x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Taking a trip round the other five GCC countries

I tried to think of a short answer, but it’s almost impossible because there is so much to share. I recommend that you visit the whole GCC region.

Dear Ali: Which GCC country would you recommend me to visit? Since we live in the Gulf region, I’m interested in seeing other countries nearby. KL, Dubai

Dear KL: I tried to think of a short answer, but it’s almost impossible because there is so much to share.

I recommend that you visit the whole GCC region. First, make sure that you are able to enter the Gulf countries without a visa, because that’s the main issue that prevents many in the region from visiting the other GCC countries.

Do visit the Sultanate of Oman. You will love the nature, the people and the simplicity of its lifestyle. It’s famous for its beaches as well as Salalah city, which has tropical weather in the summer. Yes, fog, rain, rainbows, green scenery everywhere and wild animals in the valleys.

Next, visit Saudi Arabia, but before you do, have a proper plan, Jeddah is the main city that I would recommend, as it’s equipped with the lifestyle that we are all used to in the UAE, from a corniche to nice restaurants and shopping malls. And Abha is one of the most gorgeous areas of the kingdom where the clouds meet its valleys and flowers grows all year; it’s really a beautiful, natural area. Don’t be surprised if you meet monkeys, too; Saudi Arabia is rich with wildlife.

Next, visit Qatar. It’s very near to the UAE and always welcomes expats. It’s the land of the football World Cup in 2022, has one of the best corniches and views to the Arabian Gulf and is home to one of the best outdoor and indoor traditional markets in the entire GCC region, Souq Waqif. You can’t not love shopping, walking, enjoying the authentic and traditional look and feel of the shops and the people who work there.

The next destination is Bahrain, the land of the Dilmun civilisation, one of the richest and most unique civilisations that lived in this entire region thousands of years ago. Bahrain is known for being a boutique destination when it comes to leisure or business. Don’t miss the Old Town area, where some of the best gold shops in the world exist, with unbeatable prices.

Next comes Kuwait. From shops to restaurants to outdoor camping, Kuwait has a unique environment and a very interesting lifestyle. Men and women both have what is called “Dewaniya” similar to the majlis concept that we have in the UAE. It’s worth a visit to experience the great chitchat.

By the way, Gulf countries have some great water parks. On the other hand, Gulf countries also offer visits to beautiful mosques, such as our great Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Truly, there is a lot more to each country because there is a lot of history, heritage, rich nature and much more that’s definitely worth exploring.

Have a wonderful trip.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.

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