A Visitor’s Guide To The United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country which came into being following the withdrawal of the British Empire, and is made up of the seven individual Emirates that achieved independence in December 1971. Like many countries in the Middle East the UAE owes much of its wealth to the production of oil, and it is believed to have the seventh largest oil reserves in the world. The UAE is also known for having a slightly more liberal attitude than many countries in the region, and Dubai in particular is noted for having a good party scene with alcohol generally available in many establishments in the country.
While the US State Department does advise visitors to the country to be wary of any security threats, they also advise visitors that US citizens are considered targets by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. They also advise against taking pictures of any security or military sites, as this has on occasion led to people being arrested or monitored, while they also advise caution when sailing anywhere near the disputed waters between the UAE and Iran.
Top Sights To See In The UAE
Take An Abra Tour Of Dubai – While much of the country is quite dry, the city of Dubai does have a creek running through the city, and taking a tour on one of the traditional Abra boats gives visitors an excellent view of many of the sights of the city and its remarkable skyline.
Burj Khalifa – No visit to Dubai is complete without seeing the largest building in the world, and of particular interest to visitors is the stunning outdoor observation deck which gives visitors a magnificent view of the city from over four hundred and fifty meters above ground level
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Having been completed in 2009, this remarkable mosque is a beautiful white building made from the finest materials available, and has the capacity to accommodate over forty thousand worshipers at a time.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – This wonderful event is held at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, and is raced in the evening to help cope with the temperatures, and is the only race that begins during daylight and ends at night, making it a superb spectacle.
Ajman – This small city is located on the west coast facing on to the Persian Gulf, and has an old fort from the sixteenth century and is also popular for its attractive beach and the dolphin spotting trips that take visitors out onto the waters of the gulf.
Jumeirah Beach – This is one of the most popular beaches in Dubai with a long stretch of golden sand along with a series of hotels and an excellent water park located along the waterfront area.
Abu Dhabi Corniche – The corniche is one of the most popular and attractive areas on the seafront of Abu Dhabi, and is a popular area to stroll, relax, as well as having several parks and gardens that are maintained in this area.
Liwa Oasis – This collection of villages is located around an oasis on the edge of the empty desert quarter of the country, and is particularly popular for dune bashing in a 4×4, with the Tal Mireb dune the largest in the country at over 100 meters high, which is used for annual 4×4 competitions.
Hatta – This town is located in the mountains about an hour east of Dubai, and is noted for the attractive historic buildings including two tower fortifications and a mosque dating from the eighteenth century, and is also popular because the mountain location gives it a cooler climate.
Al Ain – Known as the ‘green city’ because of the trees and plants that grow here, this city is home to a historic fort and is also just a short distance from Jebel Hafeet, the second highest mountain in the country.
Where To Stay In The UAE
Number One Tower Suites Hotel – Visitors to this hotel can expect comfortable and spacious accommodation with modern features such as flat screen televisions and wi-fi internet access, while its location is convenient for those looking to explore the sights and experiences of the city.
Citymax Al Barsha – This attractive modern hotel has bright and bold rooms that offer comfortable beds and nice bathrooms, while visitors can also enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and fitness center, while also being close to many of the city’s main attractions.
Al Jawhara Metro Hotel – A short distance outside the modern city center lies this convenient hotel which offers affordable and comfortable accommodation, and gives visitors a television and a sofa in many rooms, as well as wi-fi internet access.
Yas Viceroy Hotel – Located very close to the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit, this hotel is a great place from which to explore the city, and offers stylish luxurious rooms with beautiful bathrooms, and access to the lovely outdoor swimming pool and steam room.
Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche – This popular hotel enjoys a prominent location on the seafront in Abu Dhabi, and gives visitors access to a jacuzzi, spa and outdoor swimming pool, along with stylish and modern rooms that are still just a short walk from the corniche.
Top Stars Hotel – With a good location in the business district of Abu Dhabi, the corniche and other sights in the city are just a short walk away, while the rooms offer comfortable and affordable accommodation that is ideal for those traveling on a budget.
Tulip Inn Royal Suites Ajman – Just a short distance from the beach and with easy access to the city center, this hotel gives visitors traditionally decorated spacious accommodation with nice bathrooms and modern features such as wi-fi internet, flat screen televisions and air conditioning.
The Paradise Inn Hotel Apartments – A short drive from the city center, this hotel offers stylish yet well priced rooms that are nicely decorated with comfortable beds and pleasant bathrooms, along with flat screen TVs with satellite channels, and internet access.
The Cuisine Of The United Arab Emirates
For the majority of visitors going to the UAE it can often be difficult to get a real flavor of the food eaten by the locals, as the huge majority of restaurants serve international cuisine, with large numbers of Indian and Pakistani restaurants in every entertainment and dining area. One common dish that is served in many street cafes and by street vendors is grilled chicken, which is usually cooked and then eaten with Khubz, a local type of bread, and hummus. There are also many restaurants offering a Yemeni style rice dish where fish, lamb or chicken has been slow roasted in a pit, and is then served on a bed of fragrant rice.
Currency And Visa
The national currency is the UAE Dirham, and this is commonly abbreviated to AED which is often seen on the price tags at most retailers. As the dirham is pegged at 3.67 dirham per US dollar, there is very little fluctuation in the exchange rate, although it is worth noting that visitors using a credit card or debit card in the country are usually charged a commission locally which makes using cash the most attractive option. Visitors from the United States are granted a thirty day visa on arrival, which can be extended for a further three months for a fee of 500 dirham, although it is worth noting that no Israeli citizens or anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport is allowed to enter the country.