The Dubai royals know how to holiday. Fact. When the scorching UAE summer kicks in, they escape to greener pastures in the UK and Europe, and in the depths of winter – as deep as they go in the UAE – they jet off to enjoy winter sports at some of the world’s most exclusive ski resorts. As far as jet setters go, they’re some of the most travelled people in the GCC. Take inspiration from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and the likes of his much-loved son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai (known by his nickname Faz) and Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum – affectionately known as Uncle Saeed – by booking a destination at one of these, sometimes surprising, destinations. Here are 9 much-loved, and unusual, destinations the Dubai Royal Family go to on holiday.
The ski season may be coming to an end, but a trip to Courchevel 1850 takes a lot of planning, not to mention saving and scrimping. Located in the southwest of France, the chi-chi enclave is the highest peak of the Courchevel ski Area – high in the French Alps and made up of 6 charming villages. Courchevel forms part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, and the most exclusive of them all is Courchevel. Ascend to the top and you’re in Courchevel 1850, a charming Alpine village with Gucci-branded ski lifts, manicured slopes, seven Michelin-starred restaurants and elite hotels like an Aman, Cheval Blanc, Airelles (of the Palace of Versailles’ Le Grand Controle hotel) and Six Senses. While Sheikh Hamdan hasn’t specifically tagged Courchevel 1850, his photos show he’s in the high-brow Alpine hangout. The Crown Prince was pictured enjoying the snow earlier this year with his young son and family members like Uncle Saeed.
It’s no secret the Dubai Royals are anglophiles, regularly flitting back and forth between the UAE and their home in the UK – where they raise racehorses. But while London and the Home Counties are obvious choices for a royal holiday, the Dubai royal family often heads to the northern county of Yorkshire – most recently enjoying a trip there in summer 2022. The historic county is one of the most charming and naturally beautiful places in the British Isles, with a rich, diverse and tumultuous history that has left the landscape peppered with Norman castles, Medieval Abbeys, Tudor Houses and Medieval walls. The county is also home to two stunning national parks, the North York Moors National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where the Dubai royal family most likely enjoyed their country pursuits last August. The heartwarming photos show His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, along with Sheikh Hamdan enjoying a day shooting on the moors as part of a large, convivial group.
Pisa’s Leaning Tower is an iconic building – it’s been leaning since the 1170s, thanks to the uneven settling of the building’s foundations in the soft ground. Situated on the western shores of Italy, just inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Tuscan city is the gateway to the rolling hills of the famous foodie and wine region, the city of Florence and has plenty of like the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the San Matteo National Museum. Both Sheikh Hamdan and Uncle Saeed visited the Leaning Tower on a trip to Pisa last year, and of course, they got their signature tourist photo – much to the delight of Faz’s 15.6 million and Uncle Saeed’s 809,000 Instagram followers.
The Maldives is a perpetual favourite holiday destination for UAE residents, so it’s no wonder the Dubai Royal Family also love visiting the Indian Ocean idyll. Sheikh Hamdan posted a series of photos and videos to his Instagram in June 2019 of the family enjoying a relaxing sun-soaked vacation at the luxurious Velaa Private Islands resort. Located in the Noonu Atoll, an atoll praised for its intense natural beauty and marine life, Velaa has just 47 overwater villas clad in teak and bamboo, a romantic pool residence accessible only by boat and an exclusive two-story four-bedroom Nika Residence, designed by the renowned Patricia Urquiola.
The East African nation of Tanzania is another holiday destination the Dubai royal family have visited – a country known for its vast wilderness areas, like the world-famous Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Park. The safari hotspot is home to Africa’s ‘big five’ (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino). The mainland is famous for safaris, and its islands, like Arab-influenced Zanzibar and marine-rich Mafia, are popular with holidaymakers thanks to their beautiful clear waters and white-sand beaches. In June 2021, Sheikh Hamdan posted a heartwarming throwback of him in the African national, captioning it ‘#tb#selfie with my #friends from #tanzania‘ while Uncle Saeed posted a similar throwback photo of the two of them in March 2018.
AlUla, Saudi Arabia
For millennia, the city of AlUla in western Saudi Arabia was the crossroad of civilisation, a pivotal spot on the ancient incense trading route from the East to West and home to great civilisations like the Nabateans – the empire behind Jordan’s Petra. The ancient Saudi landscape is seeing a new dawn, thanks to the Kingdom’s go-getting Vision 2030 tourism plans and a new wave of luxury hotels cropping up in the once largely untouched and unseen region. Showing his support for King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, HH Sheikh Mohammed visited the western Saudi province with Sheikh Hamdan in February 2019, posting a tribute to his ‘brother’ King Salman as he posed by Elephant Rock, praising the ‘new civilisation’ the King and his son Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman are creating.
“Are you going to follow me or @faz3?” reads the playful caption posted by Uncle Saeed, showing him and Sheikh Hamdan hiking in Yosemite National Park. The Dubai Royal Family visited the park – which lies in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains – in summer 2017 and posted a series of photos of them enjoying the beautiful outdoors. Yosemite is famed for its ancient sequoia, granite cliffs and the iconic towering Bridalveil Fall vista known as Tunnel View. There are also shops, restaurants and charming boutique hotels in Yosemite Village, along with a museum and gallery showcasing landscape photography of the area.
In December 2019, Sheikh Hamadan posted a photo from vibrant Tokyo, the Japanese capital of shiny neon skyscrapers and nearly 14 million people The image shows him wearing casual clothing and looking out at a busy street, no doubt soaking up the city’s intoxicating energy and vibe. Elusive and private as always, the Crown Prince simply captioned the photo “#Tokyo”.