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Visa-free Eid escapes and how to find the best summer flight deals

By Vaseline May30,2024

Now that summer is just around the corner, many are thinking about traveling. While 92 percent of travelers in the UAE are planning a summer holiday, 51 percent are yet to book, according to the latest data from Skyscanner. The online travel company has revealed some top tips, including the cheapest week to fly.

In Saudi Arabia, ahead of the launch of the Middle East’s most expensive hotel on the Red Sea, the age-old destination AlUla is gearing up for the hottest season of the year with special offers, new hotels and exciting activities. And with Eid Al Adha just around the corner, travelers planning a getaway may want to consider a visa-free destination.

Elsewhere, Sweden’s Icehotel is preparing for another exciting year after announcing the artists who will transform the pop-up venue into an ice and snow spectacle ahead of its 35th annual opening in December.

Here’s a roundup of recent travel and tourism news – in case you missed it.

August 12 is the cheapest week to book summer flights, according to Skyscanner

Travelers making plans for the summer may want to consider waiting until August before heading abroad. This is evident from Skyscanner, which shows that the week of August 12 is the cheapest time to fly from the UAE.

Flights will be relatively empty – as only 3 percent of UAE travelers surveyed by the company plan to travel that week, despite lower prices. According to the data, the busiest period will be the first two weeks of July, and that means premium airline tickets.

Skyscanner’s updated savings generator tool provides insight into the cheapest travel times and when to book. The company’s latest data shows that indecisiveness is the top reason for not booking flights, while others wait for good deals.

For those looking for great value destinations, Skyscanner has listed the places with the biggest price drops this year compared to last year. The number of flights to Istanbul has fallen by 24 percent, while those to Cairo and Manchester have fallen by 20 percent. For Amman and Paris it is 15 percent cheaper than in 2023.

“We know what UAE travelers are looking forward to and are researching their summer holidays – perhaps more this year than any before,” said Ayoub El Mamoun, Skyscanner’s travel trends and destination expert. “We prioritize resources that help people get away with it affordably.”

AlUla launches summer specials and opens an eco-luxury hotel in the earth

AlUla from Saudi Arabia is preparing for a busy season. Located in the northwest of the kingdom, the ancient region enjoys a cooler and less humid summer climate than neighboring cities, with temperatures up to 10°C lower than other Gulf destinations.

The destination has unveiled a wealth of summer activities for travelers, including hiking, hot air ballooning and new tours. Hotel deals are also on offer with Banyan Tree AlUla, which offers a 15 percent discount on bookings made at least 15 days in advance, and Habitas AlUla has a summer package including free daily breakfast and dinner, plus credit to spend at the Thuraya Wellness spa .

More affordable getaways are available at Cloud7 Residences, where summer visitors can enjoy four nights for the price of three, while traditionally inspired Shaden, Ashar and Saharay AlUla Resorts also have deals on room rates.

Travelers on their way to the destination can participate in various cultural activities. The region’s first design center, Madrasat Addeera, hosts workshops in jewelry making, embroidery and ceramics, while movie nights for the whole family are on the agenda at Cinema AlJadidah on weekends in May and June.

AlUla’s first balloon operator, Hero Balloon Flights, organizes scenic tours and nature lovers can take evening walks through the Sharaan Nature Reserve or undertake the Madhakel Wildlife Hike through narrow gorges.

AlUla Desert Blaze returns for its second event in August, with hundreds of runners registered for the race. Those eager to see Hegra can do so in two new ways: on a night tour of the Nabataean kingdom under a starry sky or on a nature tour.

The region is also celebrating the launch of its newest hotel. Dar Tantora The House Hotel is open in the heart of the Old City and within walking distance of Incense Road Market, AlJadidah Arts District and AlUla Oasis.

The world’s first earth-clad hotel was built using traditional techniques and materials, and utilizing restored original irrigation and ventilation systems to minimize environmental impact. With 30 duplexdars (rooms) and suites, the hotel also features an infinity pool, a yoga and meditation studio, a spa and a restaurant with a zero-waste philosophy and a local sourcing model. The original mud brick walls, brickwork, windows and historic murals have been carefully restored.

Visa-free Eid Escapes for UAE Residents

The UAE’s next public holiday is just around the corner as the country prepares to celebrate Eid Al Adha.

The first day is expected to fall on June 16, with most people enjoying a two-day break. Several destinations allow UAE residents to travel without obtaining a visa in advance, meaning last-minute bookings are easy. From the Maldives to Georgia, here are a few destinations that welcome travelers from the UAE without pre-arranged visas.

For nature, mountain air and summer walks, Georgia is the place to go. Despite its small size, the Caucasus country is home to twelve different climatic zones, making it one of the most ecologically diverse destinations in the world. Direct flights are available from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Tbilisi and Kutaisi, and no visa is required for UAE residents, making the country easy to reach. From Parisian boulevards in the capital to epic hikes in the mountains, it has plenty to offer.

There’s no place like the Maldives when it comes to island getaways. With flights just four hours from the UAE, the Indian Ocean hotspot is always a favourite, not least because residents are issued a visa on arrival. The archipelago has left its reputation as a honeymoon haven behind and welcomes travelers of all types, from multi-generational family vacationers to solo travelers looking for new connections.

Jordan is one of the jewels of the Middle East. From ancient Petra to the desert dunes in Wadi Rum, it has something for everyone. Travelers from the UAE can fly direct to the capital Amman in about three hours for eclectic shopping and a thriving culinary scene.

In the country’s south central district, the Dana Biosphere Reserve, Jordan’s largest nature reserve, is worth a visit. For a dose of adventure, cross-country bike tours are also worthwhile. No visa is required for UAE citizens, while residents are issued a visa upon arrival.

Another Indian Ocean holiday destination that welcomes travelers from the UAE with a visa on arrival (provided they hold a return ticket) is the Seychelles. Flight times to the archipelago are less than five hours and the destination offers some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, giant tortoises and luxury resorts. June is also one of the best times to visit the African destination thanks to the clear blue skies and sparkling waters, ideal for snorkeling and diving.

The Swedish Icehotel is preparing for the winter season

While much of the world is looking forward to summer, Sweden’s IceHotel is counting down to winter.

The world’s first ice hotel is created every winter from snow and natural ice from the Torner River, when snow covers the small village of Jukkasjärvi in ​​northern Sweden. This year, travelers can expect big celebrations. The hotel is celebrating its 35th anniversary and work by 27 artists from 13 countries will transform the space.

Spanning 2,800 square meters, the seasonal hotel will feature everything from a colossal rhinoceros to an intricate bird’s nest sculpted from ice and snow when it opens in December.

A team of artists, construction specialists, ice production workers and others will work together to bring the hotel suites to life. When spring returns, the seasonal structures will melt back into icy water, although part of the hotel will remain so visitors can enjoy the ice and snow all year round.

“We had interesting discussions about everything from rhinos to labyrinths before we could agree on the 14 concepts that will become reality this winter,” says Icehotel creator Luca Roncoroni, who selected the winning designs from 114 concepts.

As part of the 35th anniversary celebrations, a new Icebar will be installed in the hotel’s permanent structure. “I look forward to stepping into Icehotel 35 and showing the world what I think will be a spectacular version,” said CEO Marie Herrey.

Updated: May 30, 2024, 7:06 AM

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