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  • 10 Stylish & Elegant Swimwear for Muslimahs

    You’ve got your dream beach vacay planned – the perfect resort, a great itinerary and the best group of people to enjoy it with – but there’s one slight problem. What are you going to wear to the beach or pool? We all want to look great and feel great during a beach holiday or while lounging by the pool, an old oversized t-shirt, leggings and a scarf won’t do! Don’t worry ladies, we have got you covered with a list of 10 stylish and elegant Muslimah swimwear. From sporty to stylish, this list covers all – you are going to be spoilt for choice!   1) Madamme BK Credit: @madammebk on Instagram One of the most famous luxury swimwear lines out there, Madamme BK will not disappoint. Designer Vanessa Lourenco realised that there was a need for modest swimwear within her entourage, and decided to put her fashion education to use by creating Haute Couture Coverage swimwear. Her brand emphasises on the stylish and elegant –bringing together western and eastern sentimentalities into her creations to make every woman feel sophisticated.If you are a minimalist, you would love their Tunisia, Oman and, Dubai three-piece swim suits. Simple swimwear yet absolutely stylish and sophisticated – they come in muted, neutral tones. All three swimsuits come with equally stylish and matching headpieces.Looking for something a bit more fun and colourful to really bring out the holiday spirit, opt for the Agadir or Amélie Teal Burkini. The Agadir swim suit is another three-piece suit with a long, skater skirt cut tunic with a big tropical print in a muted red and white, whilst the Amélie swim suit is in a beautiful teal colour with pink detailing at the hem and collar.Website   2) LYRA Swimwear Credit: @lyraswim on Instagram A brand with a more personal back story, LYRA has a fit for every woman. Created due to one woman’s struggle to find the perfect swimwear which suited her modest lifestyle, this brand has something for everyone. Beautiful contemporary designs, with minimalistic detailing and elegant shapes – you will not be disappointed. The brand emanates classic Hollywood with a side of Moroccan beach coolness and minimalism. The swimsuits are created with light weight, fast dry, premium quality Italian Carvico fabric, along with high UV protection. You can purchase them as separates or a full set. Each set comes with a matching turban style head covering, leggings and long sleeve tops allowing you to create the fit that you want. The brand also closely practices ethical work conditions and empowers their tailors. They are an active member of the #ThisGirlCan campaign. Their swimwear has been worn by prominent figures such as news anchor Noor Tagouri and Olympic fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad. LYRA has three collections – SOFIA, RAYA, ASRA – all three have minimalistic, contemporary designs with some differenes between them. This ensures that you can find the perfect fit for you! SOFIA has more sporty designs; RAYA goes for a more feminine look, while ASRA is more elegant.Website   3) Nasira Marbella Credit: @nasriamarbella on Instagram A Spanish brand, Nasira Marbella offers simple but exclusive modest swimwear. If you are looking for something simple and well made then Nasira Marbella will be perfect. Their swim suits are made with 50+ UV protection and all appliqués are hand sewn, the material used is quick dry. All swim suits come with a turban style cap and is produced by the brand Flexfit. They have a variety of classic black swim suits with fabric appliqués to add a fun element to the piece. However, if you are looking for something with a little bit more oomph you can opt for their brightly coloured swimsuits – like the cherry pink suit that will definitely make you stand out at any pool party.Website   4) East Essence Credit: East Essence Are you a sucker for prints? If so, East Essence has got you covered! But it’s not just prints; East Essence has got it all! Unlike the other brands on the list they have a wide range of swimwear in different designs and colours. They’ve got simple one colour swim suits for women who like to keep things minimal and, a more glam collection with sequin detailing to really get you in the mood for a glam holiday! Who doesn’t like some sparkle?! From feminine designs to more sporty designs they have something for every woman. They even have a collection specifically for beach sports and are more wear and tear resistant – these would also be ideal if you are going for a swim at a river or waterfall. So don’t miss out on any of the adventure! They even have UV resistant beach wear abayas in colourful prints – so if you aren’t overly fond of swimming you could just lounge on the sand while sipping on a cool drink and just enjoy the waves crashing in, all while looking absolutely fab!Website   5) Veilkini Credit: Veilkini A modest swimwear brand based in the UAE, Veilkini will not disappoint. With options ranging from regular, sports and, even plus size – no woman will be left out from having a fun pool vacation or beach holiday. May it be simple designs or colourful prints; you can easily find what suits your preferences the best. All swimwear by the brand are three piece swim suits with detachable head pieces. The fabric used is a 80% nylon – 20% spandex mix, with low water absorbency which allows you longer pool hours and the swim suit dries quicker. The swimsuits come with a 50+ UV protection rating and are also resistant to sea salt. They suggest that you order one size smaller if you want a tighter fit as the sizes given on the website are excluding stretch.Website   6) Adasea Credit: Adasea A Turkish family run brand that has been around since the 1970’s, they offer a variety of swim suits to fit your preference, Adasea is definite contender when looking for the best fit. Choose from their many fully covered or not fully covered – yet modest swimwear styles which come in minimal, sporty designs as well as in elegant prints. Their designs have a lot of attention to detail, with delicate floral patterns and frill details at the ankles of the leggings. Adasea is another brand which offers plus size modest swim wear, in classic sporty styles and patterns. Not all of their swimwear comes in three pieces; however, the headpiece might not be detachable in some swimsuits. They also offer a LYCRA range of modest swimwear. They also have other beach/ pool wear such as beautiful kimonos in printed chiffon and, lace.Website   7) Mayovera Credit: Mayovera The second Turkish brand on this list, Mayovera swimwear is groovy and stylish! With a few patterns inspired by the 60s and 70s it has a vintage look but with a bit of modernity added in. The swim suits come as a three piece, which includes the head cover which is styled as a classic 70s headscarf. Their swim suits are not tight fitted, and are more on the loose side. However, that does not mean they are any less stylish. The design is very reminiscent of 60s fashion with loose tops paired with flared pants. If you love vintage fashion, this brand will definitely have you looking groovy! They even have matching beach bags for the swim suit as well. They have a variety of bags to choose from if you want to accessorise your beach/pool look – ranging from clutches to totes. They also offer plus size modest swimwear.Website   8) Hawaii Beach Wear Credit: Hawaii Beach Wear Hawaii Beach Wear is based in Malaysia, they offer swimsuits for everyone; however, they do have a small modest swimwear collection. The company has been around since 2008 and has a lot of experience within the swimwear industry, so you can’t go wrong in selecting a swimsuit by Hawaii Beach Wear. They offer vibrant floral prints paired with classic minimal black burkinis. Their swim suits come as swim tops - which include a head cover – and as swim dresses. You can choose between minimal, sporty designs and colourful but elegant floral designs.Website   9) Riva Mera Credit: Riva Mera If you are into sporty chic, Riva Mera definitely delivers that aesthetic! Their swimsuit designs are the classic burkini with sporty but colourful detailing in colour blocks and stripes. The swimsuits come as three pieces with a turban styled head cover or attached hijab. The fabrics used for the swimsuits are polyester and Lycra. They also offer styles similar to Mayovera and have floral prints as well, so you really would be spoilt for choice. You can choose from their fully covered designs or their half covered designs based on your preference.Website   10) Mayo Bella Credit: Mayo Bella Last but not least on this list, Mayo Bella offers up some classic fully covered burkinis. Their swim suits come in plain black and in fun prints; you can choose between something which has more of a minimal print or go for a pretty floral print. Most of their prints are in muted colours, while you will find a few single coloured swim suits in colours like bright pink and blue. The fabric they have used to create the swimwear is light weight polyester.Website   Hopefully this list will help you find the perfect fit for your beach vacation – but remember these swim suits are not only limited to the beach or the pool, you can even wear them to swim in fresh water rivers or lakes! Looking great is important on holiday, but having fun and enjoying every bit of your trip is equally important! Adjust your head cover, wear those shades and, step into the water, girls!    ...

  • Five Female-Only Beach Getaways Every Girl Need

    The time has come, ladies! Say hello to sun tanning by the beach, lounging by the pools, going for a good workout at the gym and winding down at the spa. And did we mention the endless outdoor activities and Halal cuisine all in one place? via GIPHY These female-only beach getaways were simply a dream back in those days. Today, women from all backgrounds, hijabi or not, can now experience being in their element in these female-only resorts and islands. In recent years, the travel industry has catered to the needs and wants of family travelers, solo travelers, and couples and now the time has arrived to cater to the new and upcoming market of women travelers. Image Credit: Nicola Fioravanti on Unsplash This is exceptionally exciting for Muslim women who cover and practice modesty the Islamic way. Time to get rid of those nasty hijab tan-lines and let the golden tan spread all over. Female only tourism will allow women to finally experience getaways in a way that could only dream of doing. From mental health, physical health and pure delight, here are 5 Reasons Why You Need To Give Yourself A Good Ol' Beach Getaway. 1. Soak In All That Vitamin D Image Credit: Jordan Wozniak on Unsplash Booking an all ladies experience can be a great time to allow your body to fuel up on Vitamin D. Letting your hair down and tanning in the sun can allow you to get that much needed Vitamin D which maintains the internal and external health of our bodies, from our bones, nervous system, lung system and so much more. 2. Be The Productive You Image Credit: Jacob Postuma on Unsplash We often forget the importance of relaxation, but practicing mindfulness, meditation and relaxation can be great benefits to our mental and physical health. Our busy lives filled with family, work, and responsibility will often strain our bodies and it’s not too long until our bodies start to ache and pain as a way to tell us to slow down, breathe and relax. It is healthier and more productive to relax and enjoy some me-time before you get to that critical stage. 3. Appreciating Others Image Credit: Ifrah Akhter on Unsplash Whether you are traveling with your family, friends or even just your little-self. It is undeniable that this new type of experience will be liberating. It would allow you to bond with sisters all around the world, whilst simultaneously absorbing in some sun, sea, and satisfaction. You can connect with those around you in a different way, without worrying too much about daily life concerns. 4. Invest In The Growing Market Image Credit: Christian Lambert on Unsplash Although, these types of holiday experiences are just starting to appear in the travel market. Muslim ladies showing their interest and appreciation of these types of resorts, spas, hotels, and all-ladies experiences, will allow more to appear all over the world, making them more affordable and accessible for the future. 5. Health Is Wealth Image Credit: Tim Goedhart on Unsplash You may have thought that this experience is a privilege or a splurge but these reasons have shown you why women need to experience halal female-only holidaying. Not only is it healthy for your mind, body, and soul but it’s great fun! It is important to remember this is a relatively new opening in the market and its popularity can only mean we will be blessed with many more options in the future. With that, we have a few recommendations for your next Halal beach getaway! Turkey Angel Marmaris Resort Image Credit: Angel Marmaris It’s not always guaranteed that resorts can offer a strip of beach for women only, often resorts focus on swimming pool and spa experiences. However, Angel Marmaris offer you the natural experience of swimming in the Azure seawater, giving you a chance to come in contact with the natural healing properties of aqua. All the rooms face out to the sea, giving you a beautiful view and depending on your budget, some rooms called villas with private pools are available. The Resort prides itself on not selling Alcohol a huge component to halal-holidaying. Website | Facebook | Instagram Wome Deluxe Image Credit: Wome Deluxe on Facebook A 5-star resort in Antalya, Turkey that includes a women’s only area within the grand resort. Private pools, a private beach, pergola, hammocks, and sun terraces, this option is great for family holidays or mixed group holidays, where the females can sneak off to enjoy women only deluxe me-time then rejoin their children, brothers or other males when they are done for the day. In case you were to forget you were in Turkey, the full authentic Turkish Hammam experience is available for women too! Website | Facebook | Instagram North Africa and the Middle East Sharjah Ladies Club Image Credit: Sharjah Ladies Club Dubai is a touristic Hub and Sharjah a 10 minutes drive from Dubai will transport you to another world. Countless massage, facials, spa treatments are available for every sort of problem you want to be treated. It is a club for people who live in Dubai but they have created tourist packages to allow you to enjoy the gym and fitness classes as well. Website | Facebook | Instagram Europe SuperShe Island Image Credit: SuperShe on Facebook Nestled in Scandinavia near to Finland is an 8.4-acre acre, exclusively private island. This experience is something else entirely with features spas, amenities, saunas, fitness classes, nature activity, farm to table dining and so much more. Supershe describes themselves as a 10 person island with 4 renovated cabins, meaning if you ever wanted to truly feel like you were alone in the world then this is the place to be. Let the Supershe abandoned on island luxury experience begin! Website | Facebook | Instagram Southeast Asia Pooltara Resort Krabi Image Credit: Pooltara Resort Krabi on Facebook Nestled in a rural fertile land of Krabi, Pooltara Resort was initially built as a family vacation home in 1993. Today, the area has evolved into a 10-rai vacation getaway for travelers from all over the world. Operated by women, the resort is surrounded by the trees that were carefully planted and nurtured by the family. At Pooltara Resort, the Halal menu will be specially catered and cooked by the local Muslim community of Krabi for Muslim guests.  Website | Facebook | Instagram via GIPHY There you have it, ladies, there is something for everyone. Now that you’ve been let into this rising holiday secret, go ahead and book what could be the best holiday of your life!...

  • 5 Things You Can Do In Colombo, Sri Lanka

    Sri Lanka is an island paradise, surrounded by the Indian Ocean boasting of rich nature, wildlife and culture. A lot of tourists head over to the sea side towns or the hill country, but its commercial capital has much to offer as well.With 5.6 million making up its population, this rising cosmopolitan city is quickly making its mark on the international map. Skyscrapers, luxury hotels, a new harbour port, however, Colombo's charm doesn't lie in these modern buildings, it can be found in the beautiful colonial era buildings and it's people - a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures which gives the city it's character.Historical or otherwise, Colombo is a kaleidoscope of activity. Being the commercial centre of the Island, it attracts everyone and has something for anyone! From street food to art and music – this is a city that will not bore you.Here are 5 interesting things you can experience in Colombo, keep reading!   1. The Gangaramaya Temple Credit: @GangaramayaTemple on FacebookStarting at the heart of Colombo, this temple is full of character with interesting things to see. The Temple is over 150 years old, and is the perfect place to head to if you want to escape the din of the city.You will be greeted by a row of golden statues at the entrance, and once inside get ready to be swept away by the temple’s charm. The Temple houses a museum of artefacts that you won’t find at any other temple – quirky statues and ornaments, old coins, rare artwork and a lot more. You will also find a collection of vintage cars, gifted to the Chief Monk at the time.The Seemamalakaya found on the Beira Lake is a part of the Gangaramaya Temple. Designed by the renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa in 1979, it was built as an assembly hall for monks. The floating structure offers incredible views of the surrounding city from the lake and makes for some incredible photos.You have to purchase a ticket at the gates and remove your shoes before entering the Temple. They provide a separate and safe place for you to keep your shoes till you pick them up at the end of the tour.A peculiar temple but with lots of charm! It will definitely leave you with a sense of wonderment.Address: 61 Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo 2 Website: http://gangaramaya.com/Operating hours: 6:00AM to 10:00PM (Daily)   2. Dutch Hospital – Shopping Precinct Credit: @DutchHospital on FacebookDutch hospital is a colonial era building refurbished into a shopping complex with restaurants and cafes – it has a little bit of everything.If you are in Colombo and want to cool off and relax for a bit after all that walking, Dutch Hospital is the place to be. There’s a myriad of restaurants and cafes, but a must try is the Ministry of Crab which serves authentic Sri Lankan Crab dishes – you will not experience this taste anywhere else.You will also find a Spa Ceylon branch, a luxury spa specialising in using aryuvedic healing techniques to soothe the body. You can even purchase natural beauty products and get a massage to ease your aching feet.There's also an Art and Jazz Festival as well as a Street Food Festival hosted annually so if you are in town during that time do try to pop in. These festivals are great for families on holiday in the city.Be aware that there are also pubs and bars at the venue which serve alcoholic drinks, however you can easily find non-alcoholic drinks almost anywhere.Bonus tip: The Dutch Hospital is very close to the hotel strip on Galle Road so don’t forget to check out hotels like The Kingsbury and, Galle Face Hotel – it overlooks the Galle Face Green, a great spot to enjoy the sunset from and has some great street food stalls.Address: Hospital St, Colombo 1Operating hours: 10:00AM to 10:00PM (Daily)   3. Shopping Credit: @colombocitycentre on InstagramShopping and eating makes up an important part of Colombo life, there are plenty of high end stores and shopping malls as well as numerous restaurants!As there are many places to shop in Colombo, there are a lot of seasonal sales in the city, so if you are a shopping addict – Colombo is definitely the place to be! Also, if you are looking for places to eat in Colombo there are a lot of options – Upali’s for Sri Lankan cuisine, The Bay Leaf for Authentic Italian and Black Cat Cafe for good coffee amongst many others, just Google and you will be spoilt for choice.Note: According to the workers at Black Cat Cafe, they are unable to confirm if everything on the menu is halal. Hence, we advice that you consume at your own discretion.Head over to the newly opened Colombo City Centre for a more high end shopping experience which houses international brands like Armani Exchange, Swarovski, U.S. Polo Assn. and more! They also feature local high end brands, boutiques and, stores like Odel and Aviraté. If you want to watch the latest blockbuster head over to the multiplex cinema and grab a bite at the food court – The FoodStudio - which serves a variety of cuisines.If you want a real Colombo experience hop on a tuk tuk and head to Pettah. A labyrinthine mix of wholesale shops, historical sites and cheap eateries serving authentic Lankan streetfood – the language spoken here is haggling and it will make for a more thrilling experience.When in Pettah you have to try a Faluda – perfect for people with a sweet tooth (Sri Lankans love their sweets) or if you are more health conscious opt for a Thambili (Coconut water) – nature’s isotonic drink – these can be found on almost every street corner. You don’t have to worry about not being able to find Halal food because most of the restaurants and eateries are owned by Muslims, since they make a better part of the Pettah community. Almost all restaurants, cafes and hotels are Muslim-friendly as Sri Lanka has a population of about 1.9 million Muslims.   4. Festivals Credit: @cinnamonlifecolombo on Facebook  Sri Lanka is a melting pot of different cultures and religions, and Colombo is the epicentre.There are many cultural and religious festivals you can witness while in Colombo. One of the biggest festivals is the Vesak Poya holiday, the Buddhist festival of lights which brings everyone together to enjoy beautiful light and lantern displays, as well as pandols. The Sinhala Tamil New Year is also a major festival enjoyed by all ethnicities and religions; it is similar to a spring festival which celebrates the new harvest of the season. Deepavali, which is the Hindu festival of lights is also a event that should not be missed.Apart from the religious or cultural festivals, Colombo hosts many festivals pertaining to art, music and street food.Be sure to head to the festival hot-spots like Dutch Hospital which hosts an exciting Art and Jazz Festival, Green Path for Foodies On The Street - a festival dedicated to street food and also the many free film and cultural festivals hosted by the different international embassies and organizations in the country. The city also holds music festivals like the Cinnamon Life Colombo Music Festival.Colombo also hosts many shopping festivals, with the largest being the CMB Shopping Festival held annually at the BMICH. Find clothes, accessories and many other things for competitive prices. Colombo is fast becoming a top shopping destination like Bangkok and Dubai, so remember to add Colombo to your list.   5. Food Credit: @mydinemore on FacebookLast but not least, everyone's favourite part about travelling - food. Colombo offers many options for places to eat and drink; almost all restaurants, cafes and, hotels are Muslim-friendly or Halal certified, as Sri Lanka has a population of about 1.9 million Muslims.You can choose between a range of expensive or cheap eateries. One of the budget friendly local fast food joints in Colombo is Dinemore, that serves up a variety of dishes, their most famous being their submarine - the restaurant chain is Halal certified. It's the perfect spot to grab a quick bite and escape the Colombo heat. You can find branches in Colombo 2, 3 and 6.Real Lankan street food is hidden in Pettah. A Pettah staple is Faluda – perfect for people with a sweet tooth (Sri Lankans love their sweets) or if you are more health conscious opt for a Thambili (Coconut water) – nature’s isotonic drink – these can be found on almost every street corner. Try the many types of Achcharu and the local cotton candy - Bombai Motai.You don’t have to worry about not being able to find Halal food, most of the restaurants and eateries are owned by Muslims as they make a better part of the Pettah community.Travelling in Colombo is very affordable!Bus tickets are very cheap, also with the advent of Pick Me and Uber, you can easily get around the city!Tip: avoid normal meter tuks that don’t belong to any taxi service company which may charge more, always opt for Pick Me or Uber or any other private taxi company.Now you know what to do and where to be in this fun, fast growing city! Put on your shades, hop in a tuk tuk and enjoy Colombo!...

  • Middle East | 6 Countries That'll Instantly Make You Not Want To Leave

    When it comes to Muslim-friendly destinations, there is no area more perfect than the Middle Eastern region, and the growing popularity of travelling to the Middle East makes it much easier for halal travel. Countries that are ruled by Muslim monarchs translates to abundant Muslim-friendly services like halal food, places to pray, and even segregation in areas like water parks, the metro, and public buses. It means that even though Middle Eastern destinations comprise of a large expat population, they are used to Islamic culture and attire, and religious biases are practically non-existent. If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday with little stress and more spontaneity, check out these top 6 Middle Eastern countries (in no particular order) that you should visit: 1) United Arab Emirates When it comes to where to travel in the Middle East, this is a no-brainer, as far as tourist destinations go, Dubai is on the map. But the UAE has made sure that the rest of the Emirates step up their game as well, and every place has something to offer. Whether it is living the fast life, big entertainment, touring the best mosques, or discovering Arab culture, UAE has it all. Attractions Abu Dhabi: Ferrari World, Yas Water WorldDubai: Wild Wadi, Ski Dubai, Sky Dive, Parasailing, Desert SafariAl Ain: Jabal al HafeetHatta: Hatta Kayak Must-Visit Architecture Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Zayed mosque; Dubai: Burj Khalifa, Burj al Arab, Atlantis, Bastakia in Bur Dubai, Souq;Sharjah: Blue Souq; Ras Al Khaimah: Al Jazirat Al Hamra (a spooky abandoned village rumoured to be haunted, it is also known as Ghost Town. It dates back to the 14th century and is a must-visit for history buffs and anyone who has wanted to visit the set of a horror movie); Fujairah: Al Bidyah Mosque (the oldest mosque in the UAE, built in 1446) Getting around Dubai with public transport is fairly easy thanks to the Dubai Metro. The cabin after Gold Class is ladies only, as well as the front section on public buses. Similarly, Wild Wadi has ladies night in the summer, and Jabal al Hafeet has segregated hot spring areas that you can bathe in. With masjids, every few feet or so, and prayer rooms in the malls, praying while you’re on the move is not an issue. Make the most of the halal food cuisine with every country’s food imaginable. All restaurants are halal certified (only hotel buffets might serve pork), so eating out is a breeze! UAE is considered to be a pricey destination, and that is true if you want to splurge on the big entertainment venues like theme parks and adventure sports. You can balance it out, however, by going to the beach, roaming around the souqs, taking a ride in the abra at the Creek which is the cheapest ride you’ll ever get in the country, and taking the time to soak up the culture. You can find cheaper accommodations as compared to the hotels like furnished apartments, and thanks to the Dubai Metro, you are connected to the rest of the city. 2) Saudi Arabia  We know that Saudi Arabia isn’t really known as a tourist destination – just one for Hajj and Umrah. Some people just go for the pilgrimage, while others take tour packages that show them the sites of Islamic history. Even though that is what Saudi is most famous for, it does have more to offer than just that. Attractions If you are in the vicinity of Makkah and Madinah, then you’re in the vicinity of Islamic historic sites. The battlefields of Badr and Uhud, the first masjid ever built there, Masjid Qiblatayn – the masjid with the two qiblahs, and so much more. If you are at all interested in Islamic history, it pays to put an image to the names. Durrat Al Arous Island north of Jeddah houses Albatoul Marine which is a fun place for adventure sports. Flyboarding is bit pricey here, but worth it if you’ve ever wanted to walk – no, fly – on water! Water jets are attached to your boots and up you go! Must-Visit Architecture Without a doubt, the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Masjid an-Nabawi in Madinah are mandatory. Not just because they are spectacular and places of such peace and tranquillity despite the hustle and bustle, but because they are also home to great reward. Any prayer offered here is multiplied immensely. Credit: Wikipedia Muslims visiting Saudi rarely leave without visiting one of these sites. What most people don’t make it to are the Madain Saleh and sites. Jubbah and Shuwaymus are the areas with rock carving show that there that is so much more to Saudi Arabian history that is yet to be explored. The carvings are in a different language and depict what life was like in those days, much like hieroglyphics. Madain Saleh is not just for history buffs. These fascinating structures built so many thousands of years ago still stand today, attesting to an era long gone but not entirely forgotten. The area used to have fresh water that attracted many settlers who then carved out structures. Today, it is completely dry but the buildings still stand. As with countries in the Middle East, certain attractions can be rather pricey. But when it comes to history, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. 3) Qatar  Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, and its lifestyle reflects that. Just step into the airport and you are surrounded by brand names and items that seem like they belong in a dream. Despite all this modernity though, Qatar still maintains its heritage, and it is one of the best places to visit. Attractions Credit: Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara on Facebook Banana Island Resort by Anantara is truly a paradise. Even if you’re not staying at the luxury hotel, you can still enjoy the premises. Its tropical flora makes you forget you’re in the Middle East, and you are treated to a range of cuisines. Make the most of the beach and sea, go bowling or take a Segway ride on this almost-private island. Credit: Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Facebook In complete contrast is the Museum of Islamic Arts which houses the largest Islamic art collection in the world. Curated from three different continents, Qatar is proud of this gem not only because of what is within but because the structure itself is magnificent, designed by the architect of the Louvre Pyramid. On its own island with a palm-tree lined entrance, set amid a vast landscape and an impeccable view across the water, this place is worth the visit. Credit: Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Facebook There are guided tours in English and Arabic every Thursday at 2pm of the permanent collection housed on two floors. Unlike other museums, the Museum of Islamic Arts is organised in such a way that you get a feel of what Islamic art is truly like through the homogeneity of a single print used across various medium. Visitors are requested to avoid strappy and short clothing and you might be restricted from entering. Must-Visit Architecture While some prefer the air-conditioned climate of malls, others would rather take in the culture while roaming the souqs. Souq Waqif is one such place that you should not miss. Contradicting the high-end fashion and attire visible in the malls, the streets are where you get a taste of what Qatar is really like. Vibrant in its sights, smells and feels, Souq Waqif has beautiful traditional bukhoor, spices, and embroidered clothing. Credit: Katara It is also a testament to history as it is where Bedouins would come to trade their essentials too. Katara Cultural Village is a beautiful man-made location to soak up more heritage. From the architecture to the Greek-Islamic style amphitheatre, people flock there in the evenings when the weather gets cooler to enjoy the outdoors. There are restaurants, mosques, and a beach right with water sports and inflatable play complexes, making it the perfect family spot. Qatar is known to be a pricey location but the country is also very hospitable. If you want to live in the lap of luxury for a few days, this is the place for you. 4) Oman  Even though Oman is in the Middle East – and generally what comes to mind when one thinks of ‘Middle East’ is ‘desert’, Oman is one of the few countries that actually has a tropical oasis region. Laidback and serene, the country has plenty to offer tourists. Since a slice of Oman juts into the UAE, many residents of UAE take the opportunity on long weekends or holidays to avail the natural sites available. However, if you decide to stay there exclusively, there is so much more that you can do. Attractions As always, souqs are part of the Middle Eastern charm and Muttrah Souq is no exception. Go there to get your fix of gahwah or Arabic coffee, bargain for souvenirs, or simply to enjoy the feel of being in an Arab country. The beaches of Musandam are one of the areas that you will find people on day trips as it is separated from Oman by a piece of UAE land. Pristine white sands and clear blue waters make this a hot tourist spot. Credit: Richard Bartz on Wikipedia Oman believes in conserving their land and natural resources and this is evident at Ras al Jinz, a natural reserve for endangered green turtles, located on the east coast. Visitors can observe them laying their eggs, and even catch them hatching and returning to the sea. Wadi Bani Khalid is one of those areas that are striking and green as it has a spring that keeps running year round. Add those palm trees to the shades of red that the rocks are made of, and you have a very Instagrammable location. #prettyasapicture #nofilter Credit: Philipp Weigell on Wikipedia Salalah is the vacation spot inside your holiday. Tropical, cool and like a world of its own, this is a must-visit. If you want your holiday to include a bit of a workout, be sure to head to Jabal al Akhdar. Translating to The Green Mountain, it gets its name from the greenery spattered across it, but it is well known for its hiking trails. Another great spot is Jabal ash-Shams, or Mountain of the Sun, so called as it is believed to be the first point that the sun touches when it rises. It is the highest peak in the region and has some great views. Majlis al Jinn is for the rock climbers out there as it has the second largest cave chamber in the world. The Bimmah Sinkhole is a natural phenomenon caused by limestone that eroded below the surface leaving a spectacularly blue-green pool for swimming. Must-Visit Architecture Credit: World Architecture Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque has to be one of the staples on your list of sights to see. This Grand Mosque is one of the chain of Sultan Qaboos mosques built around the world. The high arches, golden domes, engraved walls and a beautiful interior should not be missed. The Royal Opera House sounds like it belongs in England, but this one is in Oman. Besides the various international performances that the venue is used for, you can tour the location that resembles a palace. Oman is like one of those shy kids standing in the back; only when you decide to look further do you realise the gems it has to offer. 5) Kuwait  Kuwait may not be a tourist hotspot, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t waiting to be explored. Like the UAE, Kuwait is known for its modernity and high rise buildings, but they also keep a strong hold on their roots and culture. Kuwait is one of the smaller Middle Eastern countries, but it is worth the trip. When travelling around the GCC, what is striking is that, even though they all appear to be the same on the outside, different aspects of heritage and culture stand out when you dig deep. Attractions Housing an Imax cinema, aquarium, dhow harbour, and a discovery palace, The Scientific Centre is the best place to take kids. The floor-to-ceiling shark and ray tanks are incredible to see, and getting your hands dirty in the Discovery Palace allows kids to get lost in the wonder of science. Credit: @aquaparkq8 on Instagram In addition to viewing the different regions present in the aquarium – the desert, coastal edge, and sea zone – you can also dive with sharks if you have a valid diving licence. The age for diving is 14 years and older. If you don’t want to swim with sharks, no problem! Head to Aqua Park, a major water theme park in Kuwait. Whether you are a child or an adult, Aqua Park has something for everyone. Fancy lazing around? Grab a tube and float on the Lazy River. Want an adrenalin shot? Try the Boomerango. There are cafes and restaurants inside the park which are all halal, but as food can be a bit pricey, take at least a bottle of water with you. Tuesdays are now reserved for ladies’ day, but even if you go with the family, there are separate changing areas for men and women and separate prayer areas. Bikinis are not allowed. Credit: Mirror House The Mirror House is definitely a must-see as, even though it is an art display, it is more like art in action. You will not be bored. Each room is explained by the Italian-Kuwaiti artist and took around 40 years to complete. Yes, 40 years! It better be good! With visual effect and getting the visitors to interact with the art, this is one thing you have to experience to understand. Falaika Island is where you can see true history. Take a ferry to the island that is now an open-air museum, depicting the war. Must-Visit Architecture As with all the Gulf countries, the local Grand Mosque is a must-visit. The architecture is unique to the country and its history, and Kuwait’s Grand Mosque is no exception. With the hustle and bustle of the city, head here to admire the structure and bask in the tranquility. Kuwait Towers are also an iconic part of the city. With a viewing platform and a restaurant, you can grab a bite while you cast your glance of a view over almost the entire country. Tareq Rajab Museum is another standout location to visit. Housing some of the most beautiful pieces in history – think jewels and garments fit for a princess – the collection of Arabic manuscripts is what rocks it to international standards. Mercifully, while the rest of the museum was being looted by Iraqi soldiers during the war, this area was left untouched thanks to the quick thinking of the local guards. The Kuwaiti Dinar is one of the strongest currencies in the world, so don’t be fooled by the small numbers. 6) Bahrain  If you’re looking for a totally laidback holiday, Bahrain is the place to go. As a small country that mostly keeps to itself, Bahrain isn’t on the map as a tourist destination. There are plenty of low-key things you can keep yourself occupied with though, so if this is you, keep reading. Attractions Camping in the desert might seem like a risky move – “What about the snakes and scorpions?” – but wait till you see the level of camping. With proper toilets, plasma TVs, and food in your tents, just think of it as a relocation of your hotel room. Camping is open from October 15th to March 31st. Head to Hawar Island off the coast of Qatar to bask in nature. It is a protected wildlife reserve that is under Qatar as well, and a beautiful place to get away from desert life. Explore the souqs for your regular souvenirs. Just walking around the souq will expose you to items that you wouldn’t even have thought of getting. The biggest thing that Bahrain is known for is hosting the Grand Prix, so be sure to time your holiday around then and grab some tickets! You can’t leave Bahrain without taking an authentic souvenir for yourself, and what better way to do that than to go pearl diving? If you’re finding it hard to decide between buying traditional keepsakes and regular ones, you can take your time exploring Al Jasra Handicraft Centre with displays work by local artisans, or going across to the Capital Mall. Must-Visit Architecture Were you expecting to visit a mosque? Don’t miss Al Fateh Grand Mosque! Muslims and non-Muslims alike are allowed to tour the impressive mosque on Open Day. Qal’at al Bahrain is the 16th century remains of a Bahrain or Portuguese fort that is free to look around. Going back in time a hundred years is the Arad Fort, a 15th century fort that initially guarded its own island before being joined to Muharraq Island. It differs from Qal’at al Bahrain by its Islamic architecture, as it was built before the Portuguese invaded Bahrain. The currency in Bahrain is also pretty strong compared to the other Gulf countries, so the prices can seem a bit steep at times. With the few things there are to do in Bahrain though, we think a few days is enough time to visit....

  • Be Mesmerised By Creatures Of The Water At These 5 Aquariums Around The World

    If you're a fan of the Planet Earth series or even Finding Nemo, chances are you wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to see marine creatures that are full of mysteries and simultaneously a delight to the eyes. Now, not all of us can board a submarine and explore the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean. But fret not! The marine world is about to unravel its hidden mysteries in front of your very eyes. Here are 5 aquariums you will definitely have to check out at least once in your life. 5 must-see attractions at Disney Sea Japan 1. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium Picture: Crossley Architects Get ready to be submerged (literally) in one of the largest aquariums in allof  Asia. Bearing a 509 feet long underwater tunnel, Shanghai Ocean Aquarium has the longest underwater tunnel in the world. With such an incredible length, be prepared to see the hidden gems of the ocean right above your head as you walk through the tunnel. You will definitely be mesmerized by the shoals of fish gracefully swirling in the water or maybe be thrilled by the sight of sharks roaming around, waiting to attack their prey. Address: No. 1388 Lujiazui Ring Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai , ChinaOperating Hour: 9AM-6PM                              9AM-9PM (During Chinese New Year and Summer Holidays)  2. L'Oceanografic Picture: Wikipedia A true leap into the future! With its sophisticated and modern design, L'Oceanografic is anything but ordinary. This massive glass building located in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia happens to be the largest tank of all Europe. With more than 45,000 species of marine life sheltered and bred under one roof, L'Oceanografic is a place that will leave youngsters as well as the elderlies breathless. Be prepared to find bottle-nose dolphins swerving in groups and flame jelly-fish slowly making their way through the water. Behold Beluga lovers! You'll be under the binding spell of Kylu, the cute baby beluga whale. Address: Carrer d'Eduardo Primo Yúfera, 1, 46013 Valencia, SpainOperating Hour: 10AM-6PMWebsite: OceanoGrafic.org 3. Dubai Mall Aquarium Dubai is like a dream come true. Well, it's also a place where the world's largest acrylic panel exists! With more than 33,000 marine creatures, Dubai Mall Aquarium is a feast for the eyes. Among the many species found in this colossal aquarium, over 400 sharks and rays can be seen swimming around. Be ready to get amazed by the King Croc, the fiercest reptile known. Let your imagination run wild as you explore the depths of the sea. Address: Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, The Dubai Mall, Doha Street                 Off 1st Interchange - Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, U.A.EOperating Hour: 10AM-12AMWebsite: TheDubaiAquarium 4. Aquarium of Western Australia Picture: IFlyFirstClass This 130 ft long aquarium based in the coastal suburb of Australia is a must try for the Adventure seekers. With a number of species protected and bred in its aquarium, the Aquarium of Western Australia will be sure to impress you with its colorful corals, shoals of clownfish, cuttlefish and beautiful sharks. Those who want to experience the marine life at its best can get into the deep waters for an additional fee and take a closer look at sharks and rays by joining the aquarium dive master. Address: 91 Southside Drive, Hillarys 6025Operating Hour: 10AM-5PMWebsite: Aqwa 5. Georgia Aquarium Picture: CrawfordCountyedc.org Last but not least, the largest aquarium in the entire planet, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta! This colossal aquarium is the only place in the West to house the whale sharks. Home to 100,000 sea creatures, the Georgia Aquarium is a world of fantasy where your eyes will feast on the beauties of the sea. Get ready to embark on a roller coaster of emotions and hues and blues while you lose yourself into the marine life. Address: 225 Baker St NW, Atlanta, GA 30313, USAOperating Hour: 10AM-9PMWebsite: GeorgiaAquarium Let your inner Nemo out and explore the depths of the oceans inside those jaw-dropping aquariums, full of life and mystery. Let your eyes feast over the most beautiful of sea creatures. Watch the waters swirl and dance and let your imaginations flow. Read our Halal Travel Blogs...