Madain Saleh

The extraordinary Madain Saleh is home to 131 tombs, 45 of which carry inscriptions in late mkfzhjmAramaic script above the entrance. These inscriptions detail the tomb’s builders – many constructed by wealthy women. The enigmatic tombs combine elements of Greco-Roman architecture with Nabataean and Babylonian imagery. Recent excavations have revealed the foundations of unprepossessing houses and a market area for traders and caravans.

Nabataean Well & Al-Mahajar

The Nabataeans were masters of hydrology and manipulated rain run-off and underground aquifers to thrive in this desert landscape. This great well was one of over 60 wells currently known in the city. The wall supports – added in the 20th century – were built from railway sleepers pilfered from the Hejaz Railway.

The Al-Mahajar tombs are especially photogenic and some of the oldest.

Hejaz Railway Station

At the northern edge of the site is the Madain Saleh Station of the Hejaz Railway. Though the site has been comprehensively restored, it lacks the lonely and decrepit charm of the stations elsewhere.

The complex, built in 1907, consists of 16 buildings, which include a large workshop – with a restored WWI-era engine – shells of train carriages and a

A local’s guide to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s humble roots are difficult to unearth. Following its oil boom, the city has xfgzjmndzgtbecome a playground for the Gulf’s rich and famous. But beyond the domino-like deluxe hotels and futuristic shopping malls straight from Star Trek, it retains seductive charms and a treasure trove of archaic spice souks, traditional dhows, date palm gardens and the odd thirsty camel. From this perspective, it’s easy to picture the great Arabian scholars and storybook heroes making their home here once more.

So what do the locals do to pass the time? Depending on the season and time of day – remember cold nights, sandstorms and summer temperatures of 48 Celsius 48°C (118°F) are not uncommon here – you could be dune bashing in the desert, taking a boat trip along the coast or rugging up under the Gulf’s burnishing stars. This is a place that requires options for all times of the day.

Early morning

The best way to get to grips with Abu Dhabi is to do as the locals do. Begin the day with a steaming cup of kahwa (strong Arabic coffee) and head to the restored Al

Why Use a Travel Agent?

Planning a trip today can be confusing and time consuming. A travel agent not only gnjSFDHBarranges the various modes of transportation, but a travel agent also may be able to save you money with early booking discounts, special fares, hotel deals and travel advisories. Don’t take our word for it. See what the president of Crystal Cruises has to say about using a travel agent..


Benefits of Using a Travel Agent

Save Money! – Strong working relationships with travel suppliers and the latest in computer reservations technology enable travel agents to access the most up-to-date information on how to get you the best value.

Traveler Advocates – Your best interests are the priority. ASTA (The American Society of Travel Agents) has a long-standing record of fighting for consumer rights and ASTA member travel agents are required to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

Convenience – The ASTA membership includes travel agents across the country and throughout the world, most of which offer one-stop shopping for all travel arrangements.

Service – ASTA member travel agents are knowledgeable and active in the industry. The Society provides

Coastside Living: Beach Home Rental Destinations

Look out from the city of Naples, Florida, and you will see a most amazing site, Marco Island, the shining star of one of the most beautiful areas of the country.  Florida has long been the vacation destination choice for those living up and down the east coast, as well as the many places west of the original 13 colonies.  It’s hard to beat a state that’s a peninsula with world-class beaches on both coasts and world-famous cites like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and of course, our favorite, Naples, on the Gulf Coast.  If you’re looking for beach homes to rent, whether it’s for a week or a year, Florida is the place for you and Marco Island has exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to your exact beach home rental destination.

Marco Island Beach Rentals

Renting a beach home can be classified in two ways: something everyone should do at least once and something you may do and never look back!  Especially with the great variety of beach homes for rent on Marco Island, you could come 10 years in a row and have a different experience each time.  You can also

Select a Place to go for Your Vacation

When you are planning a big getaway, you will want to arrange the top destination for your dream holiday. This way, you can be certain to check out all the locations you want to view and you’ll be sure you’re going to have a blast.

You have several different options with regards to preparing your dream holiday, so it can be hard to accomplish. Look at the spots you’ve always wanted to see. In case you’re a diver, you might like to head to deep-sea diving off of the shoreline of Australia. If you’d prefer art, you might vacation throughout Europe and discover some of the more popular paintings and sculptures. If you enjoy history, try touring locations including the Colosseum, that features a particularly prosperous heritage. Through taking under consideration exactly what you really like, you may find there exists a destination or perhaps selection of destinations which will be really great for you. If you don’t think about a single thing, you could consult with a local travel agency. They’ll explain to you exactly what places tend to be well-liked as well as which areas people have loved traveling to in the past.

If you are planning your trip,

Arabian Saluki Centre

You’ll probably hear them before you see them as a howl goes up when a visitor approaches this hound pound. A visit here involves entering the kennels, meeting the affectionate and well-looked-after residents, picking up a puppy or two and perhaps watching bath-time. Prized for their hunting skills and speed over distance, salukis have for centuries been man’s best friend to the Bedu, and after a visit to this breeding and training centre it’s easy to see why. It’s in the Falcon Hospital Complex; prebook an appointment.

Originating in China, the saluki is thought to be one of the first breeds of dog to be domesticated and their speed, tolerance to high temperatures and intelligence made them the perfect companions for nomadic communities who used them to catch rabbits and other small game. While there’s not much call for their skills in the desert these days, they remain a beloved part of the Arabian Peninsula heritage with pure-bred, well-behaved dogs fetching thousands of dirhams. Many are bred to race and, according to the Guinness Book of Records , a saluki holds the record for four-legged speed at 68.8km/h, clocked up in 1996. Their beauty is also prized and dogs are paraded

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Rising majestically from beautifully manicured gardens and visible from each of the bridges joining Abu Dhabi Island to the mainland, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque represents an impressive welcome to the city. Conceived by the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, and marking his final resting place, the mosque accommodates 41,000 worshippers and is one of the few in the region open to non-Muslims.

With more than 80 marble domes on a roofline held aloft by over 1000 pillars and punctuated by four 107m-high minarets, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a masterpiece of modern Islamic architecture and design. Over 100,000 tons of pure white Greek and Macedonian marble were used in its construction. Delicate floral designs inlaid with semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli, red agate, amethyst, abalone, jasper and mother-of-pearl, decorate a variety of marbles and contrast with the more traditional geometric ceramic details.

While it includes references to Mamluk, Ottoman and Fatimid styles, the overwhelming impression of the breath-taking interior is contemporary and innovative, with three steel, gold, brass and crystal chandeliers filling the main prayer hall with shafts of primary-coloured light. The chandeliers, the largest of which weighs approximately 12 tons, sparkle with Swarovski crystals and shine with

Packing Lists and Packing Tips

There are two kinds of travelers in the world: those who packed light and those who wish they had. To include everything needed in as little space as possible, follow these helpful packing tips compiled by ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know the techniques of efficient packing and packing tips for all types of travel.


Like an architect planning a building, so must you plan the contents of your suitcase by creating a packing list. A packing list eliminates the panic of last-second packing, serves as a handy guide for repacking at the end of the trip, and can be beneficial in the unfortunate event of lost or stolen luggage.

When planning your wardrobe, consider the events you will participate in both day and night and write down a possible outfit for each activity. Crosscheck this packing list to determine if one piece can cover multiple occasions. Pick clothes that coordinate well together, based around complimentary colors.

Check the weather forecast of the destination and plan accordingly. Also, be sure to know the local traditions, where a t-shirt for dinner could

Daredevil Dubai

It might be tempting to spend your Dubai break sprawled on a sun lounger, but this corner of the world is packed with high-octane, adrenaline-charged activities. There are outdoors adventures to be had in the sand, sea and snow (yes, you read that right), and all are within a short taxi ride of each other. Got a need for speed? Go wakeboarding, skiing, sliding or racing F1-style – Dubai’s got it all.


Beyond the city’s architectural giants are vast desert dunes of various colours and shapes. The UAE’s stunt riders head out to Big Red, an area packed with thousands of sandy mounds, where you can watch pro quadbikers, 4×4 drivers and sandboarders launching themselves off ledges and peaks.  Fancy a go yourself?  Adventure companies will drive willing participants to suitably high dunes, strap them to a board and send them hurtling down the slopes. Most companies will throw in some belly-flipping dune bashing for free too. It doesn’t hurt when you tumble, but be prepared to get a workout climbing back up the sandy hills. After a session, stick around to watch the desert sunset, where bright pinks, oranges, yellows and mauves combine, as gazelles dart off into the horizon.


Umayyad Mosque

Welcome to the most beautiful mosque in Syria and one of the holiest in the world for Muslims. Converted from a Byzantine cathedral (which in turn had occupied the site of the Temple of Jupiter), Damascus’ crowning glory was built in AD 705. At the time, under Umayyad rule, Damascus had become the capital of the Islamic world and the caliph, Khaled ibn al-Walid, built what he called ‘a mosque the equal of which was never designed by anyone before me or anyone after me’. It is Islam’s first truly imperial building.

The mosque’s outstanding feature is its golden mosaics , which adorn the facade of the prayer hall on the southern side of the courtyard, and a 37m stretch along the western arcade wall, which Damascenes believe represents the Barada Valley and the paradise that the Prophet Mohammed saw in Damascus. Traces remain elsewhere around the courtyard, leaving you to imagine the sublime aspect of the mosque in its heyday.

The expansive courtyard is flanked on three sides by a two-storey arched arcade and is occupied by an unusual ablutions fountain topped by a wooden canopy, and, on the western side, a small octagonal structure, the Dome of the Treasury ,

Tareq Rajab Museum

Housed in the basement of a large villa, this exquisite ethnographic museum should not be missed. It was assembled as a private collection of Islamic art by Kuwait’s first minister of antiquities and his British wife. A pair of ornate doors from Cairo and Carl Haag’s 19th-century painting of Lady Jane Digby el-Mesreb of Palmyra, who lived in tents in the winter and a Damascus villa in the summer, mark the entrance to an Aladdin’s cave of beautiful items. There are inlaid musical instruments suspended in glass cabinets; Omani silver and Saudi gold jewellery; headdresses, from the humble prayer cap to the Mongol helmet; costumes worn by princesses and by goatherds; necklaces for living goddesses in Nepal; Jaipur enamel; and Bahraini pearl. Despite all these superbly presented pieces from around the Muslim world, it is the Arabic manuscripts that give the collection its international importance.

The museum is all the more prized given the fate that befell the treasures in the National Museum during the Iraqi invasion. When news of the invasion spread, the owners bricked up the doorway at the bottom of the entry steps and strewed the way with rubbish. The Iraqis questioned why the stairs led to nowhere,

DOT Guide to Public Charter Flights

Over the past few years, charter rules have been relaxed to make lower cost air transportation available to more people. “Public Charters” can be purchased from a tour operator, a travel agent, or sometimes directly from the airline. If your flight has been arranged by a club or other organization for its members, it may be what is called an “affinity” charter flight. These charters generally do not carry the consumer protection provisions of Public Charters. Be sure you know what kind of charter flight you are purchasing. A Public Charter may include only the flights, or it may be sold as a complete package, including hotels, guided tours, and ground transportation. Either way, your rights are spelled out in a contract you have with the tour operator. The operator or your travel agent should give you a contract to sign at the time you purchase your trip. Read it before you pay any money.

The Department of Transportation requires tour operators to disclose certain information in your contract about the restrictions that they impose and also rights that you have under DOT rules:

You usually pay penalties if you cancel. The closer to departure you cancel, the bigger

Abu Dhabi Corniche

The waterfront Corniche, with its white sandy beaches and generous promenade, stretches the entire length of the north-west shore of the city. Giving spectacular views of the iconic high rise tower blocks assembled along the seafront, it also offers one of the city’s main recreation opportunities with a dedicated walking and separate cycle path weaving in and out of the Corniche’s landscaped gardens. Refreshments are available from the public beaches that punctuate the western section of the road.

The best way to explore the whole Corniche is by renting a bicycle from Funride Sports, in front of the Hilton Abu Dhabi at the south-western end of the Corniche. There are several other stations, less consistently open, at Al Sahil gardens, about a third of the way along the 8km cycle track. Towels and sunbeds can be rented from several of the Corniche’s public beaches, run by Bake UAE. It’s worth taking some water for exploring the whole length of the Corniche as the eastern section has few amenities and long stretches without shade.

The inland side of the Corniche is dotted with parks and sheesha cafés that come alive at night with local families seeking the sea breeze in the sweltering summer

Airline Baggage: Traveling with Special Items

Airlines have seen it all. They have seen passengers transport every type of item – from tubas to scuba gear, parachutes to perishables – and they have rules in place for each and every piece. Following those rules is critical if you want to board smoothly and arrive at your destination on time.

To help you travel better with the possessions you simply must have at your destination, here are some helpful guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for transporting special items by airlines.

Please note that some airlines and other countries may have additional rules and restrictions on these particular items, so before you travel, check with your travel agent to obtain the most up-to-date information. Your travel agent can verify your airline’s policies before you arrive at the airport, so you don’t waste time trying to track down the info yourself.

Alcoholic Beverages
Travelers may now carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortably in ONE, QUART-SIZE, clear plastic, zip-top bag. With the exception of medications, any amount of liquid including alcohol greater than three ounces must be packed in your checked baggage. However, you cannot take alcoholic beverages with more than 70 percent alcohol

Dubai’s hottest new nightlife

From glamorous bars to off-the-hook clubs and a spread of fashionable restaurants, Dubai, as always, has a whole host of brand new nightlife openings. So if you’re planning a wild night out, a celebratory meal, or just want to revel in Dubai’s unique brand of glitz during your holidays, look no further – these are the newest places to party right now.


Sitting on high in the Sofitel Downtown, Above lives up to its name when it comes to most things, but demonstrably not so when looking across to the towering Burj Khalifa. This rooftop lounge is quite literally in the shadow of the world’s tallest building, and Above has decided to make a virtue of the mega-structure, enjoying a vantage point that most people will never see. This will be particularly spectacular come New Year’s Eve when the Burj is transformed into a NASA-style launching pad for one of the best firework shows anywhere in the world.

Mercury Lounge

The new Four Seasons Resort is home to the just-launched Mercury Lounge. A Tattinger champagne bar in the shape of a huge bubble sits in the middle of the huge, open space, over which impossible good-looking staff and ethereal (at

A shopper’s guide to Dubai

Dubai loves to shop. The city has just about perfected the art of the mall, which is the de facto air-conditioned ‘town commons’, the place to go with the family, hang out with friends and take in some entertainment. So what kind of goods should you look for? We’ve got the lowdown.

But before we go shopping, just a quick note. When people talk about Dubai being tax-free, they’re referring to personal income tax on wages. There are, however, import duties. If you’re shopping for mid- and low-cost goods, depending on your home currency, you may not see much difference. But you will notice the difference on luxury goods. If you’re in the market for, say, a new Rolex, you’ll save a bundle in Dubai. Otherwise don’t be lulled by the tax-free promise!


Dubai is a carpet lover’s paradise. Fine Persian carpets, colourful Turkish and Kurdish kilims, and rough-knotted Bedouin rugs are all widely available. Dubai has a reputation in the region for having the highest-quality carpets at the best prices. Bargaining is the norm.
A rug’s quality depends entirely on how the wool was processed. It doesn’t matter if the rug was hand-knotted if the wool is lousy. The

Car Rental Tips

Renting a car can enhance the flexibility of any trip – be it business or leisure. This information explains the process of renting a car and provides some car rental tips and car rental advice.


Ask your ASTA travel agent to help you find the right car rental firm for each trip. Different firms serve different cities throughout the world. A travel agent can save you the time and effort of calling several different companies to find the best rate and car for you. Also, a travel agent may be aware of promotional rates and special programs that may not be advertised to the general public.


Car rental companies generally charge four types of basic rates: a daily rate with a mileage charge; a daily rate with a limited number of free miles per day; a daily rate with unlimited mileage; and a rate that has free mileage over an extended period. Rates vary according to the size and style of vehicle but most firms rent economy, compact, intermediate and deluxe cars. Special promotional rates are often available, especially over weekends, but these should be specifically requested in advance.

Other charges

Tips for Women Traveling Alone

Now more than ever, women are traveling by themselves for business or pleasure. And although their reasons for traveling are similar to their male counterparts, women traveling alone have very different concerns. From safety issues to cultural variations, women travelers encounter a variety of difficulties that can be avoided if the necessary precautions are taken.
To learn how you can travel safer, read these tips from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members understand that while it pays for both men and women to be educated travelers, it is imperative for women to plan every step of their trip – from packing a suitcase to choosing a hotel room – to ensure a safe return.

Know Before You Go – Learn as much about the destination as possible, especially when traveling to a foreign country. An area’s religious or cultural beliefs can directly impact you, compelling you to adapt your dress and demeanor to comply with local customs. Also, what is regarded as sexual harassment in one country is part of the social fabric of another, so avoid form-fitting or revealing clothing to prevent unwanted attention.

Welcome to Hotel Safety – Get

Traveling with Pets

They’re furry, they’re friendly – they’re absolutely lovable. Family pets are often a big part of the family, and sometimes it’s hard to leave those adorable rascals behind when you leave town. With these simple tips, your pet won’t have to miss out on one fun moment of the family’s big vacation!


If you are a disabled person traveling with a seeing-eye dog, notify your destination hosts and airline ahead of time.

Before you take your beloved pet anywhere, take him to the vet for an overall checkup, and ask for the number of an associate in the area where you will be staying. A few weeks before you depart, get your pet a physical, complete with vaccinations necessary for the area to which you are traveling. A direct, uncrowded flight is best (an evening flight if the weather is warm), but the vet can also give you tranquilizers to calm your pet for the long journey. If you’re unsure whether your pet is up for the trip – ask. Although a cross-country flight may be no problem for you, a pet may suffer greatly while left in

Helping Hands for Adoption Travelers

Business or pleasure? That’s the first question people generally ask about an upcoming trip. Your answer gives them a reasonable range of responses, for they understand the parameters associated with both business trips and pleasurable vacations. On the other hand, an answer of adoption travel carries no definite impressions, for it intricately combines business and pleasure along with international bureaucracy and domestic devotion.

Adoption travel – traveling internationally to adopt a child – is a growing route for travelers. According to the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, the availability of newborns in the United States is diminishing, prompting more than 20,000 Americans to adopt internationally in 2002. Of those adoptions, more than 75 percent of the children came from China, Russia, Guatemala, South Korea and the Ukraine – five countries that represent a broad range of conditions, for both travel and adoption.

Traveling to a foreign land while worrying about the adoption procedures provides a double-whammy of stress on potential parents. To alleviate the anxiety from the travel side of the equation, turn to a member of the American Society of Travel Agents. Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members know how to prepare practically and

Tips on Traveling with Children

Family vacations can create long-lasting memories and fun learning experiences for parents and children alike. But traveling with children can sometimes be a test of preparedness — and of patience. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has created a list of suggestions to help make the sometimes daunting task of preparing for a trip with the kids manageable and fun for the entire family.

Create anticipation for the family trip by starting a countdown calendar with perhaps a photo or illustration of the destination. Let kids pack their own bags. Decide what type of clothing (preferably loose and comfortable), but allow them to choose their favorites and to pack a special toy. In a carry-on bag, pack some hard candies and gum, hand wipes, tissues, books, paper, markers in a small, tightly sealed plastic bag and perhaps a surprise toy for each child.

Update immunizations for the entire family. If traveling abroad, check with public health authorities for advisable additional vaccines. Depending on the destination and duration of stay, the following immunizations may be recommended (although some cannot be given to infants and young children):

  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Typhoid vaccine
  • Hepatitis A vaccine
  • Immune globulin
  • Yellow Fever vaccine
  • Japanese B Encephalitis vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine