The United Arab Emirates is a remarkable mixture of contradictions. One of the most liberal countries in the Arab world the discovery of oil has catapulted it out of its fishing past. Even though sudden wealth has been the cause of almost unbridled development the country is still one where Bedouin on their camels rub shoulders with international businessmen in their Bentleys. The phenomenon that is Dubai offers the final say in shopping, nightlife and increasingly fantastic architecture. The Gulf still retains some un-spoilt beaches and has world class dive spots. The deserts are the place to have that Lawrence of Arabia moment beneath the stars and the old town souks are the place to pick up a carpet you never realised you so desperately needed.