United Arab Emirates

Dubai Marina Lights (Photo: kermal Kastelli via Flickr)

Rolling sand dunes crowned by a caravan of camels, pristine white mosques and an Arab capital of culture. These are three of the main reasons to visit the United Arab Emirates, but there is one place missing from this list. The UAE has seven emirates that make up the federation, although most people never get beyond one of them: Dubai. The Burj Khalifa, the sands of Jumeirah and the artificial palm-tree promontories built out into the sea are the glitz and glamour afforded by the country’s black gold reserves, showcasing increasingly inventive ways to splurge. But away from the skyscraper-stuffed skyline is a gentle, cultured country with hints of a pre-oil past and an array of alluring experiences on offer. November to March are the coolest months, but the word cool here is merely relative.