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A vacation trip to Dubai indicates sun, sand, beach and shopping.

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UAE (United Arab Emirates)

 

Overview

‘Manhattan of the Middles East'

From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors. Dubai embraces a wide variety of scenery in a very small area. In a single day, the tourist can experience everything from rugged mountains and awe-inspiring sand dunes to sandy beaches and lush green parks, from dusty villages and ancient houses with windtowers to luxurious residential districts and from the colourful souks (markets) to ultra-modern shopping malls.

Indeed, one of Dubai’s greatest visitor attractions is its superb shopping. As an open portwith low import duties, Dubai’s retail prices are reasonable and the variety of products available is virtually unrivalled. Whatever your tastes - be it couture from Paris or Milan, hi-tech electronics from Japan, or a piece of silver Bedouin jewellery - you will find it at the right price in Dubai.

Sometimes called the ’Manhattan of the Middle East’, Abu Dhabi City is essentially a modern and sleek city, filled with skyscrapers. The UAEs’ capital, located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges, is often accused of being a rather soulless place, but it does have its attractions: the Petroleum Exhibition and the Heritage Village, the beautiful Corniche (beach), the Al Hisn Fort, the old souk, the Breakwater Island and Sheikh Zayed’s palace. The most picturesque place is undeniably the Batin, the oldest part of the town, where the small harbours receive the daily catch brought by the fishing dhows.

This group of small sheikhdoms on the coastline of the Persian Gulf was a backwater of the Islamiccivilisation that prospered in the Middle East from the seventh century onwards. After attacks on British-owned shipping by pirates operating in the Gulf region, they were brought under British suzerainty in the 19th Century. The sheikhdoms – which became known as the Trucial States – carried on largely unmolested and ignored until the 1950s when the British started to relinquish control as part of its post-imperial retrenchment.

The British plan for the Trucial States was to weld its seven distinct regimes into a single administrative bloc. The discovery of oilin 1966, which gave the local economy a sudden and rapid boost, helped to ease the process and soon transformed the emirate and its way of life. Dubai’s first oil exports in 1969 were followed by a period of rapid development that laid the foundations for today’s modern society.

The UAE is a federation of seven states - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Qaiwain - formed in 1971 after independence from Britain. Although internal politics are prone to instability, because of the uncertain nature of the federation and boundary disputes, the ruling families in the two main emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have managed to stabilise the federation.


General Information 

Area 
77,700 sq km (30,000 sq miles).

Population 
4.3 million (official estimate 2004).

Population Density 
55.3 per sq km.

Capital 
Abu Dhabi. Population: 1.7 million (2004 figure for entire emirate).

Government 
Federation of seven autonomous Emirates. The highest federal authority is the Supreme Council of Rulers comprising the absolute rulers of the seven emirates. Decisions reached by the council must have the agreement of at least five members, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two largest members. The council appoints a president to act as head of state. There are no political parties.

Language 
Arabic is the official language. English is widely spoken and used as a second language in commerce.

Religion 
Mostly Muslim, of which 16% are Shiite and the remainder Sunni.

Time 
GMT + 4.

Climate
The best time to visit is between October and May. The hottest time is from June to September with little rainfall.

Required Clothing:   Lightweights, with mediumweights from November to March; warmer clothes for evening.

Social Convensions 
Muslim religious laws should be observed. Women are expected to dress modestly and men should dress formally for most occasions. Alcohol is tolerated, with non-Muslims allowed to drink alcohol in the city’s bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels. Smoking is the same as in Europe and in most cases it is obvious where not to smoke, except during Ramadan when it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public.

Electricity 
220/240 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are widespread.

Head of Government 
Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum since 2006.

Head of State 
President Sheikh Khalifa since 2004.
 
 
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
 
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