Middle East

Essential UAE

Photo credit: Courtesy of Desert Adventures

7 Days
From $4,195
Trip Type
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
Flexible Private Trip — Book Your Dates for You & Yours!

Souqs & Skyscrapers in Modern Arabia


Over the past half century, the United Arab Emirates has used enormous oil and gas wealth to transform itself into one of the Middle East’s most dynamic, diverse, forward-thinking—and tourist-friendly—countries. On this trip you’ll explore the two biggest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, both famed for visionary architecture and over-the-top luxury. You’ll also discover a destination more steeped in the traditional, pre-oil boom culture of the region: Al Ain, a beautiful inland oasis with ancient roots and multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Travels to: United Arab Emirates



  • Days 1-3: Dubai (UAE)

    Begin your UAE tour by touching down in Dubai and begin exploring this city of superlatives. Spend time in the Al Fahidi Historical District, home to Persian-inspired windcatchers. Enjoy lunch and learn from an expert on local culture at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Head across the Dubai Creek on an abra boat and stroll through the souqs on the opposite side. You’ll ascend to the observation deck of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Take a ride through the surrounding sands and admire the highlight landscapes of the Dubai Conservation Reserve in a vintage Land Rover.


    • Cross the historic Dubai Creek in a local abra boat
    • Have lunch in the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, where locals share traditional food and provide insights into Emirati culture
    • Take the 2,717-foot elevator ride to the Burj Khalifa observation deck and then step out to spectacular 360-degree views
    • Explore the traditional gold, spice, and produce markets (souqs) of Dubai
    • Admire the sunset from atop a dune and see a falconry display at a desert camp
  • Days 4-7: Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai

    Like Dubai, Abu Dhabi—the UAE’s capital—has transformed itself over the past half-century into a thriving, cosmopolitan city. Touring here includes the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and the Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace. You’ll refuel with a 24-carat-gold-sprinkled cappuccino at a luxurious hotel, the Emirates Palace. Before heading back to Dubai, take a day trip the historic oasis city of Al Ain, home to several excellent museums and multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


    • Enjoy the exceptional art of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, including pieces on loan from Paris’s Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou, as well as works from the museum’s own collection
    • Marvel at the striking mix of modern and traditional design at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE and the only one in Abu Dhabi open to non-Muslims
    • Drink a cappuccino sprinkled with 24-carat-gold dust at the luxurious Emirates Palace
    • Stroll the garden-like Hili Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that protects tombs and an irrigation system dating back thousands of years
    • View finds from the Hili Archaeological Park and other nearby archaeological sites at the excellent Al Ain National Museum

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
  • Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
  • Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.

Land tour price, per person, starting from:

  • 2024 Dates
    Available: January - March, October - December
    Tour, double occupancy
    Single supplement

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Accommodations as noted in the itinerary. All room types, even in upgraded properties, are standard entry-level doubles or twins. Please call for room category upgrade pricing and information.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary: 6 breakfasts and 1 shared lunch. Other meals are left free to allow for independent exploration.
    • One arrival and one departure airport transfer. (Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether we make your air arrangements or not.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (size of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group).
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff.
    • Complete pre-departure electronic document that includes detailed packing suggestions, reading list links, country-specific information, maps, travel tips and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
    • Electronic final update bulletin, with any late news, updates and important information.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare or taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement charge, if requested or required.
    • Baggage handling.
    • Items of a personal nature (phone calls, email, laundry, alcohol, excess baggage, etc).
    • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.
    • Visa/passport fees, airport departure fees.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel and trip cancellation insurance.

Activity Level

Level 2: Medium, but Customizable

This ‘Essential’ itinerary designed for private travel in the UAE features long days walking and standing, some long days of overland travel, some stair climbing, unpaved sidewalks and streets, uneven surfaces and steps, absent handrails, and lack of elevators. While some of these challenges are inherent in the destinations and sites, as one of our Essential Series programs this trip can be modified as needed for those travelers who are looking for a less challenging (or more challenging) program.

There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate streets of packed dirt, cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases. Museums rarely have elevators.

Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Accommodations in the basic program are generally four-star hotels. Upgrades are available, please call for details.


Traveler Reviews

  • "[My travel designer’s] management of this trip, its itinerary, and establishment of appropriate guides was exceptional. It enabled me to pursue my idea with confidence. I was truly impressed with MIR and it has my full recommendation."

    R. Gray

    Thornville, OH

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