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With Eid Al Fitr just days away, those with limited time can jet off to nearby destinations to make the most out of the upcoming holiday. Take a look at our top five picks for travel getaways.
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Jebel Akhdar, Oman:
\n\nAn area located 2000m above sea level, Jebel Akhdar is a mountainous area surrounded by wadis full of orchards bearing pomegranate and apricot trees (thanks to an abundance of rainfall during the winter months). While beautiful for scenery, it is also a spot for adventurous sports, including trekking, hiking and biking. Approximately two hours away from Muscat, Jebel Akhdar offers visitors a chance to explore the neighbouring capital’s museums, palaces, mosques and traditional markets, as well as its soft sand beaches along the coast.
\n\nFlight time from Dubai to Muscat: Approximately 1 hour
\n\nHotel we recommend: Alila Jabal Akhdar; includes villas and suites designed in old-style flat-roofed Omani houses. The hotel is popular with couples and friends looking for a secluded yet intimate time off.
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Dead Sea, Jordan:
\n\nIf you’re looking for a detox holiday, the Dead Sea in Jordan might be just the place to visit. Though technically a lake, not a sea, it is located 400m below sea level; the lowest point on dry land known to man. Because of its salinity, it is intolerable for almost any life forms, hence the reference to death in its name. However, the lake’s salt water, as well as its mineral-rich black mud, is known to have therapeutic and cosmetic benefits. We also recommend stopping by Hammamat Ma’in in Wadi Zarqa Ma’in, the thermal springs located 30 minutes away from the Dead Sea. They range from 45°C to up to 60°C and reportedly contain potassium, magnesium and calcium. Health benefits from the minerals include controlling blood pressure and getting rid of skin problems.
\n\nFlight time from Dubai to Amman: Approximately 3 hours
\n\nHotel we recommend: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea; enjoy the Dead Sea from one of the most luxurious 5-star hotels in the area. The Kempinski features a private stretch of the beach and its spa offers sea mud and sea salt treatments.
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\n\nThe country’s capital is quickly becoming a commercial hub, making it a good option for those looking to get a cultural and cosmopolitan experience. While Baku is famed for its medieval walled old city, a 15th century UNESCO Heritage Site, it also features contemporary landmarks such as the Flame Towers; three skyscrapers covered in LED screens. Because it is located on the seaside, Baku can also be a tranquil destination for those looking to wind down.
\n\nFlight time from Dubai to Baku: Approximately 3 hours
\n\nHotel we recommend: Four Seasons Hotel Baku; one of the newest hotels in the city, the Four Seasons is situated on the waterfront of the Caspian Sea. The fact celebrities such as Rihanna were amongst those to visit it means it is almost an indisputable luxurious option.
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Byblos (Jbeil), Lebanon:
\n\nHalf an hour away from Beirut by car.
\n\nThe world’s oldest, continuously inhabited town in the North of Lebanon is a historic alternative to Beirut’s city life. Situated on a cliff of sandstone on the coast, Byblos (also known as Jbeil) is home to monuments dating back 8,000 years, including some from the Bronze Age and Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The fact it is seaside and has a fishing port with an ancient harbour also makes it a relaxing option. If you crave the city life, it is just half an hour away from Beirut by car. But before you leave, make sure to visit the nearby Jeita Grotto karstic limestone caves, which appear as though they are crystallised.
\n\nFlight time from Dubai to Beirut: Approximately 4 hours
\n\nHotel we recommend: Byblos Sur Mer, Jbeil; we like the boutique feel and cosiness of this hotel. Featuring a private seafront deck with a dining area, it is also a romantic option for couples and provides great sea and town views.
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\n\nLike Byblos, Yerevan is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Because of the latter, it is rich in Iranian, Russian and Ottoman influence, which ruled the area at some point in its history. Today, that influence lives on, whether as decades-old architecture (including opera houses, cathedrals and museums) or Slavic-inspired dishes. Since the 2000s, however, the city has become more and more modernised, with European-style restaurants taking over its nightlife.
\n\nFlight time from Dubai to Yerevan: Approximately 3 hours.
\n\nHotel we recommend: Multi Grand Pharaon Hotel; designed in traditional Armenian fit-outs with a classic and modern touch. The location on the highway from Yerevan to Abovyan might prove far for some, but the property provides great city views as well as a quieter stay a little further away from the city.