24 Hours in Ajman, UAE

24 hours as it may have been, my stay in Ajman, UAE (located in the emirate of Ajman, the smallest UAE emirate) at the Fairmont Ajman was full of surprises and double takes. Was I in the Middle East or Europe? The address may have read Ajman, United Arab Emirates, yet the rocky ocean barrier and emerald-colored water reminded me of what I’d expect on a European beach. Or was I in the Caribbean? The open-air beach bar looked like it was straight out of a Jamaican postcard or Corona commercial. It was a merging of some of my favorite cultures all in one place. But with just 24 hours, I had to pack it in. And pack it in I did, deciding the hell with sleep, and doing as much as I possibly could with my time at the Fairmont Ajman. And it didn’t disappoint. Below are the highlights from my stay at the Fairmont Ajman.

Jetski (and paddleboard) the Persian Gulf. It’s not just every day that I can play in the Persian Gulf, so obviously, this was first on the list. In between the rock barriers of the Ajman coastline were calm, emerald waters, great for paddling, while just beyond it were rolling waves, great for jetskiing. The best of both worlds! Additionally, the Fairmont Ajman has a number of other water sports, including flyboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, and sailing, just to name a few. Bonus points that you’re watching the sunset directly from the beach once night starts to fall.

Have a fancy drink at the Caribbean-esque Driftwood Beach Bar. From a European-esque beach to a Caribbean-style bar, Driftwood, mere steps from one another. The only way Driftwood could be any more Caribbean is if it was actually on a Caribbean beach. From the coconuts (and coconut drinks) to reggae music to bar seats on the sand, this was a little slice of the Caribbean on the Persian Gulf. And yes, I did have a fruity cocktail. And, it was delicious. But as the below photo illustrates, it's impossible to have a bad drink view at the Fairmont Ajman.

Chill out at the award-winning NINE Degrees Spa. Following an afternoon of water sports and with a 14-hour flight ahead of me, naturally, the spa was the next stop. And Fairmont Ajman’s spa, NINE Degrees, is no joke. The rundown: A state-of-the-art health club, Turkish hammam area, steam room, sauna, ice shower, barber shop, and salon. Yes, please! I recommend arriving well before your appointment so you can enjoy some of the spa’s many amenities, of which the highlight for me was the steam room. (Photo below from the Fairmont Ajman.)

Hit that shisha at XOLO Bar. The chill vibes continue at the indoor and outdoor shisha lounge, XOLO (pictured below by the Fairmont Ajman). If you’ve ever been to a hookah bar, then you have a general idea of what a shisha bar is like. Shisha is essentially an Arabian-style flavored tobacco, smoked through a waterpipe, and a frequent post-dinner tradition in Middle East countries. XOLO features a menu of different shisha flavors, but also has a great craft cocktail menu.

Enjoy a Turkish meal at Kiyi Turkish Restaurant. So many different cultures converge at the Fairmont Ajman, and Kiyi is no exception. Here you’ll find a Turkish restaurant inspired by Istanbul’s famous Topkapı Palace. The main dining area features ottoman-style imperial dining, though I enjoyed sitting outdoors on what was a crisp UAE night overlooking the Persian Gulf. Some of Kiyi’s signature dishes include oven-baked zucchini, sea bass, and braised lamb shank. I, however, went with the chef’s choice, which was a great sampling of the Turkish menu. Also, it was a lot of food. Needless to say, I slept well that night.

Interior photos from the Fairmont Ajman.