In the south and west of the country, the land is mainly sand dunes and salt flats with the occasional traditional desert oasis.

The largest oases are at Al Ain, 160km east of Abu Dhabi, and the Liwa in the south-west. In the northern part of the country, the sand dunes yield to gravel plains formed by the Hajar Mountain range.

The mountains themselves rise to a height of over 3000 m .The east coast is essentially a fertile plain where rainfall and subterranean water have allowed agriculture to be practised for thousands of years. Along the coast, there are long, unspoiled beaches stretching for kilometres.

During the winter, the entire country generally experiences very good weather though it is often quite windy.

Cold weather is not unknown and in the desert around Al-Ain, temperatures sometimes drop as low as 10°C.

Winter in the inland desert is usually pleasantly brisk. Weather can be extreme during the summer months (May to October), with coastal temperatures slightly lower but combined with high humidity.

Pleasant weather prevails during the rest of the year, with temperatures between 20° C and 35° C. Annual rainfall varies from an average of 43 mm in Abu Dhabi to 130 mm in Ra's al Khaymah, but with great variations from year to year.

Sandstorms occur frequently and are associated with both the shamal, a powerful wind from the north or west, and the hot khamsin, coming from the south in summer.

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