Ships docked at Dubai's busy cruise terminal.
Cruise ships docked at Dubai’s busy new cruise terminal at Port Rashid on the Arabian Gulf.

IS Dubai set to become a major player on the international cruise scene? reckons the signs are already there with Dubai’s state-of-the-art cruise terminal opened in 2010 at Port Rashid in the Persian Gulf. That new port facility can already handle five large cruise ships and around 9000 passengers in one day.

The mystique of the Middle East already sees many Australians stopping over briefly in the United Arab Emirates – Dubai is one of the seven states that make up the UAE – on flights to and from Europe.

Now the UAE – particularly Dubai and Abu Dhabi – are favoured ports for cruise ships sailing from Australasia through the Suez Canal to Mediterranean ports.

When Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth makes her maiden call to Abu Dhabi’s Zayed port this week she will become the highest profile cruise ship ever to dock there. A day later the 2,200 passenger liner sails into Dubai’s new state-of-the-art cruise terminal for a two night port stay as part of her annual world cruise,

Seabourn’s Legend (, Regent Seven Seas’ Voyager (, Princess Cruises’  Dawn Princess (, Holland America’s Rotterdam (, Silversea’s Silver Wind (, and Oceania’s Nautica ( are among ships calling into Dubai in coming months.

Desert safaris, distinctive architecture including the soaring sail of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel are must-see tourist attractions along with, massive air-conditioned malls (one with snow skiing slopes), and the man-made islands that form a world map or  a giant palm tree when viewed from above..

Nor is there a shortage of indoor and outdoor attractions in Abu Dhabi which is set to open a new cruise terminal and a ‘Desert Island’ beach experience in time for next year’s cruise season.

Meanwhile, Oman, another exotic Middle Eastern country is also reaching out to tourists, and vying for port calls by international cruise lines. This year Holland America’s Rotterdam (, Silversea’s Silver Wind (, Oceania’s Nautica (, Regent Seven Seas Voyager  (, and Azamara Quest ( are among cruise ships to call into the port of Muscat, the capital city of Oman.

NOTE: is taking an Easter break. The next post will appear on Monday, April 28.

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