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Dubai is a city where the impossible is possible

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Dubai is one of the world’s most exhilarating destinations: a glittering city that offers swathes of golden beaches; world-class shopping, dining and nightlife; hosts electrifying events and sporting championships; and, for all the family, is one big adventurous playground. Where tradition meets ambition and renowned for its futuristic architecture, this visionary city is also proud to display its rich heritage and culture. Welcome to Arabia and welcome to the destination that has made it its mission to become “the world’s most visited city”.

Extraordinary images of Dubai’s skyline have been seen around the world, but this is a city that must be experienced to be believed. Where else can you spend the morning on the beach, the afternoon snow skiing and the evening camel riding in the desert? Where else can you dive with sharks in a shopping mall and watch dancing fountains at the base of the world’s tallest tower? Whatever your passion, whatever your age – Dubai will never disappoint. And with many more hotels and attractions in the pipeline, no-one can ever truly say they’ve ticked off Dubai. With changes constantly afoot, Dubai is a city that can be visited year after year, after year.

The pace of progress has been phenomenal and it takes some believing to imagine that just 50 years ago Dubai was little more than a fishing village beside the Dubai Creek – a must-visit that is currently being assessed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

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It is this very spot that the Bani Yas tribe and the forefathers of the Maktoum dynasty settled back in 1800. Even in the 1950’s when the rest of the world was exploring space and New York’s Times Square had been illuminated for a good 50 years, Dubai still sat in darkness without electricity. But it was also here that the Vision was set. The seeds of ambition were sowed and that small fishing village blossomed into the modern, multicultural and dynamic metropolis we see today.

Dubai dares to dream big – and then turns that dream into reality.

Having welcomed 10 million visitors during the course of the year for the first time in 2012, the emirate’s Tourism Vision was declared in May 2013: to welcome 20 million visitors a year by 2020 and to treble tourism’s contribution to the economy.

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One year later, having won the bid to host the World Expo in 2020 during which His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai promises to “astonish the world”, Dubai is building on that declaration by pursuing its ambition to become The World’s Most Visited City – but not just a city to be seen but a city ‘to be experienced’.

For example, shopping in Dubai is not just about making purchases – it is more about amazing leisure and cultural opportunities, such as bartering for silk in a historic souk; meeting a colony of King and Gentoo Penguins in a shopping mall, and picking up hand-crafted trinkets from a market.

Dining in Dubai is not just about eating – it is more about sampling the cuisine from the 200 nationalities that live here. As a culinary capital not only regionally but increasingly globally, Dubai has long caught the attention of Michelin-stared chefs and is home to some of the best tastes in the world – whether that be in its five-star hotels or its pavement cafes.

For the sportsman and adventure seeker, Dubai is about sand boarding down a 300ft sand dune, camping in the desert, deep-sea fishing, skydiving above Palm Jumeirah and playing camel polo. And for the night owl, Dubai is about enjoying some of the hottest, trendiest and most creative nightspots imaginable.

For culture vultures, Dubai is a city that’s rich in heritage and increasingly it’s making its mark on the world stages for art, film, literature, comedy, theatre and music. For all these genres the city hosts dedicated festivals and events and this all adds up to create a calendar that is literally bursting at the seams, whether it be joining the crowds at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre to see A-list chart toppers perform such as John Legend or Sting, or watching Federer or Djokovic battle it out for the title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Throughout the year, city-wide festivals add to the fun, from the legendary Dubai Shopping Festival which celebrated its 20th year in January 2015 to the hugely successful Dubai Food Festival, now an annual month-long event since its launch in 2014.

And for families, Dubai vows to be the world’s premier family destination, continually building on its portfolio of attractions and events. Few cities offer as many attractions that appeal to all ages as Dubai does. It’s here that families can dash from the ski dome to the desert; from the beach to the parks (whether that be theme parks, water parks or sprawling green parks); and from the multi-screen cinemas where butlers serve popcorn to Olympic-sized ice-skating rinks.

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It’s upon these propositions (Family, Events, Art, Heritage, Gastronomy and Nightlife, Shopping, Beach and Marine Life, Outdoor Adventure) coupled with Dubai’s winning formula as a global Business hub and its winning Hotel and Spas sector, that the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is confidently able to base its tourism ambitions.

And with hotel guest numbers growing year-on-year by 5.6% per cent in 2014, equating to a total of more than 11.6 million hotel guests over the course of the year, the pace has been set. To host all these guests, the total number of hotel establishments has increased by 7.8% to equal 659 properties or 93,030 rooms and flats – spanning all categories from standard to five-star and from city, to beach resort and desert. The portfolio is impressive with hotel companies such as the local Jumeirah Group and Emaar Hospitality setting the global standards for luxury and service. It’s a service mentality to which all hotels adhere, whether five or two-star, a serviced apartment or a guest house.

Where else in the world can you have a 24-carat-gold facial in an award-winning spa, swim with dolphins, watch a world-class act on the beach at midnight, dine on Michelin-starred cuisine and feed sharks all without leaving your hotel resort? The answer is a resounding ‘only in Dubai’.

Dubai is a city where the impossible is possible. Where you cannot help but be impressed, awe-struck and mesmerised. It’s where holiday dreams come true and where remarkable memories are made for a lifetime.

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A moment of peace in Jaipur, Rajasthan

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What made everything even better for me was the food curated by Executive chef Raj Singh. For every meal, there was a different set up in a different area.The first meal we had was in the outdoors candle lit area overlooking the rest of Kukas. This was during the wedding season so we saw firecrackers light up the sky. It was a beautiful ambience for dinner. The next day, we had breakfast by the pool where a specially curated breakfast menu was presented to us. Their pool side has many peacocks and I could spot them from my breakfast table. It was an Instagram worthy spot for food. Next up, I also had lunch on the balcony of my tented room. It was a great experience in itself.

Being a Rajasthani myself, I have often found myself wondering where I can try the best Marwari food. And not surprisingly, I have always found it in Rajasthan. The aloo dum, paneer masala, dal, batti, churma has unnervingly been the best in Rajasthan. By far, I can also vouch for having tried the best pastas, pizzas and desserts in Rajasthan considering it is now the hub of destination weddings in India. My stay at Rajasthali Resort and Spa was no less and the food was culturally representative of the heritage that I also carry within myself. Speaking of the Marwari community, I am working on a book titled, “The Culture Trap” focusing on Rajasthani culture and the Marwari community. The book should be out later in 2022. It is a great read for everyone planning to visit Rajasthan, especially those who want to know more about local culture and folklore.

Traditional architecture

Another thing I loved about Rajasthali Resort and Spa is their grand entrance gate. As soon as I reached the palace, I felt like I was entering like Rajasthani royalty itself. The grand gates and small sculptures on the way to the gate were mesmerizing. I felt teleported to another century and time. Most people don’t know this but Rajasthan has had many wars in the past, hence it has numerous forts like Nahargarh in the city. During wars, most Kings would live in tents with the best facilities, special chefs, great food, leopard skins, grand mirrors, chandeliers and everything their palace would have. Even now, the tent theme is popular at some hotels in Rajasthan and provides an exotic getaway escapade. Rajasthali Resort and Spa also has tent shaped rooms where people can stay among other properties in the region.

I also experienced some traditional architecture at City Palace and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, perhaps the two most common spots for travelers in the region. One really needs to keep their stuff safe while on a visit. Pickpockets are common and even more common are overcharging shops selling local handicrafts. Rajasthani hospitality is otherwise one of the best things anyone could ever experience.

Things to do in Jaipur

A famous activity in Rajasthan is leopard sighting. This is increasingly famous in the JAWAI regions of Jaipur. To my dismay, the safari was fully booked when I was there. I would definitely recommend you to book it in advance to avoid missing out on the experience. If you are up for visiting a monkey temple, you can even explore Galtaji Temple on the outskirts of Jaipur. It is a unique experience to be climbing on steps to get a view of a holy lake with monkeys following you around. Just don’t make eye contact. They might steal your phone or sunglasses, anything on the loose. I once lost my milk bottle as a baby and the monkeys never gave it back. Holidays indeed make up for stories of a lifetime. Rajasthali Resort and Spa, where I stayed, had some beautiful cycling tracks around. I cycled amidst nature and viewed peacocks at sunset. It was one of the most mesmerizing and detoxing experiences of my life. For all those who care, peacocks are my favorite birds. They’re magnificent, colorful and beautiful. You might even choose to venture out for a swim and trust me, it will be worth it. Swimming in the pink city with the sun soaking on your body can be more relaxing than even the best spa in the city. Being a Mumbai girl, I need some peace and quiet and gladly I found my spot in Jaipur.

Finding myself

What holidays are about most of all is finding ourselves. I was glad to get a moment of peace from my fast paced life in Mumbai. All I needed was a break and I finally got it close to my native town. Rajasthan is my home. It runs through my veins. “Padharo Mhare Des.” If you know, you know.

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5 Culinary Delights That You Should Try When Traveling to Yogyakarta

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Indonesia is a country that is always visited by tourists from various countries every year. Many foreign tourists are interested in visiting Indonesia because Indonesia has a variety of cultures and beautiful places that are scattered in various regions and are still preserved. Some of the places most frequently visited by tourists include Bali, Yogyakarta, Lombok, Sulawesi, Kalimantan and Papua. In addition, in Indonesia, there are also several destinations that have been named the 7 wonders of the world, namely Komodo National Park or commonly called Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara and Borobudur Temple in Magelang (Central Java). Komodo Island, which is located in the Labuan Bajo area of ​​East Nusa Tenggara, has many types of flora and fauna that inhabit the Komodo National Park area, making it one of the World Heritage Sites and Man and Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1986. Then in 2013, Komodo National Park was named one of the 7 natural wonders of the world (wisato.id, n.d.). Temporary Borobudur Temple itself was once included in the 7 wonders of the world. From the Unesco.org page, this historic building from Indonesia was listed in 1995, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009. Borobudur Temple is located on the island of Java. This temple is on a hilltop which was built between 780 and 840 AD. Borobudur was built during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty (Dwi Latifatul Fajri, 2021). In addition to Borobudur temple, there are many temple buildings left over from various kingdoms. The majority of these temple buildings are found in the areas of Java and Yogyakarta.

The Yogyakarta area itself is indeed famous for the charm of the city which is rich in arts and tourist areas.This city also has the nickname as a student city because of the many universities in it. Many people visit Yogyakarta to continue their education, take vacations to enjoy natural attractions such as beaches, mountains, temples and take walks in the middle of the city such as to Malioboro and the square. And there are also tourists who visit to explore the city and learn about its culture that is still preserved. Traveling itself is an activity to visit a new area to get to know more about the area. Whether it’s in the form of tourist attractions, culture and culinary in it. Culinary in the Yogyakarta area is very diverse and tastes spicy, salty, sweet and savory. Among the many types of culinary, here are 5 culinary recommendations that must be tasted when traveling to Yogyakarta.

The first is Gudeg. This gudeg is a typical food from Yogyakarta which tends to be sweet. Gudeg is generally made from young jackfruit cooked with coconut milk and is brown in color, in addition to young jackfruit vegetables in it there are also chicken, eggs, tempeh and tofu. Although it has a fairly strong sweet taste, gudeg is usually served with krecek which has a spicy taste so it is very delicious when eaten with warm white rice. There are many gudeg sellers in Yogyakarta and they are very easy to find, from small stalls to hotel restaurants, almost always a gudeg menu in it, even some gudeg brands that have been around for a dozen years and are sought after by tourists.

Next, the second one is the culinary satay klatak. Satay klatak is made from mutton, this satay klatak is also different from satay in general. The difference is the klatak satay pieces which are usually larger and the skewers using bicycle iron bars. The term Satay Klatak comes from the sound produced when the satay is roasted. The sound of “tak…tak…tak” is produced from a splash of salt that is poured into the coals above the stove (ditwdb, 2019). In one serving of satay klatak, usually only 2 to 4 skewers will be served because the size is larger than the usual satay. In addition, sate klatak is also served with a side sauce that will be very delicious when eaten with lontong or warm white rice.

Then the third one is the culinary oseng mercon. Has a spicy taste that is quite strong, for lovers of this culinary spicy taste a must try. Made from beef fat which is processed with special spices and lots of chili in it. That’s why this dish is called mercon because of its strong spicy taste. But now oseng mercon has many variations, not only beef fat but also made from chicken. This dish is very suitable to be enjoyed at night and eaten with warm rice.

Then the fourth one is Javanese noodle culinary. Bakmi Jawa is a dish that is available in the afternoon until the evening. Bakmi Jawa is made from noodles cooked with special spices and mostly uses free-range chicken in the mix. Bakmi Jawa can be found in various places in Yogyakarta, from small traders to restaurants, almost all serving Javanese noodles. In the presentation there are 2 types of Javanese noodles, namely Javanese noodles with soup and fried Javanese noodles (without sauce). Both have a distinctive taste and are equally delicious.

The last or fifth there is culinary mangut catfish. Mangut catfish is a culinary dish that is cooked from catfish which has previously been processed by smoking or frying and then cooked with coconut and given a special seasoning that is rich in spices in it so that it produces a delicious taste. Mangut catfish usually has a savory spicy taste that will be very delicious when eaten with warm white rice.

Of the 5 recommended dishes above, the five are heavy foods that come from Yogyakarta and have a special taste of each type. The majority of food in Indonesia is enjoyed together with white rice as a carbohydrate. Because most foods are cooked with strong spices so it will be very suitable when eaten together with carbohydrates such as white rice which does not have a strong taste and does not interfere with the taste of the main dish.

With a variety of recommended culinary delights, it is hoped that in the future it can increase the interest of increasing tourist visits to Yogyakarta. Because as we know the pandemic for 2 years had made several tourist destinations closed so that tourist visits were also reduced. It is hoped that with the loosening of regulations because the pandemic is starting to subside, it is hoped that the community’s economic conditions will be restored through the tourism and culinary sectors so that the community’s economic conditions can also return to normal. As well as the government, the community and tourists who visit tourist attractions can maintain the surrounding environment so that it is not damaged and can be enjoyed by our children and grandchildren in the future.

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Tips on How to Plan an Excellent African Safari from the UK

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Although the holiday season is right around the corner, that does not mean you have to go around the bend from planning your family vacation.

Organizing a group getaway can be an easy and hassle-free experience. You could, for instance, opt to go on a Kenya vacation.

Having decided to go on an Africa safari from the UK, it is vital to make sure that your travel details are sorted out early enough to avoid inconveniences and undesirable outcomes.

After all, holidays are a time to unwind and let go of all the worries that bog you down on a daily basis. But how do you go about procuring the most enjoyable and thrilling holiday for you and your loved ones?

More importantly, as a Brit who has never been to Africa, how do you get the best African safari holidays from the UK?

Below are some of the most important things to consider when planning an African safari. We also give you practical insights on how to structure an excellent vacation to Kenya, the motherland of all African safaris.

Have the right travel partner

While going it alone in a foreign destination is possible, it is more prudent to rely on the guidance of a trusted professional.

Enlisting the services of a travel agent will not only give you peace of mind but it will also avail you of more favourable pricing.

Tour companies have the advantage of receiving corporate discounts from most of the industry’s service providers and they invariably pass these discounts to you.

When going on a Kenya vacation for example, no one is better placed to know what is going on in the Maasai Mara than a travel agent who specializes in Maasai Mara safaris.

The agent will be able to advise you on the best priced hotels, lodges, and camps. They will also be eligible for discounts you might otherwise not enjoy as an independent traveler.

Besides, having a tour agent means that your African safari holiday from the UK will have the benefit of a native’s expertise. You see, some of the best travel companies are those that employ native guides who know the area you visit well and will expose you to its most intimate details.

Know your travel requirements

An agent will also come in handy in letting you know more about the country’s immigration requirements.

That includes the types of vaccinations and health documents you might be required to furnish at your port of entry.

It is essential to ascertain these processes to ensure you are not caught flat footed on the day of travel.

Knowing which countries require travel visas is vital as it allows you to have these processed before you book your air tickets.

While most Kenya safari holiday safari packages are exclusive of visas and international tickets, your travel agent is at hand to render free advice on the easiest way for you to procure them.

Know the attractions

Before you commit any money to your African safari holidays from the UK, make a point of learning more about the country’s main attractions.

For example, one of the most popular tourism products in Africa are the Kenya beach and safari holiday packages.

However, these can be as diverse as humanity itself. That is because on the whole, the country has more than 40 major wildlife parks and reserves, four marine parks, and more than 15 beaches.

That tremendously opens up your range of vacation places in Kenya and means that your Kenya safari holiday package may include any combination of destinations.

Knowing what different parks offer, their location, and the activities likely to be found there will prove helpful when structuring your itinerary.

Again, the services of a professional travel agent in this regard cannot be overstated. The agent will inform you about which parks are close to each other, which attractions offer certain activities, and tell you the best time of the year to visit particular areas.

A Kenya vacation to the Maasai Mara for instance is best during the July-October season, when the country is dry and the reserve has plenty of animals.

It is also the time when the annual wildebeest migration occurs, meaning your family will be able to witness the overland migration of more than two million wild animals from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara.

Touring the park may be done through various ways, including game drives, hot air balloon rides, or even walking safaris.

During this season, enjoying your Kenya beach and safari holiday packages is also easier as the beaches enjoy sunny days thanks to the dry weather.

Visitors interested in heritage and cultural tours also have plenty to choose from, such as visits to cultural museums, indigenous villages, ancient ruins, and old towns.

While looking into the different attractions, please also bear in mind your family members’ areas of interest and what would appeal to them. That ensures that every member of your travel party enjoys a splendid vacation and lifelong memories they will treasure.

Cost

Lastly, find out how much the entire safari costs and what it includes. That information will enable you to budget accordingly.

Typically, most safari providers will have pre-structured safari deals with fixed prices.

However, some Kenya safari holiday packages allow you to customize your safari experience by cherry picking the activities you want to be included in your itinerary.

If you opt for a custom Kenya safari holiday package, your agent will inform you how much it will cost based on the vacation places in Kenya that you wish to visit. The cost is also influenced by the safari vehicle you choose to use.

For luxury holidays, 4×4 safari vehicles such as the safari land cruiser are used. The budget alternative for a true safari vehicle is the safari van. Smaller vehehicles such as Mazda Axela, Nissan Note, Toyota Premio, and Mazda Demio are often used for transfers.

That allows you to shop around for the best priced safari packages in the market and picking the one you feel most reflects your desired holiday.

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