The Emirates is a region to savour, from balmy beaches to the infinite dune-filled deserts. The UAE is an easy choice for travellers looking to experience the enigmatic Middle East for the first time, with western influence encouraging the federation towards adopting a more liberal attitude. This collection of highly developed emirates is rich in culture, history and attractions both natural and manmade, making one dynamic holiday destination.
Fast paced Dubai is a hub of roaring tourism and trade. The "City of Gold" is touted as a shopping destination for the most serious of spenders, playing host to an annual shopping festival so you know it means business. With scores of modern malls and vibrant souks to its name, Dubai is both a place for luxury shopping and bargain hunting if you're willing to put on your haggle hat.
See the city in a different light by jumping on an abra in Deira, travelling down Dubai Creek to historical hotspot Bur Dubai, or take the metro to the quirky Palm Islands perched in the Persian Gulf. Catch a glimpse of old Dubai in Al Bastakiya where you can visit the Al Fahidi Fort and Dubai Museum before exploring the neighbourhood's luring laneways and arty nooks as the sun begins to ease.
While around four-fifths of the United Arab Emirates is draped in desert, it's easy to forget from the coastal vantage point of Abu Dhabi. Lush green boulevards and oases of calm fill the city, considered to be a more mature version of its neighbour Dubai. Head to the waterfront to soak in the sun or stroll alongside the sea at Corniche Beach, or escape the heat with lunch at the resplendent Marina Mall.
Beyond the high rises and inner-city energy, Abu Dhabi's vast Empty Quarter promises the quintessential Arabian Sands experience. Buckle up for a desert safari across the dunes, or venture east to Al Ain where palmed oasis towns and rugged mountains offer a superb change of scenery.