This week on RealFamilyTrips.com we feature an amazing area of the world, filled with opportunities for family fun: The United Arab Emirates. Rich in history and culture, the UAE features the best of old world meets new. Thousands of years of proud tradition meet modern development and amenities, for a great mixture of activities that will keep any family engaged and excited.
Located on the Persian Gulf, the UAE boasts gorgeous views and the best of a waterfront destination. It was officially established in 1971 as a federation of seven emirates, akin to principalities. Two of the most popular emirates for tourists are featured in this article.
Some Special Notes on Travel to the UAE:
The joke in the UAE goes that there are two types of temperatures: The hot season and the very hot season. The most pleasant time of year to visit is in October- April, as temperatures during these months (winter) generally fluctuate between the low 60’s and low 80’s Fahrenheit. In the summer (June-September) temperatures can be extremely high, and may climb to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not unheard of to see temperatures go all the way up to 120 or even 130 degrees, with high humidity. Please note this when planning your trip.
It should also be taken into consideration that due to religious and cultural standards, certain considerations may need to be made in regards to attire. Very westernized clothing, including shorts, short sleeves and other skin-revealing garb may be unacceptable in certain locations. This modesty of dress is especially emphasized for women. We make notes in our itineraries, however if you plan on exploring further you may want to check in advance to avoid arriving at a destination only to be turned away. Some such locales (like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque) may provider cover-ups on a loaner basis, others will not and require appropriate attire to be personally supplied.
A Family Trip to the United Arab Emirates Full of Unique Experiences
Islam is the official religion of the UAE and is practiced widely. For non-Muslims traveling to the country, respect for the religion and its practices is important. It should be noted that Friday is the holy day of the week in Islam and some locations may be closed or have limited hours on this day. Observant Muslims pray 5 times daily at appointed times that vary slightly based on the position of the sun (HERE is a handy way to look them up). During such times certain locations may be difficult to access or temporarily shut down. Don’t expect long delays, but be considerate of the locals and their faith. Finally, during the month long observance of Ramadan, things truly change in the country. Due to fasting the length of the day, every day, some shops and destinations shut down completely, or amend their hours. While some unique experiences can be had during the breaking of the daily fast and other celebrations surrounding Ramadan, you want to carefully consider whether or not you want to visit during this time. Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on sightings of the crescent moon. Its timing can vary from year to year and even country to country, but generally falls in the summer months, June-August. For current information see HERE. Essentially you’ll have a chance at experiences you can’t get the rest of the year, but likely won’t get to enjoy the activities available any other time.
For a listing of other public holidays for the current year click here.
Our featured days in the United Arab Emirates are as varied as the country itself. We feature two of the emirates most popular for visiting, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Our first day in Abu Dhabi we feature a step back in time with Heritage Village, the modern luxury of Emirates Palace and the splendor and culture of Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
The next day in Abu Dhabi enjoys the unique experience of a hospital for trained falcons, the action packed racing action of Yas Marina Circuit and an exploration of the arts in Alserkal District.
Our Dubai days are equally exciting. The first Dubai itinerary contains the authentic UAE experience of the SMCCU Cultural Center, shopping in the Satwa District and some lovely time for relaxation in pristine Zabeel Park.
Our final Dubai day has all the fun of Dolphin Bay, the world famous Burj Khalifa and the remarkable beauty of the Dubai Fountain.
These itineraries can be combined or used independently. They provide a nice cross-section of the United Arab Emirates experience with a mix of history and culture, old and new, education and just plain fun.
Because the only thing we love more than helping our users plan great family vacations is helping them save on those vacations, we have some great deals for travel and links to trusted sources for the best prices.
- Through the end of 2014, IHG Hotels Group (which includes such great brands as Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Intercontinental) is featuring prices up to 30% off Hotels in the Middle East.
- Also through the end of the year, CheapoAir (which features great prices on over 450 airlines) is making seeing the great cities of the world easier with discounts of $15 per ticket for international travel with Code WORLD15 BOOK NOW.
Check out some of the amazing everyday prices currently available for airfare and hotels at Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity and Priceline. Considering the heat, you may want to look at rental cars for getting around (and confirm it has air conditioning!). Besides the earlier options, check out Hertz and RentalCars.com. See more lodging options (if the above sale doesn’t poitn to something you like) at Hotels.com and Hilton.