The United Arab Emirates is an exotic destination with stunning architectural sites, ancient cities, rich habitats, and glamorous Emirates. The region for many centuries was made up of loosely connected Sheikdoms and was called the Trucial States. It was noted for its pearls more than oil. Today, the seven Emirates Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ras al Khaimah, welcome you to the glitter of Arabian attractions. Joined in 1972 under the authority of Sheikh Zayed of Dubai, the UAE is one of the world's largest exporter of oil with considerable wealth. From the most popular destination Dubai with glittering malls and boutique hotels to the attractions in the other wonderful Emirates, UAE tourism is an incredible journey to explore. With our travel guide, plan your next vacay to the attractive tourist destinations in the UAE.
Famous For: Burj Khalifa | Desert Safari | Louvre | Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque | Shawarma | The Dubai Mall | Burj Al Arab | Souks | Dates | Palm Jumeirah | Dates | Hummus
Driving Side: Left
Airports in UAE: Abu Dhabi International Airport | Dubai International Airport | Sharjah International Airport | Ras Al Khaimah International AirportNETWORK / CONNECTIVITY
Network connectivity is excellent in the UAE. Services such as Etisalat and du provide mobile phone and internet connectivity in the UAE. Look for the Visitor Line Plan from Etisalat and the Visitor Mobile Line and Tourist Plan from du. Surf the internet with good speed and make local, international calls with ease. Travellers can buy these plans at Etisalat and du shops located at the airport quite easily. Please provide a passport copy and UAE visa to obtain a local SIM card. Most hotels and malls provide free Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi hotspots are also available for the public.
The UAE was known as the Trucial States and was a British colony. In 1971, six of the Trucial states came together to form an independent state with the city of Abu Dhabi as its capital. Ras al - Khaimah joined the UAE in 1972. The six Trucial states are Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain, and Ajman. Sheikhs ruling the seven constituent states as a British colony were bound by a truce with Great Britain.
The area was called the Pirate Coast before the British invaded it as it was notorious for pirate attacks. The states of Bahrain and Qatar declared independent statehood in 1971. The federation has witnessed many rivalries between the governing families of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991 and territorial disputes with Iran were external events. It served to strengthen the Emirates unity.
The region is influenced by Persian culture due to its proximity to Iran. For centuries its porous borders have attracted migrants and traders to the region. The history of the region extends back to 6000 BC when the UAE did not exist and the area was called the Arabian Peninsula.
UAE geography enjoys a unique and strategic location. It shares its borders with the Gulf of Oman. The country overlooks the Strait of Hormuz which is an important transit point for global oil. This small country is surrounded by the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. It is situated on the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula with mostly stretches of desert landscapes. It is part of the Middle East with a varied topography.
Abu Dhabi is the largest of the Emirates and comprises three-fourths of the federation’s total land. It borders Saudi Arabia on the southern and eastern sides. Dubai is located at the base of the Musandam Peninsula and is the region's commercial and financial hub. The country consists of dunes, large desert areas, and flatlands. The east is mountainous with Jabal Yibir located here at 5010 feet.
Smaller Emirates like Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al- Khaymah protrudes in the north towards Iran. The Strait of Hormuz links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman. Al- Fujairah is the only emirate not adjacent to the Persian Gulf. The UAE is known as one of the richest countries in Western Asia.
Forms of art popular in the UAE are music, dance, weaving, pottery, and embroidery. Paintings and literature are also other forms of UAE culture today. Ayala or the stick dance is a popular folk-dance form. Here, the dancers are in two rows facing each other and dance close to each other. It represents unity among tribes and is accompanied by drummers.
Al Wahabiyyah is an ancient art form of Ras Al Khaimah. Drum players stand in between the rows of dancers while the songs performed are divided into three sections. Dancers rhythmically move forward and backwards with the dancers holding guns and swords to add charm to the dance. The dance form is a unique UAE custom and tradition.
Poetry such as Nabati poetry and Taghrouda are various forms of traditional literature. It is popular in rural areas and also at weddings. Pottery, weaving, and embroidery are major parts of the Emirati culture traced back to the Bedouins. Sadu is a weaving form that needs to be protected and promoted as a UAE tradition. You can witness famous art and culture at the various art galleries.Food and Drink
Traditional food in the UAE mainly consists of meat, dairy, and grain with vegetables sparingly used. Dubai traditional food is famous for its flavours with commonly used spices as part of the recipe. Turmeric, thyme, cardamom, and saffron are commonly used. Famous food in the UAE is offered with yoghurt, mint, or cucumber to sober down the richness of the cuisine. Gah-wa Khallejelah or coffee is a staple accompaniment in breakfast as is red tea with mint. Alcohol is available in the UAE, even though it is a Muslim country. Try the coffee and tea flavoured with saffron and cardamom to feel refreshed.Must-Try UAE National Dishes
Kafta (Arabic hamburger), Luqeymat (pancake), De-Ja Ta-Ha-Tah (chicken and rice combo), Al Harees (meat and wheat gravy with local ghee), Al Madrooba (salty fish), Shawarma (flatbread with meat filling)Must-Try National Drinks
Gah-wa Khallejelah (coffee), Flavoured Tea, Sulaimani (mint and lemon tea), Laban (yoghurt drink), Karak Chai (Indian tea), Jallab (chilled fruit syrup)
UAE climate is characterized by very hot sunny summers and pleasantly mild winters. The desert climate and humidity of the Persian Gulf makes the heat unbearable in summers. Rains are rare but occur as an intense downpour when it does. Temperatures do not drop much in the plains except in areas above 3300 feet where the summer is more bearable. The climate in Abu Dhabi located in the south and occupied by vast sand deserts is even hotter in summer. The temperatures in winter are from 24 °C to 26°C between December to February, a good time to travel. Summer is very hot between May and September with temperatures ranging from 38°C to 42°C. The hottest days can reach 47°C with sweltering heat due to hot air from the Persian Gulf. The sun in the emirates shines all year through with passing of cloud banks occasionally both in summer and winter.
Experience the wonders of the Dubai Miracle Garden in a 72,000 square metre of garden space. Every year from mid-November to mid-May, the garden is in full bloom with over 150 million flowers arranged. The patterns, arches, and myriad shapes of the garden make it a magnificent UAE point of interest. The Citylands signature creations, floral display of Disney characters, and floral sculpture of an Airbus A380 are some of the splendid garden landscapes. The fascinating concepts with almost 100,000 flowers in different colours and perfumes make this a fabulous attraction.
Timing: Mid-November to Mid-May
A popular Sharjah place to visit is the Sharjah Art Museum. This Sharjah tourist place is famous for an art lover as it is a learning art institution in the Persian Gulf region. Numerous exhibitions are held here in collaboration with other famous institutions such as TATE Britain, Cobra Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, among others. Arab artists can highlight their work in annual exhibitions held here that include names like Najat Maky, Ismail Al Rifai, and other artists.
Timing: December to February (winter)
One of the best beach districts is The Beach opposite JBR. Enjoy fabulous watersports activities such as parasailing and windsurfing. Relax at the lounges, hotels, and restaurants in the area. The cafe along the promenade is a place to soak in some sunshine and beach views. Take a camel ride along the beach, play beach volleyball, catch a blockbuster in the cinema complex or just relax and enjoy the idyllic beach setting. Encounter live entertainment with this popular Beach JBR Dubai outing.
Timing: December to February
One of the top Fujairah attractions is the oldest fort in the UAE. It was built way back in 1670. The fort served as a defence building and a home to the ruling family. The stone building is along the Fujairah coast and has been restored to its former glory recently. Visit the Heritage Village around the fort that exhibits a display of the Al Yazrah irrigation system. The village is set up by the Department of Archeology and Heritage and is an interesting Fujairah place to visit.
Timing: Winter months
An Ajman tourist place to visit is the Ajman Dhow Building Yard. This Ajman attraction is the world's largest dhow building centre. Dhows are traditional boats built by manual skills passed down through generations. Visiting the yard is an interesting thing to do in Ajman, especially if you are keen on an ancient craft. The yard also crafts speedsters that participate in the Dubai Powerboat events. The Dhow Yard is an interesting UAE tourist place.
Timing: October to April
The fascinating Al Ain attraction is near the Al Ain Palace Museum. This is the largest oasis in Al Ain located in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi. It is spread across 3000 acres and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. It is a fascinating experience of life in the desert some 4000 years ago. Walk by shaded pathways of date palms and home to varied vegetation. Gaze at the working farms and widespread plantations where some 147,000 date palms sway in the wind. This is a popular Abu Dhabi tourist attraction.
Timing: December to March
Price: Tour cost
More places to visit in the UAE,
Most Popular Regions and Cities to Visit in the UAEDubai
Discover Dubai, the ultramodern luxurious Emirate known for its extravagant shopping scene, luxury lifestyle, and marvellous modern architecture. Burj Khalifa, an 830 m tall tower dominates the skyline. Be mesmerized by the dancing Dubai Fountain with jets of illuminated water choreographed to music. Revel in the offshore artificial island Atlantis The Palm or take the family shopping in the stupendous malls. Experience the golden dunes and spend the night under the desert stars in an awesome safari.
Visit For: Burj Khalifa, Burj al Arab, Atlantis, Desert Safari, Dhow Cruise, Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain, Hub Zero City Walk Dubai, Dubai Waterfall, Coffee Museum Dubai, Dubai Miracle GardenAbu Dhabi
Amazing Abu Dhabi is a blend of modern with old. The Islamic architecture and not-to-miss historic landmarks are an attraction. The place is a fulfilling experience on a budget. The numerous parks make for an enjoyable picnic spot in Abu Dhabi. Check out the splendid Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, Observation Deck, boat cruise dinners, and more. The beautiful Emirate is moderately cool between November to March.
Visit For: Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi, Louvre, Liwa Oasis, Al Ain, Mangrove KayakingSharjah
The Emirate of Sharjah is the third largest of the seven Emirates in the UAE. There are many Sharjah tourist places to visit in the city such as the Heritage Area, Al Hisn Fort, Sharjah Arts Museum, Souq al- Arsah, Sharjah Calligraphy Museum and more. Discover the best sights, explore the Sharjah Book Fair or wander at the Sharjah Light Festival. Surf the dunes on a desert safari and enjoy beautiful beaches with smart eateries nearby.
Visit For: Sharjah Arts Museum, Al Mamzar Beach, Al Noor Mosque, Sharjah Aquarium, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah FortRas al Khaimah
Visit Ras al Khaimah known for its splendid gulf beaches. It is located in the northmost area of the UAE. RAK is known for its exquisite pearls and rich history. It is the fourth-largest Emirate in the UAE and can be reached in just over an hour from the Dubai Airport. Pick a resort well within your budget and have a special treat. Spend tranquil moments in the natural beaches with warm turquoise seas. The mountainous Emirate with Jabal Al Jais in the backdrop is the right place to enjoy a stay at a Bedouin camp.
Visit For: Ras al Khaimah Beach Park, Jebel Jais, Ras al Khaimah National Museum, Jazirat al Hamra, Ras al Khaimah beachesFujairah
Fujairah city is the capital of the Fujairah Emirate in the UAE. The capital city is on the east coast of the UAE known for its rugged mountains and fertile farmlands. There are plenty of Fujairah tourist attractions such as Fujairah Fort, Fujairah Village, Snoopy Island, Al Bidyah Mosque, and more. Explore the many Fujairah tourist spots and have a fun-filled holiday. The Ain al-Madhab Hot Spring just outside Fujairah city is a mineral spa with bathing areas, a great tourist place to visit.
Visit For: Fujairah Fort, Fujairah Village, Snoopy Island, Al Bidyah Mosque, Ain al-Madhab Hot Spring, Sheikh Zayed Mosque Fujairah, Al Hayl Castle
Other Popular Cities to Visit in the UAE
This annual festival celebrates the culture and history of the union. The traditional event is held in summer with various competitions in the dunes. It also includes a Heritage Village Show, a bazaar and various art and coffee shops in the bazaar. The Ras al Khaimah desert is a must-visit during the festival to witness the cultural event.
Location: Ras al- Khaimah
Date: 15 December to 15 March
The best festival to be at if you are a shopaholic, the event is a month-long seasonal festival. Revamp your wardrobe every year as every shopping outlet gives out reduced prices and shopping treats. The energy is magical with live concerts, fireworks, entertainment, sales, and superb discounts. The streets of the city get filled with shoppers from across the world.
European Cultural Festival offers an experience of diverse art forms like art, photography, theatre, and much more. The multicultural event catches the eyes of numerous artists who perform and showcase their talent to the audience.
Date: 26 December to 26 January
The art and cultural festival have a fascinating lineup of events. The over 380 international artists come together under the theme of unity to perform. The program has a mix of artists from different genres across poetry, theatre, ballet, opera, art, and more. The orchestral performances and jazz are top class.
Location: Emirates Palace and NYUAD
Date: 31 March to 9 April
Be a part of the major UAE festival that showcases the best of international literature. There are over 250 different sessions and poetry workshops. Hundreds of writers hold discussions, readings, and writing workshops for all. Children have a fun time as well and nurture their talent as future writers. The festival occurs under the guidance of Ahlam Bolloki.
Location: Dubai Festival City
Date: 1 March to 9 March
The three-day religious festival is a celebration after an arduous month of fasting. Families come together and gifts are exchanged along with wishes. There is a sense of happiness in the UAE that is filled with festivities. Eid ul Adha is also celebrated at the end of Hajj where Muslims enjoy dining over various non-vegetarian cuisines. The fireworks display at Yas Marina is a brilliant spectacle.
Location: Abu Dhabi
Other festivals/events celebrated in the UAE
All travellers must have a valid passport to apply for a UAE visa. The passport needs to be valid for six months beyond the date of return. The passport must have at least two blank pages as well as a UAE visa requirement.Visa-On-Arrival/eVisa/ Visa-Free Entry
GCC citizens do not need a visa to enter the UAE. eVisa facilities are provided by UAE-based airlines such as Etihad Airways, Emirate Airline, FlyDubai, and Air Arabia.
30 days visa on arrival is for 30 days with a grace period of 10 days for an extension and 90 days visa on arrival can be availed by the citizens of the following countries.
Indian citizens holding a valid passport can also opt for a visa-on-arrival if the passport possesses a visit visa issued by the USA, a green card issued by the USA, a residence visa of the UK or a residence visa of the EU.Types of Visa and Validity
Tourist visas for the UAE are issued for a validity of 30 days or 90 days. It can be a single or multiple entry visas. Tourist visas for 30 days can be extended twice without having to leave the country. Citizens of countries not eligible for visa-free entry or visa on arrival have to obtain an eligible tourist visa for entry.
Each airline has conditions to fulfil for your visa if they arrange for it. You can check the UAE based airlines websites for terms and conditions. Licensed travel agencies and hotels in the UAE also arrange a tourist visa if you use their services to stay and travel. The UAE embassies do not issue a tourist visa to the UAE.
Transit visa is of two types: for 48 hours that is free of charge and for 96 hours for AED 50. Transit visa is sponsored by the UAE-based airline and is not extendable.
Business Visa, Student Visa, Retirement Visa, eVisa, Patient and companion entry permit are other types of visas issued by the UAE government.
Etihad, Air Arabia, flydubai, Emirates, and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi are some of the domestic airlines operating in the UAE. They operate a large fleet across the Emirates and other destinations. Etihad Airways is the national airline of the UAE with a large network of passenger and cargo destinations. Flight services to passengers, timing, and schedule can be checked on the airline websites.Bus
UAE buses are comfortable and air-conditioned. Drivers are well trained and articulate. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have ecological buses that run on rechargeable batteries. This is the cheapest form of transport. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman have transport cards such as NoI card, Hafilat smart card, Sayer card and Masaar card through which payments can be made. Inter-Emirate travel buses could cost about AED 25 for a comfortable ride.Long-distance Coaches
Coaches take you between say Abu Dhabi to Fujairah which is a maximum of five hours. They are comfortable and air-conditioned. There are a few stops along the way. Travel apps give information on schedules and pick-up points at any of the central bus stations. Travel cards can be used as payment cards. Fares start from AED 20 upwards.Taxis
Public taxis are efficient and clean. Fares are strictly regulated and they can be hailed on any street. Book a taxi via an RTA app and look for the 'taxi' sign lit in a vehicle which means it is not occupied. Smaller emirates have taxis run by Emirates Transport. Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai are some of the popular car brands that run taxi services. Uber and Careem are app-based taxi services.Dubai Ferry/ Water Taxi
Water taxis across waterways run taxi services that can accommodate about 10 passengers. Dubai Ferry operates from 11.00 am to 9.00 pm and links Dubai to the other Emirates. Arabic boats ply across the Dubai Creek and charge as less as AED 1 to go between shores.Dubai Trams/ Bicycles
Trams run between Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah along a 14.5 km stretch. You get a tram every 10 minutes from DAMAC and JLT tram stations. Fares start from AED 3. You can also rent bicycles as there are good cycling tracks. Dubai metro stations provide bicycle parking.Rail
Dubai Metro with swanky and spotless stations is a great rail service. It is an automated and driverless metro that spans a network of 46 miles. It has 49 stations and has two operational lines; red and green. Dubai metro timetables are easily available. NoI cards are payment cards for first-class, regular, and discounted fares. Fares start as low as AED 3 and go to AED 17 depending upon your card type. The red card is ideal for tourists.
Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. International passenger traffic is heavy with about 42 airports in the UAE as of 2013. Abu Dhabi International Airport is another important airline hub. Numerous airlines operate services to the UAE with Emirates being the biggest UAE national airline owned by Dubai Etihad Airways. Qantas, Delta, British Airways, jetBlue, Korean Air are other major airlines bringing passengers into the UAE.Via Sea
Discover the wonders of a cruise to the UAE. Jalesh Cruise Dubai, Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean among others provide luxury cruises. Enjoy world-class dining, entertainment, and exquisite cruise experience. Voyage by the sea for an incredible time. All luxuries and amenities will make you want to repeat the journey onboard the beautiful ships. UAE ports provide modern immigration counters for quick visa clearance. Dubai Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid where Queen Mary 2 docks are world-class.Via Road
Road travel is possible from the neighbouring Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Driving into the UAE requires you to carry an international driving permit. Also, remember to have valid vehicle insurance. There are several entry points along the borders. Some are reserved for visitors from GCC countries. Buses are also permitted that are operated by national transportation companies. Remember to carry a correct exit permit and UAE entry permit/visa. Roads are excellent and well maintained.
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Visit Oman for its terraced orchards, shows, wonderful mosques, and Al Said, the world's third-largest yacht. Explore the ancient aflaj oases irrigation system in Oman that is located at the southeast edge of the Arabian Peninsula. Witness the rugged mountains ranges and extensive stretches of desert interspersed with wadisQatar (345 km)
The amazing Arab country has splendid Gulf coastlines. Filled with ultramodern architecture with Islamic influences and golden dunes, the destination is a popular tourist place. The Museum of Islamic Art, Corniche waterfront promenade, The Pearl, Katara Cultural Village, and more are some of the top Qatar attractions.Bahrain (444 km)
The Gulf island nation is officially called the Kingdom of Bahrain. It is a worthwhile destination to visit with attractions such as The Lost Paradise of Dilmun Water Park, Bahrain National Museum, Al-Fatih Mosque, Bab el-Bahrain Souk, and more. The country comprises 40 natural islands and is a beautiful destination.Saudi Arabia (894 km)
Saudi Arabia is home to the two holiest sites in Islam, The Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. The kingdom offers plenty of historical sites, wonderful oases, majestic rivers, golden dunes, and more. Witness the Kaaba, Masjid al-Haram, Center Point, Masmak Fortress among other attractions.
CALLING CODE : +971
Ambulance : 998
Fire : 997
Police : 999
UAE currency is the UAE Dirham and the currency code is AED. The UAE currency symbol is Ø¯.Ø¥. . United Arab Emirates Dirham is broken up into 100 fils. Lulu exchange rate is the most trusted currency converter in the UAE. The Dubai Dirham exchange rate for some of the popular currencies are;
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