he United Arab Emirates consists of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah, Ajman and Ra’s al-Khaimah. Four-fifths of the UAE is desert but has contrasting landscapes—from the towering red dunes of the Liwa to the rich palm-filled oases of Al Ain, from the precipitous Hajar Mountains to the more fertile stretches of its coastal plains.

Though small in size (similar to the size of Scotland), the UAE has become an important player in regional and international affairs.

In 1971, the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan unified the small, underdeveloped states into a federation—the only one in the Arab world. With his visionary leadership, oil wealth was used to develop the UAE into one of the world’s most open and successful economies.

In 2004, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan became president and has since continued to strive towards an ambitious vision for the UAE.

Globalized and Open

In just over three decades, the nation has transformed from a tribal culture reliant on agriculture and fishing to an entrepreneurial success story with world-class infrastructure. The leadership has improved education (effectively eliminating illiteracy), advanced health care and embraced change as the UAE modernizes, consistent with its history and cultural values.

The UAE is also strengthening institutions of government to ensure a transparent legal system with full regard for the quality of life of all citizens and residents. Four members of the Federal Cabinet are women.

The UAE is a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Today the UAE is a strong, vibrant and modern nation that is open to the world.

About Dubai

The United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations, has all the right ingredients for an unforgettable holiday: year-round sun, pristine beaches, unbeatable shopping, top-class hotels and restaurants, an intriguing traditional culture, and a safe and welcoming environment.

Abu Dhabi is fast becoming a leading sporting destination hosting the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula One Grand Prix. Abu Dhabi was voted one of the world’s Top 10 City Destinations by Lonely Planet and Frommers in 2010.

Dubai is a thrilling mix of the old and new. Whether it is shopping tax free in the city’s modern malls or exploring the many souks, staying in luxury hotels or experiencing the famed hospitality of the Arabian Bedouin, relaxing on miles of deserted beaches or partying in hip clubs and bars, Dubai has something for everyone.

Dubai is a leading sporting centre in the region. Among the numerous top class events held in the emirate are the Desert Classic PGA Golf Tournament, UIM Class One Powerboat World Championships, ATP Dubai Tennis Open, Dubai Sevens Rugby Tournament and the Dubai World Cup horse race. Dubai’s first-class sporting facilities and sunshine make it an ideal destination for an action-packed holiday. The variety of sports on offer ranges from deep-sea fishing to indoor skiing, and from golf on the Middle East’s international standard grass courses to sand skiing in the desert.

Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper in Dubai, and the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 828 m (2,717 ft). Construction on the $1.5 billion project began on 21 September 2004, with the exterior of the structure completed on 1 October 2009. In July 2007 the Burj Khalifa became the world’s tallest building when it reached a height of 512 meters. The building was officially opened by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on 4 January 2010.

Dubai Museum traces the city’s growth with innovative multi-media displays showing crafts, ecology and the way people lived. The Gold Souq is impressive for the sheer quantity of jewelry on display in the more than 200 shops. Not far from here is the Spice Souq, which merits a visit for its tremendous variety and exotic aromas.

There is far more to the UAE than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. First settled during the Bronze Age, Sharjah is renowned throughout the Arab world for its commitment to art and culture, and was named the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2014. Holidaymakers can explore the emirate’s heritage sites and admire the beautiful mosques and minarets, and enjoy the sandy beaches and clear blue seas of the Gulf of Oman

Ra’s al Khaimah, on the boarder with Oman, is a top destination for adventures travellers keen to discover unspoilt beaches and the rugged Hajar mountains, while wildlife lovers will be attracted to Sinaiyah Island in Umm al-Qaiwain, which is home to cormorants, Arabian gazelles and abundant marine life.