United Arab Emirates

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The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. It has coastlines on the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. The neighboring states are Saudi Arabia to the west and southwest, and Oman to the east and southeast, including Omani enclaves on the Musandam Peninsula and at Madha. It is a country rich in history and culture and an easy starting point for travels in the Middle East.

Population: 5,473,972 people
Area: 83,600 km2
Highest point: 1,527 m
Coastline: 1,318 km
Life expectancy: 76.91 years
GDP per capita: $49,800
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  • Big city 50-100 hotels
  • Medium city 20-50 hotels
  • Small city 5-20 hotels
  • Village below 5 hotels

Points of Interest

  • Beach Beach
  • Business object Business object
  • Casino Casino
  • Civic property Civic property
  • Education Education
  • Entertainment Entertainment
  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
  • Interesting place Interesting place
  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
  • Skiing Skiing
  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

About United Arab Emirates

History

The earliest known human habitation in the UAE dated from 5500 B.C. At this early stage, there is proof of interaction with the outside world, particularly with civilisations to the northwest of Mesopotamia.

The arrival of envoys from the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 630 heralded the conversion of the region to Islam. After Muhammad, one of the major battles fought at Dibba resulted in the defeat of the non-Muslims and triumph of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

The United Arab Emirates declared independence on 2 December 1971 when the emirs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai decided to form a union.

Climate

The country is extraordinarily dry, getting only a few days of rain a year. Despite that, Emiratis use water at an alarming rate: there are broad swaths of grass in the major public parks, for example, and landscaping can be extensive in the resorts or other public places. Most of this water comes from desalinisation. Visitors do not pay for their water use. The weather from late October through mid-March is quite pleasant, with temperatures ranging from highs around 27°C (85°F) to lows around 15°C (63°F). It is almost always sunny. Rain can fall between November and February, and can cause road hazards when it does. In the summer, temperatures soar and humidity is close to unbearable – it is widely suspected that the officially reported temperatures are "tweaked" to cut off the true summer highs, which can go above 50°C, or 120°F.

Activities

One of the main focuses of tourist life (other than shopping) is the beach. The waters of the UAE, although definitely more cloudy in recent years due to heavy coastal construction, are still, for those from less torrid climes, remarkably warm, clean, and beautiful. There are long stretches of white-sand beaches, ranging from completely undeveloped to highly touristed (even in cities like Dubai). The snorkeling and diving can be magnificent, especially along the eastern (Indian Ocean) coast. Vast swaths of desert stretch to the south of the major urban areas, offering dramatic views and terrifying rides in fast-driven safaris. The mountains are dramatic, steep rocky crags, and a visit to them (for example, the town of Hatta) is well rewarded with amazing views. Women wearing bathing suits will draw unwanted attention at the public beaches; it is advisable to pay for a one-day entry pass to a private beach at a hotel.

There are plenty of man-made wonders to enjoy as well. Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is the world's largest indoor theme park, and as the name suggests, is centered around experiencing the world of Ferrari, which is alongside the Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix. The Yas Marina Circuit is widely known as the most technologically advanced circuit on the planet, and, along with Formula One, hosts various national and international racing series, including the GP2 and GP3 series, V8 Supercars and the now-defunct FIA GT1 series. It opened in 2009. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world, and visitors can travel up it to a viewing station situated near the building's peak to enjoy stunning views of the city and beyond. Wild Wadi and Aquaventure are two world class water parks that cater to the whole family. As well as this, those looking for proper retail therapy can visit Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, and also the location of the world's largest dancing fountain, with multiple shows starting after sunset, and one of the world's largest indoor aquariums, Dubai Aquarium.

Ski Dubai in Dubai Emirates Mall opened in 2005. It is the world's third largest indoor ski slope, measuring 400 metres and using 6000 tons of snow. Ski Dubai resort [11] is the first UAE indoor ski slope to open, and more are planned. All equipment, except for gloves and a hat, are provided—skis/snowboards, snowsuits, boots and socks are all included in the price (the socks are disposable). The adjoining ski store sells equipment, including gloves. A ski slope in Ra's al Khaymah is also in the works.

"Desert safari" trips can be a fun experience for tourists. They can be booked ahead, but can often be booked as late as the day before, and most hotel receptionists can arrange this for you. Trips normally start late afternoon and end late evening. You will be collected from your hotel and driven to the desert in a 4x4 vehicle. Most packages include a heart-pumping drive over the dunes, a short camel ride, an Arabic buffet and a belly dancer. Another option would be renting/buying a 4x4 and joining the many growing 4x4 clubs in the UAE, which are varied and each carry their own different flavour: ad4x4 [12], uaeoffroaders [13], arabianoffroader [14], me4x4 [15], emarat4x4 [16], etc. They offer a free learning experience for all newcomers with scheduled weekly trips to suit all levels of driving skills. Some of them have over 2,000 members from many nationalities.

Food

Dubai and, to a lesser extent, Abu Dhabi offer a vast spread of food from most of the world's major cuisines. By Western standards most restaurants are quite affordable although it is easy to find extremely expensive food too. Most upper-end restaurants are located in hotels.

Due to the large expat populations, Indian and Pakistani restaurants abound, offering affordable and succulent choices. Also popular are Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian cuisine restaurants.

A popular favorite is grilled chicken, available at most of the open-air cafeterias by the roadside which can be relished with other accompaniments like Khubz (Arabic Bread), hummus, etc., and the most popular rice dish is Biriyani, with grilled chicken or fish or lamb. Traditional Shawarma and falafel sandwiches are readily available and are quite cheap and delicious.

Very few traditional Emirati dishes are served at restaurants; and the closest is the Mendi-style cuisine of Yemen, in which platters of fragrant rice are topped with lamb, chicken or fish that has been slow-roasted in a pit.

Drinks

Dubai has a burgeoning nightlife scene and even formerly straitlaced Abu Dhabi has loosened up and tried to catch up. Alcohol is available in alcohol stores, 5-star hotel restaurants and bars in all emirates except Sharjah, where you can only drink in your home or in an expat hangout called the Sharjah Wanderers. As a tourist, you are permitted to buy alcohol in bars and restaurants to drink there. If you are a resident, you're supposed to have an alcohol license (never asked for in bars) which also allows you to buy alcohol at alcohol stores (they do check).

During Ramadan, no alcohol is served during daylight (fasting) hours. Dubai and Abu Dhabi permit bars to serve alcohol at night, but bands stop playing, background music is off or quiet, no dancing is allowed and nightclubs are usually closed. On certain holy days in the Islamic calendar, no alcohol is served publicly in any of the UAE.

Do not under any circumstance drink and drive in the UAE. If by chance you are in an accident, this becomes a card for going directly to jail — especially during Ramadan. Taxis are widely available if you have been drinking and are a much safer and wiser option given the insane driving habits in the region.

Shopping

The currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED, local abbreviation dhs). It is pegged to the USD at 3.67 AED for $1. Conversion rates are 5 AED for 1 EUR and 6 AED for 1 GBP. Notes are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 dirhams. There is a one dirham coin with sub-units of 25 and 50 fils coins (100 fils = 1 dirham). There are 5 fils and 10 fils coins but these are rarely seen (and provide an excuse for traders to 'short change').

Cash and travellers' cheques can be changed at exchanges located at the airports or in all the major shopping malls. ATMs are numerous and generously distributed. They accept all the major chain cards: Visa, Cirrus, Maestro etc. Credit cards are widely accepted.

If you pay with an overseas credit card, most merchants will attempt to apply dynamic currency conversion, charging several percent more than the issuer conversion would have cost. The credit card terminal will offer the choice of whether the conversion should be accepted. The merchant will not ask you about this, and will choose to accept the conversion. If you pay attention, you can intervene and ask for "No" to be answered. If you ask upfront, some merchants will have no idea what you mean, but many will.

Costs

Basic commodities used to be cheaper than in most Western countries, although this is changing rapidly (Dubai has moved up the ranking to be the 25th most expensive city to live in; Abu Dhabi is close behind). Hotels rates are not cheap—there is a shortage of hotel rooms available, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which keeps the hotels often at above 90% occupancy. Vast numbers of new hotels are scheduled to come on line during the next five to ten years, but as tourism is on the rise, it is unlikely that prices will come down. All things touristy also tend to be rather expensive. Rents in Dubai are starting to compete with cities like Paris or London, and other prices tend to follow. Some places have shared accommodations available and are quite reasonable.

Shopping

One of the things the UAE is most famous for is shopping. There are no sales taxes in the UAE, but it is very difficult to find any real bargains anymore as inflation is at an all-time high. If you are interested in shopping, you can't leave the UAE without visiting Dubai. Dubai boasts the best places for shopping in the whole of the Middle East, especially during the annual shopping festival, usually from mid-January to mid-February.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article United Arab Emirates on Wikivoyage.

Cities in United Arab Emirates

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Dubai is a cosmopolitan metropolis and global city on the Arabian Peninsula. One of the ten most popular tourist destinations in the world, it is developing at an unbelievable pace, especially in tourism and trade. The most modern and progressive city in the Middle East, it is sometimes mistakenly thought of ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • The Dubai Fountain
  • Burj Khalifa
  • Souk Madinat Jumeirah
  • Grand Mosque
  • Wild Wadi Water Park
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Abu Dhabi is the federal capital and center of government in the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and one of the most modern cities in the world.

Interesting places:

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
  • The Corniche
  • Heritage Village
  • Al Hosn University
  • Abu Dhabi Mall
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Ra's al Khaymah is the most northern Emirate at the Arabian Gulf, borders the Omani exclave Musandam and is one of the seven United Arab Emirates.

Interesting places:

  • National Museum of Ras al Khaimah
  • Tower Links Golf Club
  • Dhayan Fort
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Sharjah is the capital of Sharjah emirate and the third largest city in the United Arab Emirates.

Interesting places:

  • King Faisal Mosque
  • Blue Souq Sharjah
  • Al Noor Mosque
  • Al Qasba
  • Sharjah Gold Souq
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Interesting places:

  • Port of Fujairah
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Al Ain is the Garden city of United Arab Emirates. This oasis town is located next to, and virtually merged with, the Omani town of Buraimi.

Interesting places:

  • Al Ain National Museum
  • Al Ain Zoo
  • Higher Colleges of Technology-Al Ain Men\'s College
  • Hili Fun City
  • Higher Colleges of Technology-Al Ain Women\'s College
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Ajman is one of the emirate and city of United Arab Emirates.

Interesting places:

  • Al Tallah Camel Race Course
  • Gulf Medical College
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Interesting places:

  • Arabian Wildlife Park
  • Sir Bani Yas Island Beach
  • Sir Bani Yas Island Pier
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Umm Al Quwain is an emirate between Ajman and Ra's al Khaymah on the West coast of the United Arab Emirates.

Interesting places:

  • Dreamland
  • Marine Research Center and Aquarium
  • Umm Al Quwain Motor Racing Club
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Hatta is a town that is an exclave of the Emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), located in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. It is about an hour from Dubai city. It is separated from the main part of the emirate by territory belonging to Sharjah (which is part of the UAE), and Oman. Hatta is ... (read more)

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Dibba is a conurbation of two towns in the emirates of Fujairah and Sharjah. It borders the Omani town of Dibba Al-Baya.

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Khor Fakkan is a city in Sharjah emirate in the United Arab Emirates. It is an enclave located on the coast of the Gulf of Oman and separated from the main part of the emirate which lies on the Persian Gulf coast.

Interesting places:

  • Al Badia Mosque
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panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in United Arab Emirates

  • Some of the largest sand dunes in the world in the south of Abu Dhabi in the Liwa Oasis area
  • Beautiful beaches on the east coast
  • Rugged, remote wadis in the northern emirates
  • Archeological sites and natural rock formations in the Hajar Mountains
  • Resplendent oases in Al Ain

Although at first glance the outdoors may seem dull and uninteresting, and even dangerous due to the desert conditions, there are actually amazing natural destinations in the UAE - the difficulty is in knowing where to find them! There are pristine waterfalls, cliffs lined with fossils, even freshwater lakes - Weekenduae is a blog that freely shares ideas, routes and plans for weekend adventures in the UAE (and Oman) with all trip details including description, GPS track, interactive map, and photos.

The Dubai Fountain - Dubai

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - Abu Dhabi

King Faisal Mosque - Sharjah

Al Ain National Museum - Al Ain

Dreamland - Umm al Quwain

Burj Khalifa - Dubai

Souk Madinat Jumeirah - Dubai

Grand Mosque - Dubai

Wild Wadi Water Park - Dubai

Souk al Bahar - Dubai

Spice Souk - Dubai

Dubai Museum - Dubai

Gold Souk - Dubai

Bastakiya - Dubai

Dubai International Financial Centre - Dubai

Naif Souq - Dubai

Dubai Mall - Dubai

Aquaventure - Dubai

Dubai Marina - Dubai

Perfume Souq - Dubai

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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