United Arab Emirates (UAE) has grown to become one of the Middle East’s most important economic, cultural and tourism center. UAE includes 7 emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain, in which Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the two largest, the most populous and wealthiest emirate.
People drive lions and keep them as pets, the police drive luxury cars to patrol, … that is what people commonly think of UAE as the top richest nation. The UAE, specifically Dubai, is truly also one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world today since it welcomes more than 12 million tourists flocking a year. There still exist misconceptions about the country, so the article today will help you get a general view of UAE before your travel.
1. Abu Dhabi
Being the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi boasts the beauty of both an ancient heritage city and a modern cosmopolitan city. It is classified as one of the wealthiest countries in the world and renowned for its 1st rank at many global categories: owning the most luxurious cathedral, the most expensive hotel, and vehicle registration plates, the tallest flagpole in the world, the fastest roller coaster in the world, … The emirate is diverse with desert landscapes, oasis, multiple islands ranges of the mountain, and fabulous beaches.
The weather in Abu Dhabi is cool from November to April and good for discovering and shopping, so it’s the best time to travel. There are so many things to see in Abu Dhabi, which is full of incredible attractions that will surely impress all visitors.
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque: The most beautiful and largest mosque in UAE and the world as well must be Sheik Zayed. The mosque’s walls and floors are all made of pure marble and decorated with colorful stones, making all visitors feel overwhelmed. Even non-Muslims are allowed to enter some certain areas in the mosque for sight-seeing but must strictly follow the rules here. Visitors must also dress modestly when entering the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Men can’t wear shorts, while women must wear clothes that cover their head, midriff, legs, shoulders, and arms. Feet, hands, and face are the only things that can be shown.
Sheikh Zayed mosque, the most well-known destination for global tourists when they travel to UAE.
- Saadiyat island: Saadiyat will be the heaven for tourists who love lying on the white sand beaches, or playing golf in the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. Saadiyat is set to become Abu Dhabi's cultural heartbeat and art center in the coming years. Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is the Middle East's most spectacular museum, traces the entire history of humanity's artistic achievements, from the Neolithic right up to the current day.
- Ferrari World: Located on Yas island, Ferrari World is the most thrilling attraction in Adu Dhabi and very suitable for family camping or groups of friend. The theme park was inspired by the world-famous Italian car brand named Ferrari and designed for speed followers. Ferrari World is known as the largest indoor park in the world with 86,000m2 for amusement parks, displaying on a huge area of 200,000m2. There is even a professional F1 race track on the premises of the entertainment complex where the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race took place.
- Heritage Village: There are exhibits featuring traditional day-to-day objects, workshops where you can watch craftspeople demonstrate Emirati metalwork and weaving skills, and displays introducing visitors to local agriculture and the pearl diving trade-the main economies here before oil was discovered. Coming to Heritage Village is a great opportunity to experience, identify and enjoy different landscapes: from coastal, desert to mountain life through different types of tent, stone and leaf huts.
Dubai, home of the world tallest building, is the amazing city that must be seen to believe. Though Abu Dhabi is the capital city, Dubai is the most well-known emirate. Not only famous for interesting attractions not inferior to any city in the world, but Dubai is also astonishing with modern architectural projects. Dubai has transformed itself from a desert outpost to be an alpha city with a strong economy and the largest population in UAE, where tourists flock for sales bargains, luxury experiences, and family fun.
- Burj Khalifa: With its height up to 829.8 meters, Burj Khalifa breaks the world's tallest building record. Not only is it the world's tallest building, but it also boasts other records as the tallest freestanding structure, highest observation deck, and elevator with the longest travel distance in the world. A trip up to the observation deck, with its panoramic views across Dubai, is a must-not-miss sightseeing highlight for most tourists.
- Dubai Mall: Located next to Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall is the shoppers’ paradise. Even spending an entire day here is not enough to see all of the stunning products. The mall is home to an indoor theme park, an ice rink, a huge indoor waterfall, a choreographed outdoor fountain, and the giant Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.
- Dubai Creek: The real heart of the city is the Creek, which is very vital for the strong economy and serves as a safe harbor for trade and transportation operations among ports of Arabian Gulf. The Creek also separates two major districts that have played a big role in the transformation of Dubai today. While at the Creek, a ride across the water is a must, and at an unbelievable AED1 per ticket, it is easy to become the best tourist experience in the city. Several traditional markets can be found in Creek.
- Bastakiya (Dubai's Heritage): Al Bastakiya, also known as Old Dubai, which was built in the 19th century, so it remains the ancient architectural features that you can hardly find anywhere in Dubai. This is one of the rare places preserving the golden history of ancient Egypt, the people here pay lots of attention and always try to preserve this place. Therefore, the old town has become one of the attractive destinations in Dubai.
- Kite Beach: With plenty of beach activities, plus an awesome view of the Burj Al Arab, it's easy to spend a whole day in Kite Beach. If you are fond of thrilling water sports, you will easily find high-quality watersport equipment along the sand, from kitesurfing, wakeboarding, … If staying on land is your preference, you can join other types of game-like volleyball, walk along the seashore, or grab a smoothie from any of the open-air cafes.
- Dubai desert: Saffari desert is a must-not-miss place when visiting Dubai. You will experience the feeling of adventure on dedicated Land Cruiser cars at breakneck speed. The car takes you through the steep slopes, out of sight, and then suddenly swells down the slope. This is one of the most popular adventure games in the desert. When the sun is about to set, it is the best time for tourists to visit Safari desert. Here, visitors can be invited by tattooed Arab women by drawing motifs on their hands and feet (Henna pattern); take pictures with Arab eagles, which are majestic but very docile on visitors' hands; female guests posing next to a date palm or riding a camel around. The camel riding scene you have seen many through the movies but it is even more interesting to directly sit on the back of a typical animal of the desert and take a leisurely walk on the sand dunes.
Although Dubai and Abu Dhabi follow the luxury and modern style with growing skyscrapers, Sharjah has been a popular destination for its culture and traditional custom. Being the art center of UAE, Sharjah attracts lots of art lovers from all over the world. Sharjah is the third-most populous city in the UAE with an approximate population of 678,000 people. The major tourist attractions in this emirate include cultural destinations, hotels, and shopping malls.
- Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization: The museum holds items dating back to the Abbasid and Umayyad era, including a coin collection of silver dinars and dirhams, but also traces the far-reaching tentacles of Islamic culture. A number of scientific and religious manuscripts, as well as a collection of Islamic arts and craftwork dating from the 7th to the 19th century, are found to be on display here.
- Sharjah Arts Museum: Sharjah is renowned for art activities, so it will be a big pity if you do not include the Sharjah Art Museum in the itinerary. There are 72 galleries spread over three floors, with a focus on works by Arab artists from throughout all 7 emirates.
- Central Market: Central Market is Sharjah's most famous landmark. The blue exterior wall makes it be called the “Blue Soak”. The upper floor has the atmosphere of an authentic Arabian bazaar, with vendors selling antiques, carpets, Omani and Yemeni jewelry, and other exotic souvenirs. For downtime after shopping, having a break with a cup of coffee is a good idea. Plenty of coffee shops can be found in the market area.
- Sharjah Aquarium & Maritime Museum: Sharjah is truly an emirate of museums, in which Aquarium and Maritime is a popular one. This is an ideal destination for the family taking their kids to come and explore marine life. The aquarium hosts around 150 species of sea life, including reef sharks and sea rays. The highlight of this Maritime Museum also lays on the collection of glimmering pearls (including what is supposed to be the oldest pearl in the world) and a wooden dhow (ship) that is docked outside the museum.
- Kalba: Kalba is a quaint fishing village that offers fresh produce and a fish market on the seashore. There is a popular destination called Khor Kalba Conservation Reserve, where visitors can catch a rare sight of white-collared kingfishers by hiring boat or canoe riding around.
- Al Qasba: Both tourists and local people commonly take a boat tour to enjoy the sunset, or ride the “Eye of Emirates Wheel”. If you are not afraid of height and want to get the best view looking down to the water and Qasba channel, then you should try it. Otherwise, you have a lovely walk through the Al Qasba street that is surrounded by many cafes.
- Al Noor Mosque: Al Noor is one of the few mosques that are open to non-Muslims during prayers. This is a crowded sight of Sharjah city. Anyone interested in digging a bit deeper into the heritage of the United Arab Emirates and learning about Islamic beliefs would find it a worthy visit to their Sharjah itinerary.
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