After the British withdrew from the Gulf in the 1970s, the United Arab Emirates was formed comprising seven sheikhdoms including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The landscape is similar to many other Arab countries: long stretches of desert alongside crystal clear beaches, the UAE embraces western ideals while retaining traditional values. Travellers coming off their flight to the UAE will be amazed to find a country that effortlessly blends old with new. Behind every gleaming shopping mall is an old souk and beyond its glitzy cities are ancient sites and old fishing villages waiting to be explored.
Before booking your UAE flight it’s important decide which emirate you want to stay in since hotel accommodation is usually booked months in advance. The “Vegas of the Middle East”, Dubai, offers holidaymakers the best of everything – from shopping to eating out while Abu Dhabi’s beach resorts provide a more relaxing stay away from the crowds. Year-round both cities play host to a variety of world-renowned cultural and sporting events, most notably the Abu Dhabi Gold Championship, the Dubai World Cup and the Dubai Shopping Festival.
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Warm winters and hot (albeit humid) summers feature in the UAE. Even in winter, daytime temperatures hover about 26 degrees Celsius; night-time temperatures can plummet to about 5 degrees however. Summer temperatures can hit the mid-40s or higher inland. It doesn’t rain very much, usually just during the winter months.
October until May. Temperatures are about 35 degrees Celsius and the evenings are warm. November to February is also a good time to go. The days are still warm – up to 24 degrees Celsius – but the evenings are cooler (about 13 degrees Celsius).
The period between June and September is hot; temperatures climb to the high 40s and it is very humid. However this is when many businesses offer good discounts for travellers.
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Inter city bus services are available.
Many leading car-hire companies such as Avis, Budget and Thrifty, are represented at the airports and around the UAE. As you’d expect from an oil-producing country, petrol is very cheap. Drive on the right.
Taxis are plentiful and inexpensive both around Dubai and for long-distance trips. And a water taxi (abra) across the Creek is a tourist must-do.