What to see in the United Arab Emirates: cities and attractions not to be missed

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

The United Arab Emirates, made up of 7 Emirates, of which the most famous are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, until the discovery of oil was a poor country and in constant conflict.
With black gold, however, this state has grown enormously rich and today appears as a modern and very luxurious place. Although it has no particular historical attractions and is for the most part a desert territory, what you see in the centers are state-of-the-art facilities equipped with every comfort.
If you are thinking of organizing a trip, here it is what to see in the United Arab Emirates, cities and attractions not to be missed!


  1. Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
  2. The Corniche in Abu Dhabi
  3. Etihad Towers Observatory in Abu Dhabi
  4. Burj Khalifa in Dubai
  5. Burj al Arab in Dubai
  6. Sharjah
  7. Al Ain
  8. Yas Island
  9. Desert
  10. Fujairah
  11. Ajman
  12. Hatta Village
  13. User questions and comments

1 - Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

Considered a wonder of the modern world the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi and is a place of extreme beauty.

Built in 2007 by the then President and Ruler, stands out for its white marble from Macedonia used to clad the exterior and minarets. Characterized by 82 sinuous domes, Italian-made mosaics, the mosque boasts the largest carpet in the world and sparkling chandeliers of Swarosvski crystals.
A tip, visit it when the sun is about to set, you will be struck by the beautiful colors that are created!
The Mosque is open every day from 9:00 to 22:00, on Fridays from 16:30 to 22:00 and the entrance and guided tours are free.

2 - The Corniche in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is an avant-garde city, very rich and modern that has a beautiful seafront: The Corniche.

This 8-kilometer-long seaside promenade is dotted with children's playgrounds, cycling areas, walking paths, clubs and one of the cleanest and safest beaches in the country, characterized by fine white sand and a very clean sea.
The beach is divided into public and private and paid areas. Small curiosity: there is a section dedicated exclusively to single women (but not one to single men)!

3 - Etihad Towers Observatory in Abu Dhabi

The Etihad Towers are 5 towers located in the center of Abu Dhabi, built between 2006 and 2011 and characterized by fine finishes and architectural richness. There number 1 houses one of the most luxurious hotels in the city, while inside 2, 4 and 5 there are apartments and in 3 there are offices.

In the tower where the luxurious hotel is located, al 74th floor there is also an observation point from which you can enjoy a splendid panorama on Abu Dhabi and the Persian Gulf. The observatory is open Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00. Admission costs 95 DHS (around € 23,30) and includes a 55 DHS drink voucher (around € 13,50).

4 - Burj Khalifa in Dubai

Opened in 2010 the Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world, designed by an American architectural firm. 829 meters high, it has a shape that it refers to Islamic architecture because it looks like a spiral minaret, while its Y-shaped plant resembles the Hymenocallis flower.

Inside there are offices, shops, apartments and hotels and al On the 124th, 125th and 148th floors there are terraces from which to admire all of Dubai with the naked eye or with the electronic telescopic. It is open from Sunday to Thursday from 8:00 to 23:00, from Friday to Saturday from 5:30 to 23:30, also giving the possibility to see the sunrise. Admission costs 134 DHS (approximately € 30,00).

5 - Burj al Arab in Dubai

Burj Al Arab is the Dubai's famous sail-shaped skyscraper which houses a luxury hotel and a few restaurants, the most famous one is surrounded by an aquarium.

Inside the structure dancing fountains, refined shops, restaurants with different culinary proposals, wellness centers from the Thousand and One Nights, while outside there is a nice private beach with several swimming pools and a beautiful sea where you can swim and relax.
It is possible to visit it and the cheaper solution is to book an afternoon tea or a guided tour. Prices start from € 80,00 with drink.

6 - Sharjah

In this location north of Dubai you can still breathe aauthentic atmosphere thanks to the narrow streets, ancient buildings and fewer tourists. Here, in addition to the modern buildings, it is possible to get in touch with the ancient traditions of the country by visiting the Sharjah Art Museum and the Sharja Museum of Islamic Civilization.

In the Sharjah Art Museum, open from Saturday to Thursday from 8:00 to 20:00 and on Fridays from 16:00 to 20:00 with free admission, there is alarge collection of Arab artistic works and European masterpieces that portray the Arab world. In the Sharja Museum of Islamic Civilization, however, it is possible deepen Islamic history and culture through manuscripts and religious documents and is always open from Saturday to Thursday from 8:00 to 20:00 and on Fridays from 16:00 to 20:00. Entry here costs 10 DHS (approximately € 2,45).

7 - Al Ain

This locality, belonging to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is just under 2 hours drive from the capital.

Al Ain is a 'frontier oasis surrounded by the desert which has kept its traditions far from the modernity of other emirates. The Camel Market, the Al Jahili Fort and the Al Ain National Museum, which allows you to retrace the history of this place, must be seen. Only 15 kilometers then you will find the highest mountain in the UAE, Mount Jebel Hafeet, from whose top of 1.200 meters you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the desert.

8 - Yas Island

This man-made island just 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi is famous for being the home of the Yas Marina circuit where the Formula 1 Grand Prix is ​​held.
E' possible to visit the track even when there are no races and every Tuesday from 18:00 you can enter for free and you can walk, run, ride

But Yas Island is not only this, in fact it also hosts a large water park, a golf course and a beautiful beach where to swim and relax.

9 - Desert

The territory of the United Arab Emirates is mostly desert and you cannot come to this country and not see the immense expanses of sand and dunes that characterize it.
From major cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi they come organized tours aboard a 4x4, quod or riding a camel that allow you to immerse yourself in this suggestive landscape. But you will also find tours that offer a sunrise balloon ride or a helicopter ride over the dunes.

We suggest you take part in the excursions in the late afternoon so you can also enjoy a magical dinner at sunset in a Bedouin camp or you could even think about spending a night under the stars in the desert ... an experience not to be missed!

10 - Fujairah

Less famous and less touristic than Dubai and the capital of the Emirates, Fujairah is the capital of the homonymous emirate overlooking the Gulf of Oman.
It stands out for its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful landscapes between desert and sea.

To see the small Al Bidya Mosque, the oldest of the United Arab Emirates, 35 kilometers from the city, while in the center you cannot miss the Fortress which dates back to 1600. A few hundred from the coast, then, there is Snoopy Island, a small dog-shaped islet frequented by divers and snorkelers thanks to its depths rich in fish and corals.

11 - Ajman

The town of Ajman, belonging to the smaller Emirate, is one exclusive luxury destination characterized by skyscrapers, luxurious hotels and huge shopping centers. It overlooks the Persian Gulf and has a beautiful white beach fringed with palm trees washed by a crystal clear sea.

Precisely because of its exclusivity this place is a lot quiet and ideal for those who want to relax, play golf and attend Spa. Worthy of note is the Ajman Museum inside a fortress where various manuscripts, ancient weapons and artifacts from the past are exhibited. It is open from Saturday to Thursday from 8:00 to 20:00 and admission costs 5,25 DHS (approximately € 1,28).

12 - Hatta Village

If you want to find out one of the oldest villages in the United Arab Emirates you cannot miss Hatta, in the mountainous region of the same name in the Emirate of Dubai.

You will feel like take a step back in time among traditional houses, shops and farms that inside they house small museums that exhibit typical objects. In this blast from the past, however, they are not lacking buildings that have been completely rebuilt like the two control towers, the mosque and the fortress.

Travel informed: useful information

  • Inhabitants: 9.701.315
  • Capital: Abu Dhabi
  • Languages: Arabic and English
  • Local currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham (DHS) / € 1,00 = 4,09 DHS
  • Weather: arid subtropical, with mild winters and hot summers; temperatures in winter are around 15 ° / 28 ° and in summer 28 ° / 45 °; there is a strong temperature excursion and the humidity rate in summer can reach 90%
  • Time zone: + 3h compared to Italy, + 2h when summer time is in force in Italy
  • Travel / health insurance: recommended.

    Where it is

    The United Arab Emirates is located in the southwestern part of Asia, in the Arabian Peninsula, and are washed to the north by the Persian Gulf and to the north east by the Gulf of Oman.
    To the west and south they border with Saudi Arabia, to the east with Oman and in the northwestern extremity with Qatar.

    Security, visa and necessary documents

    • Entry requirements: passport with residual validity of 6 months; from 7 May 2015 it is no longer mandatory to apply for the UAE visa for short stay, i.e. up to 90 days, in favor of EU citizens
    • vaccinations: no vaccination required
    • Restrictions: material (newspapers, books, etc.) that could be offensive according to the parameters of the Islamic religion, pornographic material and pirated material; you can import up to 2000 cigarettes, up to 400 cigars, up to 2 kg tobacco, up to 2 liters of liqueur or wine
    • Safety: the country is safe and currently no problems are reported; it is always advisable to keep a respectful behavior of the community and to rely on organized tours to visit areas such as the desert; to stay up to date, visit the Farnesina website
    • Useful Tips: women must have clothing appropriate to the country, avoid skirts and shorts on the street and skimpy clothes; adopt behaviors and attires that respect the religion and local customs; be careful in the consumption of alcoholic beverages, which is allowed in clubs and not on the street

    Tours and excursions in the United Arab Emirates

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