IT'S TOUGH enough persuading package holidaymakers to think beyond Spain, so you can imagine the uphill task facing the promoters of Dubai and Slovenia. Many holiday companies and tourist agencies attempt to solve the problem by denying that these destinations are even slightly unusual.

Amathus Holidays, for example, has a new brochure for "Dubai, including Abu Dhabi in the UAE" which makes this Arab nation look about as exotic as Blackpool. On the cover there are pictures of a man playing golf, a woman in full lipstick lounging by the sea, a building that looks like a nasty conference centre and some sand dunes (so nothing to worry the unadventurous there then).

Amathus then goes on to sell the UAE as the place for "everyone, whether you are looking for a luxury sunshine break, a hectic sporting holiday or a shopping spree" and, "if you have the time", you can sample some of the excursions from half-day shopping trips to overnight safaris. Most of the hotels are beyond hideous and the only Arabs featured are either in charge of camels, dressed as Mexicans (don't ask) or trying to sell something. Prices start at pounds 546 per person on a self-catering basis for five nights, but don't say you haven't been warned.

Then there's Slovenia, or Slovenija, which is featured in a new brochure from Slovenija Pursuits. Thankfully this company presents the tiny mountainous nation as a place that's special, different from all its neighbours, and with more to offer than shopping excursions. So you get pictures of lush countryside, local cuisine, cute hotels and apartments plus lots of unpronounceable place names to stumble over and top tips for trips and activities. What's more the brochure's design is attractive and prices are affordable.

Amathus Holidays, tel 0171 636 9873; Slovenija Pursuits, tel 01763 852 646.

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