SHORT INFORMATION

Overview of United Arab Emirates

Officially name: The United Arab Emirates

Capital: Abu Dhabi

Largest city: Dubai

Official language: Arabic

Government: Federal presidential system and constitutional monarchy

What to do?

Vestiges of historical Dubai

The Dubai that graces guidebook covers is easy to find. From its skyscraping towers to its bustling malls, the city can feel like a westernized, futuristic introduction to the Middle East. European imports pop up as plentifully as construction cranes, and 80% of the population is comprised of expatriates from more than 150 nations. But as the city focuses on sustaining growth, it has made preserving its historical sites a priority. Vestiges of pre-1970s Dubai, then an unassuming port of call famous for its pearls, can still be found, hidden amid the modern towers and flashing lights. This juxtaposition of the ancient and hyper-new creates a window into how modern Dubai has taken shape and provides an opportunity to learn about Arabic cultures in one of the region's most open environments.