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United Arab Emirates: A Spectacular Paradise in the Desert

Whenever any conversation about the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comes up, many people often think about just one place: Dubai, the ultramodern city of iconic skyscrapers, sci-fi-esque city malls, artificial palm-shaped islands, dazzling indoor ski slopes and some of the world’s best opulent beach resorts. However, UAE is beyond the glitters of Dubai. It’s a country or rather a confederation of seven unique and diverse emirates or states: Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain, Fujairah and of course, the famous Dubai.

UAE web directory
UAE

Situated on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the UAE borders Oman and Saudi Arabia and is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. With an extensive coastline, the UAE has more than 200 tiny islands with breathtaking terrains full of deserts, mountains and oasis. The UAE may be an extremely modern and dynamic country, but it was founded only in 1971 and has experienced tremendous grown to become one of the most developed countries in the world.

Even though the seven emirates all share similar cultural and historical influences, they’re different from each other in their own unique ways. From glamour and modern day advancements to rich history and culture, the UAE is so diverse that it truly has something for everyone.

Abu Dhabi

Known as the “Garden City,” Abu Dhabi is the nation’s capital and is a hub center of sports, culture and leisure with the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being one of the emirate’s major attractions. You can also visit Abu Dhabi’s grand mosque, as well as the Al Ain Zoo to see lots of wild animals such as the Arabian Oryx, cheetahs and hyenas.

Dubai

Once famous for its oil, Dubai is now well-known and widely revered as one of the world’s top trade and tourism centers. It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the world and offers locals and visitors alike tremendous shopping opportunities, as well as plenty of sun on its pristine beaches.

North of Dubai is the Sharjah, which is known for its art, heritage and oil. The emirate is known for its strict laws and is almost similar to Umm al Quwain and Ajman that provide a true glimpse of what life used to be in this desert paradise in the pre-oil days. Loosely translating to “headland of the small huts,” Ras al-Khaimah is known for its ingenious small buildings that have long existed along its golden beaches and terracotta deserts. Last but not least, Fujairah is best known for swimming and diving thanks to its clear waters along the Gulf of Oman.

Places to Visit

While every place in the UAE would be perfect for any visitor, here are some must-visit places.

The Palm Islands – These are artificial islands that were created to maximize the presence of tremendously desirable beachfront property in Dubai. They are designed to look like a palm tree and are among the best artificial islands in the world.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque – Not only is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque a landmark in Abu Dhabi, but it is also the biggest mosque in the UAE and has the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world.

Burj Khalifa – Apart from the Emirates Building, which have become iconic symbols of Dubai, you can also visit the Burj Khalifa building. It’s the world’s tallest building and holds a plethora of world records including the world’s highest nightclub, the longest elevator travel distance in the world, among other world records. Just like the Emirate Building, the Burj Khalifa is right in the heart of Dubai’s commercial business district, and calling it impressive is an understatement.

As extraordinary as the UAE may be, you should always remember that it has a very conservative Islamic culture. Everything including clothing and behavior should be modest and in respect of the Muslim culture. Again, laws in the UAE are very much different from other parts of the world, especially in terms of social behavior and alcohol. For instance, beware of the photos that you’re taking and always ask permission before photographing people. Remember to avoid Muslim women while being respectful and conscious of what you do and how you act.