Dune bashing in Arabian desert

Trips of a lifetime: adventurers’ Middle East

Desert scenes and cityscapes are just the beginning for travellers in the Middle East with an adventurous spirit. Although they are geographically close together, getting from Dubai to Doha is an exciting trip for those who long to take the road less travelled, as there’s no direct route from the UAE to Qatar. Far from being a deterrent, this is an opportunity for true wanderlusters to embark on a unique journey through the region via Oman

Skydivers over The Palm Dubai

Dubai for daredevils

Start your trip in glamorous Dubai by checking into the Mandarin Sea Front Suite at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai. Waking up to its epic views across the Arabian Gulf should put you in the frame of mind for exploration. Forgo the white-sand beaches, warm Gulf waters and endless shopping and instead dive into 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, and the incredible Palm Jumeirah is the background to the drop. Tandem skydives are a safe way to experience the thrill of freefalling – and if ever there was an iconic selfie op, this is it. If that’s aiming a little too high, try experiencing the world’s longest urban zipline. The Dubai XLine races you down from 170m, gliding past skyscrapers and over superyachts before touching down on the terrace at the Dubai Marina Mall.

Of course, high-octane activities are not the only way to experience adventure here. Take your taste buds on a culinary journey with the creative warayaki-style dishes at Netsu – delivered to a backdrop of dramatic, leaping flames from the kitchen grill. Restore and rejuvenate with a visit to The Spa. The signature Nomadic Sensory Journey treatment incorporates Asian beauty knowledge and features Emirati drumming, so you can completely embrace the culture of the UAE as you plan the next leg of your trip.

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

Trainer with falcon in desert

Abu Dhabi for adventure seekers

The largest of the seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi has vast expanses of desert that stretch down to the Saudi Arabian border – making it ideal for an escapade. Experienced off-road drivers will take you dune bashing at high speeds and unbelievable angles as you race across the vertiginous sand dunes. Keep an eye out for wildlife – camels and gazelle roam the vast expanse freely, and a falconry display at the end of the safari will show off this traditional pastime. Alternatively, for something less frenetic but no less illuminating, head across the water to Sir Bani Yas Island. This charming retreat is home to the Arabian Wildlife Park and its more than 10,000 animals.

As the sun sets, relax back in your suite at Emirates Palace. With 12 dining options to choose from, the hotel is the perfect place expand your palate as well as your horizons as you prepare for your private flight transfer to Muscat with your Fans of M.O NetJets benefits.

Valley and river of Wadi Tiwi Canyon, Oman

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 incredible miracle of nature even on a day trip from the airport.

Exploring a wadi is another option. Wadi is Arabic for ‘river gorge’ and a hike through these spectacular mountainous regions will reward intrepid travellers with azure pools filled with cool waters offering a refreshing break from the heat. The flight between Muscat and Doha takes just over 1.5 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time for a day trip between connections.

Al-Zubarah Fortress, Qatar

Discover more in Doha

Safely touched down in Doha, make your way to Mandarin Oriental, Doha. Book the Baraha View Suite to experience Qatari heritage mixed with contemporary design, plus the best views of the town square.

Rise early and make a beeline for the old-world pizzazz of Souq Wafiq – it’s within easy walking distance and you’ll be able to get lost in the maze of market stalls as the traders open up for the day. This is the best place to find interesting souvenirs to remember your adventures by, from carpets to spices, garments to gold. Next, it’s a visit to the Al-Zubarah Fortress (pictured above). The formidable fort façade is best approached on camel back for a true sense of the history and culture of this centuries-old abandoned pearl-diving town.

Talking of diving, ask your concierge for the best scuba spots, snorkel up and explore the crystalline Gulf waters, home to the second largest population of dugongs in the world, plus plenty of impressive shipwrecks and other sea life. Reward yourself with an other-worldly dessert from Gelato or toast the end of your epic adventure with a Manhattan-Doha signature cocktail at Ambar – the hotel bar inspired by the glow of the setting desert sun.

View of the city from The Parisian Apartment terrace at Mandarin Oriental, Paris

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