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Time Out Abu Dhabi - - HIT THE ROAD -

Aj­man

Driv­ing time: 2hrs 22mins (202km).

The UAE’S tini­est emi­rate just proves that the best things come in small pack­ages. If you’re des­per­ate to es­cape the hub­bub of big city life, head up to Aj­man for a more laid-back vibe. It’s lit­tle won­der they’re so easy-go­ing when they have some of the na­tion’s best beaches to chill out on, one of the Ànest be­ing at the Aj­man Ho­tel (www.hote­la­j­man.com). The Àve-star ho­tel is at the end of the coastal road, which has a prom­e­nade that re­minds us of those found in sea­side towns in the UK, with some­thing of an old-school charm and cafés and restau­rants to re­fuel in. The drive up takes you on the Emi­rates High­way, with gor­geous dunes around you. Once there, you must visit the Aj­man Mu­seum, set in an 18th cen­tury fort and of­fer­ing a cul­tural in­sight into the emi­rate.

Liwa Oa­sis

Driv­ing time: 2hrs 35mins (240km).

Head south west of the cap­i­tal and you’ll Ànd a desert set­tle­ment of roughly 50 vil­lages and the for­mer home of the rul­ing fam­i­lies of both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The high point in the lo­cal cal­en­dar is the Liwa Date Fes­ti­val, an event cel­e­brat­ing the var­i­ous cus­toms, tra­di­tions and her­itage of the UAE, in par­tic­u­lar the date palm tree.

The area con­tains a num­ber of forts worth vis­it­ing, along with the im­pos­ing Moreeb Dune, but due to its re­mote­ness, Liwa is ideal for just get­ting away from it all. If you book early enough, you can get some crack­ing deals at the lux­ury Qasr Al Sarab Desert Re­sort by Anan­tara (www.qas­ral­sarab. anan­tara.com), where you can soak up the mys­tique of the Empty Quar­ter as you sur­vey your unique sur­round­ings. It’s a real one-off.

Sharjah

Driv­ing time: 2hrs 10mins (166km).

Rightly re­garded as the UAE’S cul­tural cap­i­tal, Sharjah re­ally likes to go against the grain. Once you nav­i­gated the trafàc (we sug­gest avoid­ing peak times) and waved hello to the so-called “Smile, you’re in Sharjah” Round­about, what you will dis­cover is a city well versed in its his­tory and her­itage.

There are plenty of mu­se­ums (www.shar­jah­mu­se­ums.ae) to quench your thirst for cul­ture in the city in­clud­ing Sharjah Mu­seum of Is­lamic Civ­i­liza­tion, Sharjah Art Mu­seum, Sharjah Her­itage Mu­seum and Sharjah Mar­itime Mu­seum. If you want to be at one with na­ture then you can go for a roam around Sharjah Aquar­ium (06 528 5288) and Sharjah Desert Park (06 531 1999) where you can pet and feed the an­i­mals, as well as ride a camel. Al Qasba (www.alqasba.ae) is also worth a visit where you can en­joya stroll alond a prom­e­nade, the Eye of the Emi­rates, a mu­si­cal foun­tain, boat rides and cafés.

Aj­man Mu­seum

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