United Arab Emirates

Before you begin reading any of the following posts about Dubai and/or United Arab Emirates (UAE), I want you to have something clear.

  1. UAE is an independent country.
  2. Dubai is not a country, but it’s the main city of an Emirate that belongs to the UAE.
  3. The capital of the UAE is Abu Dhabi.
  4. UAE is composed of 7 Emirates:  Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain
  5. Qatar and Doha also don’t belong to the UAE. Qatar is an independent country and Doha is its capital.

Dubai is a city which everybody relates to skyscrapers, money, consumerism, and materialism.

In the following articles, I want to show you what this country can offer beyond the popular stereotypes.

Start planning your trip by reading my suggested 1-week itinerary to the United Arab Emirates

Capital – Abu Dhabi

Population – 5.8 million (93rd)

Language – Arabic

Visa – Practically, all high GDP nationalities can get a free visa on arrival valid for 3 months within a period of 6 months. The rest of the nationalities may need an LOI.

Best time to go – Definitely avoid coming from the end of May till mid-October, as the temperature is disgustingly hot. Winter would definitely be the best time to come.

Get off the beaten track – The UAE has a lot to offer other than the glittering malls of Dubai. I recommend you read: 10 hidden gems in the United Arab Emirates

Access blocked sites – In Dubai, internet services such as Skype, WhatsApp Calls or Tinder are blocked and, in order to access them, you will need a VPN. For this, read: How to find the right VPN for Dubai and the UAE.

Travel insurance – In the UAE, the health care system is really expensive for foreigners, so go there with proper travel insurance. I recommend World Nomads for the following reasons:

  1. It is the only company that covers with an unlimited budget
  2. It provides coverage for a very big bunch of adventure activities, including trekking in high altitudes
  3. You can hire it while on the road


5 Top experiences in the UAE – My favorites:

  1. Liwa Oasis – The beginning of the Empty Quarter, the largest continuous sea of dunes in the world. Read: A guide to Liwa Oasis.
  2. Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi – An architectonical masterpiece and one of the largest mosques in the world.
  3. The camel market of Al Ain – Traditional Emirati culture in its purest state.
  4. Dubai Marina skyscrapers – Loads of tall buildings next to the sea.
  5. The Old City of Dubai – Traditional Arab architecture and souqs with real soul.

For more information, read my 7-day itinerary to the UAE

How to travel on a budget – If you want to know all my tips for traveling on a budget, read: How to travel in Dubai on a budget – A backpacking guide

Accommodation – Hotels in Dubai are crazy expensive but some areas are more affordable than others. This guide will tell you how to find the right accommodation per area in Dubai.

On the other hand, a cheaper option might be booking a room or an apartment through Airbnb and remember that, if you create a new account through my link, you will get up to 35€ of free credit on your next booking.

Transportation – In Dubai, you can move around by metro, even though it is not very convenient. A car is a game changer and, if you go outside Dubai, it is a must.

I recommend you rent your car through Rental Cars, a search engine that shows you the cheapest deals in any city.