© Peter Adams / age fotostock
The Emirates sit in the Arabian desert that is dotted with oases like that of Al-Ain. The cities are however extremely built up, with Dubai being the most urban, closely followed by Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). Although Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirates, Dubai is the most famous of the seven emirates due to its impressively fast, some might say rash, and brash development over the last 10 years.
Dubai is situated on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates and is roughly at sea level. The emirate of Dubai shares borders with Abu Dhabi in the south, Sharjah in the northeast, and the Sultanate of Oman in the southeast. Hatta, a minor exclave of the emirate, is surrounded on three sides by Oman and by the emirates of Ajman (in the west) and Ras Al Khaimah (in the north). The Persian Gulf borders the western coast of the emirate. Dubai covers an area of 1,588sq mi, which includes its expansion due to land reclamation from the sea - an extra 88sq mi were added to its original area.
The UAE is composed of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, the capital, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
The Emirate coasts, with their luxurious beaches, border the sapphire blue waters of the Persian Gulf. This sandy paradise is the delight of holidaymakers in Dubai, and the refuge of various animal species in the protected zones where the mangrove grows.
The United Arab Emirates is home to two main varieties of plant life: the salt-loving vegetation of the marshes and swamps, including the dwarf mangrove, and a range of desert plants, which are most abundant after the rainfall.
The animal and reptile population is similar to that of Bahrain, with the addition of the fox, wolf, jackal, wildcat, and lynx. Over 250 species of small birds inhabit the United Arab Emirates, along with many larger birds?kites, buzzards, eagles, falcons, owls, and harriers. A variety of sea birds, including gulls, terns, ospreys, waders, and flamingos also make their home there. Popular game birds include the houbara (ruffed bustard), as well as species of ducks and geese.
Dubai, in its culture as well as its shopping, provides a mixture of the old and the new. Check out some of the modern architecture, such as the Burj Al Arab hotel, but don't forget to take advantage of some of the more traditional aspects of the Emirates through visits to old forts, museums and archaeological sites.
Be prepared for contrasts, the comingling of activities in a region of the world where the western way of life meets Oriental culture in restaurants, cafés and common areas.