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Bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Oman to the east, the seven emirates that comprise the uae lie in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula on the warm shores of the Arabian Gulf. Its 1,318km coastline also meets the Indian Ocean. At 83,600 sq km, the uae is about the same size as Austria. While the cities of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah have grown inexorably, much of the country, particularly the southwest, has remained simple, low-rise and sparsely populated compared to the denser coastal areas.

It’s possible to drive to all seven emirates in a day, from Abu Dhabi to Dubai then Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. But we suggest seeing them all at a rather slower clip. There’s more about their individual charms overleaf.

What surprises many about the uae is the diversity of landscapes. Home to some of the Empty Quarter, the world’s largest sand desert, the uae includes salt flats, dunes, the islands of Abu Dhabi and the craggy Hajar mountains of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. There’s plenty to uncover, from wildlife retreats to archaeological sites and a thriving cultural scene. The nation has 10 airports and incomparable connectivity to the region. Now that you’ve arrived, let’s show you around. 

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Understanding the emirates

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