Time to chill again

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One of the world's hottest destination is now home to the chilling temperatures. Do you know what makes the winters of the UAE the 'coolest'?

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Published: Wed 26 Oct 2022, 11:00 AM

The UAE tourist industry has been thriving and expanding, offering everything from kayaking in Hatta to the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Al Ain. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, wants to give a broader perspective and put the UAE on the map as a top tourism destination. Sheikh Mohammed started a campaign to encourage people to go out and about in December 2020. The 45-day 'World's Coolest Winter' campaign marks the start of the project, which is a part of a larger coordinated tourism plan to market the UAE as one destination and encourage more people to travel there. The plan aims to double 2030 the annual Dh41.2 billion spent on domestic tourism and encourage staycations.

At that time, he said: “Domestic tourism spending in the UAE stands at Dh41 billion. With a solid federal collaboration, we can double the contributions of the domestic market and create new opportunities for small business industries across the country. Working as one team in the tourism sector will bring long-term benefits to every part of the UAE and boost our status globally as a single destination that offers rich and diverse experiences."

He further added: “We aim to unify our efforts to maximise returns. We invite the private sector to take this campaign as an opportunity to strengthen partnerships with the government to bring greater value and accelerate the country’s economic recovery.”

The World’s Coolest Winter was launched locally on December 15, 2021, and was implemented by the UAE Government Media Office in cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and various entities concerned with tourism, culture and heritage, aiming to highlight the various tourism destinations in the country. The campaign succeeded once again in introducing UAE’s beautiful nature, culture, heritage, history, architecture and landmarks, to a local and international audience and highlighting the distinguished tourism experience in each of the seven emirates.

During the launch, Dr. Ahmed Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises, and Chairman of the Emirates Tourism Council, indicated that such initiatives strengthen internal tourism and are a main pillar and engine for economic development. "The different activities during the 'World's Coolest Winter' campaign have shown the UAE's landmarks and destinations in a new way, by introducing visitors to the UAE’s unique tourism potential, providing them with the opportunity to enjoy natural beauty, tourism services, rich cultural, historical and environmental heritage, and to undergo exceptional experiences during the winter vacation."

Belhoul indicated that the UAE, through its unique tourist, heritage and urban attractions, has become one of the most preferred destinations for tourists from all over the world. Adding that: "The World’s Coolest Winter campaign has contributed to supporting the tourism sector and increasing its growth, which reflects the flexibility and the safe environment that characterises the economy and tourism sector in the UAE."

In its second iteration, the campaign also saw a 36 per cent rise in domestic tourists, from 950,000 to 1.3 million. While the occupancy rate of hotels over this period was 73 per cent, up from 66 per cent in 2021.

Breathtaking views

There is plenty for everyone to do during that period thanks to the abundance of tourist attractions in the UAE, combined with lovely weather for companionship. Let's look at some of the most popular winter tourism destinations in the UAE:

Al Wathba Fossil Dunes in Abu Dhabi

Located 45 kilometres to the east of Abu Dhabi, Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Protected Area comprises more than 1,700 fossil dunes, making it one of the largest number of fossil dunes concentrated in one location in the Emirate. The journey will captivate history buffs in a big way. These natural wonders, which can be seen in Al Wathba, were created from sand that the wind had previously flung around. It became harder over time and is now one of the most popular winter tourist attractions. You can also enjoy music and light shows which takes place throughout opening hours and can be viewed from the amphitheatre that holds up to 200 visitors. The site will also feature various food and beverage trucks in dedicated areas. To enrich your experience, you can enjoy the facilities at the visitor centre, including the viewing area and the gallery corner, as well as benches and several areas to soak in the beauty.

Hatta Dam near Dubai

One of the key highlights of any Dubai tour is the one-hour ride to the Hatta Dam and this is an ideal destination for those into adventure activities and mountain biking. The pleasant temperature is a major plus point along with vibrant accommodation and superlative views, to say the least. There is no shortage of fun activities to do when in Dubai, with everything from kayaking and paddle-boating to rowing at your fingertips. If you are keen on discovering the beautiful Wadis and hills in the vicinity, join a mountain biking expedition, savouring the gorgeous views and unique terrain as you ride along.

Al Rafisah Dam in Sharjah

Heading toward Khorfakkan on the new Sharjah – Khorfakkan highway opens up a vista of the beautiful Al Rafisah Dam. Originally built in the 1980s, the dam has had an upgrade with a new visitor centre and rest area. Nestled amongst the Hajjar mountains, this man-made lake is frequented by several species of migrating birds. Visitors to the dam can admire its scenic beauty by touring around the lake and enjoying the many activities it has to offer.

Wadi Haqeel in Ras Al Khaimah

Between the inner mountain face of Jebel Jais and the mountain face of Al Rams coastline line sits this wadi, a secret settlement. Due to the significant quantity of rainfall, this wadi blooms with flowers and carpets of green grass throughout the cooler months. The path leads to a remote, long-forgotten town that will surely astound you as it leads us across a dry canyon.

Masfout in Ajman

An idyllic view of the mountains of Hajar, one behind the other as a well-made artistic masterpiece, Masfout or Masfut has everything that you need to escape from bustling city life. Nestled away just 132 km from the city of Dubai, Masfout, is a favourite destination for a quiet getaway for couples and families. Enclaved between the Al Hajar mountains, it’s generally a bit cooler, and winters are best spent here.

Khor al-Beida in Umm Al Quwain

One of the seven emirates of the UAE, Umm Al Quwain stands proud of having a preserved natural wetland. For nature lovers and bird watchers, this spot is a treat for the eyes and the soul. The wetlands are situated near a bright blue lagoon and small islands, witnessing this natural bird habitat along with the water bodies around it is a view which guarantees serenity.

Snoopy Island in Fujairah

Well, it is named after the most lovable cartoon character, Snoopy the dog. It is made of three sections, resembling the feet, belly, and nose of the sleeping Snoopy. The island draws hordes of visitors every year, both adventure enthusiasts and travellers looking for some peace and quiet beside the sea. The waters here are azure blue and the beach sands are of a glistening golden hue.

Winter is coming

With its key attractions displayed in snow globes placed in front of popular destinations, a new teaser video reimagines Dubai. It’s just too cool to miss. 'Goodbye summer vacation. Winter is coming soon,”' the Government of Dubai Media Office posted with the video. The #DubaiDestinations, signifies that the video is part of the emirate’s tourism initiative. The video encompasses the famous Love Lake, Bluewaters Island and skyscrapers of Sheikh Zayed Road, all enclosed in snow globes.

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