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Die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate bestehen aus 7 Emiraten, Bild: oneinchpunch / shutterstock

The 7 United Arab Emirates and its sights

Have you ever wondered what the United Arab Emirates (UAE) actually are? The UAE consists of much more than just Dubai. Dubai may be the most populous country, but it’s only the UAE’s second-largest emirate or “state” – and even then, it only accounts for 5% of the UAE’s landmass.

In total, there are seven emirates in the UAE (by land area):

  • Abu Dhabi (67,340 km2)
  • Dubai (3,885 km2)
  • Sharjah (2,590 km2)
  • Ras Al Khaimah – RAK (2,486 km2)
  • Fujairah (1,165 km2)
  • um al-Quwain (755 km2)
  • Ajman (259 km2)

As you can see, Abu Dhabi is by far the largest emirate, but NOT the most populous. Dubai is the most populous city in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi
View of Abu Dhabi from the helicopter, Image: Ali Suliman/shutterstock

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is not only the capital, but also the second largest emirate in the world with a population of about 1.6 million people. Abu Dhabi is ranked as one of the richest cities in the world, with the majority of its revenue coming from petroleum products. This emirate accounts for about two-thirds of the UAE’s economy. In contrast to Dubai, which is more Western-oriented, Abu Dhabi cultivates more cultural traditions. Abu Dhabi is also a major tourist attraction that is visited by most people for cultural reasons, such as to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, have fun on the sandy beaches, visit Yas Island and the famous Ferrari World Abu Dhabi .


Dubai is the most populous emirate of the United Arab Emirates with about 3.3 million inhabitants. The emirate has developed mainly through trade and tourism. It is the most advanced of the seven emirates. Dubai is classified as an alpha city due to its strong economy. In contrast to neighboring emirates such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s oil reserves are depleted. Although it started as a port, Dubai has evolved into a luxurious emirate that houses the world’s tallest building.


Sharjah is the third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates with about 1.2 million inhabitants. This city borders Dubai. Most people who work in Dubai prefer to live in Sharjah because the cost of living is cheaper compared to Dubai – however, Dubai offers better-paying jobs. Sharjah has developed in both the economic and tourism sectors.

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Ras al-Khaimah

Zayed Mosque in Ras al-Khaimah
Zayed Mosque in Ras al-Khaimah, Image: Philip Lange / shutterstock

Ras al-Khaimah is located in the northern part of the UAE and borders part of the Omani territory, the Musandam. The population of this emirate is 263,000 people, with Emirati citizens forming the largest group. Some of the most famous attractions in this emirate include shopping, nature, parks, water parks, and amusement parks. In the shopping centres you can get everything your heart desires. Fine jewellery, watches or robust hard-shell suitcases.


The population of this emirate is estimated at 127,000 people. The capital is located in Fujairah City. The economy of Fujairah is not very developed. It depends on government subsidies awarded by Abu Dhabi. Most of the emirate’s residents work in the service sector, with the government prohibiting foreigners from owning more than 49% of the shares in companies or organizations.

um al-Quwain

With a total population of 73,000 people, um al-Quwain is the most sparsely populated state in the UAE. Unlike the other emirates, Quwain has no oil or gas deposits. Therefore, its economy relies mainly on income from hotels, tourism, and parks.


Although Ajman is the smallest emirate, it is the fourth most populous state in the UAE with around 490,000 inhabitants. The main tourist attractions in this area include cultural destinations, hotels, and shopping malls. The commercial sector is also well developed in this state.

Top 5 Things to Do in the United Arab Emirates

Burj Khalifa

Dubai, Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world

The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, is a must-see and one of the best tourist attractions in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This iconic monumental structure is not only the tallest skyscraper in the world, but has also broken numerous other world records, including the world’s fastest elevator and the world’s tallest observation deck. This skyscraper offers stunning views, and tourists can walk to the top for stunning 360-degree views of the city, the Dubai Fountain, and the Arabian Gulf.

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Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, the oldest national park in the United Arab Emirates, is one of the largest regions in the country dedicated to preserving the last intact desert and priceless natural heritage. Tourists can discover a variety of plant and animal species here, while better understanding the measures taken to protect endangered species and preserve their natural environment. These include hedgehogs and antelopes, spiders and scorpions, as well as a variety of plants native to the region.

Great Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Even if you are not so pious, a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Museum or the Grand Mosque will amaze you. It is one of the best tourist attractions in the United Arab Emirates. Considered the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world, the Grand Mosque is the resting place of the UAE’s oldest president, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The mosque, which can accommodate 40,000 worshippers, is decorated with marble, ceramics, crystals, semi-precious stones and gold.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has another major attraction to add to its already long and captivating itinerary. The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors at the end of 2017, making the city an even greater cultural and aesthetic place. With its charming and impressive architecture, the construction of the Louvre is a work of art in itself. But compared to the many works of art that the museum houses, it is only a small detail. The Louvre, which makes a significant international impression, is a must-see for all art lovers.

Sharjah Desert Park

Sharjah Desert Park covers a vast area and consists of three parts: the Natural History Museum, the Arabian Wildlife Centre and the Children’s Farm. He helps his tourists to get to know the plants and animals of the United Arab Emirates better and to explain the scientific methods of nature in the most entertaining way possible. This wonderful museum is located 28 km from Sharjah and is a must-see, especially for nature lovers.

List of 20 other top tourist attractions in the United Arab Emirates:

  1. Burj Al Arab
  2. Dubai Creek
  3. Dubai Fountain
  4. Dubai Mall
  5. Jumeirah Mosque
  6. Kite Beach
  7. Meena Bazaar
  8. Palm Jumeirah
  9. Emirates Park Zoo
  10. Capital Gate
  11. Yas Island
  12. Etihad Tower Complex
  13. Mangrove National Park
  14. Corniche Road
  15. Qasr Al Hosn
  16. Jebel Hafeet
  17. Al Qasba
  18. Museum of Islamic Civilization
  19. Aquarium of Sharjah
  20. Sharjah Art Museum