The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - BEST FOR 2013 OUR CHOICES -

Abu Dhabi and Dubai Blue skies, noth­ing but blue skies. That could well be the weather re­port for the United Arab Emi­rates.

Set­tled in 1760 by the Baniyas Tribe, Abu Dhabi of­fers a rare con­trast of the an­cient, mod­ern and fu­tur­is­tic. Dubai, on the other hand, of­fers a rare view of life pushed to ex­tremes. Can you imag­ine your­self ski­ing in the desert heat or hol­i­day­ing on man-made is­lands in the stream?

Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are now hubs for ri­val Aus­tralian air­lines so we can ex­pect Aus­tralian traf­fic to in­crease dra­mat­i­cally to these des­ti­na­tions in 2013.

Melissa Thomson from Vir­gin Aus­tralia says: ‘‘ Abu Dhabi is an ideal des­ti­na­tion for those seek­ing af­ford­able lux­ury and a unique Ara­bian cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. The emi­rate boasts an­cient forts and his­toric sites – sev­eral of which have been listed as of­fi­cial Unesco World Her­itage Sites – along with ar­chi­tec­tural mar­vels such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Emi­rates Palace.

‘‘ There are also plenty of thrills for ad­ven­ture-seek­ers, from the world’s fastest roller-coaster at Fer­rari World, to the For­mula One race­track, to cruis­ing the mas­sive sand dunes of the Empty Quar­ter desert, to learn­ing about the an­cient sport of fal­conry.’’

Doc Hol­i­day’s An­thony Den­nis says: ‘‘ Love it or hate it, Dubai will un­doubt­edly be one of the hottest des­ti­na­tions for 2013 due to the sim­ple fact that hun­dreds of thou­sands of Qan­tas pas­sen­gers will pass­ing through or stop­ping off there.

‘‘ This is a di­rect re­sult, of course, of the re­cent an­nounce­ment of the Qan­tas-Emi­rates al­liance (pend­ing gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tory ap­proval) which will see Sin­ga­pore as the main hub on the Kan­ga­roo Route aban­doned in favour of Dubai.’’

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