United Arab Emirates

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The better known Dubai and Abu Dhabi are just two of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. There is more to the place than big, bigger, biggest. Here are some less obvious attractions that might hold your interest.

Go into the desert with a four-wheel-drive and try riding up and down some of the sand dunes or simply camp under a clear desert sky. Or perhaps you can visit one of the many cool and refreshing wadis in the Hajar Mountains (aka Al Hajar Mountains). Want to see what Dubai would look like without the oil wealth? Go to Umm al Quwain, the Emirate that lost out. For some cultural refreshment, and less bling, try Sharjah, which advertises itself as the cultural capital of the Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates are easy to travel and get into, the main hubs of entry being Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Almost everybody gets a visa on arrival, which is valid for a month.

While the United Arab Emirates are relatively liberal as far as foreigners are concerned, you should be aware that you are still visiting an Islamic country. Sure you can get alcohol, and there are bars and nightclubs, and beaches where women sunbathe in bikinis, however, don’t push the culturally established boundaries. Public drunkenness is not accepted, and neither is cuddling or kissing in public. Both are offenses that can get you expelled or jailed.


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