Getting there: regular flights from major cities to Dubai and Abu Dhabi
What to see: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Al Ain, Khor Kalba Currencies: Emirati dirham
Official language(s): Arabic
Rich in oil - as it is in natural beauty and cosmopolitan luxury - the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is located in the Middle East next to Saudi Arabia and Oman.
For a majority of fun-loving tourists, Indian Ocean beaches are the main attraction here with long white-sand stretches ranging from completely wild and free, to highly developed around resorts and major hotels.
In contrast, vast swaths of desert accented by steep mountainside makes up most of inland UAE.
Don't expect to hear much Arabic spoken, as the country's oil and tourism industries attracts a truly cosmopolitan population where English is the common language used by many, especially at hotels and major tourist spots.
The capital and central business hub is Abu Dhabi, known for its sleek skyscrapers and luxury hotels. However, for most tourists the typical entry point is Dubai, a fast growing metropolis gaining the attention of sophisticated travelers everywhere.
Sit back and enjoy the show: set to
choreographed music, the Dubai fountains
begin dancing every night as water jets
sometimes reach heights of 50 stories.
Most famously known as the home of the world's tallest skyscraper, the UAE and its oil riches have also given rise to the world's most expensive hotel located in Dubai (a typical room at The Burj nets $2,000 a night) as well as Ski Dubai, one of the world's tallest indoor ski slopes located at the Mall of the Emirates, the planet's biggest shopping mall.
Known as the Arab world's top "shoppers paradise", Dubai attracts visitors near and far to its traditional souqs (markets) and other modern malls where electronics, gold jewelry, and couture fashion are virtually duty free. If you're traveling around year's end, don't miss the weeks-long Dubai Shopping Festival beginning in
DID YOU KNOW? UAE Travel Fun Facts
Reaching new heights.
• Burj Dubai, the tallest building in the world, is the equivalent of two Empire State Buildings set on top of each other.
• In the shape of a traditional Arab sailing ship, the iconic Burj Al Arab (Tower of the Arabs) in Dubai is the fourth tallest hotel in the world and often dubbed "The world's only 7 star hotel".
• Even the beaches in the UAE can be unbearably HOT during the height of the summer. So plan to discover air-conditioned Dubai including the indoor ski resort at Dubai Mall, or the Dubai Aquarium (one of the world's largest) at the Mall of the Emirates. In Abu Dhabi, check out Ferrari World, the world's largest indoor theme park.
• Need a fast food fix? All sorts of American fast food restaurants have branches in the UAE including McDonalds (with free delivery), KFC, Burger King, Subway and Dunkin Donuts.
• Disney turned down an offer to build a resort in Dubai, so Dubai decided to construct its own theme park called Dubailand which will be twice the size of the Walt Disney World Resort.
More about UAE and Dubai travel around the Web:
Other UAE must-sees include the museum at Al Ain, a former caravan stop, and any of the country's
coastal beaches including the stunning natural beauty of Khor Kalba Nature Reserve ...
Travel - Here's the official government site with helpful guides
for getting around and what to see and do, when to go, with interactive
tours, photos and video clips, practical travel tips, weather
Dubai travel guide - Wikitravel entry with an extensive look at the UAE's premier city including how to get there and get around, top tourist attractions, an insider's view on local customs, practical safety tips and related resources, photos.
Time Out Dubai - The digital version of the print magazine with feature stories on what's happening around town this week with entertainment news and event schedules.