Traveling to a new place can be intimidating, but one of the best ways to confidently plan for a foreign trip is to read about it! Travel, history, and cultural books can give you an authentic insight into wherever you’re going.

Below are eight of the best books to read before traveling to the UAE, from poetry collections to kid’s travel books to insightful cookbooks. Check out these stellar reads and consider buying one or two to prep you for the trip.

Lonely Planet Dubai & Abu Dhabi

This book from Lonely Planet focuses on Dubai and Abu Dhabi, giving you a detailed overview of these two popular Emirates. It’s loaded with insider tips and helpful information for navigating the streets and the culture. While there are other phenomenal travel guides on this list, this book has the most information jammed into a portable pocket-size book.


It includes itineraries for many Emirates, including Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, and more. It also has maps, images, activity recommendations, budgeting tips, safety tips, reviews from real travelers, and so much more. Reading this book will provide you with a wealth of information for your trip.

Fodor’s Dubai 25 Best 

If you’re ready to dive into what UAE has to offer, this full-color travel guide showcases the best places to visit. It highlights both tourist hotspots and hidden gems, so you can avoid the extra touristy spots if you want. It covers 25 locations comprehensively but mentions a few more if you want to explore further.


It includes practical tips from experts and common phrases that can help you navigate UAE without being disrespectful. The detailed street maps and vibrant photos make it easy to figure out where you are and plan your routes. There are even self-guided Dubai tour itineraries so you can be your own tour guide!

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The DK Eyewitness Top 10 Dubai and Abu Dhabi is an excellent travel guide, whether you visit Dubai alone or with family and friends. It highlights the top ten places in Dubai and Abu Dhabi but also mentions spots in Ras Al Khaimah, which is a stunning and exciting Emirate to visit during your trip. This book is ideal for people who love doing quintessential tourist activities.


The book features colorful maps and sample itineraries, making it easy to find destinations and plan your trip wisely. It’s also teeming with street-smart advice and safety tips so you can enjoy your vacation and avoid unpleasant or dangerous situations.

Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi

If food is something you’re eager to try in Dubai, this book is the perfect thing to read before heading to UAE. Table Tales by Hana Sayed Worrell is the ultimate guide to eating in the UAE and making delicious food from Dubai. You can try your hand at making some of these extraordinary dishes to get a feel for the cuisine before going on your trip.


The collection of delicious recipes and tips for eating UAE cuisine is extensive, as Worrell touches on every related topic. It also discusses the life of ex-pats, who are immigrants living in the UAE. Not only can you better understand the food you’ll be eating, but you gain insight into the cultural condition of the area.

Dubai for Kids Travel Book

While adults like to read about a place before they visit, kids enjoy learning more before traveling too! If kids are coming on your UAE trip, this book is a perfect present so they can learn about the Emirates and get ready for the vacation. It includes fun activities, puzzles, and games that help a child learn more about the culture, customs, and geography of the UAE.


But it also has essential information for traveling in this area, making it useful even for adults. It mentions important history, popular attractions, and must-try activities. The book also has blank space for you and your child to journal about your experiences, draw pictures or stash photos like a scrapbook.

The Nabati Poetry of the United Arab Emirates

Perhaps not the most informative book to read before traveling to UAE, but a beautiful read nevertheless. The Nabati Poetry book gives you a glimpse into the artistic culture of the area and will introduce you to the exquisiteness of Nabati poetry. From love poems to advice pieces to elegies and more, the book has much to offer and will inspire you in new ways.


It was translated by Clive Holes and Said Salman Abu Athera, and they created it with the mission to introduce English readers to this variety of poetry. It also includes poems from the first president of the UAE, along with works from other iconic figures.

Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success

This book by Christopher Davidson is an excellent resource if you want to understand the history of Dubai and the UAE. What was once a quaint fishing town is now a massive populous with much to offer. Davidson traces the incredible journey of Dubai and discusses iconic buildings and sites you can visit.


You can also learn about the expanding immigrant community from the west, which is reshaping the area as time goes on. Davidson touches on many topics, from the beautiful sands of the desert to fluctuations and patterns of crime. After reading this, you’ll have a better grasp of the UAE and what to expect when visiting.

Beyond Dubai: Seeking Lost Cities in the Emirates

This vibrant travel book from David Millar can give travelers unique insight into the country. He highlights the joy that can be found in Dubar and explores the complex and lively history of the Emirates. By discussing the forgotten cities of UAE, he explains how the current UAE came to be and why it is set up the way it is.


If all you know about UAE is super tall and intricate skyscrapers or their plethora of oil, you’re missing a lot of information. Millar delivers insight while debunking stereotypes and showcasing the richness of UAE’s culture.

Bottom Line

Understanding foreign cultures and customs can be challenging and confusing. But these books can help you gain insight into the UAE, so you know what to expect before going.


Not only will these books help you prepare for the vacation, but they will make you even more excited for the experiences to come!


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