United Arab Emirates Highlights
For most people, the United Arab Emirates means just one place: Dubai, the fantastic city of iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and palatial beach resorts. But beyond the glitter awaits a diverse mosaic of six more emirates, each with its own character and allure. It is a pleasure to go to the United Arab Emirates and explore the magic of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, delve into the amazing cities of Dubai and Sharjah on half-day city tours.
History and Government
The UAE’s rich history is rooted in trade and tied to Islam, which came to the region in AD 630. The Emirates’ location between Europe and the Far East attracted merchants from India and China and was prized by Europeans. At that time the Bedouin made the sandy deserts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai their home. The town of Abu Dhabi became an important center.
By the turn of the 20th century, Dubai was a successful port. The souk (Arabic for market) was the largest on the coast with 350 shops and a steady throng of visitors and businessmen. When oil was discovered in 1966, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid started to create a federation of the Emirates in the region. In 1971 seven emirates joined to create the United Arab Emirates.
Today the UAE is considered a federation of seven emirates. The country has a federal president and prime minister which makes up its executive branch but each emirate also has a separate ruler (called an emir) who controls the local government.
Geography and Environment
The United Arab Emirates is a country located on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula. It has coastlines along the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf and it shares borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. It is also located near the country of Qatar. Its capital is Abu Dhabi. The estimated 2019 population of the UAE is 9.77 million which makes the UAE the 92nd largest country in the world. The currency of the UAE is the dirham.
Emirati culture is rather different from Western equivalents in many ways, and there are small acts in everyday life that visitors need to be mindful of when visiting any Emirate. One of them is the way people greet each other. One major thing to know about Emirati culture is that the people from the UAE thrive in their hospitality. Emiratis are extremely friendly and welcoming people, so when greeting friends, they tend to use fairly long greetings, with praises to God, in addition to hugs and kisses. This is only done in between men. When it comes to Emirati women, one should not try to shake their hand unless she puts out her hand first and definitely avoid embraces and kisses.
Traditionally, the people of the UAE have had their staple foods like rice, meat, and, seafood. Seafood is mostly fish while mutton and lamb are the more common meats. Cultural Emirati foods include chabab bread, Lugaimat (a famous dessert), machboos, and a few others. Just like most of the other countries in the world, western culture has played a part in shaping the cuisine of the UAE. For example, fast foods are now more common than in previous times.
Apart from the marvelous structures and vast deserts, the UAE is also known for its cultural amalgamation. The home of the most global cities of the Middle East, there is a slew of different kinds of cultural and religious festivals in the United Arab Emirates that should be witnessed while holidaying at this city of sheikhs. One of them is the UAE Awafi festival. Held in summer every year, this festival is mostly famous for its various competitions to scale the tallest sand dunes in various kinds of improvised vehicles. There are also many cultural events during the festival, including a Heritage Village show, a main bazaar as well as coffee shops and art exhibitions. This is one of the best festivals of the United Arab Emirates and is a must-visit if you are around at that time. There is a variety of religious festivals as well one of them being Eid which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. The cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are perfect to take part in these festivities as there are a number of events organized to mark the occasion.
The Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit the UAE is between April and May or from September to October. The spring and fall shoulder seasons yield pleasant weather, manageable crowds and reasonable hotel rates. For the best weather — not too hot and not too humid — you'll want to visit in the wintertime.
Tips to Follow
As the UAE is rooted in Islamic traditions, so even in cosmopolitan Dubai, tourist should respect the culture by dressing modestly. Men and women should wear clothing that covers the tops of arms and legs, including the knees. Besides, you should keep in mind that alcohol is served in the UAE, but only within licensed hotels and clubs. It’s illegal to be under the influence of alcohol in public.
Tourist Attractions in the UAE
With iconic skylines of high-rises and world-famous beach resorts, the United Arab Emirates has become favorite for family holidays and city breaks. Landmark tourist attractions such as Dubai's towering Burj Khalifa and Abu Dhabi's modern Sheikh Zayed Mosque, have branded the UAE as an up-to-the-minute luxury destination.