5 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Business in Dubai

You’re heading to Dubai on business? That’s no surprise: The city rocketed onto the list of the top five most robust economies in the world last year, and it’s considered one of the Middle East’s most cosmopolitan cities.But Islamic influence makes doing business in the City of Gold a bit more nuanced than in, say, the City of Light.

SKETCH MARRIOT DUBAI BUSSINESS

 

Here are some of the most common professional pitfalls — and how to avoid them.

 

1. Swashbuckling

Your hard-charging, Type A alter ego should be benched. Meetings here move at a slower pace, with manners and courtesy making the most impact on your hosts. Graciously accept the refreshments you’re offered, which might include cardamom-infused coffee or a puff from the shisha, or hookah. Embrace the culture and let patience be your guide.

Do: Stand when any guest — of either gender — joins the meeting. And in Dubai, your word is your bond. If you agree to terms — even verbally — be prepared to deliver on what you’ve promised.

 

2. *&#@&!!!

Arabs love good banter as much as the next person. But profanity is uber-offensive in the Muslim world, so save your R-rated repertoire for your bar buddies back home. You could be fined and jailed for offensive language and gestures. And avoid dishing disparaging views of Islamic culture — you could be fined, jailed or deported.

Do: Impress your hosts by learning the Arabic phrase assalaamu alaikum (“peace be upon you”). You’ll hear this often, and you’ll discover that it’s a nice alternative to “Howdy” and “See ya.”

 

3. Leading with your left

Keep that left hand tucked away when eating, gesturing and glad-handing with your Dubai colleagues. Muslims generally consider the left hand to be unclean.

Do: Let your host initiate handshakes — the usual greeting — and be prepared that handshakes can last a long time. Use only your right hand — covering the handclasp with your left hand won’t be appreciated.

 

4. Eating in public during Ramadan

Visitors during the ninth, and holiest, month on the Islamic calendar will want to make sure they’re respectful of Ramadan’s restrictive customs. (In 2016, the observance will run from June 6 to July 5.) Eating, drinking and smoking — even chewing gum — during the day in public is against the law for Muslims and non-Muslims.

Do: Remember that Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol. While your Dubai colleagues may have adopted Western habits — many business types went to U.S. universities or have lived in the West — it’s best not to drink unless you’re invited to.

 

5. Worrying too much

Dubai’s population is nearly 90 percent expat, and the business community is comfortable with all kinds of cultures.

Do: Relax! Try your best to respect the Emiratis’ values and avoid the preceding mistakes — but also know that you’re dealing with forgiving folks who understand that their culture is, most likely, pretty foreign to you.

 

 

Original Post by Jordan Bressler/MARRIOTTTRAVELER

10 Travel Tips for the Female Solo Tourist

Would you travel across the world by yourself?

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The “solo travel” phenomenon has officially arrived, with adventurers and wanderlusters alike blazing the trail to self-discovery. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being totally free, experiencing a new destination with no plan but your own. Free to see whatever, go wherever, and meet some amazing people along the way.

But it’s easier said than done. Many are intimidated by traveling alone, worried about this and that.

We asked some of the Top Female Travel Bloggers one question:

What’s the most important piece of advice you would offer someone traveling solo for the first time? 

Here are their answers offering advice for first-timers considering solo travel.

 

1. Leave room for SPONTANEITY

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Audrey Bergner, That Backpacker

“As great as it is to plan things in advance, you never know how you’re going to feel about a place, who you’re going to meet, or what you’re going to find until you arrive at your destination. Sometimes a city may be love at first sight and other times your feelings may be lukewarm. Don’t lock yourself in with long bookings until you’ve had a chance to dip your toes!”

 

2. CONFIDENCE is key

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Rachel Jones, Hippie In Heels

“If you are walking around looking at your phone’s map, acting nervous, or in general being awkward, you’ll draw attention to people who would take advantage of that. Act like you know what you’re doing, walk with a purpose from place to place, and don’t be a afraid to smile and interact with locals – that’s the best part of solo travel!”

 

3. BELIEVE in yourself

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Jessie Festa, Jessie On A Journey

“Instead of worrying about getting lost, losing your passport or losing your reservation, understand that when you have nobody to rely on but yourself your problem solving skills will be enhanced and you’ll figure out how to get out of these types of situations. Instead of stressing, realize there may be times you’ll run into issues and you’ll have a much better time if you roll with the punches and go with the flow instead of allowing every problem to ruin your trip. Missed trains and lost baggage aren’t fun, but they’re also not the end of the world.”

 

4. It’s NORMAL to be nervous

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Kristen Sarah, Hopscotch The Globe

“It’s completely normal to feel nervous and scared even. I did too the first time I traveled solo, and even the second! But, once you’ve booked that ticket and arrived in your destination, the feeling you get will be like nothing you’ve felt before. You will feel so empowered and have a newfound freedom! I believe every person should go on at least one solo trip in their lifetime. It’s truly the best gift you can give yourself. Personally, I go on at least one solo trip each year and it ends up always being an incredibly insightful and highly enjoyable experience.”

 

5. DON’T LET fear stop you

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Kiersten Rich, The Blonde Abroad

“Nobody starts out as a confident solo traveler. This is something that comes over time as you become more comfortable finding your way by yourself and making your own choices. But, traveling solo is not scary. The world is full of amazing and wonderful people so don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the world. Give yourself the gift of independence, an opportunity to experience new cultures and the time to learn about yourself and what’s best for you. You will be a much more confident and independent person because of it.”

 

6. Do your RESEARCH beforehand

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Anna Lysakowska, Anna Everywhere

“Do your research to be prepared for every eventuality, but don’t over-plan. You might want to change your activities, lodging, even sometimes a destination when you’re abroad for millions of good or bad reasons. You make some friends who you’d like to join, you could get sick or you just simply don’t like the place you’re visiting. There’s no need to freak out about it, but it’s always good to have a plan A, B and C. It never hurts to know too much.”

 

7. Travelling alone doesn’t mean you’ll BE ALONE

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Christine Ka’aloa, GRRRL Traveler

“For every beginning soloist, I recommend staying at hostels, where you’ll be around other travelers. There are many more female solo travelers on the road these days and I meet a lot of them at hostels. Hostels are social places, where you’ll find travelers eager to meet and share stories and advice. I use questions to meet people and often, I find travelers open to hopping onto my itinerary and sometimes, vice versa. It’s much easier to make quick and flexible travel companions, when you’re alone and already at the destination, than when you’re coordinating your travel from home.”

 

8. It’s not as SCARY as you think

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Monica Stott, The Travel Hack

“The thought of traveling solo is pretty terrifying for a lot of people and this fear stops most women from traveling alone – but don’t let it stop you! You soon adapt and you’ll love the freedom and the adventure. Once you’re on the road you realize that it’s much easier to meet new people when you’re traveling solo so you never need to be on your own. You do need to be cautious from a safety point of view so be careful and trust your instincts – just like you would at home.”

 

9. Be prepared to exit your COMFORT ZONE

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Brenna Holeman, This Battered Suitcase

“Listen to your intuition, but be open to new experiences. As a solo traveler, I think it’s important to keep an open mind and do things that may be slightly outside your comfort zone: try that new food, talk to that stranger, go to that art exhibit by the artist you’ve never heard of. It sounds like simple advice, but when traveling solo you can’t rely on anyone else for company, so it’s one of the best ways to find out who you really are and what you’re really capable of. It’s an incredibly rewarding and powerful feeling, and you never know where those new experiences will lead you in life.”

 

10. Embrace the UNKNOWN

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Jeannie Mark, Nomadic Chick

“Women come to me all the time worried about their first solo trip. I always tell them this: prepare but don’t be rigid. Women are taught to worry about every single detail, from safety to harassment, or how to pack properly, right down to the type of tube socks to bring. But I also think it’s equally important to leave room for spontaneity. Embracing the unknown a little is how a first time solo traveler grows and finds her inner strength. Laugh, smile, and enjoy the absurd, awkward, and epic moments. Because they’ll be plenty of them!”

 

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

 

Original post by Dave Armenti/TRIPADVISOR

 

15 of the best Food Trucks from London are in Dubai for Eat the World DXB

Well the mother of all food truck events Eat the World DXB is landing soon and we’ve got the lowdown on exactly which trucks will be there.

The fleet of trucks have made the 4,000-mile journey from London, have safely arrived in Dubai and are warming up for the Eat the World DXB event, part of the Dubai Food Festival 2016 from 25th February to 3rd March.

BUY TICKETS HERE

Not heard of it? Eat the World DXB is a cool food event being held in Burj Park, Downtown between 25 and 27 February, and is part of Dubai Food Festival. It will be three days of 15 of London’s best food trucks (and some locals ones too) all congregated in one place, selling everything from fish finger sandwiches to ice-cream sandwiches.

Day session 12-5pm: AED30 at the door, AED25 in advance
Evening session 6-11pm: AED40 at the door, AED35 in advance

Think delicious food, live music, cake decorating competitions and happy people.

Here’s a rundown of all the English trucks that will be there…

 

What The Dickens!

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What the Dickens! was founded in 2010 by three friends Michael, Adam and Dominic who, disappointed with the complete absence of British food on the street food scene, decided to right this injustice to British food culture. Calling themselves producers of ‘uncommonly classical culinary craft’, What The Dickens! continues to resurrect and revive time-honoured British recipes at street food markets and events across London.

So put on your bowler hat, jump back in time and come and find these three besuited and uncommon gentlemen!

 

2 The Roadery

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The Roadery are creative chefs finding the magic in the ‘forgotten cuts’ of meat that deserve a place on our plates. Their British ‘Head to tail’ food is served from the hatch of a beautiful 1979 Renault Estafette van and will include low and slow cooked beef cheek Braco’s (British tacos) with a home-made blackberry hot sauce, fresh mint yoghurt, tomato salsa, coriander & pickles; a Halloumi Braco and an Earl grey panna cotta for dessert.

British Street Food Awards 2015 Finalist

 

3 The Other Side

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Fried chicken is just one of those foods. When done justice it can be so good it’s dangerous… like when the boneless thigh is brined for real depth and flavour; double breaded for extra crispy crunch; topped with a four-hour smoked honey butter and served between a potato bread bun…

It’s almost reckless that the converted Ambulance it’s served from is no longer in service.

 

4 The Crema Caravan

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The street food circuit is full of innovative savoury meals on wheels, but the same creative zeal has not been applied enough to desserts. Until The Crema Caravan entered the arena, that is.

Sourcing only the best ingredients, The Crema Caravan make creamy, rich vanilla desserts with blow-torched, burnt sugar tops; Crema Catalana & Crème Brûlée. Served from their sleek, retro Renault van these guys have mastered the art of creating the perfect brulee, and they burn to order.

Winner of the Best Dessert at The British Street Food Awards 2015.

 

5 The Cheese Truck

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Showcasing and celebrating British cheeses in one of the most honourable ways possible, Matt specialises in the humble, but irresistible grilled cheese sandwich.

Normally found trading with Alfie – a bright yellow, converted 1973 Bedford CF ice-cream van – The Cheese Truck has received many accolades for their obscenely oozing, cheesy creations.

“The cheese truck could be the best street food truck ever” London Metro

 

6 Oli Baba’s

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Holding the firm belief that we are all ‘Hummusapiens’, and wishing to spread the love and message of ‘Peas’, Oli Baba’s take meat-free Levantine cuisine and give it a contemporary street food twist. Their Halloumi Fries are legendary and come pimped up with a Za’atar Yogurt, Pomegranate Molasses, Sumac, Mint and Pomegranate Seeds.

And may peas be upon you too.

 

7 Milo & Hector’s

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Milo & Hector’s are the UK’s first ice cream sandwich truck. Their bright blue 1965 Piaggio Ape van has been installed with a freezer and fully customised to serve creamy ice-cream, handmade chewy cookies and soft salted butter caramel. With a range of flavours and combos to choose from, you can build your own ice cream sandwich creation.

 

8 Made of Dough

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Made of Dough is the story of how two food obsessed friends of Italian and Spanish heritage learnt the art of handling dough and authentic Neapolitan pizza making to become ‘London Pizza Festival 2015 Champions’.

Their pizzas mix both their culinary cultural inheritance; Italian pizzas with Andalucían influences, while Raffaella, their very British Land Rover oven truck, is a fitting nod to where it all came together.

 

9 Hix’s Fishdog

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The Fish Dog is Mark Hix and Kevin Gratton’s take on a very English dish; the classic fish finger sandwich. Using only the best fish from sustainable sources, it’s fried to a mouthwatering crispness and married with minted mushy peas and tartare sauce. Now that’s deep sea perfection.

They have been taking what they call the ‘Rolls-Royce of fish finger sandwiches’ to the food market and festival scene in and around London in a beautiful 1971 Citroen H van and now they’re coming to Abu Dhabi too. And if you’re lucky they might also be serving their amazing dog-nuts; hot cinnamon doughnuts with a salted caramel dipping sauce.

 

10 Happy Maki

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Everyone loves sushi, but this is street food sushi with a difference. We’re not talking raw fish here (that’s sashimi). Su-shi actually means ‘seasoned rice’ and Happy Maki take a novel approach to this classic dish, with fusion fillings alongside more traditional flavours of ginger, wasabi and seaweed.

Happy Maki is all about high quality, forward thinking, healthy sushi with zero compromise in flavour. Their menu is also vegan and they take sourcing seriously.Find them rolling in glorious Gloria, their vintage Renault Estafette.

British Street Food Awards 2015 Finalist.

 

11 Dixie Union

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After a stint living in South Carolina, these guys began to understand why they call the local cuisine ‘Soul Food’ and wanted to bring back some of the Deep South magic to London.

From South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama to Louisiana they found food made with such pure passion and soul that you can taste and feel it!

Ten years on and after a lot of experimenting and testing, Dixie Union have a strong pull to creole and cajun style food and will be serving up their special po-boys; the traditional fried submarine sandwich from Louisiana, with shrimp and oysters; and their take on the Philly Cheese Steak.

 

12 Crabbie Shack

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Styling his outfit on the traditional British crab shacks found along the harbour of his home town in Folkestone, South East England, Douglas Robertson-Ritchie has won plenty of affection and accolades for his soft shells crab burgers.

Deep-fried in a light batter, held within a brioche bun and dressed with the likes of harissa, avocado, fennel and almonds or pickled cucumber, coriander and wasabi lime mayonnaise, it’s easy to see why Crabbie Shack won the best of London in the British Street Food Awards.

British Street Food Awards 2015 Finalist

Winner of Best of London at the British Street Food Awards 2014

 

13 Churros Bros.

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Trading from a beautiful and iconic Citroen H Van, Churros Brothers are famous for their traditional Spanish Churros freshly cooked to order and served with Valor hot chocolate. These seriously luxurious sweet treats are 100% organic and Halal.

 

14 Big Apple Hot Dogs

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A champion of London’s street food movement, Abiye is responsible for first bringing serious quality, tasty hot dogs to Old Street in East London.

His secret recipe hot dogs have gained him legions of fans and his hot dog carts quickly spread across London and far beyond. As part of the first wave of Americana to rock London’s food world, Big Apple Hot Dogs have set the standard and led the way for the street food revolution.

 

15 Bangwok

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Bangkok is often touted as the street food capital of the world, where hawker stalls crowd every available space with an explosion of flavours. But for a taste of its vibrant street dining there’s no need to go to Thailand, because Dong is behind the wheel of a tuk tuk, armed with a wok, a big personality and cooking the perfect Pad Thai.

Winner of Best Main at the British Street Food Awards 2015

 

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

5 Adventurous Movies to Inspire the Traveller in you

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” –T.S. Eliot

Nothing inspires wanderlust quite like a good travel film, however far removed from reality it may be. From the rogue adventures of The Motorcycle Diaries, to the secret world created in The Beach, look no further than the following list to ignite that traveller’s itch.

 

Under the Tuscan Sun

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Under the Tuscan Sun tells the story of a recent divorcee who, heeding the advice of a friend, travels around Italy before impulsively buying a Tuscan villa. If the scenery isn’t enough to have you reaching for your wallet, the romance and charming streetscapes should do the trick.

 


 The Motorcycle Diaries

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“We travel just to travel.” — Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.

The Motorcycle Diaries tells the tale of two comrades who travel from Brazil to Peru on, you guessed it, motorcycles. Their trip takes roughly nine months, and the epic road trip is totally repeatable thanks to this comprehensive guide — you know, in case you’re interested. This film proves that journey can be more important than the destination.


Into the Wild

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Perhaps the best travel film, or at least the most deserving of a spot on this list is Into the Wild. The film details the off-the-grid adventures of Christopher McCandless who abandons his conventional life after graduation and ventures across North America. Despite its grim conclusion, this real-life tale is firmly anchored in the hearts of travellers everywhere.

 


 The Beach

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The Beach is the ultimate white sands, turquoise water and isolated paradise dream. Until things get strange, it will make you want to throw out all your belongings, fly to Thailand and camp out under the stars at Maya Bay. While the bay is much, much busier in real life, there is one tour company that offers the “real” beach experience. You arrive after everyone else has left, camp out on the beach, then pack up and leave before the boats of tourists arrive. Oh, and if you’re like someone people we know, you’ll probably try and find a 90s Leonardo Di Caprio of your own.

 


 Lost In Translation

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Unlike the other films on this list, Lost In Translation won’t inspire you to off-the-grid. Instead, Sofia Coppola’s beloved 2003 film will inspire you to plant yourself in a completely alien culture — in this instance, the neon lights of Tokyo. The film is driven by the friendship between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson’s characters. There’s karaoke, drinks and plenty of new experiences and perspectives.

 

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ORIGINAL Post on MASHABLE

10 Unlikely places you haven’t been to, but must Visit in 2016

Start making your 2016 travel plans right now…

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A few years ago, a study in the Netherlands found that people who took vacations were most happy before a trip, but no happier than non-vacationers after a trip. Anticipation, the researchers suggested, was what had the biggest effect on happiness.

With that in mind, why not start planning your next trip right now?

January is one of the busiest times for travel planning. A new year is a reminder of everything you want to do with your life: It’s all hope and possibilities as the clock strikes midnight.

Don’t just say you want to travel more and expect to get to it some time in February or March or never. Get started planning. Now.

 

If this inspires you to travel anywhere — or even to plan a future trip — we’ve succeeded. But if you’re looking for something more specific, here are our 10 recommendations for where to go in 2016.

 

1. TOBAGO Trinidad and Tobago

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Tobago is the smaller island of the Caribbean duo, Trinidad and Tobago. The island’s history has been fraught since Christopher Columbus saw its shore in 1498, but after centuries of British rule Tobago is now autonomous under the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Though lying outside the hurricane belt, Tobago still has a defined wet season from July to November, making the best time to visit from December to June. And why should you visit? Gorgeous, sandy beaches along with diverse tropical forest are the perfect setting for relaxing, boating and surfing, hiking and touring, or scuba and snorkeling. And that’s to say nothing of Tobago’s rich multi-ethnic heritage on display year round.

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If you go

When to go: January to May

Approx. round-trip airfare: 1900 AED from Dubai, UAE to Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago

Must see: Pigeon Point Beach, a picturesque Caribbean spot


2. EL CALAFATE  Argentina

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Patagonia is tremendously large, covering more than 400,000 square miles across southern Chile and Argentina.

At that size, there’s little chance of fitting in all the sights in a single trip. For those of us who don’t have a couple months to backpack across South America, it is possible to fit in some amazing highlights in about 10 days. (Shorter than that and you’ll be spending as much time getting there as seeing the place.)

El Calafate is the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, the largest national park in Argentina. Thirty percent of the park’s 2,800 square miles is covered in ice, and the crowning jewel is the Perito Moreno glacier.

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If you go

When to go: November to December, March to April

Approx. round-trip airfare: 11600 AED from Dubai, UAE to San Martin De Los Andes, Argentina

Must see: Perito Moreno Glacier, the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park


3. ANDALUCÍA Spain

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Imagine a place where the light is always golden, where great wine and tasty appetizers are plentiful and cheap, and where gorgeous architecture comes with a rich multicultural history. Then see it firsthand — in the south of Spain.

In the past three years, this European country has seen strong growth in tourism, setting new records each year. The reasons are many: For one, a weaker euro and a not-so-hot Spanish economy make it a great value for foreign visitors. For another, the southern coast along the Mediterranean is a great option for travelers who would have previously headed to destinations now considered dangerous, like Egypt and Tunisia.

Each region of Spain is amazingly unique. In southern Spain, there isn’t just one city that should get all your attention, and so we’re thinking instead of an ideal Andalucían road trip: Córdoba to Sevilla to Cádiz to Málaga to Granada. And if you’re feeling inspired by the generous tapas, maybe make a second round (if you’ve got the means).

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If you go

When to go: October to November, April to May

Approx. round-trip airfare: 3800 AED from Dubai, UAE to Granada, Spain

Must see: The Alhambra, a hilltop palace and fortress, at sunset

 

 


4. CHENGDU China

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Chengdu has two claims to fame: The Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and the amazing food characterized by Sichuan spice.

With a population of more than 4.3 million, the city is already a popular destination for domestic Chinese tourists while foreign tourism still has a ton of room to grow. This bustling metropolis offers visitors a taste of history with which the West can’t even compete. Chengdu has been an important cultural center for civilization going back 4,000 years.

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You’ve probably seen photos from the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding — that’s where so many of those adorable panda cubs are born. The base is a bit of a trek from the city, but seeing the pandas is a must.

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If you go

When to go: April, October to November

Approx. round-trip airfare: 2300 AED from Dubai, UAE to Chengdu, China

Must see: The pandas

 

 


5. SPLIT Croatia

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Split, Croatia’s second largest city, has at its center Diocletian’s Palace, built by the Roman emperor in the fourth century. Surrounding the palace is a seaside city that is only going to get more popular with visitors. The vibrant blues of the Adriatic Sea and red-roofed architecture are too inviting to ignore.

The architectural marvel of a city center is also surrounded by the lovely Croatian climate; a day hike or boat trip to a quiet beach should definitely be on the itinerary.

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If you go

When to go: April to September

Approx. round-trip airfare:2700 AED from Dubai, UAE to Split, Croatia

Must see: Diocletian’s Palace, built by the Roman emperor

 

 


 

6. SKYE & LOCHALSH Scotland

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The Scottish Highlands are getting attention for an unexpected new attraction: A highway route circling the northern part of Scotland called North Coast 500 is the north Atlantic version of U.S. Route 66, except with castles instead of the world’s largest ball of twine.

Skye & Lochalsh, on the western coast of northern Scotland, is just part of the route circling the Highlands, but a great one.

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If you go

When to go: May to September

Approx. round-trip airfare: 4900 AED from Dubai, UAE to Inverness, United Kingdom

Must see: Eilean Donan castle, built in the 13th century


7. MAFIA ISLAND Tanzania

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Mafia Island is a hopper flight from Dar es Salaam, making it remote but akin to the Island of Sal in Cape Verde, another distant paradise that makes a point of rewarding a long journey.

Located in the Indian Ocean, what stands out about this destination — aside from the sparsely populated beaches — is the amazing underwater life on display to snorkelers and scuba divers.

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If you go

When to go: Year round

Approx. round-trip airfare: 1300 AED from Dubai, UAE to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Must see: What’s in the sea. Scuba divers will be in heaven.


8. SAVANNAH Georgia, USA

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Savannah, a beautiful southern coastal city in the state of Georgia, is all about American history.

British General James Oglethorpe, along with 114 men, women and children, arrived in what is now Savannah in 1733 aboard a galley ship, “Anne.” He was looking for a place to resettle poor people from Britain who had been held in debtors’ prison, and founded Georgia — named after King George II — for that purpose.

In the almost 300 years since then, Savannah has had more than its fair share of triumphs and failures. Oglethorpe formed alliances with Native Americans, but colonists brought with them conflict and disease. The economic successes of the region throughout the 18th and 19th centuries were built on slave labor.

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If you go

When to go: September to November, March to June

Approx. round-trip airfare: 4800 AED from Dubai, UAE to Savannah, USA

Must see: Bonaventure Cemetery, a hauntingly beautiful final resting place on a bluff above the city


9. KAKADU National Park Australia

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If Kakadu National Park looks familiar, that would be because of a little movie called “Crocodile Dundee,” which changed Australia’s international image exactly 30 years ago.

Part of the film was shot in the park, which was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1981, and has become synonymous with the Australian outback for many foreigners who have never set foot on the continent.

Kakadu is located in the Northern Territory, a couple hours’ drive east of the city of Darwin. The park is described as a “living cultural landscape” because the traditional owners, the Bininj/Mungguy, have lived on and cared for this gorgeous landscape for millennia.

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If you go

When to go: May to October

Approx. round-trip airfare: 7500 AED from Dubai, UAE to Darwin, Australia

Must see: The ancient rock art at Nourlangie


10. SVALBARD Norway

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Svalbard isn’t just fun to say. (But it is fun to say. Say it! Sval – bard!) The frigid island is also an otherworldly destination for people who would rather wear a snowsuit than a swimsuit on their next vacation.

Located above the Arctic Circle, Svalbard is part of Norway. The region around the island is home to an estimated 3,000 polar bears — a few hundred more than there are people on Svalbard.

Like most far-flung destinations, Svalbard is not cheap. This is no budget holiday; there will be no bargain deals to swim with the polar bears. So if bundling up to go out in sub-sub-zero temperatures to see breathtaking natural landscapes is your thing, you should probably start budgeting.

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If you go

When to go: November to February for Aurora Borealis, May to September for outdoor activities and polar bears

Approx. round-trip airfare: 5200 AED from Dubai, UAE to Longyearbyen Norway

Must see: A polar bear (from a safe distance)

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ORIGINAL BLOG BY Jessica Plautz/MASHABLE

Brilliant Stories feat. ANIOKE from the Housekeeping Department

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Anioke was cleaning one of the rooms on Thursday and coincidentally it was the guest’s birthday and while having conversation with the said guest, they realized that couple of days later was his son’s birthday as well, so Anioke took it upon him and made a personalized Birthday card and a cake together for father and son.

Now, Anioke being a Nigerian himself had the brilliant idea of writing the wishes on the Birthday card in their local language “Igbo”. The guest was moved by this wonderful gesture as it was quite emotional for him and was unable find words to express his immense happiness and was very grateful to Anioke.

The guest said didn’t expect that the hotel staff would go above and beyond their duty to do something like this.

The Birthday wishes in Igbo Language:

Igbo Letter

The English Translation:

Mr. U,

A very good morning to you, we are very happy you are in our midst, this day. We want to seize the opportunity to say a happy birthday to you and your son on this memorable occasion.

We are sure your stay with us will be a remarkable one.

Do not hesitate to let us know of any other thing you may need by dialing ‘0’ from the phone in your room.

Brilliant Stories featuring Hari Kumar from Housekeeping

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Mr. Thompson is our long staying guest who is staying in one of our rooms. Our Housekeeping Host, Hari Kumar while attending their room on Tuesday noticed that there was a bit of a water leakage from the ceiling due to the hot weather outside forming moisture condensation near the air-conditioning vents.

He immediately placed a call to the Engineering department, informed them about the leakage and that it is a high priority job. Now, while the engineer was fixing the leakage, Mr. Thompson had arrived and noticing the work being done to fix the issue, appreciated Hari Kumar for his presence of mind.

The next day, when he was cleaning the same room again, he noticed that the water leakage had started again. He immediately notified Engineering and then his supervisors regarding the severity on the situation and that it needed a more permanent solution. So, our engineers worked on the problem and fixed it permanently.

Now, the guest, on witnessing the whole situation was very impressed with Hari Kumar’s timely initiative, thanked him and said that this exactly was the reason why they don’t even think of staying in any hotel other than the Marriott Harbour whenever they are in Dubai.