Once upon a time, the United Arab Emirates island capital of Abu Dhabi was a place to stop and rest, before continuing on to a more ‘glamorous’ location. However in the past 10 years Abu Dhabi has emerged as an undiscovered jewel on the international travel map. Its rich Arabic traditions and modern day culture have helped the city to quickly become one of the most exciting and alluring places to visit.
Personal travel manager, Kim Mason, experienced the wonders of Abu Dhabi for herself on a recent action-packed holiday. Here are her top finds:
Opulence in abundance
Abu Dhabi has its very own royal family, however you don’t have to run a kingdom to get a taste of the riches of the city. Even if you’re not staying in one of the luxurious resorts such as the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri, which overlooks the impressive Grand Mosque, you can often arrange a day pass for one of the lavish hotel pools. Soak in the atmosphere as you sip cocktails before taking a boat ride through the hotel canals to the local souk where you can experience a unique shopping or dining experience.
Immerse yourself in the local culture by choosing from one of many day tours on offer. Among the best is an enthralling off-road experience set within the city’s surrounding desert. Local safari guides will drive you over steep sand-dunes in 4×4 vehicles to your desert oasis. Here you can take a camel ride, try sand boarding and try out a henna design before the sun sets to reveal a glittering night sky. End your evening by feasting on Middle Eastern cuisine, trying your hand at aromatic shisha and watching hypnotic belly dances.
Looking for an activity that’ll keep young and old entertained? Look no further than Ferrari World. Not just for ‘rev heads’, this indoor theme park is located within a large air-conditioned dome where family or friends can gear up and race around the go-kart track. Big kids can feel the G force on the world’s fastest roller coaster, while the little ones can ride a miniature Formula One car. If you prefer the real thing, your personal travel manager can help you book a tour of the Marina Circuit which goes behind the scenes of this top Formula One facility.
Alternatively, take a refreshing dip at the Yas Waterworld which includes exhilarating rides like the Jebel Drop speed slide, and the world’s first suspended water rollercoaster. Once you’re dry, be sure to check out the shopping and dining precincts that are also on offer.
One benefit of planning an Abu Dhabi city escape means you don’t have to travel far to visit some of the capital’s famed monuments and landmarks. And a visit is not complete without seeing one of the most architecturally outstanding buildings in the world, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Although not the biggest mosque on the planet, it does win points for grandeur, housing the largest chandelier and handmade Persian carpet in the world. The mosque is best viewed with a guide who can explain the architecture, art and imagery as well as its many religious symbols. Just remember to dress in modest clothing, as this is a sacred place of worship.
Shopping is something of a national pastime in Abu Dhabi, with everything from local souks where you can buy traditional artwork, carpets and spices, to bargain outlets, and mega-malls which feature high-street and designer boutiques. Abu Dhabi is a great place to score a deal on jewellery and lavish items, and as many shopping centres open until late, they’re always buzzing with atmosphere.
For your next overseas adventure, make your stopover a destination in itself and discover all that Abu Dhabi has to offer. With many more tourism projects underway to entice visitors, it is definitely a city to add to your must-see list.
For more information on how to go beyond the surface on this city, contact Kim Mason
About Kim Mason:
Kim Mason is an award winning travel agent with more than 19 years industry experience. She combines her work with her lifetime love of travel searching for new adventures around the globe. Her specialties include family travel, cruising, ski holidays and anything fun and adventurous.