United Arab Emirates Holidays

Enjoy a magical mix of cultured and forward-looking cities, glorious beaches of soft white sand and the unearthly beauty of the desert in the United Arab Emirates.

With its space-age skyline, artificial palm-shaped islands and ambitiously hi-tech attractions, it’s no surprise that Dubai is the most headline-grabbing of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates. The humble fishing village of the 1950s is now a sleek, sun-drenched playground for the well-heeled, where superb sandy beaches are complemented by chic Michelin-starred restaurants, designer shopping centres and extraordinary indoor spaces that might contain anything from a black run for avid skiers to an equatorial rainforest.

It’s not all about the contemporary glitz and glamour of Dubai, however. Abu Dhabi, by far the largest of the emirates as well as the capital, has taken a more palatial approach. Its low-rise wonders include a dazzling white-marble mosque inlaid with semi-precious stones, lavishly ornate hotels fit for royalty and an outpost of the Louvre complete with a cosmic silver dome made of stars. There’s a more traditional flavour to everything from the fabulous food scene to sports – think Saluki racing, archery and falconry competitions – while the boundless empty spaces of its interior shelter World Heritage archaeology and dramatic desert landscapes.

In tiny Ajman, everything is on a more intimate scale, so you can easily drift between flamingo-watching in protected lagoons, exploring the forts, museums and souks of the Heritage Area, and watching the dhow-builders at work. As for Ras al Khaimah, its adventures have an authentic, timeless, storybook appeal, from journeys through rust-red mountain landscapes to stargazing in the wilderness.

Each emirate has its own distinctive personality, so talk to our Personal Travel Experts today to find the perfect one to suit you.

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United Arab Emirates Regions

Our recommendations for the best places to visit in United Arab Emirates

Dubai Holidays

A glittering, man-made metropolis on the edge of a desert; a luxury Dubai holiday with Kuoni is e...

Abu Dhabi Holidays

Between Bedouin desert sands and gilded, white-washed mosques, discover an island of opulence und...

Ras al Khaimah Holidays

Surrounded by desert, sea and mountains, on holidays to Ras Al Khaimah you’ll have sunrise and su...

Ajman Holidays

White sands, local souks and just a handful of high-rises – discover what life is like authentic...

Holidays in United Arab Emirates

hotel
  • Abu Dhabi
  • 5 Star

Futuristic design collides with slick luxury and unparalleled Yas Marina Circuit views.

From £622 p/p
hotel
  • Dubai
  • 5 Star

A great value beach hotel with a superb location on ‘The Walk’.

From £856 p/p
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  • Ras al Khaimah
  • 5 Star

An Arabian fortress of decadent pool villas for luxury desert escapism.

From £1,629 p/p
hotel
  • Abu Dhabi
  • 5 Star

This magnificent hotel is a palace of Arabian culture and ever-ready service.

From £1,299 p/p
hotel
  • Dubai
  • 5 Star

An exquisite hotel with plush Indian-inspired design and fantastic city views.

From £902 p/p
hotel
  • Abu Dhabi
  • 5 Star

Traditional Arabic elements and Mediterranean touches make this luxury hotel an alluring beachfront retreat.

From £965 p/p
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  • Dubai
  • 5 Star

An iconic marine-themed resort on the tip of world-famous Palm Island.

From £1,236 p/p
hotel
  • Dubai
  • 5 Star

On the iconic Palm Jumeirah, this hotel exudes a luxury inspired by opulent Ottoman palaces.

From £966 p/p
hotel
  • Abu Dhabi
  • 5 Star

Part of the Qaryat Al Beri complex, a luxurious beachfront hotel with legendary hospitality and an indulgent spa.

From £833 p/p
hotel
  • Dubai
  • 5 Star

A mover-and-shaker on Dubai’s hotel scene, with a fantastic all-inclusive option.

From £954 p/p
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Get to know the United Arab Emirates and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
CURRENCY

Dirham

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

Dubai - 7 hours
Abu Dhabi - 7 hours

LANGUAGE

Arabic. English is widely understood.

The United Arab Emirates – often shortened to UAE or the Emirates – is at the eastern end of the Arabian Peninsula, bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman, while Iran lies just the other side of the Persian Gulf. It consists of seven princely states called emirates – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al-Quwain – of which the first is also the capital. Fujairah is the odd one out in having a coastline entirely on the Gulf of Oman, which gives on to the Indian Ocean.

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Dubai’s futuristic, reach-for-the-stars skyline bristles with incredible buildings, from the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, home to an ultra-luxury hotel, to the needle-pointed Burj Khalifa, so tall it pierces the clouds on overcast days. Everywhere you look, there are one-off contemporary structures such as the Dubai Frame, part gilded monument, part observatory, part museum – and even the hotels (hello, Atlantis) have iconic designs. Dubai doesn’t have a monopoly on impressive architecture, however. Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a vast shimmering modern creation of white marble, topped by a forest of domes and fringed by soaring minarets, while Ajman’s historic fort has a wind tower thought to be the oldest in the UAE.

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With 400 miles of coastline, the UAE provides plenty of inviting stretches of soft white sand. In Dubai, the most famous names are Jumeirah Beach and the marina area’s JBR Beach, both backed by strikingly modern high-rises. Abu Dhabi’s buzzing Yas Beach has a prized Blue Flag and plenty of lounges, clubs and restaurants; for a slightly more back-to-nature experience, head to the main beach on Saadiyat Island just off the coast where turtles nest at certain times of the year. Ajman’s two public beaches are super-clean, and you might spot dolphins frolicking just offshore. If you’re staying in a luxury resort, there’s a high chance it will have its own private beach.

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This part of the Arabian Peninsula has been inhabited since Neolithic times, as shown by archaeological sites such as UNESCO-listed Al Ain. You can find out more about this long history at the striking Louvre Abu Dhabi, whose multicultural displays include important finds from across the region. Dubai, meanwhile, has acquired a reputation for innovative architecture, from Zaha Hadid’s iconic Oval to the ship-shaped Dubai Opera, an eye-catching hub of the performing arts. Even more of a one-off, the city’s fascinating, interactive Museum of the Future – whose focus perfectly reflects the emirate’s forward-looking approach – is set in an oval structure that couldn’t be less like a high-rise.

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From private transfers to organised tours, the chances are that most of your travel in the United Arab Emirates will be by road. For a special occasion, you could rent a car with a driver for the day – it’s more affordable than you’d expect. Otherwise, there’s a good supply of taxis within the cities for when it’s too far or too hot to walk. Within Dubai, the state-of-the-art Metro provides a handy traffic-jam-busting option, with two lines that connect many of the main sights, hotels and attractions. You can also travel by water in a range of ways, from modern ferries to coastal destinations to small boats that hop back and forth across the creek.

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The hardest thing about eating out in the United Arab Emirates is choosing from the staggering variety of cuisines on offer in every environment from waterfront cafés to palaces of gastronomy. Every celebrity chef worth their salt has a restaurant in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, and the latter even received its first Michelin stars in 2022. Between indulging in high-end French, sublime Cantonese and refined Italian dishes in the smartest of surroundings, don’t overlook other flavours. Dubai’s older districts are crammed with authentic Persian, Indian and Pakistani eateries, while all the emirates are well supplied with characterful spots where you can feast on traditional Arabic dishes featuring lamb, chickpeas and dates.

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Dubai’s air-conditioned shopping centres are destinations in their own right; the Dubai Mall – the world’s largest – has an ice-skating rink and aquarium to escape to, while the Mall of the Emirates has five indoor ski slopes with real snow. If you’re looking to splash out, the ritzy Dubai Marina neighbourhood has a waterfront boulevard lined with boutiques showcasing the latest designer fashions. For a taste of old-school buying and selling, though, you’ll have to hit the traditional markets. In Dubai’s Deira district, the narrow alleyways of the spice souk are filled with heady scents while the gold souk gleams with displays of yellow gold. Abu Dhabi’s Souk Central has high-end boutiques and lots of historic charm and is conveniently next to the World Trade Center mall.

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Thanks to its two flag-carrying airlines – Etihad, based in Abu Dhabi, and Emirates, with its busy hub in Dubai – you can enjoy a memorable break in the United Arab Emirates before heading further afield. The possibilities are almost endless. You can make for romantic Indian Ocean destinations such as the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles, opt for safari favourites including Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa, check out the fascinating culture of South-East Asia or even go Down Under for an adventure in Australia and New Zealand.

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United Arab Emirates Weather

Oct - Mar

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United Arab Emirates Weather by Month

Our experts have curated a wide range of handpicked United Arab Emirates offers to make your next holiday extra special. Make the most of great-value savings, exclusive upgrades and bespoke touches.

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