It isn’t easy to pick just the 15 best tourist attractions in the UAE from the multitude of options available to a visitor. The UAE is a concoction of deserts, beaches, natural eco-systems, historic landmarks, breathtaking engineering and much more. The union nation of seven emirates makes for an exciting and extensive itinerary. However, after much deliberation, I give you 15 of the must-visit tourist destinations (in no specific order) in the UAE.
1. Desert Safari Tourism
Desert Safari Tourists can choose between day or night desert safaris. The night safaris are made more exciting by belly dancing, live barbeque pits and delicious food. Watching the belly dancers huddled in the warmth of the camp-fire is an experience like none other. Sand dune bashing, sand skiing, sand surfing, go-karting and camel rides are a treat for the adventure seekers. You can also spot desert habitants like the oryx, gazelle, sand fox and vultures. Avail professional services for a well-planned and fun experience in the desert.
2. Yas Island
The Yas Island is a man-made island and is a well-rounded tourist destination. The island is located in Abu Dhabi and boasts of a 52 meter long F1 circuit. It has six star hotels, a magnificent five-star luxury hotel, a beach that offers mangrove tours, a marina circuit that can accommodate a number motorsports, an exciting water theme park and restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.
3. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center
Abu Dhabi The grandeur of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque center is best experienced firsthand. The fab white mosque has been constructed using natural materials like marble, semi-precious stones, gold and ceramics. Magnificent chandeliers and carpets adorn the interiors of the building. Visitors get a real sense of Arabia at the mosque.
4. Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world standing at 823 m and has 164 floors! It is considered an engineering wonder of the new ages. It has the highest viewing platform in the world. The observatory located on the 124th floor, has become an icon that is associated with Dubai. Buy your tickets to the Burj online well in advance so you don’t miss out on the available slots.
5. Hajar Mountains
The Hajar Mountain range runs between the borders of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and Oman. The Hajar Mountains make for exciting treks and adventure activities. The mountain ranges are a stark opposite to buzz of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Tiny shepherd huts dot the foot of the mountains. The Hajar Mountains are also popular amongst geologists for the ophiolites in the area. After the trek, you could also head down to the nearby Shimal Village – an archeological site. Shimal is home to many ancient pre-Islamic tombs, weapons, and makes for an interesting visit.
6. Beaches in the UAE
Some of the world’s best beaches are along the coastline of the UAE. White crystal sand and state-of-the-art facilities beautifully blend at these beaches bringing a balance between nature and modernity. The Yas and the JBR beaches are the most famous beaches in the UAE. JBR has a host of activities and facilities for the entire family. It has a whole lot of cafes, restaurants, gaming arenas and movie screens to keep you entertained. The Mirfa beach is home to the annual Al Gharbia watersports.
7. Dhow Cruise
The Dhow cruise has rightfully earned its place on this list. The Dhow is a traditional wooden Boat decorated in Arabic style. The dhow cruise is two hour long expedition into the Dubai creek. The boat has upper and lower decks. Tourists can indulge in delicious food served on floating restaurants on the creek and can also enjoy live dance performances. The dhow cruise in the crisp Dubai night air is an experience you would never want to end.
8. Observatory of the Etihad Towers
The Observatory offers a breathtaking view of Abu Dhabi and the neighbouring islands. It is located at exactly 300 m off the ground and has a plenty of delicious treats to offer to the visitors. Fresh refreshments, knick-knacks and tea are offered to complement the fantastic view of the city from the Observatory.
9. Palm Islands
The Dubai palm Islands are often called the ‘Eighth World Wonder’. It is the world’s largest man-made archipelago and is made up of seven smaller islands. Though, only 3 islands of the Palm Islands are functional, the functioning islets are drawing quite a number of tourist visits. The group of islands houses 60 luxury hotels, 4,000 villas, 1,000 water homes, 5,000 apartments, restaurants, cafes, malls, sports facilities, spas, movie screens and deep-diving sites.
10. Al Noor Mosque
The Al Noor mosque is one of the three mosques Sharjah open to public. It is a magnificent culmination of art and engineering. The mosque is entirely made of white stone and rises opposite a beautiful creek. Wooden boats ply the waters of the creek and tourists can catch a breathtaking view of the mosque, reflecting the setting sun’s orange hues. The white exterior of Al Noor complements the blue lagoon beautifully and is a sight that cannot be matched.
11. Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is the 4th tallest hotel in the world. Located in Dubai, the luxury icon is shaped like the sail of a dhow. Burj Al Arab is connected with the mainland by means of a private bridge. The hotel is bathed in luxury and only guests are allowed in its premises. Visitors can also enter the hotel with a prior booking of the table at one of its restaurants. The Burj Al Arab offers a majestic view of the city and has everything that a discerning foodie can ask for.
12. Al Bidyah Mosque
The historic Al Bidyah mosque is the oldest mosque to be ever constructed in the UAE and is located in the emirate of Fujairah. It resides in a little village, 50 km off the main city. The mosque is an ancient structure believed to be built in the 15th century and is made of mud, stones and bricks reinforced with limestone. The mosque has continued to baffle historians about when it was constructed and by whom.
13. Aquaventure Water Park
Located in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain, the Aquaventure water park is considered one of the best water parks in the world. With restaurants, theatres, an almost natural river rafting zone, camping areas and even a mini-zoo, Aquaventure is a favourite amongst tourists and locals. It has some very thrilling rides to offer and packs in a few shopping areas too.
14. The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road
The Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road is often called the “Greatest Driving Road in the world” and for good reason. The road offers a scenic drive with breathtaking views up the Jebel Hafeet Mountains. The road is a biker’s paradise and promises to give enthusiasts an experience of a lifetime. The Mercure hotel on the top is a delightful place to wind-down.
15. Al Majaz waterfront
Sharjah The Al Majaz Waterfront is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the emirate of Sharjah. It sprawls majestically close to the lagoon and is equipped with cafes, restaurants, kids’ play areas and much more. Food and music festivals are held frequently on the grounds. The highlight of the place is the Sharjah Fountain which jettisons water a hundred meters towards the sky. All the water spouts are lit by colouful lights making the night come alive with vibrant shades. The fountain has become reminiscent with Sharjah and makes for a fascinating sight.