Sharjah, the not-so-obvious UAE destination for many, unjustly remains in the shadows of its glistening immediate neighbor of Dubai. In the meantime, few are aware Sharjah was named Capital of Islamic Culture (2014) and Cultural Capital of the Arab World by UNESCO sixteen years prior - and for good reason. Sharjah's Heritage Area is home to multiple historic sites and museums, and the Emirate itself boasts recent, modern additions to its art and entertainment scenes enough to compensate for the strict "no-alcohol" regulations.
With its awesome glass skyscrapers that reflect the bustle of daily life, magnificent buildings such as the Emirates Palace, its lively souqs, excellent international restaurants and long stretches of white beaches lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Gulf, Abu Dhabi is a city of outstanding contrasts. The throbbing heart of the city lies 250 metres off-shore on an island linked to the mainland by the Al Maqtaa Bridge and Mussafah Bridge. Home to the respected Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation and the Al Hosn Palace museum, along with numerous venues for the arts, the wealthy city is the cultural as well as the commercial hub of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
From a humble village to a cosmopolitan city Dubai has transformed from a humble fishing village to one of the most cosmopolitan and innovative cities in the world today. Tracing its origins back to 3,000 BC, Dubai's inhabitants made their livelihood from fishing, pearl diving, boat building and sea trading, before the discovery of oil in the late 1960s. In 1971, Dubai joined its neighbours to form the United Arab Emirates, safeguarding the area's prosperity.