About United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, sometimes referred to as the Emirates or the UAE, is an Arabian Peninsula nation located mainly along the Persian (Arabian) Gulf.
For most people the United Arab Emirates means just one place: Dubai, where the spectacular Burj Khalifa tower can be found and also extravagant entertainment attractions, luxurious shopping malls, palm-shaped islands and glamorous beach resorts. However, the country is a federation of 6 more emirates, each with their own character and allure. Abu Dhabi, the island’s capital is home to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which has room for 40,000 worshipers underneath crystal chandeliers.
Emirates Travel Info
Language: The official language of the United Arab Emirates is Arabic although many Emiratis also speak English. Many people in larger cities popular with tourists are fluent in English. Still an Arabic phrase book is worth bringing along with you.
Visa: For most passport holders a visa is available upon arrival so simply disembark from your flight and proceed to Immigration, where your passport will be stamped with a 30-day visa, free of charge.
Electricity: UAE operates on 220V with a frequency of 50Hz. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
United Arab Emirates Festivals & Celebrations
Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival: Tourists from all corners of the world flock to Abu Dhabi for this event. The event takes place in May and hosts some of the best performances by Iconic Jazz artists. This music event started off as a two-day event, but now due to popularity goes on for a week.
Taste of Dubai: Taste of Dubai is an event especially for foodies from all walks of life. It is a great event to taste the wonderful traditional Muslim and world-class cuisines that Dubai has to offer, you not only get a chance to eat them at this event, but the celebrity chefs also conduct special cooking classes so that you get a close watch and learn to cook.
Dubai World Cup: The grandest event that Dubai hosts each year in March is the Dubai World cup, a horse racing that engulfs the entire city in its storm. Horse racing is the oldest tradition of Dubai happens to be the favorite sport of city’s royalty. You get to see the best and the most expensive breeds of horses.
United Arab Emirates Safety
The crime rate in the United Arab Emirates is generally very low with petty crimes like bag snatching and pickpocketing prevalent in some big cities. Based on my own travel experiences in the UAE I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit the United Arab Emirates.
Top Things To Do In United Arab Emirates
View Panoramas from Burj Khalifa, Dubai
Burj Khalifa is among the most famous buildings of UAE and is the exorbitant landmark of Dubai. It is not just the tallest building in the world but also bags the title for being the highest freestanding structure in the world, elevator which travels the longest distance and world’s highest observation deck. From here you can see all of Dubai and Burj Khalifa is Dubai’s most visited tourist destination.
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
This Mosque is majestic and huge and incredibly beautiful. Ancient craftsmanship is combined with contemporary design to construct a specimen which gives a new meaning to Islamic architecture. Any Abu Dhabi Itinerary is incomplete without a visit to Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The interiors of the mosque have intricate gold carvings, glasswork, and mosaic and marble work whereas the exterior of white stone that contrasts dramatically with the blue sky of Emirates.
Relax at the beaches
Whatever be your preference, UAE has a beach for everyone. Whether it is the high-rise city beaches along the coastline of Dubai or the beautiful golden beaches of Abu Dhabi with small island along the coast or the Luxurious setups around Ajman, you have a lot of choices to opt from. Many resorts also have water sports like jet skiing, diving, snorkeling, and standup paddle boarding to enjoy.
Explore the Etihad Antiques Gallery
Run by a friendly German-Syrian named Mohammed Khalil Ibrahim, this incredible place is frequented by art enthusiasts, collectors, antique-lovers and window shoppers. On display is a grand collection of Middle Eastern and Arabian antiques and art, some Orientalist painting from the 18th century, wooden doors with brass work, coffee and teapots about 300 years old, Persian and Ottoman Swords and lots of other exciting stuff.
Be awed by Burj Al Arab
The graceful outline of Burj Al Arab is such that it reminds the onlookers of the sail of a dhow. This iconic building was completed in 1999 and is located on an artificial island near Jumeirah road and has a helipad of its own along with a convoy of chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce Limousines. The lobby is striking and oozes opulence and luxury, and so does the 202 suits that lie beyond it.
Gape at Madinat Jumeirah
Medinat Jumeirah is among the most striking developments in Dubai. It is a modern interpretation of a conventional Arab Village taking care of even the minutest details. It has a souq, the hotels are desert colored, the waterways are palm-fringed, and the decoration of the luxurious villas is with wind towers. It appears most endearing at night when the gardens lighten up, and the Burj Al Aram adorns the backdrop. The place is intricately detailed and perfect.
Climb Jabel Hafeet
It is a rugged limestone mountain that is 1240 meters high and rises from the south of Al Ain. The area is home to feral cats, red foxes, rock Hyrax and also a domed tomb that is about 5000 years old and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A smooth 12 kilometers long road with an adequately lighting at night leads to the majestic Jabeel Hafeet and the few coffee houses that adorn its summit.
Admire the Emirates Palace
The Emirates Palace is the grandest and audacious structure you will find in all of UAE with its bold domed gatehouses and lavish looking foyers to the 114 domes and the long stretch of private beach. About Dhs 11 Billion was spent in the construction of this Grand Hotel that has 392 suites and luxury rooms and about 1000 crystal Chandeliers. Visitors are permitted to check this place out without having to check-in as it is the cultural hub of Abu Dhabi.
Spend some time in the Dessert
Kilometers of dessert lie beyond the cities, hugging their coastlines and these empty stretches have a lot in store for all the adventure lovers. You can go on dune-buggy journeys to four-wheel drives, try sandboarding, camel trekking and hiking. Majority of the desert trips are from Dubai, but Fujairah and Abu Dhabi also provide superb based for sightseeing in the desert. You will also find some Bedouin-style diners where you can refill yourself and move on.
Visit the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization
It is one of the best museums in UAE and focuses on imparting knowledge of the entire Islamic history and culture. It has an excellent collection of well laid out exhibits that trace the history of Islam from the early days of Islamic empires to how it spread into Africa and Asia and across the Globe up to the current times. You will find religious documents, and rare manuscripts and everything is extremely easy to comprehend due to the well-structured information boards.
Other than these top things to do in United Arab Emirates, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in United Arab Emirates that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In The UAE
UAE is one of the top culinary destinations in the world with a vast array of multicultural options available throughout the country. Entice your taste buds with dishes that have been influenced by Asian as well as the Middle Eastern styles of cooking. A few recipes that you must try when you are in the UAE are listed here.
Harees: Harees is the traditional dish of UAE as well as most of the Arab countries. The recipe is especially prepared during Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr and all special occasions. The meat of chicken or lamb and wheat are the key ingredients of Harees.
Shawarma: Today Shawarma is famous worldwide and is similar to Greek gyros or Turkish Doner Kebabs. Grilled meat gets usually served in a pita with dressing and some vegetables. This variant of Shawarma is the most sought after in UAE where people prefer their shawarma without veggies.
Thareed: It is one meal that people prefer to break their fast with during the holy month of Ramadan. It is a stew that is served with flatbread and is not too heavy. The locals make the stew with chicken, lamb or even vegetables.
Machboos: Machboos is made of rice, meat, onions and flavored with spices and lastly loomi. The unique taste is the result of the dried limes called the black limes added to it. Meat gets boiled until tender with loomi and spices. Rice is cooked, and the two are cooked together for sometimes till the flavors are all infused in the rice.
Falafels: Falafels are considered side dishes; they are the French fries of the UAE. These are parries of chickpeas and herbs, made into balls and fried. Served in any form, they never fail to delight the taste buds of the one who is devouring them.
Where To Stay In United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates can be an expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in the UAE is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily Emirates hostels and dormitories make travel here really affordable for backpackers and anyone visiting the United Arab Emirates on a tight budget.
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, United Arab Emirates will not disappoint. Still, a basic 3 star hotel room in the UAE can cost about $50 a night. If you’re traveling to United Arab Emirates during peak season or you prefer to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation well in advance and expect to pay a high price.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. United Arab Emirates is a popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in the United Arab Emirates.
If you’re backpacking in the United Arab Emirates or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in the Middle-East much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
United Arab Emirates Trip Planner
Best Time to Visit United Arab Emirates
The best time to visit United Arab Emirates is between April and October, this is if you want mild and reasonably warm weather. December and January is peak tourist season and be aware that the iconic sights get very crowded.
UAE Travel Budget
United Arab Emirates can be an expensive city if you want to see all of the popular tourist attractions and do lots of excursions but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a low budget. The cost of your trip to United Arab Emirates depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 35 to 50 USD a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 50 to 100 USD per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi then budget about 250 USD plus a day.
- Budget: $35 – $50
- Mid-range: $50 – $100
- Splurge: $150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: $8 – $25
- Mid-range: $25 – $60
- Splurge: $60 +
United Arab Emirates Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to the United Arab Emirates, like most other places in the Middle-East is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing because the Middle-East can get very hot.
If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in United Arab Emirates. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your UAE trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to United Arab Emirates include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to United Arab Emirates check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Middle-East Packing List For Female Travelers.