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UAE Travel Guide Blog
United Arab emirates abbreviated as UAE is an absolute monarchy sovereign state in western Asia. The UAE is home to a population of 9.2 million people. This country is a federation of seven emirates and was established on december 2 1971. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by an absolute monarch; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council.
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Of these seven emirates, Dubai gets the most attention due to its glittering beaches and futuristic malls. Dubai has become a scintillating hub of the Gulf – a stopover which has become an iconic and fun destination in the world.
History of UAE :
The land of the Emirates has been occupied for thousands of years.
The harsh desert environment led to the emergence of the “versatile tribesman”, nomadic groups who subsisted due to a variety of economic activities, including animal husbandry, agriculture and hunting. The seasonal movements of these groups led to not only frequent clashes between groups but also the establishment of seasonal and semi-seasonal settlements and centres. These formed tribal groupings whose names are still carried by modern Emiratis.
By the 16th century parts of UAE was under the influence of the Ottoman empire and by the 17th century British, Dutch and Portuguese imperial forces appeared. During the 19th and the 20th century pearling industry was bringing in income for the people of UAE. The first world war had a huge impact on the economy.
The British set up a development office that helped in some small developments in the emirates. The seven sheikhs of the emirates then decided to form a council to coordinate matters between them and took over the development office. In 1952, they formed the Trucial States Council. Oil was found in 1958, and its export began in 1962.
By 1966, it had become clear that the British government could no longer afford for the administration of the UAE. The nine emirate; including kuwait and Bahrain were granted independence on December 1 1971. The seven emirate sultans joined together and formed the federal national council. Abu Dhabi was then made into the capital of UAE.
Geography and the landscape of UAE :
The United Arab Emirates is situated in Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Oman and Saudi Arabia; it is in a strategic location slightly south of the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil.
It shares a 530-kilometre border with Saudi Arabia on the west, south, and southeast, and a 450-kilometre border with Oman on the southeast and northeast. The land border with Qatar in the Khawr al Udayd area is about nineteen kilometres in the northwest.
The UAE coast stretches for more than 650 km along the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. Most of the coast consists of salt pans that extend far inland. The largest natural harbor is at Dubai, although other ports have been dredged at Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and elsewhere.
Climate of UAE :
The climate of the UAE is subtropical-arid with hot summers and warm winters. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 45 °C on the coastal plain. In the Al Hajar Mountains, temperatures are considerably lower, a result of increased elevation. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 °C. During the late summer months, a humid southeastern wind known as Sharqi makes the coastal region especially unpleasant.
The average annual rainfall in the coastal area is less than 120 millimeters, but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 millimeters. Rain in the coastal region falls in short, torrential bursts during the summer months, sometimes resulting in floods in ordinarily dry wadi beds. The region is prone to occasional, violent dust storms, which can severely reduce visibility.
How to reach UAE :
By air :
UAE has a huge international airport in Dubai. Apart from that it also has international airports in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. Almost all the flights heading to western countries make a stopover in Dubai international airport. There is no dearth of activity in Dubai airport. All major airlines and most budget airlines offer flights to Dubai.
All major cities have flights flying to Dubai and to other cities in the UAE. Oman air, Jet airways, Air India and Kuwait airways are some of the airlines that offers budget flights to UAE.
Air travel is the fastest and the best way to travel to UAE.
Major tourist cities of UAE :
The United Arab Emirates is gradually increasing its tourism base and further boosting its economy. The most prominent tourist cities of UAE are :
- Abu Dhabi
Each of these cities individually manage to draw thousands of tourists.
Dubai is the most populous and the largest city in the UAE. It is located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf and is the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the country.
Dubai emerged as a global city and business hub of the Middle East. It is also a major transport hub for passengers and cargo. Dubai is the 22nd most expensive country in the world. The hotel rooms of Dubai were rated as the second most expensive next only to Geneva. Dubai has been rated as the best place to live in the middle east.
History of Dubai :
Dubai is thought to have been established as a fishing village in the early 18th century and was, by 1822, a town of some 7–800 members of the Baniyas tribe and subject to the rule of Sheikh Tahnoon of Abu Dhabi. In 1833, following tribal feuding, members of the Al Bu Falasah tribe seceded from Abu Dhabi and established themselves in Dubai.
Dubai’s geographical proximity to Iran made it an important trade location. The town of Dubai was an important port of call for foreign tradesmen, chiefly those from Iran, many of whom eventually settled in the town. By the beginning of the 20th century, it was an important port.
Oil was discovered in the waters of Dubai and this caused an influx of foreign workers to come and settle in the country. Thus the population of the city grew by over 300 percent. The modernization of Dubai was undertaken by the Sheik of Dubai and the infrastructure in the city grew.
Dubai along with the other emirates formed the UAE and Dubai became one of the most important cities of the middle east. Dubai focuses on oil trade and tourism and it pumps a lot of revenue gained from oil trade into its infrastructure.
Geography of Dubai :
Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level. The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north). The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the emirate.
Dubai lies directly within the Arabian Desert. However, the topography of Dubai is significantly different from that of the southern portion of the UAE in that much of Dubai’s landscape is highlighted by sandy desert patterns, while gravel deserts dominate much of the southern region of the country. The sand consists mostly of crushed shell and coral and is fine, clean and white. East of the city, the salt-crusted coastal plains, known as sabkha, give way to a north-south running line of dunes. Farther east, the dunes grow larger and are tinged red with iron oxide.
The flat sandy desert gives way to the Western Hajar Mountains, which run alongside Dubai’s border with Oman at Hatta. The Western Hajar chain has an arid, jagged and shattered landscape, whose mountains rise to about 1,300 metres in some places. Dubai has no natural river bodies or oases; however, Dubai does have a natural inlet, Dubai Creek, which has been dredged to make it deep enough for large vessels to pass through. Dubai also has multiple gorges and waterholes, which dot the base of the Western Al Hajar mountains.
Climate of Dubai :
Dubai has a hot desert climate. Summers in Dubai are extremely hot, windy, and humid, with an average high around 41 °C and overnight lows around 30 °C in the hottest month, August. Most days are sunny throughout the year. Winters are warm with an average high of 24 °C and overnight lows of 14 °C in January, the coldest month.
Precipitation, however, has been increasing in the last few decades, with accumulated rain reaching 94.3 millimeters per year. Dubai summers are also known for the very high humidity level, which can make it very uncomfortable for many with exceptionally high dew points in summer. The highest recorded temperature in the UAE is 52.1 °C, reached in July 2002.
How to reach Dubai :
By air :
Dubai is world famous for its international airport. Dubai’s airport is one of the biggest airports in the world. Almost all the flights heading to western countries make a stopover in Dubai international airport. There is no dearth of activity in Dubai airport. All major airlines and most budget airlines offer flights to Dubai.
Almost all major cities in India offer flights to Dubai. Oman air, Jet airways, Air India and Kuwait airways are some of the airlines that offers budget flights to Dubai.
Things to see and to do in Dubai :
View the top of the city from Burj Khalifa :
Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. It is a spired 828-meter skyscraper with a viewing deck, restaurant, hotel and offices and a 11-hectare park.
Explore the palm Jumeirah :
The tree-shaped Palm Jumeirah island is known for glitzy hotels, posh apartment towers and upmarket global restaurants. Food trucks offering snacks like shawarma dot the Palm Jumeirah Boardwalk, popular for its views of the Dubai coastline and the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel. Beach clubs with spas and infinity pools turn into boisterous nightclubs with live DJs in the evening.
Visit the Dubai Mall :
Huge shopping and leisure centre, with department stores, plus an ice rink, aquarium and a cinema are some of the things that are housed within the Dubai mall. The Dubai Mall is a shopping mall in Dubai and the largest mall in the world by total area.
Visit the Dubai creek :
Dubai Creek is a saltwater creek located in Dubai. Previously it extended to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary but as part of the new Dubai canal it extends through to the Persian Gulf. The Creek divides the city into two main sections: Deira and Bur Dubai.
Explore the World Island :
The World or The World Islands is an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located in the waters of the Persian Gulf, 4.0 kilometres off the coast of Dubai. Explore the miniature world and build knowledge on the real world. Win-win.
Food in Dubai :
Dubai cuisine is inspired by Asian and middle eastern cuisines. There is not just one style of food; but a whole plethora of styles of food. Since Dubai is inspired by Asian and middle eastern cuisine, the food is generally spicy as these cuisines use a lot of chillies in their cooking.
Dubai also has delicious street food. SInce Dubai is a cultural hub which has an influx of immigrant workers; who have brought their own cuisine. Street food has become immensely popular for such people and street food has evolved.
As Dubai is a muslim country, pork is banned. So, you will find no shop that will be selling pork meat or a pork meat based dish. Try Shawarma; an authentic emirati dish. In this meat is served in a wrap and it is considered as fast food in Dubai.
Here is a list of restaurants that offers the most authentic emirati foods :
- Al Dawar
- Marina social
- Hakkasan Dubai
- Ruya Dubai
- Ramusake dubai
Where to shop and what to buy in Dubai?
Dubai has become synonymous with shopping. Being tax-free has made it as a magnet for both local and foreign and also for bargain hunters. Dubai’s administration has also become pulled out all the stops to ensure the best experience to all the shoppers. Haggle your way through the best shopping places to find a good bargain.
Dubai mall :
It is the largest mall in the world. It is home to over 1,200 shops, 120 cafes and restaurants, 22 cinema screens, a luxury hotel and world-class entertainment areas.
Mall of the Emirates :
Mall of the Emirates is designed to offer its patrons a fun and a relaxing shopping experience. Experience a 85-meter high manmade mountain snow mountain in the desert city of Dubai.
Wafi mall :
Stepping in the wafi mall is like entering a pyramid of artworks that are exquisitely beautiful. At wafi mall, everything is beautiful, from the stained glass ceiling, creative sculptures and even the detailed staircase railing.
Global village :
Global village is basically the gathering of all the products around the world in one place. It is akin to global expo where exhibitors from all around the globe gather to sell their products. It is the perfect shopping environment for those who wish to buy products from countries across the world.
Karama shopping complex :
Head over to Karama shopping complex to buy souvenirs. Haggle your way through the vendors and lower the price of your purchase. The addition of 24 murals around the complex gives Karama shopping complex an artsy feel and it added to a major draw to the complex.
Bur Dubai Souk :
It can be defined as a tapestry of colors and quality fabrics. Aside from buying textiles, patrons can also buy affordable souvenirs at this marketplace.
Abu Dhabi :
Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second most populous city in the United Arab Emirates. It is also the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates. It lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the persian gulf.
Abu Dhabi’s rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed the city into a large and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the country’s centre of political and industrial activities, and a major cultural and commercial centre, due to its position as the capital. Abu Dhabi accounts for about two-thirds of the roughly $400-billion United Arab Emirates economy.
History of Abu Dhabi :
Abu Dhabi is full of archaeological evidence that points to civilizations from as early as the third millenium BCE. The meaning of the word Abu Dhabi is “Father of the gazelle” when literally translated from Arabic.
Abu Dhabi was originally a part of the pearl industry having traded with others. The Persian gulf was very famous for the quality of the pearls it exported to other countries via trade. In the 19th century countless number of treaties between the great Britain and the sheikhs of the Arab states of the Persian gulf, resulted in Britain’s predominant influence in the area. The Britain wanted to safeguard their trade route to India from pirates. Following their withdrawal from India in 1947, the British still maintained their influence in Abu Dhabi as the potential for oil was growing in the Persian gulf.
Abu Dhabi holds one of the world’s largest Hydrocarbon reserves in the world. The economic conditions of Abu Dhabi experienced a boost when the oil reserves were found. Abu Dhabi slowly started developing other ways of producing income instead of only relying on oil trade.
Geography of Abu Dhabi :
The city of Abu Dhabi is on the southeastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, adjoining the Persian Gulf. It is on an island less than 250 metres from the mainland and is joined to the mainland by the Maqta and Mussafah Bridges. Abu Dhabi Island is also connected to Saadiyat Island by a five-lane motorway bridge.
Al-Mafraq bridge connects the city to Reem Island and was completed in early 2011. This is a multilayer interchange bridge and it has 27 lanes which allow roughly 25,000 automobiles to move per hour. There are three major bridges of the project, the largest has eight lanes, four leaving Abu Dhabi city and four coming in.
Climate of Abu Dhabi :
Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate. Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year. The months of June through September are generally extremely hot and humid with maximum temperatures averaging above 38 °C. During this time, sandstorms occur intermittently, in some cases reducing visibility to a few meters.
The cooler season is from November to March, which ranges between moderately hot to mild. This period also sees dense fog on some days. On average, January is the coolest month in the year, while August is the hottest. Since the Tropic of Cancer passes through the Emirate, the southern part falls within the Tropics. However, despite the coolest month having a 18.8 °C average, its climate is far too dry to be classified as tropical climate.
How to reach Abu Dhabi :
By air :
Abu Dhabi airport is the city’s largest aviation hub and it is the second busiest airport in the UAE. Taking a flight to Abu Dhabi international airport is the best way to reach Abu Dhabi. Always book a return flight ticket to save money on your flight charges.
All major cities have flights flying to Abu Dhabi. Oman air, Jet airways, Air India and Kuwait airways are some of the airlines that offers budget flights to UAE.
Air travel is the best way to reach Abu Dhabi.
Things to see and to do in Abu Dhabi :
Visit Sheikh Zayed mosque :
Sheikh Zayed grand mosque is located in Abu Dhabi is it is the largest place of worship in the country. This architectural wonder is said to ‘unite the world’ with its construction materials and styles being adapted from countries all over the world. Its prayer halls have a seating capacity of 41,000 people.
Visit Ferrari world :
It is located on the man made Yas island in Abu Dhabi and it is the largest ferrari-themed amusement park in the world. It is the first Ferrari-branded theme park and has the record for the largest space frame structure ever built. It also houses the Formula Rossa; the world’s fastest roller coaster which moves at a speed of 240 kmph.
Visit the Yas Marina circuit :
The Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, and is situated on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi.
Visit the Qasr Al-Hosn :
The Qasr Al-Hosn is the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi. The city of Abu Dhabi was built around this palace and fort and it also hosts the annual Emirati heritage festival.
Visit the Yas Waterworld :
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is an Emirati-themed waterpark located on Yas Island. The park is home to more than 40 rides, slides and attractions. It is one of the largest and the most famous water parks in the UAE.
Explore the Umm Al Emarat park :
This spacious, vibrant park features a shade house, botanic garden, amphitheater and a large open lawn. This beautiful park lets the people relax in the lush green grass.
Explore the Emirates park zoo :
This excellent zoo makes a fun day out, only a short drive from Abu Dhabi. There is a host of animals at the wildlife park, including rare white tigers, giraffes, elephants, a herd of zebras, and a Siberian bear. There is also a primate section with many different types of monkeys, and a flamingo park with a sea lion enclosure.
Food in Abu Dhabi :
Abu Dhabi being a metropolis, has all kinds of international cuisine situated in this city. But the cuisine of Abu Dhabi is intricately sophisticated and has been around for a long time. The Emirati dies is not just kebabs, Hummus and shawarma.
The traditional dishes rely heavily on fresh fish, meat, and rice, and are simple and healthy. The real key to the Emirati flavor is a secret combination of spices: cardamom, saffron, carom seeds, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, rose water, and dried lemon.
Here are some of the restaurants the serve the best and the most authentic foods in Abu Dhabi :
- Hakkasan Abu Dhabi
- Finz restaurant
- Al Asala heritage restaurant
- Circo Abu Dhabi
- Villa Toscana
Try some of the more authentic dishes in Abu Dhabi such as; Harees a traditional dish made of wheat, meat and salt, Machboos a simple dish made of meat and rice, Madrooba which is fresh seafood.
Where to shop and what to buy in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi mall :
With over 200 stores, cinemas and amusements, the Abu Dhabi Mall redefines what it means to be a world-class shopping establishment. Opened in 2001, it offers a wide selection of local specialties such as perfumes, nuts and Arabic sweets, and is an extravaganza of restaurants, high-end shops and designer boutiques.
Yas Marina mall :
Located in one of the most beautiful areas of the city, along the breakwater on Corniche road, the Yas Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi is home to more than 400 international fashion, leisure and entertainment stores. Enjoy the breathtaking view of the sea and cityscape here in one of the many chic restaurants boasting killer vistas from the sky tower.
Paris Avenue :
Paris avenue sells all the latest fashion trends designed by fresh graduates of Fashion courses. The countless boutiques lined sequentially all sell unique items, often handmade. Since it is made by newbies to the business, the prices will be low and one can haggle to reduce the prices.
The Galleria :
The Galleria is one of the most elegant buildings recently constructed in Abu Dhabi, featuring a stunning curved roof made of glass, and full with only the most sophisticated and stylish luxury brands. The Galleria is always alive with activity as shoppers explore the wide selection of fashion, jewelry and watches available for purchase.
Money saving tips :
1 Eat local food : Food from street vendors is often more delicious than a fancy restaurant. The best part about street food is that it does not do heavy damage to the wallet.
2 Take public transportation : Since UAE contains vast amounts of petrol and oil reserves, the cost of travel is considerably less. To save money and the environment opt for public transportation that offers transfers all across the city.
3 Bargain : Use your negotiation skills to the fullest while shopping in the markets. The general rule is; the more you buy, the cheaper the prices will be. So, shop in packs and get the best price on products. Do not pay the first price that you were quoted.
Money exchange :
The currency of the United Arab Emirates is called as Dirham. The exchange value is 1 Dirham = 18 Rupees. UAE is on the expensive side of spectrum.
Clothes to pack to UAE :
UAE is a muslim country, so it’s a good idea to dress modestly. Generally covering your arms and legs in a loose fitting dress to facilitate air passage is the ideal way to dress here. Since UAE is looking to boost its tourism, it allows foreigners to dress the way they like. Covering your body is a good idea, especially when you are visiting UAE.
Since UAE is a dry country, make sure to pack moisturizer and use it multiple times a day. Carry a backpack which contains an extra set of clothes and a water bottle. In the summer months, carry a swimsuit for your fun day at beaches. Since most of UAE is a desert, nights get cold really fast in the winter months. Pack a shawl or a pashmina to wrap around for warmth and modest fashion.
Visa for UAE:
Indians require a visa for entry in the United Arab Emirates. All Indians holding an Indian passport valid for more than six months can enter the UAE. Tourists can apply for a tourist visa from India to the UAE. The consulate does not grant tourist visas.
Tourist visa for an Indian National, holding an ordinary passport, is arranged by a sponsor in UAE. It can also be obtained on booking a hotel in UAE or through the Emirates Airlines Office or the Air Arabia Office or through a Travel Agent in India.
The documents required to apply for a visa are :
- Clear passport copy of the sponsor
- Clear passport copy of the sponsored person
- A copy of the salary certificate or employment contract of the sponsor (resident) must be attached
- Proof of family relationship (kinship)
- Travel insurance
- Copy of confirmed flight booking
- Bank approval letter
- Passport-sized colour photographs
- Visa fee
- Visa application form, duly filled
The best way to apply for a travel visa is through a travel agent.
Important contacts :
Emergency – 999
Police – 901
Fire brigade – 997
Ambulance – 998
Indian embassy in Dubai – 00-971-2-4492700
Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi – 00-971-2-4492700