We’ve reached the tail end of our Eid break, but there’s another weekend to go before we need to get back to the daily grind. Wondering how to taper off the holiday on a high note? We’ve got you covered with some tips from a UAE-based mum who loves to travel and explore the country with her kid in tow.
Fifty-five-year-old Alison Watt has been in the UAE for over 22 years, much of it spent discovering new, little-known sights. The mum-to-one, who shares her insights through insta account @glimpsesoftheuae, tells Gulf News in an interview: “There’s so much to see in this country.”
Her way to discover these gems is simple. “When people ask me how I find these places – it’s just by going down random roads. You see a road? Think what’s down the road and take it. You’ll be amazed at what things you’ll find just by going down the road. Because most of these things are not signposted, so be a bit courageous, but be safe,” she laughs.
Google Maps helps too. Want to follow her example? “Zoom in and out of Google Maps, see what you can find, what looks interesting and then, head over there and you’ll find other things also on the way. Keep an eye on your signal if you are going off road though,” she warns.
When people ask me how I find these places – it’s just by going down random roads.
When she zips around the Emirates, Watt usually takes her 13-year-old daughter along for the ride. “Now she’s becoming a teenager so now she puts her ear pods in or she takes a book, but we also listen to audio books, we play some games. When they [kids] are younger they enjoy it more because it’s like an adventure. You are visiting old houses and they imagine they are living in these old houses. I try to take some information along, so maybe she’ll learn something about the history or geology,” she explains.
Here’s a look at some beautiful sights that she recommends:
Al Rams, Ras Al Khaimah
“It is a quaint fishing village, but it has mangroves and mountains, and different kinds of scenery. It’s also where they have the Al Suwaidi Pearl Farm Tour,” she explains. The corniche offers views of the towers, old buildings and watchtower. Al Rams is also home to the early 19th century Dhayah Fort, from where you can see lovely views.
Watt says: “The town itself I think is under-rated. It has very nice beach, new clock tower with a restaurant at the top. It has mangroves and three different nature reserves.” These include: Khor Kalba Mangrove Centre; Khor Kalba Turtle and Wildlife Sanctuary; and Al Hefaiyah Conservation Centre.
Looking for a chilled out vibe with a natural draw? Look no further than Masfoot, which has a hiking trail, mountain bike trail, an old fort that’s been made into a museum and an oasis. “There’s a walk that goes all the way from one of the dams and it goes through the town and it’s got benches along the way and it’s got the mountains and nice views and a café,” says Watt. It’s also home to one of the oldest mosques in the UAE, which is 200 years old!
“There’s not much there but it has mountains and it’s a nice area to go camping, long drive, off-road,” says Watt, adding, “There are two wadis together – Wadi Kub and Aim to explore.”
Sharjah Arts Centre Area
If you need a dose of culture, look no further than this area, home to the Sharjah Arts Museum and Sharjah Art Foundation - Bait Obaid Al Shamsi. They are free and host art exhibitions, activities and workshops, says Watt. There’s also a café, for the time-outs.
‘The Field Guide to the Emirates’ by Jarir Maani. “I keep that in the car. Sometimes if we see flowers or insects, we check it for information. It’s useful,” she says.
Sunscreen on, road-trip ready? You are just in time to see a gem in the Emirates.
Tell us about your parenting journey by writing in to firstname.lastname@example.org