When you think of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), what comes to mind? Probably images of Dubai, the tallest building in the world, opulent hotels, artificial islands, expensive cars, super-sized malls, and oil. Well, you are not wrong. But there is a lot more to the UAE than its tall buildings, state of the art infrastructure, desert landscapes, and rich culture and traditions.
The culture of the country reflects Islam, Bedouin, and Arab culture, and this is depicted in their clothing, architecture, music, cuisine, and lifestyle. Islam is embedded in their way of life. Local people are supposed to pray five times a day, so you will frequently see mosques scattered throughout the city and prayer rooms in public buildings like malls. Despite being a Muslim country, the UAE accommodates the non-Muslim residents quite well.
One of the seven emirates that comprise the UAE, Dubai is a global hub with cosmopolitan culture. With a myriad of attractions Dubai offers you on the platter, you are sure to be spoilt for choice. Haggle over gold, at the Gold Souk, one of the most colorful shopping destinations in the country. Sample dates at the Date Souk and take in the enticing aromas of the Spice Souk. Visit Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building that stands as a testament to Dubai’s burning desire to continually attain new heights.
After taking a tour of the skyscraping sights, contrast your experience with an Abra ride on Dubai Creek, which is Dubai’s traditional transport for centuries. Right on Dubai’s doorstep is the Arabian Desert, and what better way to experience it than by going on a desert safari. Cruise over sand dunes in a 4×4, surf the dunes, and feast on a desert barbeque underneath the starlit desert sky. Your visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without seeing the insides of one of its famous mosques, Jumeirah Mosque, the only Dubai mosque that welcomes non-Muslims.
A beach lover’s paradise, Dubai offers a range of options for fun in the sun. There are plenty of sand stretches that are ideal for sunbathing or indulging in a variety of water sports. Pack a picnic and head over to the famous Jumeirah Beach for a sunny day out.
Less extravagant than its neighbor Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a land of contrasts where luxury and modernity are skilfully mixed with Bedouin traditions. Between ocean and desert, dive into the heart of a booming tourist city, in a setting worthy of the Arabian Nights. Hard to imagine that half a century ago, before making a fortune in oil, the glittering and neat capital of the United Arab Emirates was still a small fishing village of pearls and fish. Today, skyscrapers and shopping malls, true temples of shopping thrive alongside the authentic sites like Al-Hosn Palace and the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. The mosque is the largest mosque in the country and features an immaculate display of artistry, design, and precision. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24-karat gold gilded chandeliers, and the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet.
As a family, enjoy unforgettable moments in the Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld theme parks or enjoy a camel safari in the desert. The Corniche Road spreads across eight kilometers of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach.
Sharjah’s story takes you on a journey through 5,000 years of history from valuable archaeological sites to pristine wilderness areas. Sharjah is a modern cosmopolitan metropolis with deep-rooted traditions. Islamic customs are central to all aspects of culture today, as they have been throughout Sharjah’s history. Courtesy and hospitability are highly prized virtues, and you are likely to experience the genuine warmth and friendliness of the local people. Explore Old Sharjah by walking among the coral stone buildings and labyrinthine passages and step back in time some 200 years, before the discovery of oil.
The array of museums, galleries, and heritage sites provide unique insight into Arabic history. It is easy to soak up the culture by strolling amongst the traditional architecture, timeless dhows, and atmospheric souks. As well as being an impressive insight into tradition, and offering fantastic photo opportunities, the souks of Sharjah are great for souvenirs. You can find restaurants and cafes showcasing the best of Arabic, Asian, and international food. From diving to mountain biking, desert driving to dhow cruising and paddle boarding, there is something for everyone. Sharjah is an ideal base to explore the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.