Culture + Style

One Good Reason to Visit the United Arab Emirates Right Now (and a Few More)

Looking for a reason to visit the Emirates right now? Try an otherworldly “Star Wars” desert or extreme roller coasters, or even the thrill of camel racing. Rub’ al Khali desert on the border of Oman and the Emirate of Dubai, Middle East.

Those towering, Martian-red sand hills in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” certainly looked otherworldly. But planet Jakku’s swoon-worthy landscape is right here on Earth, no intergalactic travel required. A three-hour drive from Abu Dhabi, the Rub’ al Khali desert — often called “the Empty Quarter” — is the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world. The film set has been dismantled and there’s not a droid in sight, but you can still make like Rey and traverse the dunes yourself through one of the many reputable companies offering day tours from the city. Who knows, maybe you’ll be touched by the Force in this timeless terrain.

Not a “Star Wars” junkie? Here are more of the best reasons to visit the United Arab Emirates this year — from over-the-top openings to only-in-the-UAE festivals and events.