The United Arab Emirates present two distinct sides to the world: one very familiar to most westerners with big malls, and one that is less well known that presents stunning dunes and interesting wadis (Arabic for valleys) that are waiting to be explored. Whether you choose shopping, luxury holiday, or desert exploration, the UAE has it all and then some more just to be sure. Get your passport ready, take out travel insurance for United Arab Emirates, and head off to explore this gem of a country.
Travel Highlights of Emirates:
Most travellers to the United Arab Emirates will enter through the main transport hub of Dubai. Heading into the city, you will immediately notice the sheer size of everything. Dubai has three to five lane roads running through it, and you’ll probably see the highest density of super cars in the world here. From far away you can make out the magnificent skyline of the ultra modern buildings, and the skyline of Dubai is nothing short of spectacular.
While most of the city is very modern, you can still explore some of Dubai's roots if you’re willing to look.
The Al Ahmadiya School is easily one of the oldest buildings in town, dating back to 1912.
The Jumeirah Mosque is another example of splendid Islamic architecture, and it’s also one of the few mosques in town open to visitors.
The souks (markets) in Dubai are a lot of fun to explore, where you can buy anything from spices to t-shirts, after having haggled for a little while. The Dubai Museum offers a really interesting overview of the history of Dubai as well as a visual record of its transformation from new to ultra modern, which is fascinating to see.
As opposed to 'old Dubai', the modern face of Dubai is everywhere. The Burj Dubai is the tallest man-made structure in the world, and the view from the observation deck is absolutely spectacular.
From the top here you can also see the world famous Palm Islands, which are located just off the coast. Apart from the shopping malls, the Dubai Marina is one of the few places in the city where you can actually walk around, and you’ll probably see some of the most expensive boats in the world docked up
Should you be getting a little warm, the best place in Dubai to go to is the indoor skiing slope. Located in the Mall of the Emirates, it’s a cozy -4 degrees inside and you can enjoy a spell of skiing before heading out into the desert again.
And since you’re in the Mall of the Emirates already, why not indulge in one of Dubai's major attractions – shopping!
The malls in this city are easily some of the best in the world and you will find everything from tea, iPads, and textiles to gold and diamonds.
Between the souks and the malls, there’s little you can’t find in Dubai.
On the west coast and not far from Dubai is the region of Umm al Quwain, which is a good place to come for adventure-oriented activities. Here you’ll find Dreamland, the world's largest aqua park which features a wave pool where you can go surfing.
This is also a great area for fishing, and in keeping with traditional activities, you can even see people engaging in falconry. There are also seven islands just east of the mainland, which are fun to explore, though you need to book through a tour operator.
At Al Labsa is a famous camel-racing track, which is set in some picturesque dunes. In winter the camel races happen early in the mornings, and they do provide quite a spectacle.
This area is also very well known for camping and there are a few truly stunning camping spots here where you will see the most amazing night sky. Before heading into the desert though, ensure you have proper United Arab Emirates travel insurance.
Umm al Quwain offers some wonderful places to relax as well, and the Corniche (walkway along the beach) is a nice spot to smoke a Shisha while enjoying the sound of the waves.
This area is also famous for bird watching - you can look across from the Corniche to Al Sinniya Island and spot herons, plovers, Greater Flamingoes. If you happen to be in this area between November and March, you stand a good chance of seeing large groups go Great Cormorants.
The United Arab Emirates are a very safe destination for travellers, and there is little to worry about. As for all overseas trips, add travel insurance for United Arab Emirates to your checklist.
For more information on Abu Dhabi, see the Abu Dhabi Tourism Website.