The United Arab Emirates is one of those exotic countries that are so popular with domestic tourists. Along with Egypt and Turkey, it hosts thousands of foreign guests who want to taste the exotic. We invite you to learn a lot of interesting things about the seven Arab Emirates, united into a single state.
Geographical location and nature of the country
On the world map, the UAE can be seen in the northeast of the Arabian Peninsula. The largest in terms of area is the emirate of Abu Dhabi (85%), where the capital is located. The total area of the state is 83,600 sq. km.
The nature of the UAE is peculiar. Most of the country is occupied by the Rub al-Khali desert, where tourists enjoy going on safari. And what a beautiful sea in the UAE! The country is washed by the Persian and Oman Gulfs, and wealthy tourists from Europe and America love to relax on its warm beaches.
Here you can see wild goats, one-humped camels, rare Arabian leopards. As for the flora, most of it was artificially introduced as part of the UAE landscaping program (except for the natural oases in Fujairah and Ras al-Khaimah). Paradoxically, despite the adverse natural conditions, there are many parks in the UAE, and the largest flower park in the world has been opened in Dubai!
A tropical arid climate prevails throughout the country. It is very dry, and there are often sandstorms. Precipitation is low, about 100 ml per year. In addition, it is very hot here: the temperature in summer reaches +45-50°С. Therefore, it is better to relax in the UAE in October or November, when it is not so hot here, and the water in the Persian Gulf is quite warm.
The United Arab Emirates consists of 7 emirates, absolute monarchies, which are actually separate states. Previously, they existed separately, but in 1971 they merged.
The form of government is a federal monarchical state, and each emirate has its own emir. The UAE is headed by the emir of the capital emirate — Abu Dhabi, and the head of government is the emir of Dubai. In addition, an important role is played by the Supreme Council of the Union, which includes the heads of all emirates, the Federal National Council (legislators) and the Council of Ministers (executive authority).
The flag of the UAE is a rectangular panel made in the traditional colors of the Persian Gulf countries (red, green, white and black), symbolizing the unity of the Arabs.
The coat of arms of the United Arab Emirates is a falcon, symbolizing autocracy. The yellow color of the bird is the desert, and its tail of 7 feathers is the 7 emirates. On the chest of the falcon is a shield with the national colors of the UAE.
The population of the UAE is 9.3 million people. The indigenous population of the country — ethnic Arabs — is no more than a third. Most of them are very wealthy people. But the recognized leaders in terms of welfare are the heads of clans — Arab sheikhs. They live in luxurious mansions that tourists are not even allowed to photograph, drive the latest models of cars, many own a harem.
A large percentage of the population of the UAE are from such Southeast Asian countries as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka. This is a cheap labor force, thanks to which the country manages to lead in many industries and at the same time save the country’s budget. Due to the huge number of diasporas in the UAE, along with the state Arabic, Hindi, Farsi, Urdu, English and even Russian are widely used.
The dominant religion in the Emirates is Islam. Because of this, many stringent requirements are imposed on tourists. In particular, this concerns the use of alcohol and cigarettes, appearance (especially women) and behavior during a Muslim fast. The most stringent in this respect in the UAE is the emirate of Sharjah.
Cities and resorts in the UAE
Most of the country’s territory is a deserted desert. Major cities, where it is best to relax in the UAE, can be counted on the fingers. These are the capitals of the seven emirates of the UAE:
- Abu Dhabi. Rest here is the most expensive, it will appeal to lovers of the exotic in the style of the Persian basin: trips through the desert, luxurious beaches.
- Dubai. This city is a legend, where all the main attractions of the country are concentrated: towers, mosques, amusement parks.
- Fujairah. Here you will not find skyscrapers against the backdrop of sand dunes: on the contrary, a cozy town with ancient architecture and plenty of opportunities for activity awaits tourists.
- Sharjah. It bears the well-deserved fame of the strictest emirate. There is practically no nightlife here, and the whole holiday comes down to beach activities, diving and windsurfing.
- Umm al-Quwain. Famous for natural beauty. Welcome to the UAE for tours of date gardens, uninhabited islands, camel racetrack.
- Ras Al Khaimah. People come here to visit the spa, one of the largest water parks in the UAE, walks through ancient forts and mosques.
- Ajman. This is a small town in the smallest emirate. There are few hotels here, but a large number of attractions and interesting excursions that glorified Ajman as one of the most interesting cities for holidays in the UAE.
Also among the resorts of the country should be noted the cities of El Ain, Korfakkan, the island of Sir Bani Yas.
Economy of the UAE
The economy of the country is based on the extraction, trade and re-export of oil. It is mined in the UAE mainly in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, as well as in Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah. Today, production volumes are about 2.2 million barrels per day, thanks to which the country’s GDP per capita is $66,000. According to this indicator, the UAE ranks 6th in the world.
It is also worth noting the presence of a free economic zone, several large ports, and a well-developed transit transport infrastructure. Industries such as tourism, construction, and trade are actively developing.
The local currency is the UAE Dirham (Dh). It replaced the Indian rupee, which has been in circulation for over 100 years.
What to see in the UAE?
The main thing for which people come to the Emirates is:
- amusement parks;
- the beaches of the UAE, which are positioned as the best in the Middle East;
- desert safari.
The top ten most popular attractions in the UAE include:
- Burj Khalifa tower — the highest building not only in the United Arab Emirates, but in the whole world.
- Skyscraper hotel in the shape of a sail is the symbol of the UAE.
- Jumeirah Mosque — the largest religious building in the country in the Arabic style.
- Ferrari Park — an amazing themed entertainment complex.
- Aquarium in Dubai — marked by the Guinness Book of Records.
- Archipelago Mir — artificially piled islands in the form of continents.
- Ski Dubai — a ski complex, opened in one of the largest malls in the country.
- Dubai Gold Souk — the center of wealth and luxury.
- Palm Jumeirah — islands, decorated in the form of a giant palm tree.
- sheikh zayed mosque — a huge monument of religious architecture of the UAE.
Where to stay?
In the capital of each of the emirates, as well as in a few resorts, there are enough offers for accommodation for tourists. Among them, the best hotels in the UAE are in the lead — chic 4-5 * establishments. All global hotel chains are represented here. In Dubai, there is even a hotel that is called «seven-star», so its level is higher than the rest. Among budget housing there are many good 3 * hotels.
Cuisine and restaurants
Arabic culinary traditions are based on meat: mainly lamb and veal. Seafood, legumes, vegetables and fruits are also popular in the UAE. Spices are usually added to all dishes.
An interesting feature of food in the UAE is mezze. This is a set of snacks that are served in small portions in a certain sequence. While on vacation in the UAE in 2017, be sure to try real Arabian coffee. But with alcohol in the UAE is very strict. You can buy it only in restaurants at hotels, and in the emirate of Sharjah, alcohol is generally prohibited.
As for catering establishments, the country has many restaurants not only of Arabic, but also of European, Indonesian, Japanese, Mexican cuisines.
What to bring from the UAE?
Shopping is one of the leading areas of tourism. Dubai is especially popular in this regard: there are many large malls where you can buy absolutely everything. The goal of any shopaholic in the United Arab Emirates is to visit:
They usually bring jewelry, carpets and pillows, cashmere shawls, fur coats, antiques, oil perfumes, coffee and accessories for its preparation, hookahs, sweets from the UAE.
The UAE lies at the crossroads of the most important routes between the Middle and Far East. Thanks to this, transport is one of the most important sectors of its economy:
- Air Transport — No. 1 in the country. All international airports in the UAE, and there are 6 of them, are very comfortable for travelers. Air harbors are available in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah, the cities of Ras Al Khaimah and Al Ain.
- Sea transport. The largest port in the country is Jebel Ali. Traveling around Dubai and its environs, tourists use the services of water taxis and ferries.
- Railway transport in the UAE is still at the planning stage. Soon a large network of roads will grow here, which will connect all the emirates. First, it is planned to introduce freight transportation, and only then — passenger transportation.
- Metropolitan – opened in Dubai in 2009. These are 47 stations connecting the main tourist places of the city. The Dubai Metro is fully automated and the trains do not need drivers. The metro salon is divided into 2 classes — regular and «Gold» (the latter costs twice as much). Special carriages are available for women and small children.
- Automobile transport well developed. Local residents mostly travel in their own cars. Buses (modern, air-conditioned) are designed for guest workers. These routes connect retail outlets — markets, malls, large stores. Travelers use taxi services more, less often — car rental. And in Dubai, special tourist buses «hop-on hop-off» run.
Having planned a trip, domestic tourists first of all find out whether Russians and residents of other CIS countries need a visa to the UAE. Perhaps that is why travelers love this country, that the paperwork for visiting it does not pose exactly any problem. Yes, a UAE visa is required, but it can be obtained upon arrival, at the airport and completely free of charge. The necessary conditions for entry are only the presence of a passport valid for at least 6 months, and medical insurance for the entire period of stay in the Emirates.
By the way, if you want to relax on a budget, it is not recommended to go to the UAE on your own — a ticket from a tour operator will cost less.
When planning a trip, take note of some rules, following which you will make your vacation not only pleasant, but also safe:
- try not to walk around the quarters of Dubai and Sharjah at night;
- do not drink alcohol outside the hotel or bar;
- do not appear on the street in a state of intoxication;
- do not take pictures of the houses of local residents and government buildings in the UAE;
- do not throw garbage past the bin and out of the car window;
- do not flirt with local women;
- never buy drugs;
- do not sunbathe topless on beaches (this rule applies to girls).
How to get there?
There are direct flights to the UAE from the CIS countries. Air transport is the most popular and convenient way to get into the country. You can also get here:
- by ferry from the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas to Dubai or Sharjah;
- by bus — from neighboring Oman (the easiest), Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan.