Things to know before visiting United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Things to know before visiting United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE or also called “the Emirates”) is a country on the south-east end of the Arabian Peninsula and borders Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran.

The UAE is actually a federation made of seven emirates (or principalities) that are each governed by a hereditary emir – the UAE has a single national president. The seven emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Dujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. The capital of the United Arab Emirates and centre of political, industrial and most cultural activities is Abu Dhabi.

Things to Do in the Arab Emirates

The seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates cover a large range of both geographic and cultural features, so there are a lot of things you can do. Don’t worry, it’s not all ancient archaeological sites, there is a lot of modern activities to do as well.

One of the most popular things you can do during a United Arab Emirates vacation is attending a camel race. Until recently, young children worked as camel jockeys, but that was recently banned. Today the UAE employs older jockeys and some places actually use robots – like in Abu Dhabi. At the the Al Wathba race track, you’ll see robot jockeys in little uniforms and whips on the camels. The robots are controlled by the camel’s owners. If you get a chance, make sure you visit a camel race during your trip.

You can also visit many different archaeological dig sites in the United Arab Emirates. And while you have a lot of options, perhaps the most convenient and well-visited site is the Jumeirah Archaeological Site in Dubai. This site is actually surrounded by a very modern world but has yielded some of the most amazing ancient treasures.

Another popular United Arab Emirates destination is the Dreamland Water Park in Umm al-Quwain. Dreamland Water Park is actually the largest water park in the UAE and one of the largest in the world. In this water park, you’ll find a salt pool (like the Dead Sea) that you can float it, a lazy river, family raft, lots of slides and a Go-Kart track. If you aren’t big into water slides, don’t worry, you can also relax in giant Jacuzzi.

There is so much you can do in the United Arab Emirates – it’s nearly impossible to be bored.

Best Beaches

If you are looking for beaches, make sure you head over to Abu Dhabi. Tourism is pretty new to Abu Dhabi (which is one of the richest nations in the entire world), but don’t let that fool you. There is more than 250 beautiful miles of coastline you can explore.

If you are looking for a prestigious beach, look no further than the Corniche beaches. The beach follows the Gulf coast and is lined with fabulous shops, luxury hotels, restaurants and lots of entertainment. You’ll find umbrellas lining the beach, a wake-boarding park, beach volleyball courts and lots of swimming areas patrolled by lifeguards.

NOTE: Although the emirate of Abu Dhabi is modern in a lot of ways, don’t forget that it is a Muslim country and remember to show respect for the culture and traditions. Nudity is not permitted on any of the beaches (in fact, they’ll arrest you for lewd behaviour). The best time to go to the beach is in the early morning or late afternoon – during the daytime, it’s very, very hot.

Eating & Drinking in UAE

In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, you’ll find a wide range of cuisines. Most of the restaurants are very affordable (from a Westerner’s standards), but it’s really easy to find very expensive food as well. You’ll find a lot of Arabic cuisines and traditional Shawarma available everywhere for very little money. At most UAE hotels you can purchase grilled chicken with Khubz (Arabic Bread) and hummus.

You can purchase alcohol from alcohol stores, luxury resorts and bars in all the emirates except Sharjah. In Sharjah you can only drink in your home or in a hangout called the Sharjah Wanderers. As a tourist, you can purchase alcohol in bars and restaurants, but as a resident, you should have an alcohol license which allows you to buy alcohol at alcohol stores. During Ramadan, no alcohol is served during the fasting hours (daylight).

Do not drink and drive in the UAE. If you were to get into an accident while intoxicated you will be thrown in jail … no questions asked. There are taxis everywhere, so be responsible and take a cab if you choose to drink during your United Arab Emirates travel.

Shopping in UAE

The UAE is quite famous for shopping. There is no sales tax in the UAE, which is a shopper’s paradise. However, inflation is at an all-time high, which makes it really difficult to find any super awesome bargains. If you love to shop, you’ve got to book a flight to Dubai. In Dubai you’ll find some of the best places to shop in the whole entire Middle East. The annual shopping festival goes from mid-January to mid-February, so that’s the best time to shop in Dubai.

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