United Arab Emirates Tourist Guide
The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven Middle Eastern
states located on the Arabian Peninsula bordering the Persian Gulf
that have become renowned for their oil wealth and glamour. Each is
ruled by a Sheikh, the head of a tribal royal family. Dubai, Abu
Dhabi and Sharjah have promoted themselves vigorously as vacation
destinations and the playgrounds of the rich and famous.
Traditional Arab lifestyle interacts with consumerist culture and
big city bling in a way that is strangely comforting or disturbing,
depending on your point of view. The neighboring sheikhdoms are
relatively undeveloped and have retained an air of mystery and calm
amid the lavishness.
The discovery and exploitation of oil and natural gas in the
1960s transformed the fortunes of the states which until then had
been dependent on fishing and pearls to make any money. Foreign
investment has fuelled a growing business sector and tourism
industry. The cosmopolitan cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi now
attract huge numbers of visitors on business and vacation and they
are becoming ports of call for an increasing number of cruise
lines. Port Rashid in Dubai is the main passenger cruise terminal
for the UAE and is developing into a vibrant waterfront resort.
Much of the country is flat or rolling desert. There are no
permanent rivers. The main attractions for tourists are beaches and
resort-style luxury hotels, shopping, sports events and nightlife.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have grand development plans for the future
including more luxury hotels and a state-of-the-art theme park,
Dubailand. A new cultural district in Abu Dhabi will include a
branch of the Louvre Museum from Paris. The third largest of the
seven emirates, Sharjah, is renowned for its commitment to art,
culture and preserving its heritage. It has an impressive array of
museums, art galleries and heritage areas.
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