Located at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates is mostly known for its two largest cities, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, also capitals of their respective emirate — and the biggest of the UAE's seven emirates. A city of superlatives, Dubai will impress you with its futuristic landscape and engineering wonders. For more architectural marvels, head out to Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city, and make a stop at the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Hailed as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, the gigantic mosque is sure to dazzle you with its white marble domes, towering minarets, and intricate designs inlaid with semi-precious stones. Sports car aficionados will jump at the opportunity to visit Ferrari world, a luxury amusement park, that is, you guessed it, Ferrari themed.
The remaining emirates, Ajman, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Umm al Quwain are largely off the tourist radar, yet boast some impressive landscapes and sights for those keen on venturing down the road less traveled. Explore old Arabian markets, or souks, iconic museums and desert blooms; but bear in mind that temperatures can soar to unbelievable heights by mid-day, so get an early start if you plan to sightsee outdoors.
Traveling during the holy period can give you unique cultural insights. During the month of Ramadan, which falls in the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, Muslims fast between dawn and sunset to reconnect with their spirituality. In the evening, the Iftar breaks the day’s fast: experience the famed Emirati hospitality as people come together to share the spirit of Ramadan, including with non-Muslims. Large tents are also set up near mosques to offer free meals to those in need. During this sacred holiday, souks are empty and it can be difficult to find street-food stalls. Opening hours also differ, with many establishments shutting down mid-day. If you’re traveling during the holy period, you can eat in the privacy of your villa, but eating, drinking, smoking, and even chewing gum in public are prohibited.
On the first day of the new lunar year, Ramadan comes to an end with a large feast, called Eid-al-Fitr. Grand celebrations, charitable donations, and tables laden with delicious feasts are the primary customs. If you’re invited to an Iftar or Eid meal, it’s considered rude to decline the invitation. And why would you want to? These gatherings are one of the most authentic ways to experience the culture.
From enchanting journeys across the rolling desert dunes to thrilling descents down indoor snow-covered hills, the UAE will impress you with its wide range of activities. Ground yourself in the region’s rich history with a visit to historic heritage sites, then taste your way through the eclectic neighborhoods. If you’re keen on exploring, sights, flavors, and fragrances eagerly await.
Dreaming of exploring the desert? A safari tour of the Moreeb Sand Dunes is the best way to do so. Located in the Liwa Oasis, these dunes are amongst the biggest in the world. Trudge your way up the smooth golden hills or race over them with the help of a dune-buggy. If you’re looking for desert photo ops, a Liwa safari adventure is just the ticket.
Take a break from the bustle of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and explore the UAE’s east coast. In Fujairah, the Hajar mountains meet golden sands and turquoise shores, excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving. Very much off the beaten tourist path, these beaches are secluded and perfect for a stroll. Take note that these shores are not private, and wearing a swimsuit may attract unwanted attention.
There’s no doubt that the days in the Emirates can get hot. If you’re in need of a serious cool down, why not visit Dubai’s indoor ski slopes in Mall of the Emirates? Complete with a chair-lift, a night sky, and penguins, Ski Dubai is a fully equipped mini-resort for adults and children alike. Your ticket includes rental equipment, warm disposable socks, and snow gear.
The oases of Al Ain make for a fantastic day trip or overnight stay from Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The only recognized UNESCO World Heritage site in the UAE, there’s much to see in this historic city.
For impressive panoramic views of Abu Dhabi and the coast, drive to the top of the jagged Hafeet mountain. The narrow, winding road makes for an adventurous journey in-and-of itself, with plenty of scenic viewpoints that invite you to stretch your legs and your camera lens. After snapping photos and spotting landmarks from its peak, explore the colorful large cave system — a real treat for geology lovers.
One of Al Ain’s major draws is its impressive zoo, where antelopes, elephants, and gazelles roam freely. The attraction is a protection site for endangered species and prides itself on biodiversity. These species can only be seen in the zoo’s large natural park, dedicated to creating realistic living conditions for the animals. Opt for a jeep tour and see how many you can spot!
Take a step back in time and visit the last camel market in the UAE. Locals come here to buy and sell their camels, and visitors are welcome to watch. Avoid getting pressured into riding camels at the market — this is better suited for desert excursions.
There’s no better way to end your day in Al Ain than with a shaded stroll through its tropical oases. Found in the center of the town, these public gardens are laden with palm groves that beg you to take a well-deserved break from the sun.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai afford foodies with the opportunity to combine high-end cuisine and breathtaking views. From upscale restaurants in skyscrapers overlooking the coast to intimate eateries in the desert, there is something to satisfy every palate. Exclusive reservations can be arranged by your personal 24/7 concierge.
While the UAE has already set the standard for opulence, we’re excited to add our touch of luxury with our curated collection of high-end villas. Step inside and enjoy a quiet refuge in the heart of Dubai’s most attractive areas.
Villas for Rent in Dubai
While you’re in Dubai, why not stay on Palm Jumeirah’s coveted shores? Exclusive and private, these resort-like villas give you access to a sliver of white sandy beach and a refreshing pool ideal for the hottest of days.
Complete with private butlers, gourmet chef services, and unbeatable amenities, The Royal Residences at Jumeirah Zabel Saray and our Nasma Holiday Stays guarantee a relaxing stay in the city. Beautifully decorated with Arabic and modern touches, these luxurious homes offer the perfect mix of fast-city living and beach-side tranquility.
If you prefer being in the heart of the action, a stay in downtown Dubai is a perfect choice. With a spacious, open-concept design and floor-to-ceiling windows, which invite the dazzling city inside, you’re sure to feel like royalty. Spot Palm Jumeirah’s fronds from your balcony, and enjoy sunset swims high above the world.