Wide open Umm Al Quwain

The National - News - - ARTS & LIFESTYLE -

Small and some­what sleepy with­out a lux­ury ho­tel in sight, Umm Al Quwain (right, photo by Ma­jid Sar­mast) is per­haps the an­tithe­sis of Dubai’s tow­er­ing sky­scrapers and Abu Dhabi’s gilded palaces, which per­haps makes it all the more wor­thy of a visit when a change of pace is needed. If an un­der-the-stars stay­ca­tion is what you want, this is the right place to do it due to very lit­tle light pol­lu­tion. The beaches north and south of Al Rafaah are ideal spots for set­ting up camp; just be sure to pitch your tent far enough back from the river out­let to avoid flood­ing. The east of Umm Al Quwain’s main­land penin­sula con­sists of eight sandy is­lands sur­rounded by a dense man­grove for­est where you can watch fish­er­men nav­i­gate their way along Madaar Creek (run­ning be­tween the is­lands) look­ing for the day’s catch. After­wards, visit the Old Har­bour where crafts­men still par­take in dhow build­ing, and check out the coral stone houses for a great ex­am­ple of the emi­rate’s orig­i­nal ar­chi­tec­ture. The other main at­trac­tion in Umm Al Quwain is Dream­land Aqua Park (www.dream­lan­d­uae.com). Opened in 1997, this was the UAE’s first water­park and while it may not be on­par with the likes of Yas Water­world or At­lantis Aqua­ven­ture in lux­ury, it has a rus­tic charm, li­censed pool bar and more than 30 rides and slides. Pack an overnight bag and you can camp in the park grounds or in one of 35 sim­ple wooden chalets, with all camp­ing equip­ment and BBQ meals pro­vided. At Dream­land, ca­bana camp­ing rates start from Dh700 per night (week­days) to Dh900 per night week­ends and pub­lic hol­i­days, for two adults shar­ing, in­clud­ing water­park entrance fees, break­fast, lunch and a BBQ din­ner

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