It’s difficult not to think about extravagance when reading about the UAE. It seems this federation of seven emirates wants to monopolize most of the world’s superlatives.

Case in point: Visit Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower in Dubai. Shop in some of the world’s largest malls, complete with indoor ski slopes and aquariums, or splurge at Burj-al-Arab, the only self-proclaimed 7-star hotel in the world. If you’re more into keeping it low-key, wander in the traditional Arab souks of Sharjah, camp in the deserts of Sweihan, explore the wadis near Ras al Khaimah, or swim with turtles and reef sharks off the coast of Fujeirah. Excessive adventures start by reading below.