United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a young country established in December 1971 representing a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and, later in 1972, Ras Al Khaimah.
Capital of the country is Abu Dhabi, its population is over 1.5 million people. Only 20% of the UAE population make Emirati citizens, the rest are citizens of other Middle East countries, India and Southeast Asia.
- Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi houses federal government offices, is the seat of the United Arab Emirates Government, home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family and the President of the UAE, who is from this family.
Being in Abu Dhabi, you may wish to see International Petroleum Exhibition, enjoy visiting the first UAE president HH Sheikh Zayed, take walk to a picturesque quay, Heritage village and old city souk.
One of the main tourist attractions is a complex of six sculpture symbols of the Arabic world, carved in snow-white stone (cannon, watchtower, food cover, teapot, vessel for rose water and a cup to perfume with a censer). Some sculptures are framed with fountains, and the Square itself is a vehicle-free sector. This is ideal place for families with children.
- This reconstructed village gives an insight into pre-oil life in the UAE – a life that is still in evidence in many parts of the Arabian Peninsula to this day. The walled complex includes all the main elements of traditional Gulf life: a fort to repel invaders from the sea, a souq to trade goats for dates with friendly neighbors, and a mosque as a reminder of the central part that Islam plays in daily Arab life.
The village is located at Mussafah Road behind Exhibition Center. It is open daily from 08:30 a.m. till 05:00 p.m. Entrance is free of charge. The best time to visit it is Friday: souk of souvenirs and sweets is open at that time, besides you may wish to watch live entertainment.
- The oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi, this small fort was first constructed in 1761 and served as the royal palace from the late 18th century until 1966. The site is currently surrounded by boards, and the building itself is not open to the public.
It is located at the corner of Al Nasr street and Khalid Bin Al Waleed street.
- Capital Garden. You can’t miss the oversized coffee pots at the entrance to this 5.6-hectare park, which is the same size as the Central Market. Leafy and green, there’s plenty of shade for joggers or people wanting to sit on a bench and read. Several swing sets are dotted around the park but the main kids’ playground is on the left of the entrance, near the mosque. As well as a mini climbing wall, it has slides and a climbing frame. The pond in the middle of the park erupts periodically with fountains, making it a pleasant place to sit. Corniche. Abu Dhabi’s spectacular waterfront stretches for miles from the Breakwater near Marina Shopping Mall almost up to the Mina Zayed port. It has a walkway for the entire length, and certain stretches have sandy beaches. There are also many activities like go-cart riding, playgrounds and even stages for shows. All this against a backdrop of the impressive towers of downtown Abu Dhabi. Come in the evening and you feel as if the whole of Abu Dhabi have come here for their evening walk. Al Khalidiyah Park. Tots will enjoy the shaded playground and, at the far end of the grounds, next to Sinbad Cafe, there’s a fun fair with games machines, trampolines and vending machines. The park is a good option for joggers as it’s on a slight hill and takes 20 minutes just to stroll a circuit – but considering its size, toilets are few and far between. Even though you can hear the road, the trees are often in bloom and attract birds, making it a peaceful spot to while away the hours. There are no barbecue facilities, but you can picnic by the fountain under the trees.
- Most of the 5-star hotels admit outside guests to visit their beaches for AED 80-200. Besides, there are several public beach with entrance for vehicles too. Al Raha public beach located next to Umm Al Nar square has a separate area for ladies; and a small cafe lets you satisfy your thirst or hunder.
If you like adventures, keep in mind that over 200 islands of various size and livability stretch along the Emirate’s shore. You may wish to rent a boat in a beach club of any beach resort (but it is safer to rent it with a local sea driver).
Draw your attention to Al Lulu Island, man-made island that stretches from the Abu Dhabi Breakwater to the Zayed Sea Port. There are now plans to dramatically redevelop the island, these plans include the construction of a new permanent bridge connecting the island to the mainland, as well as a 400 metres landmark tower known as Lulu Tower.
Arabic for “Happiness Island”, Saadiyat Island is a large, low lying island 500 metres off the Coast of Abu Dhabi Island. It is expected to become Abu Dhabi’s cultural centre and shall accommodate Louvre museum, as well as a Guggenheim Abu Dhabi by Frank Gehry, the Sheikh Zayed National Museum by Foster + Partners, and a Performing Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid. The cultural district also includes an office park and commercial areas, and residential areas and hotels.
Al Futaisi is an island about eight kilometres southwest of Abu Dhabi with a size of approximately 50 sq.km. The largest part of the island is covered by a wildlife sanctuary, but also a resort for ecotourism was built on Futaisi. The discovery of old wells, an ancient mosque and a graveyard showed that the original settlement of Futaisi dates back several hundred years. Although the island does currently not have any fresh water, it supports a diverse flora and fauna with Dugong, Osprey, lizards (Uromastyx) and Gazelles.
Sir Bani Yas is a natural island located 170 km southwest of Abu Dhabi. Sir Bani Yas is 17.5 km from north to south and 9 km from east to west, making it the largest natural island in the United Arab Emirates. Located just off the shore of the Western region of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas island was originally home to Arabia’s largest wildlife reserve. Spanning over 87 sq.km., the reserve was established in 1977 by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Thanks to decades of conservation work and ecological investment, it is now home to thousands of large free-roaming animals and several million trees and plants. A bird sanctuary as well as a wildlife reserve, Sir Bani Yas showcases nature through activities such as adventure safaris, kayaking, mountain biking, archery, hiking and snorkeling.
- Dubai is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is one of the seven emirates that make up the country. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the only two emirates to have veto power over critical matters of national importance in the country’s legislature.
Dubai has emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East. The emirate’s Western-style model of business drives its economy with the main revenues now coming from tourism, aviation, real estate, and financial services. Dubai has recently attracted world attention through many innovative large construction projects and sports events. The city has become symbolic for its skyscrapers and high-rise buildings, in particular the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.
It is a world-class destination and the magnificent place at Downtown Dubai. The tower was inspired by the harmonious structure of the desert flower named as Hymenocallis. This was constructed with international collaboration of more than 30 contracting companies around the world with more than 100 nationalities of workers. It is indeed considered a global building icon.
- Jumeirah is a coastal residential area of Dubai, mainly comprising low rise private dwellings. It has both expensive and large detached properties as well as more modest town houses built in a variety of architectural styles. Jumeirah is one of the most expensive and exclusive areas in Dubai to live in. Remarkable landmarks of Jumeirah are Wild Wadi Water Park, yacht club, Jumeirah Mosque, luxurious 5-star hotels (Jumeirah Beach hotel, Madinat Jumeirah complex, Burj Al Arab) and The Palm Jumeirah (artificial archipelago).
- Deira has been the commercial center of Dubai, but has been losing its importance during the past few years due to recent development further down the coast toward Abu Dhabi. One of the oldest parts of Deira is called Al Daghaya, where you may find Gold Souk, bus station, Nasser Square with numerous shops and Fish Market.
Al Rigga is a residential and commercial centre of Deira. It is one of the most popular streets in Dubai, featuring Al Ghurair shopping mall, Clock Tower, top branded boutiques, cafes and snack bars.
- Bur Dubai is a historic district in Dubai, located on the western side of the Dubai Creek. The name literally translates to “Mainland Dubai”, a reference to the traditional separation of the Bur Dubai area from Deira by the Dubai Creek. This is because Bur Dubai historically consisted of all districts between the western bank of the Creek and Jumeirah. The Ruler’s Court is located in the district adjacent to the Grand Mosque.
The district is home to several mosques including the Grand Mosque with the city’s tallest minaret, and the blue tiled Iranian Mosque. The country’s only Hindu temple is situated between the Grand Mosque and the Creek.
It is home to several popular places for tourists including renovated historic buildings and museums. The district is full of shopping streets and souks, including the textile souk near the abra boat station, though most of the well known souks are located in Deira.
Bur Dubai is famous for its Creek Park (280 types of plants on over 96 hectares), Karama shopping area and historic district Al Bastakiya with its museums and Diwan, Dubai Ruler’s Court.
- The Grand Mosque Dubai is counted among one of the largest mosques (with a capacity to accommodate up to 1200 worshipers) in the UAE. Originally constructed in traditional Islamic architectural style and opened in 1900 A.D as a kuttab (Quranic school) where children learnt to recite the Quran from memory, the Grand Mosque of Dubai was rebuilt (maintaining the style of the original Grand Mosque) in 1998 and now boasts a 70 meters (231 ft) high minaret – the tallest minaret in Dubai.
Situated on the Bur Dubai side of the creek, near the Ruler’s Court, the Grand Mosque consists of 45 small domes in addition to 9 large ones boasting stained glass panels, sand-colored walls and wooden shutters. It is the main center of worship and important monument of Dubai.
The Grand Mosque of Dubai is done up in Persian style as it contains blue mosaic type work, domes and sand hued facades. The mosque also contains handmade stained glass and wooden structures. The Grand Mosque, Bur Dubai is a recreation of the original Grand Mosque of the 1900s. Visiting the Grand Mosque and its nearby area at night time is a good idea, as the mosque is lit up brilliantly and has breathtaking views as well.
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House is a historic building and former residential quarters of Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, former ruler of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The building is located along the Dubai Creek in the locality of Al Shindagha. It was established around 1894 as the seat of the Al Maktoum family. The building is now a museum that contains artefacts and images of the old town of Dubai.
- Dubai Museum is the main museum in Dubai. It is located in the Al Fahidi Fort, built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. The museum was opened by the ruler of Dubai in 1971, with the aim of presenting the traditional way of life in the Emirate of Dubai. When entering, one can see the fort constructed and the various displays that go along with it. From the fort, there is a path to the galleries, which display the general culture of the land, especially in the 1800s. It includes local antiquities as well as artifacts from African and Asian countries that traded with Dubai. It also includes several dioramas showing life in the emirate before the advent of oil, in addition to artifacts from recent discoveries as old as 3000 BC.
In 2007, Dubai Museum welcomed 1,800 visitors daily, with a yearly total of 611,840. In March 2008, the Museum had 80,000 visitors. The most popular times are from August to April. The Museum received over 1 million visitors in the year 2013.
- The Heritage Village was created in 1997 in Al Shindagha historical neighborhood in Dubai, close to the Diving Village, to embrace the heritage events and to display a live image of the old traditional life in the UAE. It represents the components of wild, marine, and mountain life, where the visitor can identify closely the old traditional customs of the country and the special characteristics of old houses, handicrafts, patterns, and forms of living. It is owned and managed by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.
At the Heritage Village one can nibble on piping-hot dosas (paper-thin, lentil and flour pancakes) made by burka-clad women, pose with a falconer, sit on a camel or browse around touristy shops and barasti stalls.
- Sharjah is the third largest and third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. The city is a centre for culture and industry. The sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in the emirate of Sharjah without possession of an alcohol license and alcohol is not served in Sharjah hotels, restaurants or other outlets. This has helped Sharjah succeed in growing its Islamic tourism industry.
Sharjah contains the main administrative and commercial centres together with an array of cultural and traditional projects, including several museums covering areas such as archaeology, natural history, science, arts, heritage, Islamic art and culture. Distinctive landmarks include two major covered souks, reflecting Islamic design, and a number of recreational areas and public parks such as Al Montazah Fun Park and Al Buheirah Corniche. The city is also notable for its numerous elegant mosques.
- The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization holds thousands of rare and important Islamic artifacts. Here you can admire the timeless achievements of Islamic civilization and its universality, learn about aspects of Islamic faith, science, discoveries and culture, and cherish the beauty of Islamic art.
- The Sharjah Art Museum, one of the main institutions in the Art Area, was inaugurated during the 3rd Sharjah International Arts Biennial in April 1997. This museum is one of the main landmarks with a total area of 111,000 sq.m., constructed with two stories with an underground car parking facility. It is having 68 halls of various sizes: 28 halls with an area of 52-56 sq.m. and 40 halls with 41-76 sq.m.
All essential facilities are set up in the exhibition halls including special adjustable lighting arrangements to give maximum effect to the displayed art works. A total of 2000 such light units with 14-16 units in each hall were provided.
- Sharjah Archaeological Museum is a masterpiece that narrates the history of the Sharjah Emirate and the region, its civilization and cultural development, since the ancient ages of man up till now. It is a world of fascination that takes you up on a magic carpet, deep back to the primitive history of human being, where you unfold the history of human being, where you unfold the secrets of the story of man and his adaptation to environment: how he lived, what he ate, what he made, and how he innovated places for dwelling and living in.
- About 26 km east of central Sharjah towards Al-Dhaid, Sharjah Desert Park packs four venues into a 1-sq.km. package. The main attraction is the Arabian Wildlife Centre, a zoo and breeding centre showcasing the diversity of critters that call the region home.
Not only does the Wildlife Centre house the world’s largest collection of Arabian wildlife but it is also the only zoological park in the Middle East to be completely indoors. Making it perfect for a day out, regardless of the weather.
The Wildlife Centre has been devided up into various sections, each dedicated to a group of species including reptiles, invertebrates, birds, nocturnal animals, ungulates and large carnivores.
- Sharjah Heritage Museum was re-opened in the Heritage Area (Heart of Sharjah) in 2012 as part of an expansion plan to the original museum first opened in early 2003. The museum is dedicated to the distinctive customs of Sharjah. It is a source of immense pride and inspiration to the people of the United Arab Emirates and a true eye opener to the traditions of this great region to the visitors.
Discover the landscape, lifestyle, celebrations, livelihood, traditional knowledge and oral traditions of Sharjah’s rich heritage as you embark on an exceptional journey through the museum’s six distinctive galleries.
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