We’re taking you out of Dubai to discover what the other emirates have to offer.
It’s no secret that we’re pretty fond of Dubai, but venture beyond our borders and you may be surprised to find what’s in the six other emirates. Each one has its own unique charm. Here’s our guide to exploring the amazing country in which we live.
As the largest emirate, there’s a lot to explore. One of our favourites is the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, both a religious and tourist hotspot.
For a taste of traditional life, head to the fish, plant and fruit market at Mina Zayed – a lively way to see a hidden side to the capital. While you’re there, pop into art hub Warehouse 421 to learn about Abu Dhabi’s heritage.
Nature lovers can head to Sir Bani Yas Island with its local flora and fauna – or if you love history, Dalma Island’s pearl diving past is for you. Adventure? Excitement? If you crave these things how about AUH’s theme parks. On Yas you’ll find Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and the newly-opened Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi.
There’s even more to see down the road in Al Ain, from hot springs at Green Mubazzarah and Jebel Hafeet to the UNESCO protected Oasis.
Finally, you won’t want to miss the Empty Quarter, one of the largest stretches of contiguous sand desert anywhere. Little wonder it’s a favourite for Hollywood location scouts.
There’s a lot more to Dubai than just skyscrapers and shopping. Start your day off in the more traditional Old Dubai. Lose yourself in the 19th century Bastakiya Quarter, and don’t miss the Camel Museum and Dubai Museum for another look at Bedouin culture.
Take a lazy abra ride across the creek to Deira and make a stop at the bustling gold and spice souks, as well as Heritage House, the palatial home of a former pearl merchant. For something more modern, Box Park, Al Seef and City Walk are great spots for shopping, strolling and dining, or Dragon Mart for some cheap and cheerful deals.
Al Quoz’s Alserkal Avenue is home to Dubai’s burgeoning culture scene, where there are talks, galleries and art in one place, and culture vultures should also head to the city’s newest offering, the Dubai Opera, to catch a show.
As the cultural jewel in the Emirates’ crown, Sharjah is your stop for all things art and heritage. Head to Sharjah Art Museum to see a collection of artworks from 18th century painters. Maraya Art Centre is next up, a non-profit space that offers a public arts and exhibitions programme.
The Sharjah Aquarium is a great stop for families, and you can round out the day with a peaceful stroll on Al Majaz waterfront, where there’s plenty to see, shop and do as the sun goes down. Before you head home, stop at the Blue Souk to pick up some gifts. This blue-tiled building houses 600 shops with everything from local gifts to electronics and gold.
Ras Al Khaimah
If it’s rugged beauty you want, Ras Al Khaimah is full of greenery and natural beauty. Pack your hiking boots or bike, because the Hajar Mountains beckon – home to Jebel Jais, the UAE’s tallest mountain, and a world’s longest zip-line if you’re feeling adventurous.
Not a fan of heights? Trek around Wadi Bih, located near the Oman border, and after the hike, soak your toes in the Khatt hot springs. The mineral-rich waters reach temperatures of 40 degrees – perfect to ease those aching muscles. Don’t forget to visit the 19th century Dhayah Fort before you leave, as well as the eerie abandoned pearling village Al Jazirat Al Hamra.
Umm Al Quwain
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, Umm Al Quwain, nestled between Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, is the least populous of all the emirates.
It’s home to ancient city Tell Abraq, as well as one of the largest pre-Islamic sites in the UAE, Ed-Dur. Nature lovers should take a trip to Seneyah Island. The nature sanctuary is home to native Al Qaram trees, as well as nesting birds including flamingos, herons and plovers.
If you’ve got little ones in tow, then Dreamland Aqua Park will keep them busy after you’ve seen the sights.
Ajman might be the smallest emirate, but don’t take that to mean it isn’t crammed with things to do. With museums and a Bronze Age archaeological site, the emirate is a historical hub.
The city runs along a natural creek, so follow the water to one of the region’s last dhow building yards, where artisans construct the vessels using traditional methods. If you’re up for chilling, you’re in luck: Ajman’s beaches are known to be some of the prettiest in the UAE.
Sitting on the Gulf of Oman coastline, Fujairah was once a point on ancient trade routes and it’s also home to the UAE’s oldest mosque. Built in 1446 from mud and bricks, Al Bidyah Mosque is perfect for history nerds.
The emirate is also home to many forts, including one of the oldest in the country, Fujairah Fort. After you’ve geeked out on history, grab your wetsuit. Fujairah has some of the clearest water around, which makes it perfect for learning to snorkel or scuba dive around well-known landmark Snoopy Island.
Planning on taking a road trip to explore the UAE? Don’t forget to tag us in your favourite pictures on Instagram @DubaiWeek!