Luke Neilson was excellent in helping us
Everything worked perfectly and was really well organised
Perfect, in every respect. Hope to repeat next year.
Well done to Matt Power. Very professional and polite and delivered yet again
Everything worked out exactly as promised. A superb service.
As always, Saf was so thoughtful and helpful. I would always contact DialAFlight first to book a holiday or flights.
Everything went smoothly as promised. Thanks to Sally
Always fabulous service, thank you
Everything went very smoothly from start to finish. Thank you very much, especially Trevor who looked after us.
Alex was great with providing us with options. He was also swift when we required some changes. Booking more flights soon with this company.
Amelia was very helpful
Top service as always from Bruce
Another perfect holiday!
Liam was extremely helpful at every stage of planning and executing our trip to Fujairah. We'll be back!
Full marks to my travel manager Oli De Bernier for his recommendation
Another great flying experience. Everything went according to plan both on arrival and departure. Ryan has always delivered what he promises.
Thanks again Meghan for all your help rearranging our Dubai trip. Had a great time will be back in touch soon to start planning our next adventure
Wished we had been advised that BA online check in wouldn’t allow us to be sat together
Excellent service from Philippa
Elliott was very efficient and kept me informed throughout.
Samuel Jalloh is a legend! Very helpful, great communication, have used before and will use again!!
A fantastic and relaxing holiday - everything DialAFlight dealt with was superb. Sadly that can not be said about Emirates - I booked seat and we did not get the seats I booked and paid for!
Your support was better than excellent. Gavin Dattani provided all the reassurance we required within minutes of being asked for help.
From the first time I spoke with Ash to discuss booking a holiday, right through to our departure and return we were well supported. Everyone we spoke to with queries or questions was always able to answer everything in full. Thank you! The app is also easy to navigate and use.
Jonathan was brilliant … he was very accommodating and thanks to him we had an amazing holiday in Dubai
Big thanks to Lucy for all her help with this trip. We eventually made it to Dubai!
Wonderful holiday and superb hotel. Thank you Philippa for arranging.
Malcolm was excellent. One or two minor hiccups on our 4 week tour of Istanbul and Malaysia. He helped sort it and is also chasing up a refund for one hotel where we had to have our room downgraded as they didn’t have a twin room available as booked.
Philip was brilliant as always. Made everything so easy and the trip was fantastic
It could well be the emirate of which you've never heard. It's not far down the coast from Dubai - but in many other ways it's a world away.
Ajman is the smallest emirate (it's about two-thirds the size of the Isle of Wight) but has some wonderful attractions - lovely natural beaches among them. A handful of five-star hotels are dotted along its ten-mile coastline - and an increasing number of Brits are attracted here for a sunshine holiday that is both quieter and cheaper than the glitzier side of the Emirates. And believe it or not, its most popular attraction is a dusty museum.
I checked in at the five-star Ajman Saray, a Marriott hotel, which is right on the beach and boasts a spa, two pools, four excellent restaurants and rooms staring out to sea.
Dubai's glitz is on the doorstep
The top hotels here have free shuttles throughout the day to and from central Dubai 30 minutes down the coast, so all aspects of the Gulf are available - but at a very attractive price as far as luxury accommodation is concerned.
Ajman's beaches are white sand and shelve into warm water all-year round. The weather is bankably balmy – even December temperatures are about 20C.
Its malls aren't a match for the Gulf's glitziest, and its souks are not olde worlde, but it's friendly and laid-back.
When I go for a jog along the corniche, a one-mile seafront promenade buzzing with juice bars and falafel joints, a group of locals draw me into their game of beach football, then invite me for a juice afterwards. At the entrance to the creek, I haggle for a shimmering mackerel at the fish market and have it grilled over a barbecue on the quay.
I get chatting to my Yemeni mackerel-griller, Mubarak, and his mates, who ply me with enamel-dissolving coffee and photos of their kids. 'Why did you move to Ajman?'I ask him. He gestures to the sea and the sinking sun, and shakes his head in the international language for 'Why do you think?'
'It is a relaxed place, friendly,' he tells me. 'Not crazy modern,' his friend says.
Modernisation is inevitable
Not crazy modern, perhaps, but it's getting there – at least if Al Zorah is anything to go by. Wedged between mangrove and beach, it's a 1,300-acre villa, hotel and leisure development in high-end isolation across the creek from downtown Ajman.
Much of it is still under construction, but there's a wakeboarding park, a golf course designed by the Nicklaus group and a sleek new Oberoi hotel (with a 280ft infinity pool) that combines concrete and glass design with Italian textiles and Arabian antiques.
The beach here is long, white and empty, with a wild feel.
Wildlife in abundance
Better still, Al Zorah borders a 250-acre mangrove reserve, where I recommend doing the two-hour kayak tour in search of the 60 or so bird species that shelter here. At one point, a flock of flamingos blaze past in a fiery crimson flyby; later, as we paddle below twisting branches, a rare collared kingfisher zips past in the late-afternoon sun.
That evening, on a sunset dhow cruise on the same creek, my guide recounts Ajman's pearl-diving past, then opens an oyster and finds one inside. 'Keep it,' he tells me. 'Ajman welcomes you.'
In the end, I even fall for that dusty museum. For one thing, it's housed in an 18th-century fort, the oldest building in Ajman and home until 1970 to the emirate's royal family; for another, it has some fascinating exhibits, including an ancient Koran and Ajman's first car (a 1940s Land Rover owned by the current sheikh's father). But it's my guide, Tariq, who really swings it, clucking at the exhibits as if they were his grandchildren.
'I really love it,' he says, leading me through ancient teak doors into the oldest working barjeel, or wind tower, in the UAE. We linger, fanned by the cool air from the vents above. It is a moment of ancient, mesmerising peace. 'Wonderful,' Tariq whispers. 'Wonderful.'
First published in the Sunday Times - July 2019
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