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United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TRAVEL GUIDE

Most people think of Dubai when one mentions the UAE - the city with iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and fancy beach resorts. There are, however, six more emirates to explore - each with its own culture and allure. Our last visit was more than the usual stop-over and we took some time to absorb more of what of this interesting area has to offer.

 

UAE is a union of seven sovereign sheikhdoms that were formed in 1971 when the British withdrew from the Gulf. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a unique blend of traditional Islamic culture and values alongside a modern cosmopolitan living environment.

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Government: Elective Monarchy
  • Currency: Emirati Dirham (AED)
  • Area: 83,600 km2
  • Population: 9,631 million (2018)
  • Language: Arabic (official), Persian, English, Hindi, Urdu Somali
  • Religion:Muslim 94% (Shi'a 16%), Christian, Hindu, and other 6%
  • Electricity: 220/50Hz (UK plug)

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 6 August, Accession of Sheik Zayid ibn Sultan Al Nuhayyan
  • 2 December, National Day

Business openings and work schedules may be significantly affected by Islamic holidays.

FESTIVALS IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

United Arab Emirates

BEST TIME TO VISIT UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The best time to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) depends on your personal preferences and the specific activities and destinations you are interested in. Here are a few things to consider:

  • If you want to enjoy the beach and outdoor activities, the best time to visit is from October to April, when the weather is warm and dry.
  • If you want to experience the hot desert climate, you can visit during the summer months of May to September.
  • If you are interested in cultural events and festivals, you may want to plan your trip around one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a desert climate, which means it has hot, dry summers and warm, mild winters. The temperatures can vary significantly between day and night, especially in the desert regions.

  • Summer in the UAE lasts from May to September and is characterized by high temperatures that can reach up to 50°C (122°F) or more in some areas. It is also the peak tourist season, with many visitors coming to the UAE to enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities.
  • Winter in the UAE lasts from October to April and is characterized by mild temperatures that range from 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F). This is the best time to visit the UAE if you want to enjoy the beach and outdoor activities, as the weather is warm and dry.

Overall, the UAE has a year-round warm climate, so you can visit at any time and find plenty of activities to enjoy.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Desert; Cooler In Eastern Mountains

United Arab Emirates

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Read more...

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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NOVEMBER

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DECEMBER

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

If you're desperate for some snow sports while in The United Arab Emirates, you can visit the indoor ski area of Ski Dubai in The Mall of the Emirates!

HIKING & CYCLING IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

You should be able to find a hiking route somewhere in The United Arab Emirates throughout the year. Just note that it is always hot and dry, so make sure you are correctly prepared. Most hiking is done through organised tour groups for your safety.

BEACH OPTIONS IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The best time to visit beaches in The United Arab Emirates are the months of March, April and October, when the weather is pleasantly hot. Generally from October to April, the weather is pleasant with sunny and clear skies. From June to September it is extremely hot and humid and you will most likely prefer to be inside an air-conditioned shopping mall!

SURFING IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

While surfing in The United Arab Emirates is still only gaining popularity, there is no shortage of waves and swells. The beaches in Fujairah and Kalba and Al Khan Beach in Sharjah are some of the top surf spots from November to March. Of course, there is also Kite Beach, Sunset Beach and North Beach, all in Dubai,

KITESURF IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

You can find suitable conditions for kitesurfing around the UAE from December to April and the best spots for kitesurfing in Dubai are Kite Beach and Nessnass Beach.

For more details on kite surfing in United Arab Emirates expand this section!

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TRAVEL SAFETY IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Always consider the current safety risk of each destination and do not travel without travel / medical insurance

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HEALTH RISKS IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Be aware of possible health risks in 

United Arab Emirates

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will depend on a variety of factors, including the time of year you go, your travel style, and the specific activities and destinations you want to experience.

Here are some estimates for various expenses you might incur during a trip to the UAE:

  • Airfare: Prices for flights to the UAE can vary significantly depending on your departure location, the time of year you travel, and how far in advance you book. You can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500 or more for a round-trip ticket from the US, depending on these factors.
  • Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in the UAE can also vary widely depending on your budget and preferences. You can find everything from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxurious five-star hotels in the UAE. Prices for a standard double room in a mid-range hotel start at around $100 per night, while a luxury hotel can cost $300 or more per night.
  • Food and drink: The cost of food and drink in the UAE is generally similar to that of other Western countries. You can find inexpensive meals at local restaurants or street food stalls, or you can opt for more expensive dining options at high-end restaurants. A meal at a local restaurant will cost around $10-20, while a meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost around $30-50.
  • Activities: The cost of activities in the UAE will depend on your interests and the specific activities you choose to do. Many attractions, such as museums and galleries, are free or have a relatively low admission fee. More expensive activities might include theme park tickets, desert safaris, and luxury tours.

Overall, you should expect to spend at least $1,000-1,500 per person for a week-long trip to the UAE, not including airfare. This is just a rough estimate and your actual costs will depend on your specific travel plans.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES TRAVEL TIPS

Here are a few travel tips to help you make the most of your trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE):

  • Dress modestly: The UAE is a Muslim country, and it is important to dress modestly, especially when visiting mosques or other religious sites. Women should cover their shoulders and knees, and both men and women should avoid wearing tight or revealing clothing.
  • Respect local customs: The UAE has a rich cultural heritage, and it is important to respect local customs and traditions. This includes behaving modestly, avoiding public displays of affection, and not taking photographs of people without their permission.
  • Stay hydrated: The UAE can get very hot, especially during the summer months. It is important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially if you are spending time outdoors.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol in public: The UAE has strict laws against drinking alcohol in public, and you could face fines or even imprisonment if caught. It is generally acceptable to drink alcohol in licensed bars and restaurants, but it is important to be mindful of local customs and laws.
  • Use sunscreen: The UAE gets a lot of sunshine, and it is important to protect your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays. Make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat when spending time outdoors to prevent sunburn.
  • Learn a few phrases in Arabic: While most people in the UAE speak English, it is always appreciated when visitors make an effort to learn a few phrases in Arabic. Greetings such as "As-salam alaykum" (peace be upon you) and "Shukran" (thank you) will go a long way in showing your respect for local culture.

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates, each with its own unique character and attractions. Here is a brief overview of the main regions of the UAE and some of the highlights of each region:

  • Abu Dhabi: The capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is a modern city with a rich cultural heritage. It is home to many iconic landmarks, including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in the world. Abu Dhabi is also home to several museums, galleries, and cultural centers, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
  • Dubai: Dubai is the most populous city in the UAE and is known for its futuristic skyscrapers and luxury shopping malls. It is home to many iconic landmarks, such as the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, and the Palm Jumeirah, a man-made island shaped like a palm tree. Dubai is also home to many theme parks, such as Dubai Parks and Resorts and IMG Worlds of Adventure.
  • Sharjah: Sharjah is the third-largest city in the UAE and is known for its cultural and artistic attractions. It is home to many museums, galleries, and cultural centers, such as the Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharjah Heritage Area. Sharjah is also home to many beautiful beaches and parks.
  • Ajman: Ajman is the smallest of the seven emirates, but it has a rich history and many attractions. It is home to the Ajman Museum, which showcases the emirate's history and culture, and the Ajman Fort, which dates back to the 18th century. Ajman is also home to many beautiful beaches and parks.
  • Fujairah: Fujairah is the only emirate on the east coast of the UAE, and it is known for its beautiful beaches and rugged coastline. It is home to many natural attractions, such as the Fujairah Fort, the Al-Hayl Castle, and the Wadi Wurrayah National Park.
  • Ras Al Khaimah: Ras Al Khaimah is the northernmost emirate of the UAE and is known for its beautiful beaches, mountains, and natural beauty. It is home to many outdoor activities and attractions, such as hiking, mountain biking, and camel riding.
  • Umm Al Quwain: Umm Al Quwain is the least populated of the seven emirates, but it has many attractions for visitors. It is home to the Umm Al Quwain Fort, which dates back to the 18th century, and the Umm Al Quwain Museum, which showcases the emirate's history and culture. Umm Al Quwain is also home to many beautiful beaches and parks.

There are many amazing things to see and do when visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Here are a few suggestions for things to add to your itinerary:

  • Visit the Burj Khalifa: The Burj Khalifa is the world's tallest building, and it is an iconic landmark of Dubai. You can go to the top of the Burj Khalifa for a panoramic view of the city, or visit the observation deck on the 124th floor.
  • Explore the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world, and it is an architectural marvel. You can take a guided tour of the mosque to learn about its history and design, or simply admire its beauty from the outside.
  • Shop at the Dubai Mall: The Dubai Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in the world, and it is a must-visit destination for shoppers. In addition to its many stores and restaurants, the Dubai Mall also has an indoor theme park, an ice rink, and an aquarium.
  • Go on a desert safari: The UAE is home to some of the world's most beautiful deserts, and a desert safari is a must-do activity for visitors. You can go on a camel ride, try sandboarding, or simply enjoy the beauty of the desert from the comfort of a 4x4 vehicle.
  • Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi: The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a museum of art and culture that showcases works from around the world. It is housed in a stunning building designed by architect Jean Nouvel, and it is a must-see destination for art lovers.
  • Go to the top of the Abu Dhabi Corniche: The Abu Dhabi Corniche is a waterfront promenade that offers stunning views of the city and the sea. You can go to the top of the Abu Dhabi Observation Deck for a panoramic view of the city, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade.

These are just a few of the many amazing things you can see and do when visiting the UAE. There is something for everyone in this diverse and vibrant country.

United Arab Emirates

WHAT TO EAT IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

When visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you will have the opportunity to try a wide variety of delicious local and international dishes. Here are a few dishes that you should definitely try when visiting the UAE:

  • Shawarma: Shawarma is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with meat (such as chicken, lamb, or beef) that is slowly cooked on a spit and served in a pita or wrap. Shawarma is often served with vegetables, sauces, and pickles, and it is a delicious and affordable option for a quick meal.
  • Falafel: Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, and it is a popular street food in the UAE. Falafel is often served in a pita or wrap with vegetables and sauces, and it is a delicious vegetarian option.
  • Kebabs: Kebabs are a popular dish in the UAE, and they can be made with a variety of meats (such as chicken, lamb, or beef) that are grilled and served on a skewer. Kebabs are often served with rice, vegetables, and sauces, and they make for a delicious and hearty meal.
  • Biryani: Biryani is a rice dish that is popular in the UAE and other parts of the Middle East. It is made with rice, meat (such as chicken or lamb), and spices, and it is often served with raita (a yogurt sauce) and pickles. Biryani is a delicious and satisfying meal that is perfect for sharing.
  • Dates: Dates are a staple food in the UAE, and they are a delicious and nutritious snack. There are many different varieties of dates, and they can be eaten on their own or used in a variety of dishes. Dates are often served as a traditional dessert after a meal.
  • Machboos: Machboos is a traditional rice dish that is popular in Dubai and other parts of the Gulf region. It is made with rice, meat (such as chicken or lamb), and spices, and it is often served with raita (a yogurt sauce) and pickles.
  • Al harees: Al harees is a traditional Emirati dish made with wheat, meat (such as chicken or lamb), and spices. The mixture is slow-cooked until it is tender, and it is often served with ghee (clarified butter) and chopped onions.
  • Tharid: Tharid is a traditional Emirati dish made with pieces of bread and meat (such as chicken or lamb) that are soaked in a broth made with spices and vegetables. Tharid is often served with a side of vegetables and sauces.
  • Luqaimat: Luqaimat is a traditional Emirati dessert made with deep-fried dough balls that are drizzled with sweet syrup. It is often served as a treat during special occasions or celebrations.

In addition to these local dishes, you will also find a wide variety of international cuisine in the UAE, including Indian, Chinese, Italian, and more. There is something for everyone to enjoy when it comes to food in the UAE.

LGBTQ IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

United Arab Emirates

WHERE TO STAY IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

When visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the first time, there are many factors to consider when choosing where to stay. Here are a few tips to help you decide:

  • Consider your budget: The UAE has a wide range of accommodation options to suit different budgets, from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to luxurious five-star hotels. Decide how much you are willing to spend on accommodation and look for options that fit your budget.
  • Think about your location: The UAE is made up of seven emirates, each with its own unique character and attractions. Consider which emirate you want to stay in, and look for accommodation in a location that is convenient for the activities and sights you want to see.
  • Decide on your travel style: Do you prefer a more traditional hotel, or are you open to other types of accommodation, such as a serviced apartment or a holiday home? Consider your travel style and look for options that suit your preferences.
  • Consider the amenities: Think about the amenities that are important to you, such as a swimming pool, a gym, or a restaurant, and look for accommodation that offers these amenities.

Overall, the best place to stay in the UAE will depend on your personal preferences and travel plans. There are many excellent accommodation options to choose from, and you are sure to find something that meets your needs and budget.

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