The 7 emirates of the United Arab Emirates

This article is a technical comparison between the 7 emirates of the United Arab Emirates in tourist terms. Probably you have already heard of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but you never considered staying longer than the time you needed to catch your next plane on a transfer stopover. Most likely you never read anything about the 5 remaining Emirates of the union. This is your moment. Here we will review on a quick look how all the Emirates of the United Arab Emirates are from a tourist perspective. We will summarize what you can do and for what kind of traveler can be a good opcion. 

What to expect about United Arab Emirates

The country is a federation of seven emirates along the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. The area has been traditionally under control of a few families or Arab clans. Portuguese, Dutch and English influenced the territory trying to establish trade hubs. The English made some truces that formally remained until in 1971, when the federation of the seven Emirates gave birth to UAE as a new state. 

The capital is in Abu Dhabi, but the influence of Dubai is very much present in terms of international relationships and business. The Emirates formally have different governments and rules. Nevertheless, as a tourist you only will notice mild differences in terms of dressing codes or alcohol accessibility. There are no borders between the Emirates and the landscapes are quite similar. The distances though from spot to spot are longer than you might think. 

The emirates have a mixed environment of rocky desert, coastal plains and a few wetlands. In the outerlands, there are some desertic waterless mountain ranges. The seashore has unspoiled beaches and opulent resorts for international travelers. Locals are educated and gentle. 80% of the population is out working class immigrants, who are as nice as the locals. The rules in the country are strict and very much respected since the punishment can be dire as you can imagine coming from the Western World. 

Abu Dhabi

This is the largest of the seven emirates. Since it has a large territory it is probably the most diverse of all of them. It has some very far away villages from the capital and a very important city called Al Ain that belongs to Abu Dhabi. The capital is a big city pretending to perform as the capital of the future of the country. Even so, it has been clearly eclipsed in its modernity and international influence by Dubai. It has a nice Corniche, empty beaches, skyscrapers and a nice list of heritage. 

Assets of Abu Dhabi

  • Qasr Al Watan – The Presidential Palace
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
  • Oasis of Dignity
  • Qasr Al Hosn
  • The Rixos Marina
  • Corniche Viewing Deck
  • Louvre Abu Dhabi
  • Al Ain
  • Jebel Mountains

If you want to know more about Abu Dhabi, just check our full review about the largest of the emirates. For more information about Al Ain or if you want to check what is Jebel Hafeet about just read our full articles about those topics on besidestheobvious.net

What kind of tourists is Abu Dhabi for?

Abu Dhabi can be a good stopover for business travelers. I can also be good for city lovers who want to enjoy some luxury at a good price and to taste some part of easy glamor. It is also an interesting emirate for discoverers and even backpackers who want to explore the inner part of the desert and follow the tracks of the ancient travelers through the empty quarter and discover unknown heritage.

Dubai 

Dubai is huge, modern and impersonal. It can be beautiful or impressive in some parts because of the presence of some of the most famous skyscrapers in the world. However can be as boring as boundless since the distances are very long, the streets are not very pedestrian friendly in many parts of the city and there are not many nice crowded terraces where you feel invited to stay randomly. And yes, the hot temperatures, the high prices and the very strict regulations about taking pictures in public spaces or public displays of affection (for example) break this amazing city from being as cool as it has the potential to be. 

Assets of Dubai

  • Burj Khalifa
  • The Dubai Mall
  • Al Seef 
  • Al Fahidi Fort
  • Wall of Old Dubai
  • Dubai Water Fountain
  • Jumeirah Mosque
  • Dubai Frame
  • Burj Al Arab
  • JBR Beach
  • Bur Grand Dubai Mosque
  • Dubai Opera
  • Dubai Water Canal
  • Dubai Marina
  • La Mer Neighbourhood
  • Deira Gold Souk
  • Dubai Expo

What kind of tourists is Dubai for?

Dubai is for urban lovers and all what a great metropolis can provide. Plenty of options of accommodations, restaurants of international cuisine and the best public transport, including metro, in the country. If you like shopping or clubbing this is your place too, but the luxuries in UAE are always expensive. 

Sharjah 

Sharjah is a trip to the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates. Formerly it was the most important city in the area. However, the frenetic development of Dubai in recent decades has relegated Sharjah to an apparent secondary role. Currently, Sharjah is a kind of neighboring emirate, adjoining and in the shadow of Dubai. However, Sharjah is also one of the main economic centers of the country. It has a very Dubai-like skyline with skyscrapers everywhere, where many of Dubai’s workers live. In Sharjah everything is cheaper. You can park on the street and the options for tourists are more affordable. Sharjah has sought its own identity through culture. With its many museums and well-preserved historical heritage, Sharjah ranks high in the country’s tourism in its own right. 

Assets of Sharjah

  • The Blue Souk
  • Sharjah Fort Al Hisn
  • Islamic Civilization Museum
  • Al Khan Beach
  • Sharjah Art Museum
  • Bujaira Corniche
  • Al Noor Island
  • Al Huda Mosque
  • Sharjah Cultural Square
  • Mleiha Archaeological Site
  • Khor Fakkan

What kind of tourists is Sharjah for?

Sharjah is made for cultural tourists mainly. If you are one of those who enjoys the museums and arts, this is your place. It is supposed to be the most conservative of the emirates but, besides alcohol is fully forbidden, we felt good there. We could even go to the beach in Al Khan and we found very good affordable international food. Sharjah is beautiful and kind of very authentic compared to Dubai. Definitely, our favorite destination in the country. 

Ajman

Ajman is the smallest of all seven emirates and is famous for its calmness and beautiful beaches. Lately it has developed its economic sectors in a way that the government could build many infraestructures and get plenty of options of sightseeing such as museums, the fort and shopping malls. As a tourist destination, it offers a sunny vacation, some of the best sandy shoreline and an enriching historical experience. 

Assets of Ajman

  • Ajman Dhow Yard
  • Ajman National Museum
  • Al Zorah Natural Reserve
  • Al Murabba Watchtower
  • Ajman Marina
  • Etisalat Tower
  • Ajman Corniche
  • Sheikh Zayed Mosque
  • Seneyah Island

What kind of tourists is Ajman for?

Couples with time and beach lovers. It can be the perfect destination if you choose carefully a nice spot where to stay some days. The culture of tourism there is under development and soon it will be a place for luxury lovers too. 

Ras-Al-Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah has a beautiful coastline adorned with beautiful lagoons and tranquil sandy beaches making it a perfect destination for sportife vacationers. Go camping, biking and even the World’s longest zipline at the UAE’s Jebel Jais. Ras Al-Khaimah is also a city in development with some new chain restaurants and malls that provide city sport options such as kayaking. The city has evolved itself as a prominent business hub by encouraging innovation, dynamism and entrepreneur culture. The region includes desert, mountains, beaches and lagoons and even Bedouin settlements in the desert. This is the perfect blend of modernism and tradition. 

Assets of Ras-Al-Khaimah

  • Jebel Jais
  • Jazirat Al Hamra
  • National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah
  • Shimal
  • Al Hamra Mall
  • Hajar Mountains
  • Wadi Shawka
  • RAK Mall
  • RAK Mangroves

What kind of tourists is Ras-Al-Khaimah for?

Sportive tourists would find in Ras Al Khaimah kind of a promised land. The options are really worth for them in the city and outside on the list of natural assets of this emirate. 

Fujairah 

Fujairah is known for its castles and beaches. In Fujairah it seems that time stopped some centuries ago and the conservation of its spread heritage has been very easy. In Fujairah you may find the most antique Mosque in the country. The beaches are calm and empty, so they are perfect spots for offshore activities including scuba diving and snorkeling. There are many beautiful sites for this kind of entertainment available in the area.

Assets of Fujairah 

  • Fujairah Fort
  • Al-Bidyah Mosque
  • Bithnah Fort
  • Al-Hayl Castle
  • Wahlah Fort
  • Dibba
  • Fujairah Heritage Village
  • Snoopy Island
  • Umbrella Beach
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

What kind of tourists is Fujairah for?

History lovers and solitude enjoyers. If you like the heritage and when you visit a country you have a checking list with all the hidden historical places on a map this is your place. For those who love reading without any distraction or annoyance around, Fujairah would be a good option.  

Umm Al Quwain

The last emirate on our list is Umm Al Quwain. This is a place where time has also stopped, but in a different way. So far, this is the most undeveloped of the 7 emirates and probably the poorest. It is a unique place where the visitor could understand how this territory was before the boom of the petrol and the artificial richness brought. Umm Al Quwain provides facilities for some tourist activities. It is possible to practice sailing, skydiving and traditional activities such as dhow building, falconry and camel racing. 

Assets of Umm Al Quwain

  • Umm Al Quwain Fort
  • Umm Al Qwain Open Beach
  • UAQ National Museum
  • Umm Al-Qaiwain Center of Antiquities
  • Umm Al-Qaiwain Mangroves

What kind of tourists is Umm Al Quwain for?

Nostalgics and vintage lovers. Umm Al Quwain is a friendly place where the visitor would feel really good. The visit would provide a different perspective of the United Arab Emirates and the understanding of this local culture could be a very profitable experience for the tourist. 

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