Situated on the Arabian Peninsula in the heart of the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprises seven states, or emirates, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Prior to becoming a major exporter of oil, the region that became the United Arab Emirates based its economy primarily on fishing and the pearl industry. In the 1960s, the rise of the oil industry brought rampant infrastructure development that saw its climax at the turn of the 21st century with Dubai’s bid to become the cosmopolitan center of finance and tourism in the Middle East.
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai
As of 2010, Dubai boasts the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Completed in 2009 and standing at 2,717 feet, the Burj Khalifa measures nearly twice the height of the Empire State Building. Residential apartments fill most of the space in the building. Tourists wishing to experience the Burj Khalifa's magnificent 360-degree views over the Gulf and desert can pay 100 AED for a scheduled visit to the top of the observation deck (or 400 AED for immediate admission). Visitors can purchase tickets at the entrance in the Dubai mall. The visit includes a trip in the Burj Khalifa's high-speed elevator, multimedia presentations about the building's history, and telescopes at the observation deck.
Burj Khalifa 1 Emaar Blvd. Dubai, UAE Local: 800 BURJ +9714 8888888 burjkhalifa.ae
The Palm Islands in Dubai
Another awe-inspiring project in Dubai features three artificial islands shaped like palms and jetting into the Persian Gulf. Known as the Palm Islands and visible from space satellites, these artificial peninsulas house commercial and residential developments. The original idea for the Palm Islands came from the ruler of Dubai who wanted to create a solution for Dubai's shortage of access to beaches. The palm shapes allow for more beach front property than a circular island.
Visitors can access any of the three islands–Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Jumeirah, Palm Deira–via taxis and enjoy beaches, water sports, restaurants, hotels, and shopping.
The Palm Islands thepalm.ae
Qasr al-Hosn in Abu Dhabi
Many consider Qasr al-Hosn, an expansive fort structure with white walls in the heart of Abu Dhabi, as the city’s most important historical landmark and one of the most important in the United Arab Emirates. Originally constructed as a watchtower in the 18th century, the site served as the city’s seat of power for over two centuries until the 1960s.
Sheikh Zayed the First Street Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates +971 2 621 5300. adach.ae
Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi
In 2007, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque opened in Abu Dhabi as the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and one of the largest in the world. Named after Abu Dhabi's ruler from 1971 to 2004, The Sheikh Zayed Mosque's has a capacity of approximately 40,000 people.
Visitors to the mosque should respect Muslim religious customs and wear appropriate clothing. This means not wearing shorts or skirts and removing shoes upon entering. Women must wear headscarves, which the mosque can provide upon entry. In addition, visitors should avoid displays of intimacy such as hand-holding and kissing. Daily tours take place at 10 a.m. except during Friday's prayers. For visitors without personal cars, taxi services provide access to the mosque.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque Between Mussafah Bridge & Al Maqtaa Bridge Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates visitabudhabi.ae