The UAE is located on the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. The country is comprised of seven states called emirates. Dubai is easily the most famous of these, but its sister emirate of Abu Dhabi is quickly catching up in name recognition and prestige (and as an up-and-coming location has more untapped opportunities). The climate is very sunny and hot from April to November. The temperatures are no joke: in the summer months, the average highs hover around 40C. But life here is set up for that - every public space, private home, and vehicle is comfortably air-conditioned. This doesn’t mean you will be stuck indoors, however. Winter months are UAE’s best-kept secret: the heat takes a step back and the weather gets really pleasant for outdoor activities, with lows of 15C and highs of 25C between December and March. In these months and many summer evenings, there are hundreds of kilometers of UAE coastline to explore - a quick Google search reveals some fantastic options for beach outings including some right in the city. Driving the desert dunes, boat rides in the mangroves, and hiking are just some of the other options. For nature lovers, the easy trip to nearby Oman is almost a requirement.
The ancient Emirati culture offers much to learn, with traditional Arab and Bedouin ways of live still on show among the big-city bustle. Historical sights are plentiful, well-preserved, and open to the public. Explore traditional markets, check out busy trading boat docks, visit heritage villages and forts, spectacular mosques, and historical museums. Head into the rural areas for date farms, rides on camels and Arabian horses, and even learn a bit about falconry. Locals are really hospitable, curious about other cultures, and proud of their country. With recent growth and opulence, modern sights are even easier to find – top-notch malls, world class architecture, a number of amusement parks, and even indoor skiing. The growing cultural scene hosts film festivals, orchestras, fine art fairs, huge sporting events, and even new trends like food truck fests. The French Louvre museum is set to open a stunning satellite location here in December 2015, with the Guggenheim joining it next door in 2017. There’s something for every taste. When the the glitz and glamour of the luxury hotel socialite life wear a little thin, you will find the quieter, more traditional sides of the cities a refreshing change. Step back from the bustle when you're exploring souqs (traditional markets), boat launches, numerous historical museums, and shopping for produce and spices in the old shops or the Iranian market. Options for nightlife are plentiful – bars, dance clubs, beach clubs and restaurants abound and are often part of a fancy hotel. Unlike elsewhere in the Arab world, attitudes towards non-Muslims consuming alcohol are relaxed here. Still, there is zero tolerance for public intoxication or driving with any amount of alcohol in your system - we know of teachers who have gotten in trouble with the law and lost their job. That said, the busiest nights of the week to go out and mix with other expats and locals at a bar or club are Thursday and Friday. Time Out’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai editions can provide the most current event listings. Many seasoned expats also opt for simpler options like going to small waterside cafes or entertaining friends at home.