Muscat

The capital of Oman and an important trading post between east and west since the 1st century, sitting near the Straits of Hormuz, on the Arabian Sea opposite Iran. Sights include the vast Grand Mosque, opened in 2001, and the grandiose, traditional-looking Royal Opera House, finished a decade later. A great attraction is the sweep of the Muttrah Corniche, a waterfront promenade near which is the Muttrah Souq, dark and throbbing, believed to be one of the oldest market places in the Arab world.

Doha

Capital of Qatar, a modern city with the Corniche prom, backed by parks. Ringing its downtown waterfront are numerous parks and the Corniche Promenade. The futuristic I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art sits on a man-made island, a rich contrast to Souq Waqif, a traditional market alive with the scent of spices, and full of goods such as clothing, carpets and other crafts.

Khor Fakkan

A town on the Emirates’ east coast that belongs to the emirate of Sharjah but is geographically surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah. The town itself has a seafront promenade and souq, alongside fortifications dating back to those built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, while the picturesque bay, backed by dark and rugged mountains, has spectacular white sand beaches and fantastic coral reefs, giving a desert island feel.

Salalah

Oman’s former capital, in the south of the Sultanate. The traditional city is sub-tropical, surrounded by fertile plantations growing coconuts, bananas, papayas and some vegetables. Visit the UNESCO-listed
Al Baleed Archaeological Park, also known as the Land of Frankincense, a museum and ruins celebrating the trade in the perfume ingredient that dates back to 2000BC.