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The UAE, one of the world's fastest growing tourist destinations, has all the ingredients for an unforgettable holiday: sun, sand, sea, sports, unbeatable shopping, top-class hotels and restaurants, an intriguing traditional culture and a safe and welcoming environment.
The UAE is endowed with an extensive coastline, sandy beaches and varied landscape, where activities range from powerboat races to sand-skiing to scuba diving. In addition, the country’s deep-rooted cultural heritage, accessible in the many cultural centers and through traditional pastimes such as falconry and camel-racing, has been a powerful attraction for tourists.
The UAE has three major national airlines with an extensive network of local, regional and international flights: Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, Emirates Air, based in Dubai, and Air Arabia, based in Sharjah. Direct services are available from the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe, India, China, Australia and many other locations. In addition, most of the major global airlines fly to and from the UAE.
Nonstop flights from the United States to the UAE range from 12 to 16 hours. More specifically:
- From Washington, DC and New York City: less than 13 hours
- From Atlanta: less than 14 hours
- From Chicago: less than 14 hours
- From Houston: less than 15 hours
- From San Francisco and Los Angeles: 16 hours
The UAE has six international airports in the cities of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Ra’s al-Khaimah and Fujairah. A seventh, Dubai World Central, is under construction. The major airports in Abu Dhabi and Dubai not only service the ever-increasing local tourist market, they have also established themselves as major international hubs for flights connecting the Middle East, the Far East and the West.
Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
+971 02 5757500
Dubai International Airport (DXB)
+971 04 2245555
Sharjah International Airport (SHJ)
+971 06 5581111
Ra’s al-Khaimah International Airport (RKT)
+971 07 2448111
Fujairah International Airport (FJR)
+971 09 2226222
Road access to the UAE from Saudi Arabia and Oman is excellent. Connections can be made with the Trans-Arabian Highway on the overland route to Europe. There are daily bus services to Abu Dhabi and Dubai from Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The UAE has made major investments in its ports, and boasts major ports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah that connect with the rest of the region. The state-of-the-art Dubai Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid has been visited by cruise ships as large as the Queen Mary 2.
Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, the UAE is warm and sunny in winter and hot and humid during the summer months. Winter daytime temperatures average 79°F, although nights can be relatively cool, between 53–60°F on the coast, and less than 41°F in the depths of the desert or high in the mountains.
Local north-westerly winds (shamal) frequently develop during the winter, bringing cooler windy conditions. Summer temperatures hover around 110°F, but can be higher inland. Humidity in coastal areas averages between 50 and 60 per cent, touching over 90 per cent in summer and autumn. Inland it is far less humid.
Rainfall is sparse and intermittent. In most years it rains during the winter months, usually in February or March, but occasionally earlier. Winter rains take the form of short sharp bursts, and localized thunderstorms occasionally occur during the summer.
Recreational and sporting facilities are exceptional in the UAE, particularly when it comes to water sports. Sports play an increasingly important role in the UAE's efforts to develop the tourism sector, and facilities throughout the country are constantly being upgraded or newly constructed. Such is the commitment to recreational development that the UAE is bidding to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
The UAE has already established itself on the international sporting stage, holding many of the world's major events in a wide range of sports, from horse racing to motor racing, from golf to tennis, from soccer to cricket, from sailing to rugby.
Dubai Sports City, the cornerstone project of Dubailand, is a $4 billion, 50-million square feet mixed-use development which will be the world’s first integrated sports city. Dubai Sports City will feature four magnificent stadia, slated to be completed in 2009, and will also be the center point for world-renowned sporting academies including the first Manchester United Soccer School outside of Europe, the International Cricket Council’s Global Cricket Academy, the Butch Harmon School of Golf, the WorldHockey Academy and a David Lloyd Tennis Academy. In April 2008, Dubai Sports City’s Els Club, a 72-Par, 18 hole championship golf course designed by Ernie Els, was opened for play.
The Emirates on the Gulf coast are blessed with long stretches of sandy beach where residents take part in sports such as jet-skiing, surfing, swimming and kitesurfing. Snorkeling and diving are popular within the region. Many residents and visitors enjoy the UAE's East Coast, which also provides a wealth of exotic fish and coral. Popular locations include 'Snoopy Island' and the area north of Dibba.
Residents and visitors are also able to take full advantage of the country's parks and recreational grounds where soccer, basketball and cricket matches are a favorite pastime, while the desert areas outside the main cities provide rough, rugged terrain for more adventurous pursuits.