Most individuals travel to try activities that are not readily available in their home country. Others do it to expand their network and get acquainted with people from different cultures.
Whatever the case is, one of the best ways to make the most of your trip is to experience the
place like a local.
When visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE), getting an authentic Emirati experience is paramount. So, book an air charter service, hop aboard the private jet, and try the six experiences below to enjoy the genuine beauty of the country:
1. Visit the Grand Mosque.
There are many mosques in the Middle East, but only a few can hold a candle to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Considered one of the best places to learn more about Islam, the magnificent structure is hailed as Abu Dhabi’s most famous tourist attraction.
When you visit, you can hire a private guide or join one of the mosque’s daily free tours that can last between 30 and 45 minutes. These can teach you about Islamic practices and traditions and help you understand the local culture better.
As a bonus, the guided tours also give you the rare opportunity to visit certain parts of the mosque that are usually inaccessible to the general public.
But before you go, make sure you brush up on proper Emirati etiquette.
First, you must dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites like the Grand Mosque. To ensure that your outfit follows the dress code, cover up from your shoulders down to your knees. Don’t wear anything see-through or body-fitting as well.
Second, ease up on affectionate displays in public places if you’re traveling with a loved one. Although the UAE has become more lenient to tourists regarding this matter, it’s still better to be respectful of the conservative Muslim culture of the country, especially inside mosques.
2. Tour the Presidential Palace.
Aside from the Grand Mosque, the Qasr Al Watan is also a famous destination for travelers who wish to get an authentic Emirati experience.
The presidential palace hosts many VIP gatherings of some of the world’s most prominent leaders. It serves as a unique Emirati landmark and highlights the vital aspects of the nation’s history, tradition, and culture.
One of the palace zones you should visit is the Qasr Al Watan Library. There, you can gain centuries’ worth of human knowledge, thanks to a vast collection of books and texts that showcase the cultural, political, and religious evolution of the UAE.
At the end of each day, the Abu Dhabi palace lights up the night with an awe-inspiring light show called “Palace in Motion.” The show begins at 8 p.m. and tells the nation’s story in three acts: past, present, and future.
3. Shop at one of Dubai’s souks.
Most people imagine Dubai as a place filled with skyscrapers and towering buildings. But that’s just a portion of what the city offers.
Nestled in the streets of the UAE’s most populous city are souks. These traditional open-air labyrinthine marketplaces are where locals buy and sell different products.
Historically, souks served as venues for trading and buying essential goods. Today, however, the most famous ones cater to tourists, selling anything from gold and textile to perfumes, spices,
Some of the most famous souks – including those selling spice and gold – are found near Dubai Creek. Many stalls also sell handmade trinkets that can serve as the perfect souvenirs for your trip to the UAE.
4. Get inked at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village.
Want to try something unique when in the UAE? Visit the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village and get yourself inked (temporarily).
Located along Abu Dhabi Theater road, the reconstructed traditional village regularly features cultural events and exhibitions. One of the popular attractions is a meet-and-greet with henna tattoo artists.
Henna is a dye used in many cultures to stain the skin. Since Islam prohibits permanent tattoos, henna ink – which fades over a short period – has become a popular part of traditional Arabic countries.
Over centuries, henna painting played a vital role in Arab culture. It carries important ceremonial value and represents good luck in Muslim weddings.
Of course, you don’t have to tie the knot to get a henna tattoo in Abu Dhabi. Since the dye has cooling properties, it is quite famous among locals who want to beat the heat in the UAE.
5. Unearth rich history at the Jebel Hafeet Tombs.
History defines civilizations. The same is true for the UAE.
With that in mind, it pays to visit at least one historic landmark to appreciate the genuine beauty of the country. While there are many options, seasoned travelers and expats recommend witnessing the colorful tapestry of Emirati history in the Jebel Hafeet Tombs.
Found in the foothills of the Jebel Hafeet mountains, the tombs offer hints of ancient UAE customs and rituals from civilizations ago. You may even see remnants of the first inhabitants of the Al Ain region who buried their dead in the area some 5,000 years ago.
Each oval or round tomb measures six to nine feet across and can reach up to 13 feet tall. This suggests that the space can hold up to two to five people. This is quite different from the Umm an-Nar burial, where each tomb houses hundreds of people.
Aside from human remains, the Jebel Hafeet Tombs also house artifacts that link the UAE to Iran, the Indus Valley (modern-day India and Pakistan), and ancient Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq).
6. Be inspired at SeaWorld.
The UAE is a desert country, but that doesn’t mean the locals don’t get to see marine life.
Contrary to what you may expect, the country houses many places showcasing the beauty of the sea. Some, like the SeaWorld Research and Rescue Center, also work to inspire the public to do their part in saving marine ecosystems.
In collaboration with real estate development firm Miral, SeaWorld Entertainment is building a marine life theme park on Yas Island.
According to press releases, SeaWorld will work with a dedicated research, rescue, rehabilitation, and return center to serve as an advanced knowledge hub on indigenous marine life ecosystems in the Gulf.
Once up and running, the marine life theme park will feature up-close animal experiences, a state-of-the-art aquarium, and other attractions that use the latest visitor engagement technology.
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi aims to enrich visitor experience by featuring work from resident scientists and researchers. They will also offer customized programs for local and international touring groups and schools to foster a better understanding of marine life in the Gulf.
Get an Authentic Emirati Experience
The UAE houses many popular tourist attractions that cater to travelers from all walks of life. If you wish to appreciate the country the way locals do, include the activities listed here in your itinerary to get an authentic Emirati experience.