Your search stops right here. We'll take you on a whirlwind tour of attractive holiday options close to home.

So, what's your perfect weekend like? For most of us, it's a game of tennis, great dinners, good movies and most importantly, no alarm clocks. Living in the UAE, however, let's add a fifth to the list - perfect weekend getaways.

Short breaks close to home can be immensely rejuvenating, infusing us with positive energy. Blessed with year-round sunshine, marvellous mountains, pristine beaches and clear, warm waters, the emirates offer us plenty to choose from within the country and in neighbouring Oman.

Whether it is the spa experience in Fujairah, rock climbing in Ras Al Khaimah, antique shopping in Muscat, dolphin spotting in Musandam or hiking in Hatta, all we need to do is look around and grab the right opportunity.

Mesmerised in Muscat

If you love history, then Muscat, the capital of Oman, will enchant you like no other city in the Gulf. Both locals and expatriates in the UAE like to visit this city shaped by Portuguese, Persian, Indian, Arabian and modern western influences. Muscat's harbour, palaces, fortresses and bazaars make for a memorable weekend.

The Muttrah Souq in Muscat is a must-visit, especially if you are an antique lover. The souq retains the characteristics of a traditional Arab market and is open from 8 am until 1 pm and again from 5 to 9pm.

Chunky necklaces, beads and baubles made from corals, turquoise and other gemstones, as well as Bedouin silver and Arabian handicrafts, will keep you occupied for hours.

The Muscat Turath is the oldest store in the souq. The ceilings of the outlet drip with necklaces and antique silver knives. Coffee pots, Bedouin bangles, old coins and swords - the average tourist is spoiled for choice. You can also shop for textiles, sheesha pipes and frankincense, which is definitely one of the best buys here.

Besides the Muttrah Souq, you can also visit the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The breathtakingly rich prayer hall here has the largest Persian carpet in the world, which took 600 women four years to weave.

The Bait Al Zubair Museum (displaying Omani heritage through inherited and collected artefacts), a four-wheel drive to the Wahiba sands and a visit to the Sultan's Armed Forces Museum (where you will be given a mandatory military escort) are some of the other things you can pack into your weekend trip.

The Seeb International Airport in Oman is serviced by several international airlines. You can also travel by road to Muscat from Dubai. The Omani National Transport Company has buses to and from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Marvellous Musandam

If you prefer to spend weekends far from the madding crowd, then Musandam is definitely your best bet. This peninsula lies in the extreme north of Oman, but is separated from the Sultanate by a strip of UAE land. Musandam consists of four wilayats: Khasab, Bukha, Mudha and Dibba. The easiest way to reach Musandam is to fly to Khasab from Muscat or drive from the UAE via Ras Al Khaimah. You can also drive from Muscat, but it takes four hours from Muscat to the border at Dibba and then again three hours on steep tracks to Khasab.

Musandam gives you plenty of options where outdoor activities are concerned. You can cruise along the fjords of Musandam (created by the majestic Hajar Mountains) on traditional Omani dhows, which will give you a wonderful view of the fantastic landscape. If your dhow anchors at the famous Telegraph Island, you can swim and snorkel in the clear water and even watch the dolphins play. Diving in this area is for experienced divers who are ready to enjoy rich sea life.

For the more adventurous, a four-wheel drive to the Jebel Harim Mountains (better known as the Mountain of Women) is the perfect way to enjoy the dramatic scenery of the region. On the way there is the Bedouin village of Sayh and the natural park of Acacia trees at Khalidiya. Seasoned trekkers can also try the crossing from Sham Fjord to Kumzar, going past abandoned villages and derelict houses.

Close to Kumzar the valley opens up and trekkers share the road with villagers on their way home. The city tour of Khasab includes a visit to the restored Portuguese Fort of Khasab, which has a museum of Omani handicrafts.

Touring Hatta

Closer home, Hatta is one of the real gems of the UAE. A small town tucked into the Hajar Mountains, Hatta has some of the most spectacular sights and is the perfect destination for camping in peace. Easy access by road from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, low humidity levels, rock pools and waterfalls make this a popular picnic spot. The Hatta pools are fissures that run through the valley amid the Hajar Mountains. Swimming is permitted in these pools, but the lack of rainfall means that the water level is usually low. The pools of Hatta are perfect locations for picnics.

For adventure seekers, the biggest draw is the Hatta trek, a tour of the area by private vehicle or on hired camels. On your way, you are likely to see the magnificent Hatta Fort built in the 16th century. Local tour operators organise treks, and they last a minimum of seven hours.

The Hatta Heritage Village is another attraction. Set in its own oasis, it will give you a feel of Bedouin life and culture. Beautifully fashioned clay pots, Iranian silk carpets and other traditional handicrafts will force you to stop and take a look.

Fun in Fujairah

Often called 'Paradise on Earth', the emirate of Fujairah is one of the most attractive travel destinations in the area. For people living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this can be a perfect weekend getaway to charge your body and soul. The region features lavish oases, palm orchards, pristine beaches, rich heritage, exquisite handicrafts and exotic folklore.

However, for most tourists it's the sun, sea and the marvels of marine life that are the biggest attractions. From camping along the unspoiled coastline, scuba diving, windsurfing and fishing, to underwater photography and fun-filled cruises, Fujairah is soul stirring all the way.

A trip to this emirate should also include visits to the Al Bidya Mosque, Al Heil Castle, Fujairah Fort, Fujairah Museum and the Ain Madhab Gardens.

Every Friday, watch out for the famous Fujairah bullfight, a bloodless sport in which two bulls test their strength against one another.

One of the other important activities and attractions in Fujairah is the powerboat racing world championships held every year in October, organised by the Fujairah International Marine Club. Most hotels in this emirate offer not just world-class spa treatments, but also day trips to the Masafi Friday Market, the Khor Fakkan Fishing Village and the Al Wurayah Waterfalls.

Amazing Al Ain

In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the garden city of Al Ain is known for its parks and greenery. Just 150 kilometres from Dubai, it's a great place for a relaxing weekend. The area is dotted with ruined forts and local attractions include a thriving camel market and a theme park.

A trip to Al Ain has the Jebel Hafeet Mountain as its primary attraction. A drive along the mountain provides stunning views of the desert dunes and the setting sun. In case you don't feel like coming back to the plains, the Mercure Grand hotel, four kilometres from the summit, will offer you great hospitality. Al Ain also provides great opportunities to go for desert safaris in four-wheel drive vehicles.

Recharge your soul in Ras Al Khaimah

Finally, the wild west of the UAE - Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) - has an untamed natural beauty. With the Hajar Mountains to the east, the Arabian Gulf to the west and the stunning Musandam peninsula to the north, the emirate has the most impressive natural beauty. It is easily accessible by road and by air.

The drive to the town from Dubai is simply breathtaking and at every turn the mountains and remains of medieval settlements fascinate the traveller. The place has now started marketing itself as a tourist destination as well as a hub for real estate development.

A trip to RAK should include trips to its many souqs, a visit to the National Museum, an afternoon at the Khaat area (well known for its thermal springs) and the Masafi district, renowned for its orchards and natural potable water.

The emirate is now being promoted as a quiet and relaxing weekend spot for people who look for breaks that go beyond the sun, sand and the sea. By 2010, at least two million visitors are expected, according to statistics from the RAK Tourism Office.