The United Arab Emirates – but not as you know it

Born zippy

They never do anything by halves in the UAE. Ras Al Khaimah, the most northerly of the emirates, is a case in point. There, the longest zip-line ever to be built will welcome its first adventure-seekers later this month. At well over 7,000ft in length, it’s just the latest white-knuckle ride to turn heads away from the more familiar desert nations. rasalkhaimah.com

All souk up

For shopping that’s more frankincense and myrrh than Dolce & Gabbana, shun the modern malls of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and head to Souk Al Arsah in Sharjah for woven palm-leaf baskets and traditional sweets. sharjahmydestination.ae

Out with a bang

The specifics are still being fiercely guarded, but Ras Al Khaimah is planning something very big for New Year’s Eve – a fireworks display that will launch itself into the world record books, apparently. Let’s hope it’s more fizzle and pop than smoke and mirrors. rasalkhaimah.com

Catch and cook

Grab a spear and wade through the mangrove-fringed lagoons of Umm Al Quwain (three up from Dubai on the map) in search of squid and crabs; a chef will cook all you catch. Tours leave daily at 6pm from Flamingo Beach Resort. binmajid.com

Howzat!

Depressed by England’s woeful defence of the Ashes in far-flung Australia? Then head to the sunny emirate of Sharjah, just north of Dubai, where Ireland and Scotland will take on Afghanistan and Kenya later this month. sharjahcricket.ae

In the pink

If you’ve overdone the sunbathing next to the 280ft pool at the new Oberoi Beach Resort in Ajman (between Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain), get active and go kayaking; the nearby Al Zorah Nature Reserve is a haven for flamingos. oberoihotels.com

Blue Planet

Escape sweltering Dubai to the breezy east-coast emirate of Fujairah, and go snorkelling or diving among inquisitive turtles and the odd jellyfish straight out of Blue Planet II. Equipment and transport cost AED150 (£31). alboomdiving.com

Fujairah afloat

Join Silversea’s February cruise from Mumbai in India to Dubai, and make landfall in the emirate of Fujairah (see above). The East Coast Landmarks excursion visits Fujairah Fort, the oldest in the UAE. From £3,090 per person. silversea.com

Head for heights

If you’re in Ras Al Khaimah for the zip-line, take a trip to Jebel Jais – the UAE’s highest peak. From the new observation deck close to the summit, you can enjoy spectacular views across to the Omani border. jebeljais.ae

All you can eat

How about trying a different restaurant every day for a week? The Radisson Blu, the first ever five-star hotel in Ajman City (in the emirate of that name), boasts no fewer than seven eateries. Luckily, there’s also a fully equipped gym. radissonblu.com

Get the hump

Cooler winter temperatures mean that now is the start of the camel racing season in the UAE. The best place to see these humpbacked thoroughbreds is at Al Labsa Camel Race Track in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain. peepaltravels.com

Let it rain

Don’t expect a deluge, but nearly all of Sharjah’s annual deposit of rain will fall between now and March, turning the Wasit Wetlands – home to some 350 species of bird – a dazzling shade of green. Entry costs just AED 15 (£3). epaashj.ae

A family affair

Take the children to Ras Al Khaimah’s newest kid on the block, the refurbished Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert luxury resort. It is currently offering a 50 per cent discount on second rooms for families, plus free children’s meals. ritzcarlton.com

Pearl of wisdom

Set sail on the newest tour available in the emirate of Ajman, and learn how to shuck your very own oysters while bobbing in the Arabian Gulf. If you happen upon a pearl, it’s yours! AED 500 per person. ajmanpearljourney.com

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