United Arab Emirates
Dubai is perhaps the best known member of the 7 United Arab Emirates, with Abu Dhabi fast becoming renowned as offering a more cultural experience. Famous as an important business centre, the UAE is also a fabulous leisure destination. Although the states are Islamic, they are tolerant of visitors who treat the city with respect - alcohol is available in hotel restaurants and bars (expect in Sharjah, which is a dry state) and women are expected to dress conservatively in public. Dubai is a real playground and more affordable than you may think. From desert to sea, skiing to scuba diving, shopping to spa, Dubai has everything. The architecture is breathtaking, including the second tallest building in the World, the Burj Khalifa at the foot of which is the most impressive fountain array offering regular performances set to music. Abu Dhabi offers a quieter getaway and the soon to open Louvre and Guggenheim will make the city ideal for art lovers. The other Emirates are currently less on the tourist radar, but this is rapidly changing.
The climate is one of the biggest draws of the UAE with year-round sunshine, clear blue skies and an average of only 5 rainy days per year (often only 10 - 50 mm/year).
Most consider winter (October - April) the best time to visit with average daily highs of 25 - 28 C. The sea is warm enough to swim in and humidity tends to be lower. The UAE offers the perfect respite from the bitterly cold winters many less equatorial countries endure. However, as this is high season, hotel rates are commensurately higher and tourist attractions often busier. In the desert, night-time temperatures can reach 8 C, so be sure to bring a jacket for the evening.
We tend to enjoy visits to the Emirates in the sweltering summer months. From July - September, temperatures soar into the mid forties, sometimes reaching close to 60 C. Humidity can be high (especially in Dubai City) although we have never experienced anything other than a dry heat. As long as you plan on a relaxing holiday, the summer is an enjoyable quieter period when bathing in the sea feels like a warm bath and the sun soaks into your body with a sauna-like relaxing heat. Shopping malls, taxis and hotels are fiercely air-conditioned so relief is never far away.