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The UAE, or the United Arab Emirates, is made up of seven emirates, although when you hear UAE, it usually conjures up images of the towering skyscrapers and endless shopping and entertainment options that the two main emirates, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, are known for.
But, this compact nation in the Middle East has so much to offer beyond this. Each of its emirates has its own captivating charm and will blow you away with timeless natural beauty and unequaled urban sights.
And, this list of top things to do in the UAE covers them all!
Top Things To Do in the UAE
1) See Dubai’s Unmatched Splendor From Burj Khalifa
This is one of the first and foremost attractions to hit up in all of the UAE. Found right in the center of the uber-glamorous neighborhood of Downtown Dubai, the 828-meter-high Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building.
There are three observation decks including the world’s highest observation deck at an altitude of 555 meters. Get the right ticket to gain entry into two or all of them; whichever ticket option you choose, it is a surefire way to take in the whole of Dubai, thanks to the state-of-the-art telescopes and wall-to-ceiling glass plus an outdoor viewing area.
This is a sightseeing experience like no other. Beyond views, you also get to enjoy one of the world’s fastest elevator rides and watch an enlightening multimedia display of Dubai’s humble past.
2) Enjoy All the Attractions at the Dubai Mall
No matter how many times you visit Dubai or the UAE, you won’t get enough of this huge mall, located adjacent to Burj Khalifa. Filled to the brim with over 1200 retail outlets, hundreds of dining venues, and loads of amusement choices, the Dubai Mall is nothing short of an incredible entertainment hub.
Fancy an ice skating session? The mall is home to Dubai Ice Rink where even your tiny tots can join you to twirl across the glossy ice floor. What’s more, you can visit the Middle East’s largest digital art gallery here, Infinity des Lumières, and even check out the region’s ultimate VR gaming attraction, Play DXB.
For your little ones, there is KidZania Dubai. If you are a karting enthusiast, don’t miss out Ekart Zabeel.
Entry to the Dubai Mall is free and so is watching the Dubai Fountain Show that takes place outside of the mall at Burj Lake. This aquatic performance is simply captivating! If you wish to catch this view in its entirety, it is possible by going on an abra ride at Burj Lake or by doing to the exclusive Dubai Fountain Boardwalk, a nominal fee applies for both.
3) Marvel at the Sheer Grandeur of Sheikh Zayed Mosque
There is no lack of religious or cultural landmarks in the UAE. But, this grand mosque in the capital city of Abu Dhabi is unmissable for its colossal size, distinguished architectural elements, and its all-white majesty.
Feel unequaled tranquility and beauty as you wander around this huge mosque that can comfortably accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers at a time.
The doors are open for both Muslims and non-Muslims and the best thing is that you don’t have to pay anything to enjoy access to it, just make sure that you wear modest, ankle-length clothing that covers your hair, arms, and shoulders.
Besides being the country’s largest religious place of interest, it also boasts record-breaking elements including having the world’s longest hand-knotted carpet.
4) Enjoy Dubai’s Diversity From the Water
Whether you wish to skip the crowds or are looking for an alternative way to admire Dubai’s cityscape, a boat cruise is the way to go. There are ample ways to enjoy a cruise in Dubai.
If you want to do it with a cultural touch, a dhow cruise at Dubai Creek or Dubai Marina is a must. You can do a two-hour cruise that includes dining, live entertainment (like Tanura), and unlimited refreshments onboard.
If your cruise expectation in Dubai is for something ultra stylish, you should consider a yacht charter Dubai experience. Depending on your preference, you can tailor your cruise experience to be on an hourly basis by including dining, entertainment, and other activities like fishing, skiing, etc to it.
Want to add some thrills to your Dubai cruise session? You can sign up for exhilarating water sports like banana boat rides, parasailing, flyboarding, etc.
5) Retreat to Ras Al Khaimah & Jebel Jais
Ras Al Khaimah is one emirate in the UAE where you will easily get the best of both worlds. No matter whether you are there for a refreshing scene shift or for a dose of exotic, out-of-this-world experiences, you get to enjoy it all here in a laid-back setting.
Go on a hiking trip or take a Ras Al Khaimah city tour that introduces you to both iconic sights and hidden gems such as Jazirah Al Hamra – an abandoned, haunted village. Just under an hour’s drive from Ras Al Khaimah is Jebel Jais, the country’s highest mountain peak.
More than that, it is a haven for adventurous activities including the world’s longest and highest zipline experience.
6) Discover the Arabian Desert
The Arabian Desert is one of the greatest natural treasures in the UAE. Dependent on where you are in the UAE, you can conveniently go on a guided desert safari whether you are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, or Ras Al Khaimah.
Regardless of the location, a desert safari encapsulates the most exciting adventures, from 4X4 dune bashing, quad biking, and sand boarding to an array of cultural activities like henna tattooing, falconry, and Shisha smoking.
For the ultimate desert expedition, choose an evening or overnight desert safari enriched by camping under the desert stars, BBQ dining, and traditional shows. And if you want to take your desert trip in the UAE to the next level, be sure to make your way to Liwa Oasis, lying along the world’s largest sand desert, Rub al Khali (Empty Quarter).
7) Experience the Ultimate in Theme Park Adventure and Amusement
Theme parks across the UAE take several guises, making the UAE a paradise for theme park lovers. Dubai probably tops the list, with options that are as diverse as Dubai Parks and Resorts, Atlantis Aquaventure, AquaFun Dubai, and IMG Worlds of Adventure.
While DPR has four parks, IMG is the region’s largest indoor theme park. To get the most out of your visit here, check for the DPR and IMG timing as well as attractions that you would like to experience.
Abu Dhabi is equally worth a trip for its theme parks. After all, it has an entire island dedicated to adventure and entertainment – Yas Island.
Here you will find the first-of-its-kind Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s largest water park – Yas Waterworld, the latest Warner Bros Abu Dhabi, and CLYMB Abu Dhabi, featuring one of the tallest indoor climbing walls and the largest indoor sky diving chambers.
8) Visit Al Zorah Nature Reserve
Ajman may be the smallest emirate in the UAE, but it packs a punch when it comes to its distinct offerings. Located in Ajman’s north, Al Zorah Nature Reserve is one of the emirate’s must-visits. This wildlife reserve is a hidden gem with its blend of spotless beaches, the enticing mangrove ecosystem, and exquisite underwater species as well as its bird population.
It also makes a wonderful spot to indulge in a variety of water sports activities. Take a kayaking tour or a boat trip to truly experience the reserve’s beauty and quietude in all its magnificence.
9) Escape To Fujairah’s Untouched Beauty
All emirates in the UAE, except for Fujairah, are along the Arabian Gulf. Fujairah is the country’s only emirate that lies along the Gulf of Oman. Not to mention, it has a mountainous setting complemented by picture-perfect islands and beaches.
Shopping options are aplenty all over the UAE, but the shopping session at Fujairah’s traditional Masafi Market is simply an experience like no other. And there are also a number of historical landmarks, cultural highlights, and pleasant picnic spots.
The country’s oldest-of-its-kind Al Badiyah Mosque, Fujairah Fort, and Bitnah Fort are a few worth visiting.
10) Drop Into Sharjah’s Cultural Landmarks
With its treasure trove of museums, art spaces, and preserved sites, Sharjah is rightly dubbed as the cultural capital of the UAE. Located just 40 minutes drive from Dubai, it will blow you away with its extraordinary setting and unpretentious charm.
It is no wonder that it was chosen as the Arab Capital of Culture in 1998 by UNESCO. You can visit the Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, and the age-old Sharjah Heritage Area, among other impressive landmarks.
With so much diversity and enchanting attractions packed into the UAE, it is a daunting task to create a checklist of UAE things to do.
But rest assured that you won’t miss out on the must-visits in the UAE if you stick to this list. They all are special in their own right and give you a great overview of every aspect that makes this country distinct and worth a visit.