When most people think of Dubai, they’re thinking of luxury malls and luxury cars, skyscrapers, and the world’s tallest building. But Dubai isn’t an island. It’s located right on the Arabian mainland, and from it, you can take some great day trips. Buses are clean and comfortable – and easy to use to travel beyond the edges of this impossible city.
The capital of the country that Dubai is a part of – the United Arab Emirates, or UAE – is not actually Dubai. The capital is Abu Dhabi.
And it’s actually in another state, or “emirate” – which means that it’s governed by a different emir.
Abu Dhabi has it all – from the super-luxurious Ferrari World to some great museums and spots for soaking in the UAE’s culture, such as the Palace Museum and the Al Jahili Fort. There’s the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of only two mosques in the country to offer entry to non-Muslims. Or Heritage Village, a representation of the original fishing village that this town was before the discovery of oil, and its economic explosion.
And, of course, there’s a beach. Far more than one, but the best has to be Saadiyat Beach Club, on its own island. It’s long (8 km, or 5 miles), fun, and a great place to lay back and see if you can spot turtles or dolphins.
Abu Dhabi is only an hour and a half away from Dubai – and it’s definitely worth a visit.
Sharjah is yet another emirate in the UAE. (It has a total of 7.) This emirate foregoes the glitz of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to focus on culture. It’s home to some of the best museums, art galleries, and the like, in all of the country.
And what about beaches? The public Al Kahn Beach has kitesurfing, parasailing, waterskiing, jet-boarding, and surfing, and its amenities include sun loungers, washrooms, and a café. You could easily spend your whole day in Sharjah here!
One thing to keep in mind is that Sharjah is not Dubai, and people here aren’t as used to non-Muslim tourists. If you aren’t Muslim, dress conservatively. Keep your beach clothes to the beach – and even there, don’t flaunt anything. Lastly, Sharjah is a dry emirate, which means that it’s strictly illegal to bring any alcohol, even if you bought it legally in Dubai.
But – if you’re willing to respect the local customs – this is a great place to visit!
Ras Al Khaimah
Ras Al Khaimah, or RAK, is the northernmost of the seven united Arab emirates. It’s an easy day trip from Dubai, either by bus or by private car, and it boasts several forts, museums, and the like.
Furthermore, here in RAK you can find excellent beaches – not overrun with crowds like those in Dubai!
Overall, RAK is far less glamorous than Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or even Sharjah. It has much more of a local feel. Yes, the majority of the locals are still – like in most of the UAE – foreigners from India or Pakistan; but if you’re a Westerner, you’re likely to be the only such many times on the street. Even in the high season, the museums – unlike nearby Dubai! – are not overflowing.
Maybe not a must-see, RAK is certainly worth the drive if you have some extra time in Dubai!
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