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United Arab Emirates Travel Blog› entry 1 of 7 › view all entries
The United Arab Emirates is a constitutional federation of seven emirates, namely Abu Dhabi (the capital), Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Qaiwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. It occupies a little over eighty three thousand square kilometers along the south-eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Emirates has become one of the world's fastest growing tourist destinations with all the right ingredients for an unforgettable holiday; sun, sand, sea, sport, shopping (the malls are extraordinarily modern, filled with virtually any product available in the West). They have first class hotels and restaurants, an intriguing traditional culture, and a safe and welcoming environment. My journey to the Emirates began with a business proposal made by the Sheikh of Dubai to my then companion Peter, the architect. During the ITB Travel Fair in Berlin, Peter was asked to construct stands for Fujairah, Dubai and Sharjah. To finalize the details he was invited to a sit down with the tourism promoters, so we planned a trip to Dubai for three weeks. We flew Kenya Airways from Mombasa to Nairobi, then to Dubai.
Abu Dhabi is the biggest of the seven Emirates and the capital as well. Dubai is the more popular tourist destination with incredibly modern infrastructure. Alcohol is available at many restaurants and bars in Dubai especially while tourist hotels are available in all emirates except Sharjah. The roads are decent and paved, but traffic is increasingly getting worse. They have international chains for consumer products other than foods, but also have chains like McDonalds and KFC.The Emirates are a Muslim federation therefore Muslims are not allowed to drink, however foreigners can purchase drinks where they are sold. I do remember that Peter had to show his ID for the purchase of alcohol, the bar tender explained it was to serve as proof that he is not a Muslim trying to purchase alcohol. It will serve you well to remember that while Dubai is more cosmopolitan and forward thinking, emirates like Sharjah and Ajman are quite religious and conservative.
The culture of open markets is prevalent in most of the emirates, they are known as souks. The souks are the best places to purchase products that cost a fortune in the West like gold and silver. The population of the Emirates is diverse, however the diversity does not affect communication since everyone speaks some form of English. There is a large population of Indians, Philippinos and Pakistanis living in Dubai.
I must advise you to check on the weather prior to travelling. The country is incredibly dry, it gets extraordinarily hot in the summer and the winters do get pretty cold too. During the hot season, many residents stay indoors where the air conditions are running full blown. The best times to travel would be October through March when the weather is pleasant with lows of 65 and highs of 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Travel is an exciting and adventurous passion, it is quite expensive but the reward outweighs the expense. If you can afford it, do it!" Africancrab