The United Arab Emirates (UAE) may never have made it to any of the lists of 7 Wonders of the World but a closer look at each of the constituent emirates makes one wonder if sky is the limit for human engineering and perseverance! As the UAE celebrates National Day on December 2 every year to mark its formal nationalisation from the British Protectorate Treaties and the federal unification, we explore the unique side of the seven member emirates that make up the marvel called UAE.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
The capital of the UAE and the largest of the seven emirates, Abu Dhabi is home to one of the most-visited architectural treasures of the world — the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (aka as the father of the UAE), the mosque is considered to ‘unite the world’. And why not, after all its construction involved more than 3,000 workers and 38 renowned companies from Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Iran, China, the UK, New Zealand, Greece and the UAE!
The Oldest Existing Building of Dubai
Dubai is celebrated for being the most ultramodern and luxurious city in the UAE. But not many tourists’ itineraries speak of Dubai Museum, situated in the Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing building in Dubai. Set up in 1971, this Museum showcases the traditional roots of the emirate. The various facets of the fort, displays and galleries, highlight the cultural fabric of Dubai. Artefacts from African and Asian countries and dioramas take you back in history. In 2013, the Museum is reported to have received over 1 million visitors.
Ajman’s Red Fort — Yes UAE has it too!
With flourishing commercial markets and a thriving fishing and seafood industry, Ajman is one of the significant cultural destinations in the UAE. The Red Fort, although small in size, remains one of the major tourist attractions in Ajman. Constructed during Sheikh Humaid bin Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi’s times, the fort consists of four rooms and two towers, each made of two rooms. The fort was restored in 1986. As gravel and red plaster were used for walls, the structure was named the Red Fort. Sandal wood used in the beams and supports for roofs is another interesting aspect of the fort.
UAE’s Oldest Mosque in Fujairah
Fujairah is the only Emirate that has coastline only on the Gulf of Oman and not on the Persian Gulf. Did you know Fujairah nestles the oldest mosque in the whole of UAE?! Built in 1446 of mud and bricks, the quaint Al Bidyah Mosque resembles the religious structures in Yemen, Oman and Qatar. The Mosque comprises four domes and lacks a minaret!
Queen of Sheba’s Palace in Ras al-Khaimah
Picturesque mountains, vast deserts, splendid beaches and mangroves… Ras Al Khaimah is one of the important cultural destinations in the Arabian tapestry of the UAE. However, the emirate also has a mythological significance to it, known only to those who love to rummage through piles of history — the village of Shamal, situated on a mountain. Named after the Queen of Sheba, who ruled the kingdom of Marib in Yemen around 1000 BC, the palace is a tourist attraction, especially for those who are keen on trekking.
Sharjah – the WHO Healthy City
Another cultural centre of the UAE, Sharjah is quite popular among Islamic tourists particularly because the sale/consumption of alcoholic beverages without licence is prohibited in the emirate. Besides, alcohol is not served in hotels, restaurants or other outlets in the city. However, what comes as a greater surprise to many is that Sharjah has been officially named as a WHO healthy city. The term ‘Healthy City’ is used to emphasize the impact of policy on human health and the multi-dimensionality of health according to WHO and the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion.
Prehistoric Treasures in Umm al-Quwain
Unlike the glitzy city lights of other emirates, Umm al-Quwain is a small, quaint location in the UAE ruled by Saud bin Rashid Al Mu’alla. The emirate is popular for its Dreamland Aqua Park, a multi-purpose facility for go karting, water polo, beach volleyball and overnight camping. Umm al-Quwain is also distinguished for its archaeological significance, especially with the findings of Tell Abraq and Al Dour. The unearthed arrowheads, tools and Ubaid pottery make the emirate an archaeological centre of the UAE.
National Day Celebrations in UAE
- Car rallies
- Dance shows
- Heritage villages
- Air shows
- Military processions