Intrepid traveller Ali Hussain Mushaima is well-known for his unique Friendship Arabia tours - journeying by road from Bahrain to various corners of the world. The message has remained the same right from the time he launched his first trip, a 3-month drive to Europe, many years ago: spread the word about Bahrain, its people and all it has to offer. Ali's newest tour, a two month journey from June 23, 2010, is titled: "Tylos to Thassos, Voyage of Discovery".

Day 9: Fjords take the breath away
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Tuesday, 10 April 2012 21:42

The dhow on its way to Musandam

We have only one life on this earth and while we are here it behooves us to cherish each friendship forged and memory created.  These are the things that will sustain us in the months and years to come when we recall all that has gone before and dream of that which is to follow.  Time cannot be turned back yet we can see its passage in the faces of those we meet and the landscapes spread before us; in the rock that is etched with lines and the faces that are similarly imprinted.

As we set off this morning on a dhow trip, Musandam stretched before us in a vast geological display of eons gone by when the mountains emerged from the sea in a burst of seismic activity.  The resulting fjords are one of Oman’s natural wonders, the beauty of which cannot fail to take visitors’ breath away, as it did ours.  

Day 8: Pearls, glorious pearls
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Monday, 09 April 2012 18:14


Top, first sight of a RAK cultured pearl and above, a special gift

No visitor to the Gulf region can fail to notice the importance that the pearl has in the psyche of the Arab people.  Not only has it provided a centuries old economic benefit but also it embodies unquantifiable feelings of pride, well being and love that to the (non-Arab) outsider may be harder to fathom.  

To see Nasser Hassan al Qas al Ali, President of the Ahmed Bin Majid museum last Saturday carefully unfold from his wallet a tiny shred of red cloth, bound by an even smaller piece of string, to reveal 4 tiny natural pearls which he gently cradled in his hand, one could immediately sense something else at play, above and beyond their material value.  These were cultural treasures, lovingly held close to his heart, that were to be given as a gift to a dear friend.

Today we spent several hours explore the nature of this relationship to begin to understand the role it plays in the Gulf peoples’ hearts.

Day 7: A hotel simply unlike any other
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Sunday, 08 April 2012 17:11

Banyan Tree Resort 

There comes a point when you have travelled to enough places in far flung locations when the hotels begin to blur into one and the feeling of “been there, done that, seen that” takes over.  Thankfully this cannot be said of the destination we found ourselves at this evening.  

Nestled in undulating sand dunes only a few kilometers south of Al Hamra, we were guests of Zahed Dalati of Arabian Incentive, which has created an authentic Bedouin camp where we relaxed and enjoyed traditional Bedouin hospitality at its best.   Surrounded by tents made of camel hair and sitting on locally woven cushions, we sampled Arabic delicacies cooked on an open fire and underground. 

This eco-conscious camp – there is no electricity except for a small generator used for music, waste water is recycled and seats and tables are imaginatively constructed out of things that others might discard – is capable of accommodating over 75 guests for an evening to remember.  Guests can chose to arrive by camel, horse, foot or 4x4 and camp over night in either a regular or a Bedouin style tent.  

Picture-perfect panoramas
Written by Eleni Karapanagiotou   
Sunday, 08 April 2012 17:10

When I met the Friendship Arabia team in 2010 I was very impressed with the work they do and had the opportunity to visit Bahrain and Oman last year.I was also amazed by the quality of the photographs, the panoramic photos and the 360º virtual tours. 

I am very fortunate to meet the photographers of the team who gave me some tips on taking good pictures. Shafik and Haider are always encouraging not only me but also the people they meet during the trips. One thing I enjoyed is taking panoramic images and here I would like to share with you some of them. Click on the image above to view all.

We are in the end of our Gulf Tour and soon we will arrive in Oman. I cannot wait to see the country once again and explore more of Oman and its culture. 

Day 6: Modernity with a cultural soul
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Saturday, 07 April 2012 16:24

Fishing in Ras Al Khaimah waters

All too often in this fast paced world we focus on the end result rather than the path we take to get somewhere, judging a successful project or activity by the certificate we receive or the pat on the back given for a job well done.  If this were the case then today I guess we’d score “null points” for our abject failure to land a fish on our final excursion of the day – a trip out into the waters of Ras Al Khaimah aboard one of RAK Marine’s boats, skippered by Captain Matti and 2nd in command Ahmed, in search of the “catch of the day” for supper. 

We were all highly confident (a little too high as it turned out) in our ability to snare one of the region’s fish, especially after hearing from Dr Tariq at the fish market in old Ras Al Khaimah earlier in the day that there was an abundance of fish in the waters off the coast.  Well let’s just say that 3 hours later, the one that got away was a REALLY big one!  

Day 5: Through another 5 Emirates!
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Friday, 06 April 2012 16:15


Ajman Museum 

 Another day, another country – or to be more accurate another 5 Emirates! 

To be fair I was only in Dubai for the time it took to clear customs and meet up with the team and we swiftly hit the road, skirting round the edge of Sharjah and into Ajman – Emirate number 3.  

In Ajman we briefly checked out the Museum of Ajman – unfortunately it’s closed on Fridays – and the glimpse we caught over the restored fort wall that houses the museum whetted our appetite for more.  

We shall certainly be back to include it in a 101 guide of the UAE.   In a blink of an eye we sped through Um Al Qaiwain, my fourth Emirate of the morning before arriving at our destination for the next three days – the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

Day 4: Dubai as vibrant as ever
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Thursday, 05 April 2012 17:54


Outside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai 

Leaving Oman is always sad, even if we know we will be back soon. We had our breakfast and after wishing our friend Jamal goodbye, we went to visit Al Khandaq Fort.

We then headed to the border. When we got there, we were asked to drive to another immigration office which is 35 km away to stamp Eleni's passport. It would have been nice if the first border office was able to stamp exit visas for non-GCC nationals too. It took us more than an hour, but in the end things went well.

Day 3: The long drive to Al Buraymi
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Wednesday, 04 April 2012 19:06


Governor Ebrahim Al Busaidi greets the team 

After saying goodbye to our team member Sarah and Waleed from the museum in Doha, we drove to Saudi Arabia and then to Abu Dhabi airport to pick up Eleni who arrived from Greece to join us. Eleni first met the Friendship Arabia team in Thassos during our Bahrain to Greece expedition and was fascinated with the idea of the tour. She asked if she could join one of our trips and was all the more interested in this tour since she had visited Oman last year and fallen in love with it.

The drive from Doha to Abu Dhabi airport was long -- 610 kms in fact -- and  when we met Eleni it was quite late at night. Still, we decided to drive to Al Buraymi in Oman, since we had a meeting with Governor Ebrahim Al Busaidi the following morning. Al Busaidi who is chairman of the photography club in Oman, knows team members Haider and Shafeeq from a photography trip they had done earlier.

Day 2: Fascinating stopover at museum
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 14:49

With Sayyar

The team presents the travel guide to Mr Sayyar 

The 2nd day of the tour started with a meeting with His Excellency Mr Waheed Mubarak Sayyar, Bahrain’s Ambassador to Qatar.  We presented him with a copy of 101 Things to See and Do in Oman and discussed the possibility of a 101 Things to See and Do in Qatar book, the 6th in the series.  He assured us of the complete support of the Embassy for this project which would promote the unique qualities of Qatar and what the country has to offer for tourists.  We also discussed a future “Dilmun to Doha” tour and even the feasibility of using bicycles rather than 4x4s! 

H.E. Ambassador Sayyar recommended that we should visit the Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani Museum before heading off to Abu Dhabi and kindly made arrangements for us to meet the Curator Mr Waleed Al Dulaimi later that morning.  

From sea of plastic to a sight to see
Written by Sarah Clarke   
Monday, 02 April 2012 18:04

Sarah with the artwork created from bottle caps

Sarah with the artwork created from bottle caps

Meeting up with old friends is always a pleasure and the arrival of the Friendship Arabia Team in Doha was one such occasion. It was perfectly timed too as I’ve just completed a major art project at The Pearl-Qatar which I thought would be a superb place to start Ali’s latest tour. 

The Bottle Top Art Project organised by the Qatar Green Building Council Solid Waste Interest Group (which I coordinate) and UDC The Pearl-Qatar is a huge piece of artwork constructed entirely out of plastic bottle tops. 

Day 1: The journey to Qatar
Written by Ali Mushaima   
Monday, 02 April 2012 10:49

Passing slow moving traffic on the road across the Saudi desert 
Passing slow moving traffic on the road across the Saudi desert 

Starting a new trip is always a special feeling. This is especially true when promoting your country or a place you are in love with like Oman. It's a place we have visited several times and everyone in the team loves it, not only for what it offers tourists, but for what makes it very special – its people.

We started our drive from Bahrain at 7am. and as always the traffic on the King Fahad Causeway was heavy. We had to wait for over an hour and found ourselves wishing the Friendship Causeway between Bahrain and Qatar was open. It would have saved us at least three hours of driving, but crossing the wide expanse of Saudi Arabia is nevertheless quite enjoyable.


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