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8 places Dubai residents should visit in 2017

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New Year, new you… or so they say. But for many of us, a new year is less about reinventing ourselves and more of an opportunity to hit refresh on our annual leave. You’ve probably started planning how you’re going to use your time off already, so here are some places that you should definitely have on the list.

Sri Lanka
It’s a popular choice for UAE travellers for a good reason – the tiny island in the Indian Ocean is simply beautiful. The vast greenery of the rugged rainforest means that its packed with wildlife and it has the highest density of leopards in the world. You’ll find elephants, wild buffaloes and sloth bears amongst the 91 species that call Sri Lanka home. It’s also got plenty of surf, beautiful historical sites and pristine beaches.
Flight time: 4.30 hours

Mumbai
Mumbai is so densely populated that it’s packed full of all walks of life. Artists, workers, fishermen and Bollywood stars call this place home, making it full of energy. If you fly overnight, try to get to the Sassoon docks at 7am for sunrise and you’ll see local fishermen haul in their catch of the day. Take a boat trip to Elephanta Island from the Gateway’s wharf and wander around the ancient archaeological remains and Indian rock art that make up the islands famous “city of caves”.
Flight time: 2.40 hours

Muscat
Surrounded by brown and burnt orange mountains, Muscat is an impressive place to watch the sunset. As Oman’s capital city you’ll find plenty of history blended with modern living. The beautiful coastline is scattered with five-star hotels, with fancy restaurants nearby. It’s also a great place for shopping, but if glitz and glam isn’t your thing, you can check out the cultural sites. Qasr Al Alam Royal Palace is a must-see – even though visitors aren’t allowed inside, it’s a great photo opportunity.  Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and is open to non-Muslim visitors. There are also plenty of museums that give a snapshot of Oman’s history.
Flight time: 1.10 hours

Baku (Azerbaijan)
Although thousands of years old, Baku city centre has been busy rebranding itself as a mini version of Dubai in recent years, with five-star hotels popping up (530 in total), designer stores, modern shopping malls and a skyline of futuristic architecture. Take a walking tour through the old town’s maze of narrow crumbling lanes via the Maiden Tower (Giz Galasi) built in the 12th century and Baku’s Mini Book Museum, which houses a private collection of 3,600 miniature tomes in languages from Russian to Vietnamese – you can feel big and clever all at the same time. The Nizami Museum of Literature offers a walk-through history via the works of local poets and scribes.
Flight time: 2.30 hours

Beirut 
Madame Bleu is a simple but luxe city central pool area overlooking the ocean with a great menu of light bites and a chilled but fun atmosphere – with the requisite collection of Beirut socialites. After a day lounging, book Liza Beirut on Doumani Street, Achrafieh, for dinner. It’s another old Lebanese house that’s been converted into a restaurant to add to the list – joining the likes of Frida, Enab, Seze, Julia’s – but this place strikes a beautiful balance between grand and quirky and you’ll enjoy Lebanese dishes under high ceilings and surrounded by candles and plants. Make sure you order the off-the-menu apple tabbouleh. Afterwards, stroll up Mar Mikhaël and dip in and out of its hotchpotch of venues (you’ll get a big haired smiley welcome from the guys in Vivian’s) until the early hours.
Flight Time: 3.55 hours

Jordan
Trust us when we say that you should visit Petra. The edge has just been taken off the summer in Jordan, so the temperature is mild enough to enjoy the famous archaeological site. While you’re there, make some time to head to the Dead Sea which offers the requisite blend of landscape, luminosity and luxury for which Jordan has become famed.
Flight time: 2.40 hours

Phuket, Thailand
There isn’t much that Phuket doesn’t have. Rainforest, mountains and the Andaman Sea pull in masses of tourists every year. It’s so large that you’d easily forget that its an island, meaning that there are plenty of bars and restaurants to explore. Out top tip is to pick a luxury resort away from the crowds if you fancy some r&r.
Flight time: 6 hours

Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s lush green mountains and rice paddies make it one of the most Instagrammable locations on the planet. Swiss-Bellinn Legian is a four-minute walk from Legian beach and five-minutes from the nightlife of Jalan Legian, making it a popular hotel. The pool also offers a pretty cool view of the surrounding terracotta rooftops.
Flight time: 9.5 hours

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