The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Fujairah. Situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Southwest Asia on the Persian Gulf, the UAE borders Oman and Saudi Arabia and shares sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran.
The UAE’s official language is Arabic however English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce. Islam serves as the official religion in the country but practice of all religious beliefs is allowed. The currency used is Emirati Dirham (Dh or AED) wherein US$ 1 = AED 3.6725.
Emirates of the UAE
Tagged as the tourism and commercial capital of the Arabian Gulf states, Dubai is a fusion between East and West as it combines ancient heritage with modern living. Within Dubai’s vibrant and multi-cultural city, traditional wind towers stand proudly alongside towering skyscrapers and spectacular beach resorts.
One of the seven emirates of the UAE, Dubai with its open business policies, is luring the world’s corporate giants to its shores. With a GDP in excess of AED 140 million, one of the fastest growing populations in the world, and over 15 million tourists expected to visit annually by 2010, Dubai is a city of expanding horizons.
Boasting with some of the world’s most iconic projects and structures, Dubai, a beacon of excellence, demonstrates what can be achieved with vision and determination. With its world-class infrastructure with state-of-the-art telecommunications, emerging financial markets, dedicated sector-specific environments, international schools and modern healthcare facilities, the city also offers superior shopping, extensive leisure facilities, luxurious accommodation and fine cuisine to create the quintessential Dubai lifestyle.
One of the most modern cities in the world, Abu Dhabi is the center of government and business life in the UAE where headquarters of the emirates oil operating companies and embassies of other countries are located. The city’s oil wealth has been wisely utilized to encourage a healthy trade and commerce atmosphere apart from oil industries too. The architecture of its modern buildings and skyscrapers is among the finest in the Middle-East. Large gardens and parks, green boulevards lining all the streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, state-of-the-art communication services and transport, the presence of all the international luxury hotel chains, rich shopping malls, cultural centers and events offers Abu Dhabi tourists a one-of-a-kind experience all year round.
The Cultural Capital of the Arab World, Sharjah is among the emirates of the UAE and home to more than 20 museums with splendid collections of artifacts and art as well as exhibits on science and natural history. Sharjah, a city of learning and the arts, serves as host to many cultural festivals, educational conferences, fairs and economic expositions.
Located in the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah is the only emirate to have coastal land on both the Arabian Gulf (or Persian Gulf) and the Gulf of Oman, which is outside the Straits of Hormuz, on the Indian Ocean.
The smallest of all the established emirates of the UAE, Ajman comprises the two jurisdictions of Masfout and Manama, situated to the north of the Masafi-Dhaid main artery. Although small in comparison to other emirates land areas, Ajman encompasses some interesting attractions and sites for tourists, one of which is the long expanse of powdery white sand beach, stretching for almost 20 miles and situated along the Persian Gulf Coast.
Essentially a port city great for shopping and dining, the tiny city of Ajman maintains a certain charm the other emirates lack, mostly due to its small size which creates a more intimate feel than many of the large, bustling cities. Ajman also features a handful of interesting attractions such as the naturally formed creek diffusing the inland and remains a major focal point in the city. A section of the city called Masfout is an important agricultural area providing much of the local products found throughout the region. Noted for its vibrant marble, Masfout is bordered by the Hajar Mountains creating a picturesque backdrop.
Umm Al Quwain
Umm-al-Quwain is the fastest growing spot for extreme sports. The scream of people as they jump off their planes can be heard in the air, the smell of burnt rubber looms over the area and the booming sound of shotguns fired into the air awakens people from their dreamy state.
Bestowed with abundant natural beauty, Umm Al Quwain enjoys the lush, coastal mangroves, sweeping sand dunes and the inland oasis.
Situated between Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah on the West coast, Umm Al Quwain’s attraction lies in its long clean beaches, an enclosed lagoon and public horse riding stables. Seneyah Island, one kilometre away from the town of Umm Al Quwain, is a natural reserve for a large species of birds, deer and Al Qaram trees.
Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK as it is commonly abbreviated,is located at the north end of the coast of the Arabian Gulf and is nestled between the Hajjar Mountains on the East and the Arabian Gulf on the West and shares mountainous borders with the Sultanate of Oman.
Described as the most scenic of the emirates because of its great variation in landscapes: coastal, agricultural, desert, and mountain, Ras Al Khaimah is rapidly reinventing itself as the Middle East’s best tourism hub. The majestic Hajjar mountains scraping the clouds at 1900 meters, the lovely Musandam peninsula, calm blue seas with clean white beaches stretching over 40 Kms, dramatic desert dunes, timeless cultural legacies and the special warmth of Arab hospitality.
Located on the easternmost part of the UAE, Fujairah is the only emirate not to have a coastline along the Persian Gulf. Considered to be the youngest among other emirates, Fujairah only became independent from Sharjah from the year 1952.
A business destination and a popular starting point to explore tourist attractions along the east coast, Fujairah is surrounded with picturesque mountainous scenery and the clear Arabian Sea. An ideal location for fishing and diving activities, Fujairah is loaded with water-sport facilities and is popular with Power boat racing. The annual Power Boat Racing World Championship is held in this region in October.