With glass skyscrapers that reflect the bustle of daily life, magnificent buildings such as the Emirates Palace, its lively souqs, excellent restaurants and long stretches of white beaches lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Gulf, Abu Dhabi is a city of outstanding contrasts. The throbbing heart of the city lies 250 metres off-shore on an island linked to the mainland by the Al Maqtaa Bridge and Mussafah Bridge. Home to the respected Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation and the Al Hosn Palace museum, along with numerous venues for the arts, the wealthy city is the cultural as well as commercial hub of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
United Arab EmiratesThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located in the Arabian Peninsula facing out into the Persian Gulf. Cities in the UAE have certainly come a long way from the humble fishing villages they once were. After the discovery of petrol under the hot sandy soil during the mid-20th century, the city of Dubai decided to team up with six other neighbouring emirates to secure the region’s prosperity. Today, the UAE boasts luxurious metropolises such as Sharjah and Dubai, as well as its dazzling capital, Abu Dhabi. Make your way along the capital’s seafront Corniche as you saunter towards the Emirates Palace, a truly mesmerising gem of a building that dominates the Abu Dhabi coastline. Further up the coast is Dubai, a blend of beach, city and desert. Down by the water there are a number of adrenaline-packed activities to partake in, such as jet-skiing or flyboarding at JBR beach. Out in the desert you can go sandboarding, quad biking and even rent out a hot air balloon for a special occasion. The nearby city of Sharjah is so close to Dubai that the two are adjacent. Although Sharjah is Dubai’s often overlooked neighbour, it truly has very much to offer. Admire the Al Noor Mosque in all its splendour by the shimmering waters of the Persian Gulf or head to the Al-Qasba area and go for a ride on the Eye of the Emirates Wheel.
Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world today. Tracing its origins back to 3,000 BC, Dubai's inhabitants made their livelihood from fishing, pearl diving, boat building and sea trading, before the discovery of oil in the late 1960s. In 1971, Dubai joined its neighbours to form the United Arab Emirates, safeguarding the area's prosperity.
Sharjah, the not-so-obvious UAE destination for many, unjustly remains in the shadows of its glistening immediate neighbour of Dubai. In the meantime, few are aware Sharjah was named the Capital of Islamic Culture (2014) and Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO sixteen years prior. Sharjah's Heritage Area is home to multiple historic sites and museums, and the Emirate itself boasts recent, modern additions to its art and entertainment scenes enough to compensate for the strict "no-alcohol" regulations.