United Arab Emirates

The Burj al Arab gives its guests gold-plated iPads at check-in during 2013!

The capital of United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi, though many foreigners are also familiar the ultramodern and luxurious city of Dubai. About 9.5 million people live in the UAE. Interestingly, the UAE has a huge number of expatriates and other immigrants who move there, making population estimates difficult to obtain because of a large number of non-citizens. The official language is Arabic, and the UAE practices religious freedom, though Islam is the official state religion. 

Many travelers flock to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi to experience the splendor and history of this holy site, a beautiful white mosque with golden trim and stained glass windows.

Before tourism, fishing and pearl diving were the emirate’s main industries. In the early 1900s there were 300 pearl diving dhows based in Dubai.

Of Dubai’s 2.5 million residents, 1.7 million are male (70%) and 58 per % are aged 25 to 44, with the majority of people aged 30 to 34. 

I have been here so many times, as most international flights stop in Dubai! My son Kenan and I spent several nights here in 2013, and we had a blast. Several highlights:  Snow skiing at the Dubai Mall, one of the largest malls in the world full of activities. 

Highlight #2 was staying at the Burj al Arab, considered the most luxurious hotel in the world.

And #3 was going to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

Note: Because the UAE is in the Arabian Desert, travelers who are not used to the heat should plan to visit in cooler months. Summers can be around 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41.1 degrees Celsius) during the day, whereas cooler months like January is closer to 75 degrees (23.9).

View from the gym of the Burj al Arab
Model of the Burj Khalifa
View from the Burj Khalifa

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