The UAE is a federation of seven sheikdoms that came together when the British left the Gulf in 1971. While four-fifths of the UAE is made up of desert, the rest is a brilliant combination of traditional Islamic living and the best and brightest technology and architecture of the twenty-first century. The UAE is presently one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world and has the added bonus of being completely safe for westerners.
The most frequently visited destinations in the UAE are Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi serves as the federation’s capital and is also the center of business and government. This city is renowned for looking towards the future while also strongly preserving its past, and this is evident through the restoration of palaces, craftsmen and calligraphers who still work to hone their crafts.
Don’t miss out on the Women’s Handicraft Centre and the Cultural Foundation. Dubai, on the other hand, is like Abu Dhabi’s flashy, loud and always fun cousin. Visitors will never be at a loss of things to do, with the city’s famous shopping, interesting landmarks and exciting nightlife. First time visitors should be sure to visit the Dubai Museum and the city’s famous souks, or markets ‘ the Gold Souk and the Spice Souk.
The main international airports in the UAE are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is also possible to book cheap flights to Dubai and into the other emirates, especially Sharjah, which is rising in popularity. Given the short distances between emirates, there are no flights between major cities. However, the best way to get from city to city is to rent a car, which is just slightly more expensive than in the West. It is not recommended to drive in the cities, on the other hand. There is also a bus network between cities for those that prefer to let others drive for them.
Accommodation will easily eat up the majority of visitors’ budgets. Even with budget hotels or youth hostels in Dubai, the low-budget traveler should count on spending around $50 a day. Unfortunately, there are no budget options in Abu Dhabi, so visitors should plan on doubling that price.