The United Arab Emirates, the best known of which are Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are located on the Arab Peninsula, bordering Saudi Arabia to the south west, Oman to the east and Qatar and Iran across the Persian Gulf.
The region has plenty to offer to those interested in exploring the Gulf, from Hatta mountain landscapes to pristine Ras Al-Khaimah beaches, Aladdin's cave-style gold souks and stunning desert sunsets. It can also boast the world's most expensive cocktails, served at Burj Al Arab – one of Dubai's most luxurious hotels – built in the iconic shape of a boat's sail.
Prepare to experience the height of desert opulence on your United Arab Emirates holidays. The Emirates' approach to scale is truly of Disneyland proportions. Everything in this federation of desert emirates is on a grand scale, from fabulous state-of-the-art resorts, amazing and truly innovative architecture and high-rise buildings, to mammoth shopping centres featuring the latest designer glitz and glamour.
This rather Western approach to consumer culture, most obvious in Dubai, coexists alongside traditional Islamic traditions and the simple nomadic lifestyle of the rural Bedouin population.
Abu Dhabi is the cultural and economic capital of the Emirates and although less flashy than Dubai, it offers a more authentic experience of the desert – which covers most of what the largest Emirate in terms of land mass. In oases like Al-Ain and Liwa, you can spend the night under the starry desert skies and enjoy camel races during the day.
All that glitters is gold in the UAE
In terms of city sights the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is not to be missed, with its golden Swarovski crystal chandelier, 85-metre marble dome and capacity for 40,000 worshippers. No United Arab Emirates Travel Guide can adequately describe it; it simply has to be seen to be believed!
Most flights to the United Arab Emirates arrive in cosmopolitan Dubai, which houses a growing expatriate community attracted to its warm climate and ample work opportunities. It is also home to Burj Khalifa, which at 829-metres became the world's tallest building upon completion in 2009, and the world's largest shopping centre – the sprawling Dubai Mall.
Once the shopping is done you can indulge in one of several Dubai tours which take in the region's stunning sand dunes for a spell of sandboarding, quad-bike riding or an unforgettable desert dinner under the stars.