Although much of the country is centered around tourism in and around the main cities/emirates, the most beautiful areas are found inland.
The Liwa Oasis is in the far south of the country towards the border with Saudi Arabia and can be visited with your own transport or with overnight tours from Abu Dhabi, Dubai or other places. The desert here is very beautiful and consists of sand dunes which are part of the Empty Quarter, the largest unbroken sandy desert in the world. Although getting here is easy with a regular vehicle, you need a 4wd to get a bit off the beaten track. Still, whatever you choose, more remote than this is almost impossible in the United Arab Emirates.
Al Ain is the largest city not on the coastline of the country and is close to the border with Oman. It can easily be reached by buses from Dubai and Abu Dhabi among others and is called the Garden City of the United Arab Emirates. Attractions here include Jebel Hafeet, the second highest mountain of the country which top can be reached by car, the Camel Souq, the Al Ain Museum and Fort and the oasis itself with thousands of date palms.
A visit to the United Arab Emirates without a visit to Dubai is a shame. This is one of the fastest growing areas anywhere in the world with buildings being erected at an enormous speed. Plans are even more ambitious with hundreds of high rise buildings to be added (including the highest building in the world) and thousands of islands in the form of the world or palms which are for the rich and famous only. Unfortunately, much of the old and original Dubai is hidden away in between, but can still be found in the old quarter of the city.
Burj al Arab
The Burj al Arab (Tower of Arabs) has become a landmark of Dubai since being finished in 1999 and is the fourth tallest hotel in the world. The very recognizable building is shaped to resemble the sail of a Dhow, a local fishing boat. The structure is 321 meters tall and stands on an artificial island 280 meters away from the beach. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The building serves as a luxury hotel with 202 rooms. A hotel room is not cheap, with the cheapest room costing about a thousand US$ a night, and the Royal suite setting you back around US$28,000. If you want to arrive in style from the airport you can be picked up by a Rolls Royce or a helicopter. Although it’s often labeled as a 7-star hotel, this star rating system is often the cause of debate.
Officially opened on 4 January 2010, Burj Khalifa (Arabic: برج خليفة “Khalifa Tower”), formerly known as Burj Dubai, took six years to complete. The tower is named after Khalifa bin Zayed, the current President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi. With a height of 828 meters (2716 feet), Burj Khalif is the tallest man-made structure in the world, topping the previous record-holder (Taipei 101) by a staggering 319 meters. It also is nicknamed “the Needle” and “The Tower of Bable”. It has 168 floors, with the upper 30 to 40 floors being so small that they are useless, apart from the storage room. Counting all the floors and the podium, it has 465,000 m² of surface space. In the skyscraper, you will find 1,044 luxury apartments, 49 floors of offices and the 7-star Armani Hotel, with 160 rooms that are designed by Armani.
An observation deck, named At The Top, is located on Level 142 of the tower. Tickets for At The Top are available online and also from the reception at the lower ground level of The Dubai Mall, located within the building.
Jumeirah Beach is the famous beach resort area about 15 kilometers south of the center of Dubai. The Burj al Arab is located here, as well as the Jumeirah Beach hotel and the waterpark ‘Wild Wadi’. There is also the Jumeirah Mosque, one of only a few mosques which are open for non-Islamic tourists, which has regular morning tours. In 2009, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was held here as well.
Other sights and activities
Ajman and Sharjah – ‘budget’ places and much quieter
Abu Dhabi – the capital, much less visited but still modern
Ferrari World is a newly opened theme park just outside Abu Dhabi. It is the world’s largest indoor theme park and claims the world’s fastest roller-coaster ride. Naturally enough the cars on this roller-coaster are Ferraris.
- TravellersPoint on the United Arab Emirates