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Many of the well-travelled among us will have stopped over in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of a trip to the Far East, but only the most seasoned will have paused to explore all this country has to offer. From ancient UNESCO sites, to the hustle and bustle of the busy metropolitan cities – there is so much to discover.
The Al Ain Sites have been occupied by humans since the Neolithic period, making them a fascinating landmark for those interested in anthropology and geography. The sites showcase the control exerted by ancient peoples over their landscapes, including one of the oldest examples of a sophisticated irrigation system that dates back to the Iron Age.
The architecture found in the UAE is unrivalled for its captivating beauty. The pristine white covering of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is decorated with shimmering gold leaf that glints in the sun, and the globed domes shine against the blue-sky backdrop. Meanwhile, gravity-defying skyscrapers and nouveau architecture are springing up all over the city, creating a fantastic skyline as the sun sets on the horizon.
One of the most memorable experiences when visiting the UAE is exploring its souks. These bustling markets stretch down covered roads before suddenly bursting into the shining sun, leaving a spectrum of colours in their wake. Stalls clutter every angle – heaped with handwoven rugs, draped in shining scarves, and piled with teetering pottery. However, our favourite stalls are those selling spices shaped into impressive cones in endless shades of red, ochre and amber.
Weather & Climate
The UAE is blessed with year-round sunshine, blue skies and very little rain.
When to go
The best time to visit is between October and April, when temperatures hover at a pleasant 25-28°C (77-82°F) and the Gulf is perfect for swimming.