Travel news: Air Arabia launches route to Xinjiang

Plus, learn about travel writing in Dubai.
The Writers’ Majlis at Dubai International Writers’ Centre. Courtesy DIWC
The Writers’ Majlis at Dubai International Writers’ Centre. Courtesy DIWC

New Air Arabia route to Xinjiang

UAE-based travellers to China can book tickets on a new route with the Sharjah-based airline Air Arabia (, which will launch a direct route to the north-western Chinese city of Urumqi next month. Meaning “beautiful pasture” in Mongolian, Urumqi is said to be farther from the sea than any other city in the world . It is located in the province of Xinjiang, which has a large Muslim Uighur minority.

According to the airline: “Urumqi is a modern industrial city of 3.3 million people and a major transportation hub. It has been described as the gateway to the vast region of Xinjiang, which offers some of the best bazaars, hiking, outdoor sports and natural beauty in the country, as well as being the location of large oil and natural gas reserves.”

Flights start on February 10. Return fares cost from Dh3,111 including taxes. It is a five-hour journey.

Learn about travel writing in Dubai

Travel writing is currently the theme at the newly opened Dubai International Writers’ Centre in the historic creekside district of Shindagha. The centre comprises a collection of traditional-style one- and two-storey buildings complete with libraries, meeting spaces, courtyards and rooftop majlises.

Open to the public, the centre hosts a variety of events, from Nabati poetry reading to Arabic translation sessions. Its first writer in residence is Yemen-based travel writer Tim Mackintosh-Smith, whose latest published work is a translation of Accounts of China and India by the ninth-century Arab writer Abu Zayd Al-Sirafi. It forms the first half of Two Arabic Travel Books, published by NYU University Press in New York and supported by a grant from the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute.

Last Saturday, Mackintosh-Smith held a talk called “Words into Images”, which looked at Ibn Battuta’s ability to paint pictures in the minds of readers and how the BBC condensed his 29 years of travelling into three one-hour documentaries.

Tomorrow, Mackintosh-Smith will give two talks, in Arabic and English, on Ibn Battuta, and, next week, a three-day travel writing course followed, on January 31, by a talk about learning Arabic.

The DIWC aims not only to appeal to local writers, but also to “become a meeting point for residents and visitors, bringing together people of various backgrounds, cultures and interests to interact with each other and the Emirati culture of Dubai.”

To book event tickets, visit

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Published: January 22, 2015 04:00 AM


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