Traveling to the UAE and wondering what to do? We’ve got you covered!
With all of the tension in the Arab World right now, many of you may be reluctant to travel to the Middle East. Although you should always travel with caution, especially in times of a potential security threat, there are definitely places in the Middle East that are safe and well worth the long travel.
One such place worth a visit and still relatively safe is the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is home to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and 5 other emirates. Many people know about the glitz and glamour of Dubai, and it is well worth the trip, but there are also some hidden gems around the UAE as well.
So if you’re bold enough to travel to the giant sand box, here’s a list of what to do in the UAE:
1. Dune Bashing in Dubai.
You may have heard about this amazing off-road activity, and it is like nothing else. Dune bashing in Dubai is a must! Companies take you out with a group of people in a 4×4, typically a Land Rover, and drive around the dunes. It may sound boring, but it is an adrenaline-packed way to see the beauty of the desert.
2. Desert Safari in any of the Emirates.
On a typical desert safari you get to go dune bashing, but also have the opportunity to camp out in the desert with a tradition bar-b-q, have sheesah, and even ride a camel. If you decide to go in Abu Dhabi or Dubai you can even bring your own wine or beer or purchase it at the campsite. (Just be careful if you are anywhere else. Some of the other Emirates, such as Sharjah, are completely dry and do not tolerate any alcohol.)
3. Check out the 5+ star hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
They are absolutely breath taking and most of them offer an afternoon tea that is to die for. Nothing says you’re sitting in the lap of luxury like sipping a cappuccino topped with real gold flakes.
4. Visit the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
It is a beautiful building and even though it still operates for religious services, you can take a free tour when people are not worshiping. Abayas are provided so that you do not offend the locals and adhere to the customs of a predominately Islamic country.
5. Go shopping!
Abu Dhabi and Dubai have some of the best malls in the world. You would have no idea that you are in a conservative country the way people are dressed inside the mall and the clothes that are sold. Emiratis are extremely fashionable and their taste in stores is impeccable. They honestly have anything that you could possibly imagine. The Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Mall also have an indoor ski complex and an amazing aquarium to check out as well.
6. Go to the beach.
There are great public beaches and private yacht clubs around the Emirates, and many western women even wear their bikinis. Just make sure to check around to see what the majority of other beach-goers are wearing to make sure you do not offend anyone.
7. Check out the Burj Khalifa.
It is the tallest building in the world, after all. If you pay to go all the way to the top, there are some amazing views of Dubai.
8. Swim with dolphins at the Atlantis hotel.
Need I say more?
9. Soak up some traditional culture by getting lost in one of the souqs.
A souq is a traditional style market. Most sell spices, cloth, and trinkets that will help remind you of your amazing trip.
10. Do as the locals do!
Go to a local hookah spot, sip a karak tea, and enjoy being in a foreign land. Some places are reserved strictly for men, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings before you pick a table. Most places, especially in popular, tourist areas, are safe for women though. There is nothing more authentic than puffing on your sheesha pipe and drinking the local tea, served with milk and heaps of sugar. It is one of the most relaxing things you can do.
Don’t let the conservative nature of the UAE deter you from planning a trip. As long as you are smart, keep your knees and shoulders covered, and try your best to respect the local customs, the Emirati people will be glad you came for a visit!