Be under no illusion that the UAE is just Dubai, and Dubai reflects the whole UAE. There’s so much diversity here in the UAE that it really has to be seen, explored and experienced to be believed.
From towering skyscrapers lining the 14 lane highway known as Sheikh Zayed Road through the heart of Dubai, through to the endless desert sands, meandering wadi’s and imposing mountains – and they’re just in the Emirate of Dubai.
Let’s put things in to perspective here – the UAE is made up of seven Emirates; Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain. These individual Emirates joined up on the 2nd December 1971 to become one country, the United Arab Emirates, but still retaining their own rulers (Sheikh’s) and rules, with the capital in Abu Dhabi looking after wider affairs with representatives from each Emirate. It’s worth reading the insightful article from Zayed University to understand a little more about the history of the UAE and its formation – http://www.zu.ac.ae/main/en/_careers/living/story.aspx
When you look on a map (Google Maps) you can see the variety that the UAE has to offer, with large swathes of the population living along the west coast, backing out on to the Arabian Gulf, flanked by the Hajar Mountains to the North, crossing through the Emirates of Dubai, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, and the expansive Rub’ al Khali to the south – the Empty Quarter taking up much of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, stretching out in to Oman and Saudi Arabia.
It’s easy to think that the whole UAE reflects that shallow and superficial image that’s often portrayed, especially of Dubai. And while this image is a reality for much of ‘new Dubai’, head away from the 5* hotels and beach clubs and you soon get a better picture of the real Dubai and UAE – the foundations the Emirate and wider country were built on.
There an amazing sense of heritage and culture all around just waiting to be discovered. From the narrow bustling souks in Bur Dubai and Deira, the corniche and fish markets in Abu Dhabi, the isolated wadi’s in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah and the rich pearl diving heritage of Umm al Quwain.
It doesn’t take much research to find out about these little hidden gems and my aim to shed a little bit more light on these, helping more people to understand the true United Arab Emirates.