The United Arab Emirates is perhaps best known for its ultra-modern architecture in the city of Dubai. There you’ll find iconic skyscrapers shaped like giant sails, manmade palm tree-shaped islands, shopping centres the size of small towns, indoor ski slopes and glamorous beach resorts. Abu Dhabi, UAE’s capital, is home to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, full of crystal chandeliers and room for 41,000 worshipers, and is fast becoming a cultural hub of sport and leisure. The Gulf of Oman has crystal clear waters, and the Al Gharbia desert rolls towards Saudi Arabia. Ride a camel, haggle at the souq, stay a while; the UAE is much more than a stopover destination.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Paolo Margari