Dubai is a popular city, so much so that many people tend to forget that it is only a part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country that has six other Emirates. The main reason for this is that Dubai is promoted heavily for tourism. Right from its grand structures to its theme parks and shopping festivals, people hear a lot about the happenings of Dubai throughout the year. However, this does not mean that it is the only place in the UAE worth visiting. In fact, the other Emirates of the country possess some of the best gems of the country that are worth visiting. If you are living and working in Dubai and want to take a break from the city during the weekend or even if you are a tourist who wants to see something more than just Dubai, these places to visit around Dubai would definitely interest you.
Abu Dhabi is not only the capital of the country but also the largest Emirate of the UAE. Although it is not as popular as Dubai, it would be surprising to know that Abu Dhabi is also the richest Emirate and the financial capital of the country. Here are some of the most important places that you can visit in Abu Dhabi.
Made with white marble, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE, with more than 1000 domes. The mosque is also home to the largest chandelier made of Swarovski crystals and the largest hand-knitted carpet. The best time to visit this gorgeous place of worship is at dusk when the place is illuminated with beautiful lights.
The Ferrari World on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island is a Ferrari themed park and a heaven for F1 fans. While there are several amazing rides at this theme park, the Formula Rossa takes the cake. Known to be the fastest roller coaster on earth, the Formula Rossa runs at the speed of 120 km/hour. After trying out the rides, check out the store where you can buy Ferrari branded merchandise and souvenirs.
An example of opulence and luxury that you would find in Abu Dhabi is the Emirates Palace Hotel. Apart from its grand structure, the interiors of the hotel embellished with gold panels, crystals and mother of pearl, is a sight you should not miss. Although you would not be able to go sightseeing inside the hotel, you can go for a cup of tea or coffee at the hotel’s café to check out its interiors. The lush gardens of the hotel are another highlight of the place.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is the latest addition to the arts and culture scene of the UAE. Opened in November 2017, this museum aims to close the gap between Eastern and Western art. In the 8000 square meters of galleries, you would be able to see the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Leonardo Da Vinci, Jacques-Louis David, etc.
The fact that the UNESCO declared Sharjah as the cultural capital of the city says a lot about this small Emirate city, which lies close to Dubai. Replete with museums and mosques, this is a great place to know about the history, culture and religion of the Emiratis. Apart from this, the city is also known as the University City as it is home to several well-known colleges and universities.
Sharjah Arts Museum:
If you are an art lover, the Sharjah Arts Museum would surely interest you. The 72 galleries of the museum hold the art works of modern and contemporary artists of not just UAE but other Middle Eastern countries too. Most of the art works reflect the Arab world, both the local as well as the foreign perspective.
Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization:
If you are interested in knowing about the Arab and Islamic culture, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization is the place to visit. Here, you would be able to find samples of Islamic art and craftwork between 7th and 19th centuries. The place also has a collection of religious and scientific manuscripts. Do not miss the handicrafts made of different materials at this museum.
Known as Sharjah’s Central Market, the Blue Market has been named so because of the intricate blue tile work adorning the exterior of the place. Home to more than 600 shops that sell everything from antiques to gold jewellery, the Blue Souk is a great place to buy some souvenirs and gifts. If you are tired of all the shopping and walking around, the place also has several cafes where you can enjoy a drink and a bite.
Ras Al Khaimah
If you want to be away from towering buildings, high-flung restaurants and nightclubs and of course, the crowd, there is no better place than Ras Al Khaimah. Located in the northern tip of the UAE, this Emirate is endowed with the beautiful Hajar Mountains, sun-kissed beaches and most importantly, a serene ambience. Here are some of the places you would be able to see in Ras Al Khaimah.
The Hajar Mountains are a haven for those who love nature, adventure and the outdoors. The sight of the mighty mountains amidst the ever-changing sand dunes are surely extraordinary and great way to get some amazing pictures on your camera. Moreover, it gives you a good break from the glamour of the city and a glimpse of its natural beauty.
If you are up to some nerve wrecking adventure, you must visit Jebel Jais, the tallest mountain in the UAE, which is also a part of the Hajar Mountain range. Apart from hiking to the summit and enjoying the breathtaking views from the top, you can also indulge in ziplining at Jebel Jais.
Ras Al-Khaimah National Museum:
If you want to probe into the history of Ras Al Khaimah, there is no better place than the Ras Al Khaimah National Museum. The museum is located inside a fort, which was also the former residence of the ruling family of this Emirates, till the 1960s. You would be able to learn a lot about the history of this region, including its architecture and occupations of date growing, pearl diving, fishing and farming.
If you are looking for a relaxing road trip in the UAE, Fujairah is surely one of the best places to visit near Dubai by car. It takes only 90 minutes to reach this Emirate, which is flanked by the Hajar Mountains. Historical monuments, gorgeous beaches and a laidback attitude are what await you in Fujairah.
If you compare the Al-Bidyah Mosque with the grandeur of Grand Mosque or other mosques of the UAE, you would be disappointed. However, this is a must visit place because it is the oldest mosque in the UAE. Made of mud bricks, the origin of this mosque goes back to 1000 BC. Apart from the unique prayer hall, you would also be able to see an Islamic graveyard and several other unearthed artefacts dating back to the Iron Age.
While Fujairah has several forts, museums and historical monuments that would keep you hooked to the Emirates, the beaches of the city are something you should not miss. The thing that makes the beaches of this Emirate from that of the other Emirate cities is that Fujairah faces the Gulf of Oman. While most of the beaches are equipped with loungers, cafes and restaurants, they are also popular for indulging in water sports like scuba diving and snorkelling.
The above mentioned places are just a glimpse of what you can see in places around Dubai. As the climate of UAE is cooler during the winter months, these are some of the places to visit near Dubai in December. So, if you are planning a trip to Dubai, research well and try to include the interesting places of the nearby Emirate cities in your itinerary.