United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates Travel

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a relatively new confederation of seven separate Emirates, all of which have about 650 km of the Persian Gulf as their natural Northern border. They are encapsulated by Oman to the East, Qatar to the West and Saudi Arabia on their Southern fringes. The UAE was formed on 02 December 1971, when the states of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain and Fujairah signed a treaty binding themselves into a single Arab confederation. Ras al-Khaimah joined the UAE in early 1972.

UAE Tour

The once camel-bound desert communities rose rapidly into formal Emirates when oil was discovered below their feet. The Emirates started to flourish and with the withdrawal of the British, the UAE, as we know it now, climbed onto the world stage. It has the world’s sixth largest oil reserves and is among the most developed economies in the Middle East. It has per capita GDP of $46,584 and ranks fourteenth in per capita purchasing power. Dubai is presently under the cloud of bankruptcy, given the profligate habits of its Arab rulers and citizens, but is being bailed out by fellow members.

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Dubai notwithstanding, the UAE is one a rapidly growing tourist destination, providing all that is required for a holiday, a mix of the sun, sand and the sea, low cost shopping, superb hotels and restaurants, etc. However, the holiday package is on the expensive side, as travel by taxis, food, hotels and entertainment are all priced steeply. The ideal visit period is October-May, as the unbearable summer temperatures of June-September (45-48ºC) start to drop in October, though the temperature may still be high (up to 35C) for those unaccustomed to it. But then, almost everything is air conditioned.

flickr iamge by Leandro’s World Tour

The tourist season begins hereabouts and the months of November to April are very pleasant. It often rains between December and March, but these are sharp showers of short duration. The world renowned Dubai Shopping Festival is the biggest draw for tourists, running from mid December up to February. This extravaganza moves to the UAE’s second largest city after Dubai, Abu Dhabi, through March. The UAE also hosts a number of global events, like Tennis, motor rallies, horse racing, etc. Pork is banned, while limitations are in place on alcoholic drinks. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan is best avoided.

Travel into the Emirates is easy, whether by air or sea. Travel within the UAE can cost a bit. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ra’s al-Khaimah, Al Ain and Fujairah are the six international airports, with a seventh coming up in Dubai. Dubai also boasts of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, a towering destination and the grandiloquent centrepiece of Dubai. Australians and New Zealanders do not need visas. The UAE is best known for its duty free shops and there is little by way of sightseeing. There are, however, daily sightseeing tours for the adventurous.

The UAE has an area of around 77,700 sq km. Of this area, 67,340 sq km belongs to Abu Dhabi. Ajman, the smallest Emirate has an area of 259 sq km. UAE’s population showed that, in 2009, there were only 1.2 Emiratis. The rest were from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, China, Iran and the Philippines, with Europeans or Americans contributing about 500,000 to the total. The favoured diet of the Emiratis is rice, breads, fish and meat, with beef being least popular. Food is washed down with very sweet tea.

The UAE currency is the Dirham. The exchange rate is 1 US Dollar = 3.7 UAE Dirhams
UAE time is UTC + 4 hours.

Date posted: 14th August, 2018

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