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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. It is a country rich in history and culture and an easy starting point for travels in the Middle East.

There are plenty of man-made wonders to enjoy as well. Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi is the world's largest indoor theme park, and as the name suggests, is centeredaround experiencing the world of Ferrari, which is alongside the Yas Marina Circuit, which hosts the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix. The BurjKhalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world, and visitors can travel up it to a viewing station situated near the building's peak to enjoy stunning views of the city and beyond. Wild Wadi and Aquaventure are two world class water parks that cater to the whole family. As well as this, those looking for proper retail therapy can visit Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in the world, and also the location of the world's largest dancing fountain, with multiple shows starting after sunset, and one of the world's largest indoor aquariums, Dubai Aquarium. Ski Dubai in Dubai Emirates Mall opened in 2005. It is the world's third largest indoor ski slope, measuring 400 metres and using 6000 tons of snow. Ski Dubai resort is the first UAE indoor ski slope to open, and more are planned.

One of the things the UAE is most famous for is shopping and shopaholics will appreciate the fact that there are no sales taxes in the UAE. If you are interested in shopping, you can't leave the UAE without visiting Dubai. Dubai boasts the best places for shopping in the whole of the Middle East, especially during the annual shopping festival, usually from mid-January to mid-February.

One of the main focuses of tourist life (other than shopping) is the beach. The waters of the UAE, although definitely more cloudy in recent years due to heavy coastal construction, are still, for those from less torrid climes, remarkably warm, clean, and beautiful. There are long stretches of white-sand beaches, ranging from completely undeveloped to highly touristed (even in cities like Dubai). The snorkeling and diving can be magnificent, especially along the eastern (Indian Ocean) coast. Vast swaths of desert stretch to the south of the major urban areas, offering dramatic views and terrifying rides in fast-driven safaris. The mountains are dramatic, steep rocky crags, and a visit to them (for example, the town of Hatta) is well rewarded with amazing views. Women wearing bathing suits will draw unwanted attention at the public beaches; it is advisable to pay for a one-day entry pass to a private beach at a hotel.

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