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United Arab Emirates Tourist Guide

United Arab Emirates

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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