United Arab Emirates Overview
The entry point to the Middle East, at least from a safe and touristy standpoint, the United Arab Emirates stands apart from the rest of the Middle East as one of the most Western—and thus most approachable—of the countries in the region. Still teeming with a rich and vast Arabic and Muslim history dating back thousands of years, this country is nevertheless a modern hub of old blended in with the new. A mixture that has been described by some as resembling a “Disneyland” of Muslim and Arabic culture and traditions, allowing the Western viewer to make their way through like some huge amusement park of traditional Arabic ways of life, the United Arab Emirates is a perfect way for the first-time visitor to the Middle East to experience a taste of this part of the world in an absolutely safe environment.
Perhaps the most logical starting point for visitors is Dubai, officially called Abu Dhabi. It is the largest city in the United Arab Emirates, and also one of the most luxurious, modern, and excessive places on the planet. It is also one of the most heavily developed cities on the planet, which mirrors the rest of the UAE. While there are vast stretches of beaches along the coast, the waters are not as clear as they once were, due to all of the construction going along the coasts, but they are still some of the best in the region, and definitely worth visiting. Although, women should be warned that bathing suits will cause undue attention at the beaches due to the Muslim nature of the community, so it’s best to get a day pass to a private beach at your resort if you don’t feel like dealing with people staring.
Shopping is probably that which makes the UAE so different than the rest of the Middle East. There is no sales tax on anything, although inflation has gone rampant in recent years. Accommodations and transportation are extremely modern, making this country very easy to access for all levels of travelers.