The United Arab Emirates is one of the world's fastest-growing destinations for business and leisure visitors. This is hardly surprising since geographically, economically and culturally, it is in a unique strategic position between East and West.
Perpetual sun, endless white sand and turquoise seas have helped to attract many tourists over the years, but it is the UAE's unbeatable shopping, superb resorts, excellent restaurants, spectacular events, an intriguing traditional culture, and a safe and welcoming environment that lure visitors back time and time again.
Access has never been easier as the UAE is now a major travel hub. Today, the UAE's rapidly expanding national airlines, a major success story in themselves, transport millions of visitors through its world-class airports, and visas are available on arrival for over 30 nationalities.
Huge investment has taken place in tourism infrastructure and all of the world's top hotel brands are represented here. High-end resorts have proliferated and premium tourist and entertainment facilities are widespread. The UAE has also become a food-lovers' delight with every conceivable cuisine available in its many restaurants, and celebrity chefs vying to open up new venues.
The country also continues to attract millions to major exhibitions at its many world-class exhibition centres, and feted sporting events in horse racing, golf, tennis and Formula 1, amongst others, bring many visitors to its shores. Some of the top names in the entertainment industry stage concerts and shows here, music and art festivals are regularly held, and cultural tourism is promoted. The latter will receive a major impetus when the Louvre Abu Dhabi opens its doors in 2015.
Improvement in public transport, including a new metro and tram line in Dubai, have helped enormously with getting around the UAE's cities. But visitors are also venturing much further afield, discovering the delights of the country's varied landscape and distinct natural beauty and visiting its spectacular deserts, rugged mountains and mangrove-fringed islands.