Tucked between Middle Eastern giants Saudi Arabia and Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is quickly establishing itself as more than a brief layover destination. Those who step outside of its international airports will be rewarded with a world of diversity; the seven emirates boast aromatic spice souks, grand buildings, pristine beaches and endless desert dunes.
A true multicultural mecca, expatriates make up over three quarters of the population, bringing their food and traditions with them. The capital Abu Dhabi is a hub of activity, home to some of the world’s finest Islamic architecture, as well as a huge portion of the UAE’s oil reserves. Then there’s Dubai, the economic heart of the United Arab Emirates, known for its opulent resorts and glitzy skyscrapers (hello, Burj Khalifa).