Instead of Dubai go to Oman
Dubai keeps one-upping itself with one posh hotel after another (The Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach was the latest palatial address to open in a long, luxurious line). But we'll head south for the lonely desert wilds of Oman any day over the Vegas of the Middle East. "Oman is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and there are craggy mountains, lush forests and stunning desert landscapes," says Kevin Callaghan, CEO of Mountain Travel Sobek, an adventure company offering private tours to the Sultanate, "The government limits inbound travelers, which in turn continues to preserve (Oman's) culture and create an ideal model for sustainable tourism," says Callaghan. You can be driving a 4X4 across desert dunes one day and camping in an alpine wadi the next. The steep mountains of the Musandam Peninsula, which have been likened to the fjords of Norway (albeit a bit balmier), are the place to go kayaking or snorkeling alongside whale sharks.