When we think about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first thing that comes to mind is the electrifying city of Dubai – a futuristic metropolis renowned for its record-breaking skyscrapers such as the Burj Khalifa and the Burj al Arab, world-class shopping malls such as Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall, and artificial islands such as The World and Palm Islands. One of seven emirates (or sheikhdoms) of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is landlocked between Oman and Saudi Arabia, and boasts over 1,300 kilometres of pristine white sand beaches overlooking the azure waters of the Persian Gulf. We often forget that before the discovery of oil in the 1960's, this barren land was inhabited by Bedouin pearl fishermen searching for the treasures of the sea.
More traditional at heart than its sister emirate, Abu Dhabi is the federal capital of the United Arab Emirates. Situated on an island off the coast of the Persian Gulf, this flagship state of the Middle East brings together a mosaic of contrasting landscapes and is one of the growing cultural capitals of the world. The breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a must-visit landmark and the Middle Eastern outpost of Paris's Louvre museum is currently scheduled to open in 2016 designed by legendary French designer, Jean Nouvel.
The lesser-known emirate of Sharjah is home to some of the finest museums in the country, while the Ajman and Umm Al-Quwain emirates offer a more authentic and preserved way of life. Visit Fujairah emirate to experience the region’s finest scuba diving in the Gulf of Oman set against the dramatic backdrop of the Hajar Mountains, or the up-and-coming tourist destination of Ras al-Khaimah which booms all the way in the north of the region.
Boasting a wealth of natural resources and the seventh-largest oil reserve in the world, the rapidly developing United Arab Emirates has established itself as a booming hub of international tourism, commerce and culture, and is one of the most exciting regions in the world to visit right now.