Dubai: A long weekend and perfect weather have encouraged Malayalis and other expatriates in the UAE to plan holidays. While a smart few clubbed together all their holidays and flew to Kerala, others who do not want to stay put in their flats are travelling to other emirates.
The cooler climate has added excitement to the holidays. By Friday morning most bachelor flats were empty. And, since tourists too hit the streets, the Metro and shopping malls were brimming with travellers and shoppers. Global Village, parks, and malls have been experiencing huge rush right from Thursday evening.
Most weekend revellers are heading towards Hatta, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Al Ain and Sharjah villages. There are other local favourites such as Dibba, Masafi, Khor Fakkan and Khatt and Digdaga villages in Ras Al Khaimah. Salalah in Oman is also a hot destination this season.
Khatt, which has an abundance of water, has sprawling farms and fields. The beaches in Ajman and Umm ul Quwain too are witnessing huge rush.
Since it is the first long weekend after the onset of winter, the roads leading to the Northern Emirates are busy. Hotels have announced special packages to cash in on the weekend travellers. Barbeque sessions in the desert is another popular pastime this weekend.
Coinciding with the 47th UAE National Day, which falls on December 2, a two-day holiday has been announced for institutions and industries.
Heritage village Hatta is a favourite destination for travellers even during summer. The mountain ranges have got a fresh green cover after the rainfall. Hatta is favourite among Malayali expatriate due to its close resemblance to Kerala with its rock formations, green farms and flowing wadis (valleys).
Villages that border Oman too can be visited from here. A less than two-hour journey from Dubai will take one to Hatta.
Several tourism infrastructure works are in progress in Hatta. They are planned in such a way that the work won't affect the natural beauty of the place. The projects worth Dhs 130 crore covers sectors like tourism, education, sports, culture and basic infrastructure and are nearing their completion.
A honey festival, Hatta Live, 30 rest-houses in Al Sheraa heritage area, roads that link Hatta heritage village, Hatta Kayak and Hatta dam and Hatta hydroelectric project are part of the development projects. Hatta Live uses cameras installed at various places to offer 360-degree videos of the mountainous landscapes.
Hatta Heritage Village is a treasure trove of information about Arabian musical instruments. Al tabal and al tambura have close resemblance to tabla and tampura. Besides, there are similarities in al resif, al nooba, al liva, and al ayala cultural forms.
The mountain ranges of Jabal Al Jais in Ras Al Khaimah and Al Hajr in Fujairah and Wadi Al Wurayah dam are popular among travellers. The Haboob Shafiya village close to Wadi Gidda before climbing the ghat towards Jabal Al Jais is also a hotspot.
Visitors can also buy vegetables from farms that are spread across acres of land. Al Qusais lake almost hidden behind a line of dunes along the Truck Road between Al Ain and Abu Dhabi and farms is also attracting people.
Since most of the Malayalis have either relatives or friends in several places, nobody gives a chance to visit them a miss. Besides, it is also a chance to escape from a life confined between the four walls of congested flats.