Within the past couple of decades, Dubai has emerged as a major destination for shopping, sightseeing and recently, as the hottest spot for great fun. As for Ras Al Khaimah - do let's be honest here - you just remember this name from geography class, right? In fact, Ras Al Khaimah is turning out to be the spot most favored these days for a lovely beach vacation. Plus, a history of over 7,000 years doesn't hurt the scenery, does it?
Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, has won people over with its gorgeous beauty, stunning skylines, morning desert safari, and crystal clear aquamarine beaches. A visit to all three cities will fulfill the traveler in you like nothing else. Let's Take A Look At The Friendly Cost Factor!
Before we take you through a journey of the fabulously wealthy and glorious cities of the UAE and why you must visit them, let's map out the travel costs. Would you be surprised if we told you that travel to the Middle East is extremely wallet-friendly?
If you're flying out from anywhere in Europe, you won't be spending more than £350 return to fly into Doha, Qatar's $17 billion Hamad International Airport. From here, it's a brief transfer to Ras Al Khaimah. Costs are very affordable from other parts of the world as well, with Emirates and Qatar Airways offering advantageous group tour packages to the UAE.
Qatar Airways has recently launched extremely comfy and luxurious flights to Ras Al Khaimah, so you can take your kids along and travel in peace. Business class offers such luxury that you won't find in first class travel on other airlines.
What Is So Special About Ras Al Khaimah Anyway?
Ras Al Khaimah is the fourth largest of the 7 Emirates. In total contrast to its opulent sister Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah offers rich history, rugged beauty, unlimited adventures and varied natural landscape. It's that perfect combination of stunning scenery, fabulous white-sand beaches, exciting outdoor activities and history stretching back 7,000 years. Dress code is modest, and alcohol is not allowed. As long as one respects these rules, there's no end to the fun one can have here.
Exciting Ruins: Explore centuries-old ruins that speak of the nomadic way of life people have lived here. The historic Sheba's palace is a must-visit. The palace looks out at the 16th-century hilltop Dhayah, where many historic battles were fought.
Museums: Be sure to visit the national museum that's stocked with rare artifacts from 18th-century Middle East. The museum was once a royal palace complete with a zenana quarters.
Stunning Scenery: Watch the mind-blowing desert landscapes open up below, backed up by stunning mountain ranges as you fly over in a helicopter. Explore the huge, symmetric red dunes that stretch on forever - simply breathtaking. The city center with its modern architecture and impressive skyscrapers just melts into the background. Suddenly you feel as though you're in a vast sea of sand in every direction, and you'll soon be meeting Lawrence of Arabia in person. Watching the red desert sun go down from a high dune is about as perfect as it goes.
Desert Resort: Right in the middle of the reddest dunes you ever saw is the incredible Banyan Tree Al Wadi resort, a beautiful oasis among the desert sands, lined with lovely villas. Ensconce yourself in a rainforest-themed room and enjoy a glorious spa experience while looking out on the sands. When you're done, do visit to the falconry center to see how the locals have used trained falcons for hunting.
Adventures Galore: If you're into mountain-climbing, try your luck climbing the 6,300ft Jabal Al Jais Mountain, the highest in the UAE. In the Wadi Al Beih valley campsite, you can sign up for adventures such as rock climbing, canyoning raft building, kayaking, abseiling, and much more. A jeep safari into the desert with overnight camping is a must-do as well. You can also try jet-skiing around the bay, and other water sports like banana and donut boating, parasailing and stand-up paddle boarding.
Abu Dhabi - The UAE Is More Than Just Dubai!
Abu Dhabi is a stunningly beautiful island sitting on shimmering blue waters that reflect the shiny towers of its soaring skyline. White-sand beaches of the finest sands lined with date palm trees beckon sun-lovers. The seaside promenade Corniche runs the whole length of the city, prime for walking, biking or just mooning over the seashore. Abu Dhabi is incredibly laid-back; from a cultural perspective, apart from the traditional garb, it's more like any seaside city in the west.
Unbelievable Art And Culture: Saadiyat Island has so many museums and galleries, you'll be forgiven for thinking you're at the Louvre in Paris. The impressive Guggenheim museum designed by Frank Gehry, the Maritime Museum and the Zayed National Museum are a must-visit. Don't forget to check out the Manarat Al Saadiyat, with its three galleries that offer art works and exciting exhibitions.
A Look Into The Past: The Heritage Village lets you take a look at life before oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi. You can ride camels here while watching craftspeople work on their craft using skills lost in time.
Panoramic Views: Climb the Jebel Hafeet Mountain for the most amazing panoramic views of the city of in Al Ain. Abu Dhabi is very well planned and elegantly designed. The sunrises and sunsets are beautiful to watch from the Corniche, at any time of the year.
Amazing Traditions: What'll really impress you is that despite its obvious wealth, the people of Abu Dhabi prefer a traditional way of life. The customs they follow are passed down from the rich Bedouin heritage. Enjoy true Arab hospitality wherever you go, along with the slower pace of life. It's a joy to listen to traditional Emiratis songs and watch their dances.
Dubai - What Can We Tell You?
Dubai is on everyone's lips these days. Pictures of the man-made Palm Island throng the internet. The world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, is a marvel to see and experience. Then there's the Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountains, the Dubai Aquarium, the Gold Souk, amusement parks, indoor skiing, snow city, desert experiences - the list is endless. Oh, and did we mention the shopping? The exciting shopping fest every January has the wealthy throng to Dubai every year, from every corner of the world.
Dubai will engulf you with the sort of richness of experience that only unlimited money can create. And therein lies the beauty of Dubai. Dubai is already a top tourist destination, a place that begs repeat visits. A single visit just doesn't do the city any justice.
The United Arab Emirates - a land where ambition and money has created a magnificently glittering 21st-century playground for all. It's just simply impossible to ignore. While Dubai's glittering beauty beckons, the quiet splendor of Abu Dhabi that soothes the weary traveler. Ras Al Khaimah floods the body with adrenaline while generating true intellectual appreciation for its rich history. It's a win-win, with nothing to lose. You'll return from your morning desert safari to the UAE must rejuvenated, many dollars poorer, but enriched in every other way.