(PRESS RELEASE)_In 2023, PONANT will once again collaborate with Smithsonian Journeys on a series of co-branded sailings. Each of the 21 departures will be led by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts—whether an art historian, a solar astrophysicist at NASA, or a North African international relations expert—whose expertise and knowledge will shed new light on the destination and deepen travelers’ immersion in place.
Among the new sailings is a nine-day journey along the Arabian coast, January 6 - 14, 2023, with stops in the futuristic cities of Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi, as well as lesser-known regional jewels like the island of Sir Bani Yas, a protected nature reserve home to the wildlife-rich Arabian Wildlife Park, and Oman’s “Norway of Arabia”–a.k.a. the peninsula of Musandam, which features soaring fjords. The trip’s Experts include Karl Eikenberry, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, who will lead discussions centered on Middle East affairs and help travelers develop a more nuanced understanding of the region.
The journey begins in Dubai, where travelers can ascend the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa, discover the palm tree-shaped archipelago of Palm Jumeirah, venture into the Spice and Gold Souks, and tour the Dubai Museum. The next stop is Sir Bani Yas, a wildlife reserve with a flourishing population of oryxes, cheetahs, and gazelles. In Doha, travelers will tour the gleaming capital, taking in magnificent views of Doha Bay, touring the lively district of Souq Waqif, and visiting the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I. M. Pei, who also designed the Louvre pyramid.
Speaking of the Louvre, travelers will also see the Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, home to objects and works from civilizations all over the world, plus the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a grand vision in marble, gold, and glass. The ship will then drop anchor in Khasab, a fishing village surrounded by the fjord-like khors of the Musandam Peninsula, where travelers have the option to explore these narrow inlets aboard traditional dhow boats.
After sailing south along Oman’s eastern coast, the ship will arrive in the city of Fujairah, which sits on the rugged foothills of the Hajar Mountains and is home to treasures like the Al Bidiyah Mosque, one of the oldest in the UAE, and the impressive Fujairah Fort, the largest castle in the region.
The voyage ends in Muscat, Oman, which unlike Dubai and Doha, doesn’t have any skyscrapers or flashy developments, but rather, mountain houses, coastal forts, and mud huts, featuring motifs like arched windows and fort-like exteriors. Here, travelers can visit the National Museum of the Sultanate of Oman and tour the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
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