The United Arab Emirates is the union of seven Emirates (Sheikhdoms) located in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula and on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Its capital, Abu Dhabi, is a modern and ever-developing, and growing city with a history going back thousands of years and was globally known as the main pearl trade center in the 19th century.
Nowadays, Abu Dhabi and the rest of Emirates are known for their oil and gas exploitation and trade industry, which helped develop the country beyond the modern era.
Dubai, another global metropolis and center of finance, art, tourism, and transport, is also a futuristically developed city with some of the world’s tallest buildings and largest shopping malls. It has become famous for its six and seven-star hotels, which redefined hospitality luxury and brought it to another level.
Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are main transit points between north and south and east and west and many, especially European routes, are going through these two cities, connecting destinations in Asia, Australia, and Africa with Europe and with each other.
We hope the following info will be useful when you decide to visit the United Arab Emirates.
1. Quick facts
- Official name: United Arab Emirates
- Capital: Abu Dhabi
- Population: 8.1 million
- Area: 77,700 sq km (30,000 sq miles)
- Major language: Arabic
- Major religion: Islam
- Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 78 years (women)
- Currency: Dirham
2. Where is it?
The United Arab Emirates is located on the southeast corner of the Arabian Peninsula, on the Persian Gulf. Based on its size, it is a small country, it is 115th in the world. Neighboring countries are Saudi Arabia and Oman.
3. Visa requirements
As with many countries, your passport must be valid for at least three months after you complete your visit to Emirates, so please plan ahead. The United Arab Emirates have an agreement with many countries to provide visa on entry for tourism purposes.
For other types of visas, please check the conditions and guidance on this page.
For general details about visa requirements click here.
4. Getting there
There are two main airports in Emirates, Dubai (DXB) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) for the fastest entry. Here are some flights with prices from the US to UAE.
- New York — Dubai from $300
- Miami — Dubai from $404
- Los Angeles — Dubai from $488
- Chicago — Dubai from $610
- Washington — Dubai from $621
- San Francisco — Dubai from $679
- San Jose — Dubai from $691
- Houston — Dubai from $756
- New York — Abu Dhabi from $852
- Denver — Dubai from $984
5. Where to stay in the United Arab Emirates?
Emirates are famous for having a very developed tourism industry and infrastructure and there is no problem finding any type of hotel, including ones with six and even seven stars, which is another definition of a luxury nowadays. Medium and high-end hotels, beach resorts, and all-inclusive options are all available. You can also go with Airbnb which is also available in UAE.
For the latest offers on hotels from our providers use the search form below:
6. Moving around
For moving between major cities, you can use a car hire or a bus, and there is also a boat service along the coast. Intercity busses are mostly luxurious, with all amenities on board. The distance between the two main cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi is only 65 miles (105 km) and it is reachable easily by bus or a car in less than 90 minutes.
Within cities is best to go by taxi as driving in big cities such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi can be hectic.
To move between cities you can also rent a car, which you can do online from our website or from many car rentals.
7. Food in the United Arab Emirates
Cuisine in Emirates is delicious, diverse, and shared with many Middle Eastern countries. You have probably tried many of Emirates’ popular dishes and made them your favorite already.
Harees is a very popular dish, especially during the month of Ramadan and during wedding parties. It is porridge-like wheat and meat mixture, together with spices, including cinnamon. Shawarma is an equivalent to doner kebab from Turkye or gyros from Greece, very well known in the west. Served in pitta bread with some salad.
Falafel is not originally from Emirates, but it is a very popular food – fried chickpeas balls with spices and served with various dips. Biryani is also known worldwide and it comes in several varieties, depending on the region. Basically, rice is mixed with meat or fish and spices.
One dish that is unique to Emirates is stuffed camel. Yes, you read that well, and it is the largest dish in the world (understandably). The entire broiled camel is stuffed with lamb, which is also stuffed with one or more chickens that are also stuffed with eggs and rice or fish. Kind of like Kinder surprise egg, but with a twist!
To accompany the meal there is a variety of dips and ayran, salted yogurt. Popular salad is tabbouleh, which is also a Middle Eastern popular side dish.
And to sweeten it up, you can have local coffee (called gaqhwa and stronger than the one you are sued to, probably), tea, and Esh Asarya, similar to cheesecake. Enjoy!
How safe is Emirates for tourists and to move around? Emirates is quite safe for both tourists and regular inhabitants. Tourist areas are generally safe, both for single tourists and groups or families. The only rick can be with pickpocketers, but this is rare. Additionally, obeying local customs, especially in dress code is always advised.
More details about safety in Emirates you can find here.
Emirates has a highly developed tourism industry and although the country targets high-end tourists, budget holidays are also very affordable here. Tourists usually come with organized groups where a deal for flights and accommodation (and some attractions) is already included, but if you travel independently, you can also find great deals on tickets and hotel deals, at least.
Prices throughout Emirates can vary, especially depending on which area you are in, i.e. high-end and luxury areas will understandably have much higher prices than other, less exclusive. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as two major cities within Emirates, are the most expensive in general.
The weather in Emirates is hot and dry throughout the year, with some rainfall during winter times. The hottest months are June through August, where most of the activities are indoors, in well-air-conditioned areas. Temperatures easily climb to 45 C (113 F) or higher, and hot air from the Gulf brings also high humidity, which is very difficult for any outdoor activities and becomes a health hazard.
11. Best time to visit
Mostly based on the weather, the best time to visit Emirates is between October through March (or even April), in case you want to experience outdoor activities, such as hot air balloon rides, water parks, or sailing. In case you want to pass through Dubai or Abu Dhabi and just visit for shopping or a business deal, any time is a good time as all the areas are well air-conditioned.
12. Money matters
The official currency in the United Arab Emirates is Dirham (AED). Emirates is a major business hub and the banking and ATM system are very well developed. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but please do check card charges from your bank in foreign countries before the trip. If you want to exchange foreign currency, please bring US dollars with you as Dirham is linked with the exchange rate to the US dollar and this will give you the most favorable rates.
There are ATMs and banks on every corner and cash withdrawals are in Dirhams or in US dollars, depending on services the bank provides. Major banks don’t charge ATM fees to foreigners, but privately operated ATMs may sometimes charge high fees. However, the machine should warn you about the charge so you have a choice to cancel the transaction before committing to it.
13. What to see in the United Arab Emirates?
We are listing here around thirty top interesting attractions to see in the United Arab Emirates and this is just a small sample of what you can see and do there.
Burj Khalifa. Originally known as Burj Dubai, this massive, 828-meter high skyscraper is a modern construction marvel. Featuring viewing decks, a hotel, restaurant, office space, and a massive, 11-hectare park.
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Luxury hotel with unique, sail design. World-famous for posh dining, private beach, and ornate suites. Located in Dubai City.
The Dubai Mall. Huge shopping mall complex featuring an ice rink, aquarium, and a cinema. Offering massive sales regularly.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center. The largest mosque in Emirates, located in Abu Dhabi. Featuring 82 white domes and space for 41,000 worshipers.
Palm Jumeirah. Built in 2001, this artificial island shaped like a palm tree is famous for high-end hotels and apartments and fine dining.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. Ferrari-themed entertainment complex located in Abu Dhabi. Many rides, including the world’s fastest roller coaster.
The Dubai Fountain. Set in an artificial lake in front of Burj Kalifa, this is the world’s largest choreographed fountain, offering music and light shows.
Emirates Palace. Luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi, operated by Kempinski, featuring a private marina, 14 restaurants and bars, and scenic views.
Dubai Gold Souk. Busy marketplace with over 380 retail shops, mostly specializing in jewelry, hence the ‘gold’ name.
Dubai Museum. A fort dating back to the 18th century, exhibiting collections about local history and cultural heritage and featuring multimedia presentations.
Ski Dubai. A unique experience, an indoor ski center with a mountain theme for year-round skiing, snowboarding, and sledding experience.
Dubai Creek. A saltwater creek flowing through Dubai, artificially extended and widened through time, featuring many water taxis moving people between souks.
Dubai Marina. High-end residential neighborhood and a marina with modern dining and cafes, together with arts and crafts shops.
Mall of the Emirates. Massive mall in Dubai, with many international brands, restaurants, cafes, cinema, ski center.
Wild Wadi Waterpark. Large outdoor water park with rollercoasters and artificial waves for surfing. Located in Dubai.
Madinat Jumeirah. High-end hotel resort complex with private beach in Dubai. Featuring five hotels, a modern souk, several restaurants, and bars.
Jumeirah Beach. Public beach with playgrounds and BBQ facilities. Featuring white sand with a backdrop of high-rise hotels, such as Burj Al Arab.
Yas Island. Small island interconnected with Abu Dhabi coastline famous for Grand Prix car-racing circuit, amusements parks, a beach, and a golf course.
Dubai Spice Souk. The traditional market of shops and stalls selling spices, souvenirs, and handmade crafts.
Jumeirah Mosque. A relatively new mosque, built in 1979, became popular with guided tours for non-Muslims in an effort to promote intercultural understanding and tolerance. Located in Dubai.
Louvre Abu Dhabi. Built as a collaboration with the original Louvre in Paris, this universal art and culture museum was opened in 2017.
The World. An artificial set of small islands built in the shape of a world map. Located about 4 km off the coast from Dubai. Intended to house high-end business and accommodation suites, still in construction.
Al Fahidi Historical District. The historic district of pre-modern Dubai, featuring life and buildings from the mid-19th century till the 1970s. Offering many arts and cultural exhibits in museums.
Marina Mall. Massive mall on the waterfront in Abu Dhabi. Featuring many designer stores, a bowling alley, and an ice rink.
Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Massive, underwater tunnel featuring marine life such as sharks and rays.
Corniche. An 8 km stretch on the seaside in Abu Dhabi, with bike and pedestrian paths, children playgrounds, beaches, cafes, and restaurants.
Dubai Dolphinarium. Large indoor dolphin and seals habitat with live shows and restaurants.
The Lost Chambers Aquarium. Aquarium with an Atlantis theme, located in The Palm, Dubai. Offering viewing tunnels and animal feeding opportunities.
Dubai Miracle Garden. Large flower garden in Dubai, inaugurated in 2013, with a large collection of about 45 million flowers.
From other attractions we recommend, Dubai Legoland, Dubai Safari Park, Global Village, Qasr Al Hosn, Grand Bur Dubai Masjid, and Dubai Opera.
14. Interesting facts about the United Arab Emirates
Here are some interesting facts about this amazing country:
- The area of Emirates was inhabited for at least two thousand years.
- Most of the country’s inhabitants are foreigners.
- The UAE gained independence from Great Britain without any fight or uprising.
We hope you enjoyed reading about Emirates!
Last Updated on October 29, 2021 by Tours Editor @ gotravelyourself.com