While Dubai remains the jewel in the UAE crown, there is plenty to do and see in the other six emirates that constitute the UAE. This desert success story has over 700 kilometres of coastline, oasis resorts, coral reefs, sophisticated cities, and even some fertile plains. The UAE has a 'shop till you drop' attitude to retail and many visitors to the country come only for the many malls and shopping complexes that house every brand under the sun. For a desert adventure, head to an oasis resort, race across the dunes in a 4x4, or take a camel ride into the sunset.
Gaze up at the beautiful domes on the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi while in Dubai you can head to the top of the Burj Khalifa for a panoramic view over The Palm and World islands, or party late into the night at one of many hip clubs that play host to international DJs and famous musicians. Ras Al Kaimah's coastline is a great diving spot that will rival more famous destinations across the world, while Dibba will give you the peace and quiet of nearly-deserted beaches and deep blue waters.
Food in the UAE ranges from Arabic kebabs and shawarma to the best in continental cuisines. There are affordable corner cafes and restaurants dedicated to fine dining — whatever you fancy, you're likely to find it here. Alcohol is available in Dubai and Abu Dhabi only, but access is restricted during Ramadan.
Dubai (DXB) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) are popular hub airports in the Middle East and getting cheap flights to either city will not be too difficult even if you're booking at the last minute. Some international carriers also fly to Sharjah (SHJ) and Ras Al Kaimah (RKT), but for Al Ain (AAN), Fujairah (FJR), and Ajman (QAJ) you will have to take a local connecting flight at the main airports.
Flights on Air Canada, Air China, Delta, Emirates, KLM, and Cathay Pacific fly from Vancouver via stops in China or Europe on the way to the UAE. Officially, visitors with Israeli stamps in their passports will not be allowed to enter the country, but in practice this rule is quite lax.
Most parts of the UAE have a typical desert climate. The soaring temperatures are accompanied by high humidity levels along the coast, while the interiors have a dry, arid climate. November to March is the coolest period when daytime temperatures average 24°C and it drops to 13°C at night. In the desert regions, this can go even lower to 5°C, so pack something warm if you're heading to the sand dunes. Summer temperatures can go as high as 48°C across most of the country and perhaps a few degrees lower on the coast, although humidity levels here can be as high as 90% at the height of summer. Rainfall is practically non-existent with just a few showers between December and January, measuring less than 6.5 centimetres for the whole year.
Avoid travelling during the month of Ramadan as most establishments are closed during the hours of fasting and for those not used to the extreme heat, visiting in the summer months can be quite unpleasant. Weather-wise, the winter months are a good time to visit. You will need to book well in advance if you plan to travel during the peak travel period around Christmas and the New Year. The Dubai shopping festival is usually held in February and is a busy time to be visiting, but also a great opportunity to see the UAE at its bright and shiny best.