From the timeless tranquillity of the desert to the lively bustle of the souk, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a kaleidoscope of attractions for visitors. In recent years, the country has rocketed to the forefront of the international tourism stakes.
Dubai has led the way with phenomenal investment in opulent hotels and infrastructure and is now firmly established as one of the world's top short break and holiday destinations. But Abu Dhabi is also developing fast, helped by its new airline, Etihad, and several other emirates are following suit.
The space age image of the UAE's modern cities is in marked contrast to its comparatively recent past prior to the advent of the oil industry, when these seven sheikdoms were asleepy backwater reliant on fishing and pearls.
Abu Dhabi City is a modern and sleek city, filled with skyscrapers. The UAE's capital, located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges, is increasingly developing visitor attractions. And dazzling Dubai is a tourism honeypot, with superb shopping and rich cultural life.
The UAE is a federation of seven states (emirates) - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain - formed in 1971 after independence from Britain