United Arab Emirates holidays

Experience United Arab Emirates

Best Places to Visit

By far the most popular of the Emirates, Dubai has managed to turn itself into a world-class destination virtually overnight. Dubai is certainly a city of superlatives and prides itself on providing tourists with luxury at every corner. With the best bars, the best shopping opportunities and the most famous restaurants, there is absolutely nothing average about this city. There are many notable landmarks - the Burj Al Arab, the most iconic building of them all; the Burj Kalifa, the world's tallest building; and the Palm Islands, a hotspot for many travellers. The idea for the Palm Islands came from the Prince of Dubai and work began in 2001. They comprise of three manmade archipelagos; Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali, all of which feature palm-shaped fronds that extend out into the Persian Gulf. The plan is that these will host hotels, villas, marinas and visitor attractions such as water parks and theme parks. In the meantime, visitors are catered for by the huge Dubai Mall, the Wild Wadi Water Park and the dozens of high-end hotels that line Jumeirah Beach.

The largest of the Emirates and the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern and advanced cities in the world. Abu Dhabi offers tourists everything from top-notch golf courses and camel racing events to high-rise malls and beautiful mosques. Travellers in Abu Dhabi are bound to find activities to suit their requirements.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful cities to visit on holidays to United Arab Emirates, Al-Ain is the fourth largest and one of the greenest. A popular holiday destination with the Emirati elite, Al-Ain is the natural yin to Dubai's and Abu Dhabi's considerably developed yang. There are several resorts in the area which are home to, among other interesting attractions, a camel market, Al-Ain Zoo and the Al-Ain National Museum.

For travellers looking for a slower pace of life, Umm al-Quwain is just the place. Umm al-Quwain's terrain is some of the most interesting, as the city spans the coastal greenery of the Persian Gulf, all the way to the golden sand dunes of Falaj Al-Mu'alla. A visit to Umm al-Quwain will probably be the most traditional Middle Eastern experience for tourists on package holidays to United Arab Emirates.

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Top Landmarks

The region's most recognisable landmark is the Burj Al Arab. A contemporary architectural masterpiece, this tower houses one of the largest hotels in the world. The Burj Al Arab is to the Emirates what the Petronas Towers are to Kuala Lumpur. Whether tourists are interested in architecture or not, this massive structure makes for a great photo opportunity.

The largest mosque in Dubai, the Jumeirah Mosque, sits at the north end of Jumeirah Road and is the most photographed religious building in the entire country. Opened in 1979, the mosque is an example of the Egyptian Fatimid architectural style. The mosque's appeal also lies in the fact that, unlike many other places of worship, non-Muslims are permitted to enter and tour. The Jumeirah Mosque is something to behold at night when it’s gently lit.

Hili Archaeological Park in Al Ain is a prime example of Bronze Age civilisation, and the park houses many important artefacts, including stone tombs like the well-known Great Sepulchre. Many of the excavated artefacts can be found in the nearby Al-Ain National Museum, which is located in the centre of the city.

Khalifa Park in Abu Dhabi is one of the largest and arguably the best parks in the country. Home to a train, an aquarium, gardens and a museum, this site is more like a mini city than a local park. Great for an afternoon picnic or a relaxing rest at the end a busy day, Khalifa Park is worth visiting on package holidays to United Arab Emirates.

Entertainment

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are largely known for two things: shopping and their lively nightlife. As a result of the large expat population, there is a wide range of bars, clubs and pubs to be found on holidays to United Arab Emirates. Whether tourists want to dance until the sun rises or simply knock back a few pints at an Irish-style pub, Dubai and Abu Dhabi will deliver. There are also several places which provide traditional Arabic entertainment in the form of singers and dancers.

Lovers of live music won’t be disappointed either as Dubai plays host to some of the best live music venues in the region. With everything from African, French and Caribbean jazz to classical music and heavy rock, Dubai has made sure to include most popular genres in its live music repertoire.

There’s also a range of festivals which take place throughout the year, providing entertainment for those who'd prefer to avoid the club scene. The Dubai International Jazz Festival takes place in February and is popular with locals and tourists alike. In the same month, the Dubai Shopping Festival is well worth a visit. Attracting nearly three million people each year, this festival is a feast of culture, fashion and entertainment.

It is important to remember that the United Arab Emirates is largely an Islamic region. Alcohol laws are strict but alcohol can be purchased in hotels and restaurants in most places, except Sharjah. Drinking in public is prohibited and during Ramadan, alcohol cannot be purchased during daylight hours.

Dining Out

Regardless of what you're looking for, whether it's authentic Italian cuisine, the finest sushi, a hearty Indian feast or traditional English pub grub, United Arab Holidays have it all. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become known for not only their vast array of dining options but also the high-quality dishes served. Many renowned chefs, including the likes of Giorgio Locatelli, have opened up establishments in these luxury cities.

A few local Emirati delicacies worth trying are hummus (chickpea and sesame paste), tabbouleh (a refreshing salad made with bulgur wheat, parsley and mint), warak enab (grape leaves stuffed with rice and lamb) and finally, delicious dried dates.

The UAE is predominantly an Islamic region, which means that alcoholic beverages are only sold at Western establishments and in major hotels. There are, however, a few non-alcoholic drinks which are specific to the area and are well worth a try. Ayran is a cold yoghurt drink which is popular during the sweltering summer months. There is also a robust coffee tradition in the UAE, with many establishments serving it black and strong.

Beach

Several of the most beautiful beaches have been taken over by large resorts. For a small fee, however, travellers can still enjoy the white sands and warm waters of beaches like Kite Beach in Dubai and Al Mamzar Beach Park near Sharjah. The east coast offers travellers a chance to bathe on its calm shores and serves as a much needed respite from the bustle of Dubai and other larger centres.

Romance

If five-star luxury resorts aren’t romantic enough, then a night under the Arabian stars will surely do the trick. Couples can ride camels through the breath-taking dunes, enjoy the best Arabic cuisine in a Bedouin-style tent and enjoy the rhythms of local musicians and dancers. There are also several established resorts in the desert for those who prefer a more formal dining experience on United Arab Emirates holidays.

Family

Dubai has plenty of amusement parks to keep youngsters occupied. The Wild Wadi Water Park is not only great fun, but also the best place to be when temperatures become unbearable. Ferrari World, which is the largest indoor theme park in the world, is also a good option. It offers adrenaline junkies a plethora of thrilling car rides and a range of top-notch dining options.

Adventure

The UAE has no shortage of adventure, offering something for every taste. Take advantage of the deserts with the popular activity of dune skiing, or simply hire a four-wheel drive and whizz over the sand for an afternoon of excitement. The region’s lengthy coastline makes for great water sport activities, too, the most notable of which are the surfing and snorkelling opportunities available.

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Need to know

Language

The official language in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Arabic. However, because of the large expatriate population in the region, other languages like Omani and Hindi are commonly spoken. English is widely spoken in the business, education and tourism sectors, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi have become popular destinations in recent years for UK expats. This means that in modern day UAE, there are a whole host of English-speaking communities.

div class="xml-data-title">Currency

The official currency is the UAE dirham, which is subdivided into 100 fils. ATMs are readily available in shopping malls, hotels and on the side of roads. Most ATMs accept international debit and credit cards. Currency can be exchanged at large hotels, major banks and bureaux de change in most shopping malls.

Visas

Travellers from certain countries, including the United Kingdom, can attain a 30-day visa free of charge on arrival at any port of entry. Travellers who do not qualify for this exemption are required to attain a visa in their home country before heading on package holidays to United Arab Emirates.

Climate

The climate in the UAE is largely dry and warm, with the region seeing few rainy days. Summers tend to be harshest from June to September when the mercury rises to highs of 45°C. The humidity during summer can also be high, due to a humid south-eastern wind called the Sharqi, which mainly affects the coastal areas. The traditional summer holiday months of June to August are a lot cheaper due to the sheer heat, but tourists can beat the sweltering conditions with air-conditioning and temperature-controlled swimming pools. Temperatures are cooler between October and April. February to April is a popular time to visit for tourists, although hotels will be charging their highest prices during this peak season.

Main Airports

Dubai International Airport is the country's main gateway and a major stop off for travellers en route between Europe and Asia or Australia. The airport services many international carriers. There are other international airports available, including Abu Dhabi International Airport and Al Ain International Airport.

Flight Options

National airlines of the UAE and other major UK carriers offer regular services. These airlines travel between London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick and Manchester to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Flights can be found for reasonably low prices, especially if they are booked in advance. The average flight time between London and the UAE is 7 hours.

Travel Advice

United Arab Emirates holidays are becoming increasingly popular among tourists. It is, therefore, best to book accommodation and make travel arrangements ahead to avoid disappointment and high prices. UAE laws and customs differ significantly to those in the UK - research these before you begin your trip to make travelling through public areas and airports as easy as possible. Things to take into consideration include dress code, especially for women.

Other Transport Options

It is possible to reach Dubai and Abu Dhabi by boat, but services typically only operate from Gulf or Indian cities. Neighbouring Oman and Saudi Arabia both have excellent road links with the UAE.

Getting Around

Metred taxi services are the most popular transport in the region. The roads in the UAE are good for car hire.

Train

Dubai Metro offers a cheap and efficient service, but only serves stations in Dubai itself. Take a look at Etihad Rail for travelling further afield.

Air

There are a few direct flights which link the large centres of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, however, flying isn't necessary due to their close proximity.

Bus

The bus system in the UAE is well-maintained and well-developed, with several companies operating routes across the area. Minibuses and large coaches run between Dubai and Sharjah. Al Ghazal buses are comfortable and efficient, servicing routes between Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain. The Inter-Emirate bus service is frequent and travels between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Inner-city buses which travel during peak business hours are often congested and can get stuck in traffic.

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FACTS

  1. Testament to its wealthy inhabitants, Dubai has its own Gold to Go machine, located in Dubai Mall. This impressive ATM dispenses 24-carat gold in several forms to any customers who can afford it, whether it be a gold bar or wearable gold jewellery.
  2. Those living above the 80th floor of Dubai's tallest building must wait an extra two minutes before breaking their day-long fast during Ramadan, as they can see the sun for longer than those below them.
  3. Over in New York, Manhattan's Chrysler Building is almost entirely owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

FACTS

  1. Testament to its wealthy inhabitants, Dubai has its own Gold to Go machine, located in Dubai Mall. This impressive ATM dispenses 24-carat gold in several forms to any customers who can afford it, whether it be a gold bar or wearable gold jewellery.
  2. Those living above the 80th floor of Dubai's tallest building must wait an extra two minutes before breaking their day-long fast during Ramadan, as they can see the sun for longer than those below them.
  3. Over in New York, Manhattan's Chrysler Building is almost entirely owned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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