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12 weeks before you go

United Arab Emirates holidays

Who is United Arab Emirates suitable for?
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Destination The United Arab Emirates has in recent years become one of the world's premier holiday destinations. It occupies a coastal strip on the edge of the Persian Gulf and is bordered by Oman and Saudi Arabia. The country is today most strongly associated with the futuristic metropolises of Abu Dhabi and Dubai - two cities that have benefitted enormously from great oil wealth and have morphed from small fishing towns to vast global cities in the space of a generation and a half. What is less commonly known is that there are actually seven different Emirates - Ajman, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi - and they offer considerable variety of culture and landscape.

For those looking for a luxury holiday of exquisite hotels, luxurious spas, beautiful beaches and world class cuisine, there really is no need to look any further than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Both boast stunningly modern skylines, fantastic theme parks and a huge number of Guinness world records. They make fantastic holiday destinations for couples, families and groups of friends and offer just about every sports or leisure facility you could possibly conceive of as well as some of the best shopping anywhere in the world. There is another side to the UAE though. The stunning landscapes of the Empty Quarter can be explored on camel back and its possible to charter cruises to the offshore mangrove swamps. There are lush oases, waterfalls and mountain ranges and - for the history buffs - there are a few ancient towns and villages that are well worth exploring.
For Singles

When: The United Arab Emirates are fairly sweltering - to put it mildly - at any time of the year. The most popular time to visit is between December and March.

Where: Why not be a bit adventurous and head into the Hajar Mountains on the border with Oman. These beautiful and ancient mountains shelter a rich and unique flora and fauna and are home to the fascinating Hatta Heritage Village - a real glimpse into the life of sixteenth century Arabia.

Why: Whilst the UAE is a place synonymous with opulent modernity, it also boasts an ancient history and a beautiful and rugged landscape. Trekking excursions into the Hajar Mountains can be arranged and a journey through the oases that surround Al Ain is another must.

For Groups

When: Head to The United Arab Emirates in the months of January or February. Despite being the coldest months of the year, temperatures still rival the hottest days of the British summer. This is a great destination for a spot of winter sun.

Where: Abu Dhabi is a fantastic destination for groups of friends and offers sights and attractions for guests of any persuasion. highlights include 'dune bashing', camel racing and lazing on the beach. There is also some world-class shopping to be done here with vast shopping centres including the Marina Mall and the Abu Dhabi Mall.

Why: Sometimes overlooked in favour of Dubai, Abu Dhabi has a rich and varied nightlife including a range of jazz bars, cocktail bars, Irish pubs and nightclubs. The highlight of the calendar is the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which is held on the vast Yas Island and which neighbours the Ferrari Theme Park.

For Couples

When: It's too hot to do anything other than wander round vast air conditioned malls in the spring and summer months. Head to the UAE in December or January to top up on some much needed vitamin D!

Where: Why not try something a little different on your trip to the UAE. Umm al Quwain is a peaceful and attractive little city and much more traditional than others in the UAE. Traditional activities are still much in evidence - camel racing, dhow building and falconry. There is also a gorgeous little corniche and horse riding and sailing trips can be arranged.

Why: Umm al Quwain is an interesting little place and is much less crowded and touristy than Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It also boasts a fairly rich history which is showcased in the Umm al Quwain Museum - which is located inside an old fortress. Other attractions worth seeing include the Al Dur archaeological site which dates back to 200BC.

For Families

When: The UAE can be a great place to take the kids on their school christmas holidays. The weather is till reasonably manageable in the spring half term but by the Easter holidays is quite unbearably hot.

Where: Dubai is the perfect place to go on a family holiday. The popular family attractions include the Wild Wadi Water Park - where a number of water slides, rides and swimming pools are available - and the indoor ski slopes. There are also beautiful beaches where a great selection of water sports are available and kids will love quad biking in the desert.

Why: Dubai offers activities and entertainment for all age groups. The kids will love the theme parks and sporting facilities, whilst parents can enjoy relaxing by swimming pools, indulging in treatments in state of the art spas and dining on fantastic international cuisine in the city's many restaurants.

Weather The United Arab Emirates has a tropical desert climate with long and very hot summers and short warm winters. The hottest months of the year are July and August, when the average highs are regularly up around 40ºC and the nighttime lows are around 30ºC. The winters are much more pleasant - with highs in the mid twenties celsius and lows around 15ºC. The coastal regions are much more humid than the inland areas whilst the mountainous regions of Al Hajar are much cooler and experience a much higher rainfall level.
Average monthly Temperature C Average temperature in United Arab Emirates
What to expectThe United Arab Emirates is a fascinating place of many contradictions. Its fast paced modernity and cosmopolitanism seems sometimes at odds with its traditionally Islamic legal code and customs. The most obvious manifestation of this is in the draconian legislation surrounding purchase and consumption of alcohol. This said, The UAE is a fantastic destination for a holiday. It boasts some of the best hotels, restaurants, spas and theme parks anywhere in the world. It has fantastic shopping centres, a vibrant and diverse nightlife and a stunningly rugged natural beauty. Visitors should be well aware of the intense heat and should avoid being out for too long in the midday sun - especially during the summer months. Flight InformationFlights available from:
Dublin, Manchester

Airlines:
Air France, British Airways, Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Atlantic

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