What to do in the Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf Region

Trips in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. We are omitting Iran and Iraq, because of security issues for travelers.

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Arabian Peninsula & Persian Gulf: The Bucket List

Young Arab woman in traditional Muslim hijab dress. Dubai, UAE. She is speaking to visitors at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding where local people and visitors can meet to learn more about each other's culture.  Here she is showing various kinds of head gear worn by men. Photo by Yvette Cardozo

Visiting Dubai’s Center for Cultural Understanding

The modern city of Dubai sprang from the desert, seemingly erupted, in just a few decades. The city gleams and sparkles with buildings of glass and steel that soar, lean, bulge, twist and fold, often appearing to defy gravity. And the people -- the people are not what a visitor from ...
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Camels being taken to a track for race training in Dubai, UAE. The small objects on some camel's backs are robot jockeys that are radio controlled. Camels are not strong enough to race with heavy weights. In earlier times, small children were used as jockeys but when laws were passed prohibiting this practice, the children were replaced with the five pound robots. Photo by Yvette Cardozo

Going on a Desert Safari, Dubai Style

  There’s lots not to miss in Dubai. But top of my list was the desert safari. Okay, it’s a tourist thing. But it’s still exotic, a peek at traditional Bedouin life -- and a total giggle. My two friends and I were picked up at our hotel in a four wheel drive ...
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Mangroves kayak tour

Kayaking Through the Mangroves in Abu Dhabi

A few minutes ago we were in Abu Dhabi, a noisy, bustling metropolis of high rise concrete, fast cars and muezzins. But here among the mangroves it is calm and peaceful, and there is no sound apart from the gentle swish of paddles. In Your Bucket Because... The mangroves provide a ...
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Living Large at the Burj al Arab in Dubai

"Ah, not the elevator," my friend said in the lobby of Dubai's Burj Al Arab hotel. "We will ride the submarine to the restaurant." And indeed, we did. After entering a small capsule with bucket seats and fastening our seat belts, lights flickered, sirens screamed, dials trembled and we were pushed back ...
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Arabian Peninsula & Persian Gulf Facts

Main International Airports: U.A.E.: Abu Dhabi and Dubai (Dubai International and Sharjah, which serves mostly Middle-Eastern and Central Asian detinations).
Currency: U.A.E.: dirham.
Population: U.A.E.: 8,300,000, only 13 percent of whom are native Emiratis.
Capital Cities: Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Climate: Desert. Summer temperatures can soar above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity can also be surprisingly high near the coast.
Major Languages: Arabic. English is widely spoken.
More Facts: Visas are not required for U.S. tourists to the U.A.E. Restrictions may apply to (and may be unpredictably enforced on) visitors who have Israeli stamps in their passports, so check before your trip or get a second passport. Be aware that cultural morés and religion-based laws are very different here: While U.A.E. cities have the outward appearance of sophisticated modernity, actions that are innocuous in a western country, such as two friends greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek, can land you in jail. Western women are expected to dress modestly, but head coverings are not required.

Time Zone: The Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf countries vary from UTC + 3 to UTC + 4. The U.A.E is UTC + 4. See World Clock for seasonal adjustments.

Information updated February, 2013. The information provided here is for planning purposes only: Please check with the Centers for Disease Control and your health care provider for updated medical information and recommendations, and with the embassy of the country to which you are traveling for the most current visa information.