WORD OF MOUTH

A trio of new UN­ESCO sites to ex­plore in our back­yard

Condé Nast Traveller Middle East - - Contents -

Global travel news in­clud­ing a trio of new UN­ESCO sites on the Ara­bian Penin­sula, an air­port de­par­ture lounge on the beach and this month’s can’t-miss events. Plus, Tumi creative di­rec­tor Vic­tor Sanz on what he would add to make the per­fect carry-on

Fu­jairah’s Ha­jar moun­tain range is abun­dant with water­falls, cool rock for­ma­tions and un­usual wildlife. Home to 20 mam­mal species, 81 bird species, nine types of rep­tiles and 467 in­ver­te­brates, Wadi Wu­rayah earned its spot as a UN­ESCO Bio­sphere Re­serve this sum­mer. While the core of the re­serve is cur­rently closed off to the pub­lic to help en­sure the bio­di­ver­sity thrives, a buf­fer zone is avail­able to sup­port sci­en­tific re­search and en­cour­age new de­vel­op­ments – po­ten­tially to drive tourism.

At around the same time, the an­cient city of Qal­hat, 20km north of Sur in Oman’s Shar­qiya re­gion, was in­scribed as a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site. Marco Polo and Ibn Bat­tuta were reg­u­lar visi­tors to this city of for­ti­fied walls and time-worn domes that once served as mosques, houses and shops. Arte­facts with Per­sian and Chi­nese in­flu­ences, and tombs, in­clud­ing the Bibi Maryam mau­soleum with em­bed­ded Qashani

(Per­sian dec­o­ra­tive arts), fill the city and are free to visit.

Last but not least – in terms of size, any­way – Al-Ahsa, a largest-of-its-kind oa­sis in Saudi Ara­bia’s East­ern Prov­ince, was also added to the World Her­itage Sites list. Here you’ll find over 2.5 mil­lion date palms blan­ket­ing grounds that in­clude mosques, fortresses, canals, wells and springs. Tra­di­tional souks, vin­tage stores, moun­tain caves, palaces, mosques and springs, in­clud­ing one of hot sul­phur, make good pit stops as you ex­plore. Th­ese are only the most re­cent UN­ESCO sites on the Ara­bian Penin­sula, join­ing other vis­it­wor­thy lo­ca­tions such as Qal’at al-Bahrain and the Al Ain Oa­sis in Abu Dhabi.

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