on the journey to Doha, you can tailor your trip to include some life-changing experiences. Visit between April and August to see thousands of endangered turtles hatching in the sand and scrambling in the darkness towards the ocean.

The east coast of Oman has hundreds of nesting sites to choose from, making it possible to see this miracle of nature even on a day trip from the airport.

Exploring a wadi (Arabic for ‘river gorge’) is another option, with a hike through Oman’s spectacular mountainous regions. The options run from gentle ambles to vertiginous scrambles and descents – rewarded by epic landscapes and cool, azure pools. The flight between Muscat and Doha takes just over 1.5 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time for an adventure between connections.

Discover more in Doha

Once you’ve touched down, make your way to Mandarin Oriental, Doha. Book a Baraha View Suite for the best views of the town square, and supremely opulent interiors.

If you’re up early, stroll to nearby Souq Wafiq, to catch its traders opening up for the day. It’s a time-honoured spot to shop for interesting souvenirs, from spices and dates to jewellery (there’s a separate gold souk). Afterwards, head to the extraordinary Al-Zubarah Archaeological Site, just over a hour’s drive from Doha. Its mighty fort overlooks the ruins of an abandoned pearl-diving town – perfectly preserved in the desert sands, and now an evocative museum.

Talking of diving, ask the hotel’s concierge for the best scuba spots, then snorkel up to explore the Gulf’s crystalline waters, with their seagrass-grazing dugongs, and impressive wrecks. Finally, toast the end of your epic adventure at Ambar, with a suitably adventurous Logan Sapphire, spiked with butterfly-pea pisco.