Visit friends and relatives
The 'visiting friends and relatives' (VFR) market is huge in the UAE due to the existence of a large expatriate community.
Some of the reasons the UAE attracts family members and friends of its expatriate communities are its strategic location and the attractive package offer from the UAE-based airlines on air tickets and visa services.
Experience Arab and Islamic heritage
The UAE is the torchbearer of the Arab and Islamic heritage. It also has a long anthropological and political history to tell. Experience the beauty of this heritage and relive the olden times by visiting the museums, mosques, heritage villages, archaeological sites and forts in the UAE.
The UAE is the regional hub for cultural events. The UAE hosts the region's leading film festivals, food festivals, literature festivals and art and culture festivals.
Find out details in the events section.
The UAE has lived through the Paleolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Discover the history of the UAE by visiting the:
Adventure and sports
The UAE offers a lot of high to medium thrill activities for the adventure-friendly. Popular recreational and adventure activities include sky diving, golfing, desert safari, dune buggy riding, cycling, land sailing, quad biking, dune bashing, sandboarding, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, ice-skating and snow skiing.
In addition, the UAE regularly hosts championships, which involve renowned international players, big rewards and huge public following. Read about modern sports in the UAE.
View the sports events in the UAE.
Participate in meetings, conferences and exhibitions
The UAE is a regional hub for meetings, conventions, conferences and exhibitions. Events are held in the fields of:
- Defence equipment and technology
- Information and communication technology
- Real estate
Some of the popular trade shows are:
- Abu Dhabi International Motorbike Show
- Gulf Bike Week
Find out what the events you would like to attend.
Event organisers can choose from a wide array of venues for hosting events which include yachts, outdoor terraces, landscaped gardens, private beaches, grand ballrooms and convention centres. Some of the venues for trade shows are:
Undergo medical or cosmetic treatment
The UAE is becoming a regional hub for medical and cosmetic treatment. Thanks to short waiting times, competitive pricing and high quality care, it serves an ideal destination for patients seeking treatment abroad.
An extensive network of hospitals and medical centres are located across the country that offer the best medical treatment and service. In addition to routine operations and cosmetic procedures, the UAE hosts specialised centres for quality services in:
- Cosmetic and elective surgical procedures
- General check-ups and diagnostics
As of January 2016, the UAE led the world in having the largest number of JCI-accredited organisations. The Government has built medical complexes where one can get access to a variety of medical and cosmetic facilitates; they are Dubai Healthcare City and Sharjah Healthcare City.
Medical tourism portals
Dubai Health Experience website from Dubai Health Authority is the world's first comprehensive medical tourism portal that provides all health, travel, hospitality and visa services. The portal enables international medical tourists to book medical procedure packages at any of the 26 private and public hospitals in Dubai along with special discounted airfares, visa, hotel stay, leisure activities, the Marhaba (meet and greet) service at the airport and medical insurance to cover malpractice, complication or medical liability. Dubai Health Experience (DXH) can be accessed through apps on the Android and iTunes platforms.
By 2020, Dubai is expecting to cater to 500,000 patients from outside the country and the country's medical tourism revenues are expected to cross USD 700 million by 2020.
- Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism portal
In December 2018, the Department of Health and the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi jointly launched the Abu Dhabi Medical Tourism portal which provides information on the emirate’s medical offerings and healthcare facilities.
The portal provides a list of 40 healthcare facilities in the medical tourism network, all of which adhere to the Department of Health’s ‘Jawda program’. The site also provides access to more than 287 medical treatment packages offered by more than 173 doctors in the emirate.
Through the portal, users can also access medical tourism insurance packages, along with a wide range of touristic services such direct contact with healthcare providers, visa issuance, booking appointments, hotels, transportation and other recreational activities.
Meanwhile, RAK Hospital has partnered with Ethiopian Airlines to offer medical treatments for tourists from African countries.
The UAE has a rich natural environment offering a unique mix of diverse topography. The UAE is largely an arid land with vast sand deserts but is also characterised by sand dunes, oases, mountains, valleys, beaches, mangroves and salt plains. Every characteristic provides home to varied flora and fauna. This diversity attracts visitors to the UAE.
The UAE has more than 5,036.24 square kilometres of protected areas. This is equivalent to 6.02 per cent of the total area of the country. Some of these natural reserves are:
- Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve and Al Yasat Marine Protected Area in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
- Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve in the emirate of Dubai
- Wadi Al Helou, Meliha and Wasit nature reserve in the emirate of Sharjah.
There are many ways to explore the local flora and fauna. The options are extensive; from going on desert safaris to spot the Arabian Oryx to hiking up the mountains to catch a glimpse of birds and even camping in the desert to spot the nocturnal beings.
Ecotours can be arranged through dedicated environmental groups, such as Emirates Natural History Group and Emirates Environmental Group along with private tour operators and hotels.
A rich marine life and breathtaking underwater seascapes also attract snorkelers and scuba divers. Diving enthusiasts will particularly love Martini Rock off the coast of Fujairah.
Read about the National Ecotourism project (The UAE’s Natural Wonders).
Have fun in theme parks
There a variety of theme parks in the UAE which guarantee entertainment to the whole family. Some of them are listed below. Check their websites to plan your visit and book the tickets.
Theme parks in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
Theme parks in the emirate of Dubai
Read about the top eight amusement theme parks in the UAE.
Theme parks in the emirate of Sharjah
Theme parks in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah
Theme parks in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain
In addition, indoor recreation venues such as Magic Planet
and Fun City
are located in various cities in the UAE.
Stop along the cruise
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are popular stops on the itineraries of major cruise lines. The UAE ports provide modern facilities and fast processing of entry/exit at immigration counters in terms of visa clearance. The ports provide easy transportation to the cities. Cruise passengers are offered a multiple-entry visa, which allows them to get in and out of the UAE through an airport as well.
You can cruise into the UAE through one of the following seaports:
Updated on 27 Dec 2018