Travel Profiles on Dubai and Abu Dhabi


The United Arab Emirates, or UAE for short, is a nation comprised of seven emirates (kingdoms) that are loosely aligned in a type of federalist system of governance. As each of the emirates has a fair bit of autonomy, they each also retain their own unique character. The two emirates that are most known to travelers are Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Let’s briefly take a look at the two emirates to see how they contrast from a traveler’s perspective.


[Also see our travel article “Dubai: What’s On in 2013“]

Dubai is the more glamorous of the two emirates. In fact, it’s famed the world over for its ostentatious displays of wealth, and for being an oasis for the incredibly wealthy. Luxury holidays to Dubai know no limits, and when it comes to luxury hotels, travelers have a ton of choices. The Burj Al Arab is situated on a private island a few meters off the coast and is easily one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Another option is the Armani Hotel, which is housed in the Burj Kahlifa – the world’s tallest building – and is the only Armani Hotel in the world.

[Also see our travel article “The World’s Best Airports“]

As one might expect, a visit to Dubai is not cheap, nor is it modest. High-profile conventions and events take place throughout the year, and jet-setters come in and out of Dubai’s stunning international airport at a breakneck pace.

The stunning architecture of the Burj Al Arab is only a tease of the wonders awaiting inside.

The stunning architecture of the Burj Al Arab is only a tease of the wonders awaiting inside.

Abu Dhabi

For most of recent history Abu Dhabi has been in the shadow of its more glamorous cousin, as Dubai has attracted the vast majority of attention from international travelers. This, however, is beginning to change as Abu Dhabi is making a serious push for consideration as one of the world’s greatest cities.

Though inherently more modest than Dubai, Abu Dhabi has still managed to attract top-tier events like the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – an annual Formula One race. Some more incredibly impressive attractions are planned for the city, and construction is currently underway on the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Once completed, these two museums will turn Abu Dhabi into one of the world’s principal cities of the arts, and make it difficult to imagine a trip to the UAE that doesn’t include at least a stop in Abu Dhabi.

The Grand Mosque is a reminder of Abu Dhabi's conservative and cultural past.

The Grand Mosque is a reminder of Abu Dhabi’s conservative and cultural past.

See all the articles, top ten lists and guides in our United Arab Emirates travel section.

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