An Explorer’s Guide to the Highlights of the UAE’s Seven Emirates
By Muhammed Aladdin
Three generations ago, in the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula, the people of the seven emirates, shared a background, language, and culture and decided to come together. Fixated on a particular goal, the Emiratis succeeded in transforming their country from a desert-barren land into an international haven with millions flocking to it each year.
In order to reach their goal, each emirate poured its resources into infrastructure, construction, entertainment, and most importantly education. With such determination, the promise came true, and the UAE has become a First-World country within the Middle East. It was stable and successful, the traits that govern international appeal. Nowadays, the Emirates is compared to Singapore, Hong Kong, and other world-renowned destinations.
With Dubai and Abu Dhabi spearheading the rapid progression into the world theater, the five other emirates did not falter behind. Sooner rather than later, each state had something unique about it; a hidden scene, a lovely vibe, or even a one-of-a-kind attraction. It was not just the two major cities, and tourists came to understand that to appreciate the beauty of the country, all seven emirates are to be visited. It became a trail of some sorts!
Here is our guide to the things each emirate is famous for and why you should definitely visit.
Although it lacks the man-made islands of Dubai and the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi, it makes up for it with culture and heritage. Whenever there, visiting the Sharjah Natural History Museum and Desert Park is a must; some of the exhibits there cannot be seen at any other place in the world.
The Blue Souk, Sharjah’s most photographed landmark, is composed of six different buildings adorned with blue tiles and has a tunnel that connects two separate internal sections. It is one of the few places in the emirates with the oriental vibe of a Middle Eastern market, and it is home to some of the most beautiful merchandise from handmade Persian-styled carpets to UAE-sourced gems.
Or perhaps, if you are in the mood, try out a game of paintball at the Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club, followed by a wholesome dinner at Paper Fig’s.
With beaches of warm sands, calm blue waters, and a scenery of the towering Al-Hajar Mountain range, the emirate of Fujairah bears more resemblance to Oman than the rest of the UAE. Tourism has been a problem for the government of Fujairah, but officials are working on changing this.
Fujairah is home to marine wildlife that can be found nowhere else and has that iconic nature vibe; this has become evident as more and more visitors came to seek adventure tourism.
If, through fate or plan, you ever find yourself there, do not miss out on visiting Fujairah Historic Fort, a mud-brick castle that was built in 1670 that has withstood the tests of time. Another option for an activity would be learning scuba diving with Nomad Diving and explore the untethered depth of the Arabian Gulf.
For the foodies amongst us, Gonu Bar and Grill is the place to go when craving steaks and seafood.
With Al-Hajar Mountain on all sides, Ras Al-Khaimah is the most northern part of the United Arab Emirates. Besides the usual luxury hotels, the state is an adventure haven for those looking to have the time of their lives.
Enjoy a night in nature’s embrace with a starry horizon at Bedouin Oasis Camp, which offers you a myriad of options from a basic tent to luxury huts. There, you will have a Bedouin’s experience of the Arabian Desert, riding camels, feasting off traditional cuisine, and sleeping in the wilderness.
Zip-line at the infamous “Iron Path“, the ultimate adventure to thrill-seekers with three zip-lines coming in at 165 feet, 195 feet, and 985 feet long. Or if not in the mood for zip-lining, perhaps go cycling at Wadi Showka. Not only bicycles, at the Al-Wadi Equestrian Adventure Centre, but you could also give horse riding a trial or two.
Perhaps, the most romantic of all the aforementioned activities is watching the sunset at Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the UAE.
The only emirate devoid of international resorts, the small Umm Al-Quwain with its traditional atmosphere is calm and surprisingly inviting.
The emirate is home to Dreamland, the UAE’s first waterpark before Yas Waterworld was ever inaugurated. The park has all the basic slides and some quirky options suitable for the whole family.
Or perhaps, give water activities a go at Marine Club, at the emirate’s beloved mangrove lagoon; there you can try your hand at wakeboarding, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding.
The smallest of all the emirates, but still has a flux of luxury hotels, beautiful beaches, and a number of historical attractions.
The Ajman Museum is home to a collection of archaeological artifacts, showcasing the heritage of the United Arab Emirates. Some of the pottery and jewelry there dates back to 3,000 B.C.!
Try a taste of authentic Palestinian cuisine at Chouzaki, where all the ingredients are imported from Palestine. The place has the best Musakhan in the UAE! If you do not know what Musakhan is, it is a bread loaf flattened and marinated with olive oil and topped with caramelised onion, pine nuts, and chicken.
The capital of the UAE has a lot to offer to its visitors from high-end hotels, shopping malls, Yas Island, to a growing food scene that continues to gain respect. In addition to all of these urban entertainments, the Empty Quarter with its vastness and wilderness is only a short drive away.
Whenever in Abu Dhabi, you must visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with its marble domes and mosaic floors; it is the country’s most prominent mosque. Or perhaps, visit the Marina Yas Circuit at Yas Island, where Formula One car races take place.
It would be a shame if you were there and did not visit Yas Waterworld, the Middle East’s leading waterpark, or Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster.
What would the world do without Dubai? It is the most famous between the seven emirates for a reason. It is home to the world’s tallest building, a host of affluent hotels, the largest shopping mall in the world, and a world-class food scene. Words would never be enough to describe the most prominent of Dubai’s highlights, because every moment in this city is an adventure.
Well, one activity for adrenaline-junkies out there would be free falling with Skydive Dubai, or perhaps exploring Burj Khalifa like never before with At The Top.
Perhaps, walking across the Dubai Canal at night would give you a different sense of the city! All in all, it is a beautiful place to be.