UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Capital: Abu Dhabi
Official language: Arabic
Currency: UAE Dirham
Welcome to the seven Sheikhdoms that form the United Arab Emirates, where you can ravel in the comforts of modern home combined with a taste of the exotic. On offer here is everything from superb hotels with the finest cuisine and glitzy nightlife, to island paradise style beaches as well as rich cultural and historical exploring opportunities. Be inspired by the magnificent mountains in Hatta, pick up some unique curios within the wide array of souqs, and explore the intriguing ocean life in the Gulf or camel trek through the desert sands in Abu Dhabi. The UAE might seem like just a stage for Dubai to showcase its ever fascinating architectural brilliance, but offers far more than you ever expected. Breathe in the atmosphere where Islam religion lives peacefully alongside western world customs and showcases traditional Bedouin lifestyles that have seamlessly integrated with modern times. Contradicting destination? Most definitely yes, but the UAE has endless beauty and magical adventures waiting to be discovered. Abu Dhabi brings fame to this country through its majestic Emirates Palace and the famed Yas Island Ferrari World (the world’s largest indoor adventure park with the fastest ever rollercoaster). In Dubai the Atlantis Resort as well as the Ski Village, Gold Souk, Palm Islands and the Global Village have made the UAE famous and popular among tourists. The United Arab Emirates might well be the safest Middle Eastern country for foreign travelers to visit. It’s unique in a sense that you can literally explore all the world has to offer within the borders of a single country. From rich historic expeditions and cultural exchange to the magnificent wilderness areas. The beaches are unrivaled and the shopping, food and entertainment are unparalleled. The UAE is truly a dime a dozen as you can experience all the wonder of the 7 Sheikhdoms coupled with friendly locals and great hospitality that won’t be seen in any neighboring countries.
Must see places
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
This architectural masterpiece conceived by Sheikh Zayed showcases magnificent design and decorations, such as the 1000 pillars that support the 80 marbled domes on this snowy white mosque’s rooftop. There are also the marble floors, gold and semi-precious stone décor and the world’s largest Persian carpet that takes your breath away. This massive mosque can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers and is open to public except for during prayer times.
Dubai’s own ‘Tower of Babel’ stands tall at 828 meters and is the world tallest building. The building is a mix of apartments and offices as well as the grand Armani Hotel. The lookout point on the124th floor allows for spectacular views of the entire city and is simply breathtaking.
Al Ain Zoo
Founded by the Sheikh Zayed in 1968 the region’s most acclaimed zoo showcases a great variety of indigenous and exotic animal species. The zoo has an exceptional breeding and conservation program and also has entertainment specifically for tots, the Elezba petting zoo.
Sharjah Heritage Museum
If you are looking into truly understanding the lifestyle and history of the people from the UAE then this is the place to go. It provides and in depth look at what life in the dessert is like for Bedouin tribes, religious values, birth and burial rituals and even traditional folk medicine. It’s truly an educational experience worthy of your time.
Al-Mamzar Beach Park
Just across from Shrajan you can enjoy the lush landscaped park with its magnificent white beaches that remains one of Dubai’s hidden gems. Special entertainment for children such as a wooden palace makes for great entertainment for the kiddies and the swimming pool, barbeque and kiosk are all of the top standards along the collection of small beaches.
Hatta Heritage Village
Experience the lifestyles of the ancient Hatta. This village showcases a magnificent old village society together with traditional music, palm leaf products, handicrafts and traditional garments that give an insight into the culture that is kept alive in modern day.
Whether you are looking at buying some bling or not, the Gold Souq is definitely worth a stroll through. On display are every kind of jewelry items you can imagine, from golden bracelets to extravagant Indian wedding necklaces and stunning earrings. The atmosphere is truly captivating, you’ll spot some locals trying to sell some knock offs, and then there’s the hard working craftsmen that travel afar with their carts literally loaded to the brim with goods they bring to the market.
Recreating the ancient lost city of Atlantis, the aquarium boasting the same name has some breathtaking views. The labyrinth of underwater halls, passageways and fish tanks takes you back to a city lost to at sea. It’s the world’s largest aquarium and is definitely well worth a visit.
Things to do in United Arab Emirates
Between the eight natural island that lie just offshore from Abu Dhabi you can truly get an island holiday experience. Be sure to stop by the pristine Anantara Desert Island Resort located on the Island of Sir Bani Yas to sample the magnificent food and drink.
Shop up a storm at the souqs
All across the UAE you will find souqs selling anything and everything from gold and jewelry to spices and materials. Bargaining is at the order of the day so you can literally shop the day away as you relish in the smells, tastes and sights of these vibrant and bustling market places.
Explore Ras al-Kaihmah
Visit the iconic Khatt mineral springs, trek along the Hajar Mountains and walk along the beautiful coast line. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise and a great destination well worth a visit.
Dubai is one of the world’s best golfing destinations with destinations such as the world class Emirates Golf Club, or try your hand at the wacky game of sand golf!
Do a desert dirt trek
No visit to the UAE would be complete without a thrilling 4x4 dune bashing experience in the sands of Abu-Dhabi. Almost all hotels have vehicles available with or without guides. You’ll truly get to experience the dunes in all their might.
Best time to visit United Arab Emirates
Tourists visit United Arab Emirates between the months of October through April
The United Arab Emirates is a sun worshipper’s paradise as it has sunny and clear sky conditions basically year round. The temperatures during the summer time can spike up to a staggering 45°C (113°F) and with humidity levels peaking during the months of June through September it can bring down even the most intrepid travelers. The best time to visit this country would be between the months of October through April when the heat hasn’t reached extreme highs.
Did you know?
Dubai Shopping Festival
Street performances, fun fairs and film screenings accompany the massive shopping extravaganza that sees prices of goods reduced by up to 75% during this special time. It attracts thousands of international travelers and the best of what Dubai has on offer is found in the local souqs (January)
Sharjah Light Festival
High powered projectors, 3D technology, moving videos and laser displays transforms Sharjah for this week long display of magical lights (February)
Abu Dhabi Festival
This showdown held at the Emirates Palace focuses on spreading cultural awareness throughout the country and beyond by performances such as the World Orchestra for Peace, exhibitions by the Shaolin Monks and many more entertainment acts (March)
Dubai World Cup
Experience the thrill and exhilaration at the world’s richest horse race. Held annually in Dubai this event showcases top riders and horses and you can take part in the fun by bidding on your favorite horse. Festivities include camel racing and delectable authentic cuisine as well as children’s entertainment (September)
All throughout the United Arab Emirates celebrations mark the end of Ramadan and in the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi you will find special events being held for several days that attract thousands of traffic as both locals and visitors share in the festive spoils.
- Stuffed Camel – This dish is usually served by elite families at wedding ceremonies and is a traditional festive meal. It consists of one whole camel being stuffed with ; one lamb, 20 chickens, boiled eggs, fish and rice and is then roasted rotisserie style. Delicious and filling and something you have to try if you get the opportunity.
- Al Harees – This dish has a rich exotic taste and basically consists of meat and wheat that is cooked for hours on end until it forms a smooth paste. It then get served on a flat plate and topped with local ghee.
- Shawarma – Though it comes in many different variations the traditional shawarma consists of garlic sauce, pickles, tomato and fries all stuffed into Arabic roti. It’s simply delicious and very filling.
- Al machboos – This dish is basically a stew made with rice, meat, onions and dried lemon. It’s a traditional staple dish that you’ll find on most menus and will prove to tantalize the taste buds.
- Hummus – Not so much a dish but rather a side or dipping sauce. This famous blend of chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, tahini paste and salt is heavenly when spread on some pita bread.
- Dress conservatively, with the UAE being mostly Muslim you have to respect their laws and cover your shoulders to your knees.
- Avoid public displays of affection. It is not tolerated in Islam religion and you should avoid unnecessary confrontation.
- Unless you are in a public place where photography is permitted, never take pictures of government buildings, airplanes, bridges or government officials. Also never, ever, take a picture of a Muslim woman without permission.
- Tourists are only allowed to buy alcohol from shops if they have the proper liquor license which is obtainable from the local immigration offices.
- Dancing in public is seen to be indecent and provocative. It can even lead to fines; best keep it to the privacy of your hotel room or the night clubs.
- Check for the recommended vaccinations before heading off, such as Measles.