Everyone knows about the outrageous opulence of Dubai, and the path to the big-money oil town Abu Dhabi is becoming increasingly well-trodden but that is only a fraction of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) story.
There is plenty to discover beyond the bright lights of these two famous cities so why not take the plunge and discover the alluring Arabian experiences that await you across this fascinating collection of principalities… you might just find something to love.
The smallest emirate in the UAE, the emirate’s main city (also called Ajman) is just a short distance away from Dubai. This city is experiencing something of a growth boom as a result of its neighbour’s success but in the glamour stakes it’s still a long way behind the high-rise extravagance of Dubai.
It might not have the architectural wonders, but it does have great character and a few sites which are well worth seeing such as the interesting museum which is contained within a traditional old fort and tells the story of this unique area.
With a long sweeping coastline on the Gulf of Oman, Fujairah is the spot for people in the know who want to enjoy the wonderful weather and fantastic coastline of the UAE without the hustle and bustle of the big city. You’ll find fantastic locations like the Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah which have all the facilities to provide a perfect beach holiday.
There are golden sands to relax on, warm blue water to swim in and great diving opportunities along the coast. And if you find yourself feeling slightly more adventurous you can head inland and enjoy a 4×4 trip through the rocky mountainous landscape that fills much of the emirate.
Ras al Khaimah
The name of this emirate means ‘Top of the Tent’ – maybe because this territory stretches up to a peak that marks the northernmost reaches of UAE. The emirate has a long coastline, stretching up the Persian Gulf and this is where many of the area’s finest attractions can be found.
The sleepy port towns strewn along this coast line can be explored in a day or two and each will reveal a still vibrant traditional way of life rooted in the past. Fishing and pearl diving are still important economic activities in Ras al Khaimah and you can see them both being undertaken in this interesting emirate.
This emirate is located right next to Dubai, and is often known as the polar opposite of that most extravagant city. It is a far more conservative location than Dubai so you can forget partying. Instead you’ll be able to focus on the culture of the region – something Sharjah has in spades.
The traditional city souqs that take place in Sharjah will give you a vibrant, living experience of traditional market life in the emirate, while the architecture of the place boasts some of the most attractive features in the UAE. For an incredible insight into 7000 years of history in the area head to the Sharjah Archaeological Museum.
With a spectacular range of natural landscapes, this emirate should be on your must-explore list if you enjoy the great outdoors. Along the coast of the Persian Gulf there are lush dense mangroves while inland you’ll find the rolling sand dunes that provide much of the romance in this unique area.
Traditional attractions such as camel racing and dhow building can be seen in the main city but get off the beaten track and you’ll find some real gems. Inland, amongst this sparse and deeply moving desert landscape the oasis town of Falaj Al Moalla is idyllic retreat hidden amidst the harsh, demanding dunes.
Have you been to the UAE? Tell us in the comments section below.