While Dubai gets most of the world’s attention, it is Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE and its main engine of economic growth, that surely is becoming one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. It contains so many things to see that the newly arrived visitor can get confused with. It has islands, grand mosques, souks, roller-coasters, camel rides and safaris. But you don’t have to be among the super-rich to enjoy Abu Dhabi’s charms. Most of the big expensive attractions are open to the public, but you’re more inclined towards the local culture, you’ll find you have come to the right place. Here are five of the most attractive things to do while in Abu Dhabi this summer.
Sir Bani Yas Island
There are more than 200 islands along the coast of Abu Dhabi but all of them differ in function. There are cultural and entertainment centers like Saadiyat and then there are wildlife reserves for endangered species like turtles. But if you are looking for an adventure safari on an island, look no further than Sir Bani Yas Island. Originally a private retreat of the Sheikhs, it has become a Noah’s Ark for thousands of indigenous and exotic animals like Oryx, gazelle and yes, cheetah. The resorts on the island offer daily drives and luxury accommodations. For the thrill-seeking there are also hiking trails, mountain-bike trails etc. The island is accessible by both ferry and seaplane.
Al Bateen Shipyard
If you’re a history buff looking to get to grips with the roots of Abu Dhabi, head to the Al Bateen Shipyard on Al Bateen Island. This ancient shipyard was the home of Abu Dhabi’s ancient maritime trade as well as a hub for its pearl harvesting and fishing fleets. If you have the funds, you can even hire your own boat to travel all around the coastline of the city.
Given that summer daytime temperatures in Abu Dhabi can soar to 48ºC, the streets of the city only come alive in the evening. If you’re young and looking for a night out on the town this summer, make your way to the city many hotel bars and shisha cafes. One of the most popular is the Hookah Lounge which offers food in addition to shisha, but if you’re looking to have some authentic middle-eastern food try the Lebanon Mill restaurant at Fatima Bint Mubarak St. There you’ll find dishes from all over the Arab world like moutabel, fattoosh, hummus and shish tawwok grilled chicken at very reasonable prices.
is the giant Ferrari-theme Park built in Abu Dhabi which is the first of its kind. It features various fast-paced rides including the fastest roller-coaster in the world: The Formula Rossa can go as fast as 240km/h in five seconds or less and simulates the Formula One cockpit. But that is not all. You can also patronize its numerous Italian themed restaurants, such as the Cavallino Lounge, a fine Italian dining establishment, all the way to the Il Podio, which is modelled on the staff mess in the Ferrari factory in Italy. If that was not enough, the facility also boasts a 1920’s style Italian cinema and a daily stage show featuring traditional Italian street performers.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Art lovers of the world! Make your way to this grand international art gallery that was 10 years in the making, consisting of 12 galleries and 55 buildings which host a variety of art works from around the world, including of course, the Louvre in Paris. Each gallery and exhibition follows one upon the other to form a potent history of the world. Calling itself ‘The world’s first universal museum’ it contains artefacts from ancient Greece and Egypt, Qurans and Bibles, works of Van Gogh, not to mention contemporary artists. The building complex itself is a marvel of art and engineering, shown most obviously in its giant domed roof, which allows a ‘rain of light’ to pour down upon the main building itself.
This is only a drop in the ocean of tourist delights that is Abu Dhabi. Whether you’re a frequently flying CEO or a dignified statesman, whether you’re an adventurous thrill-seeker or a pious family man, there is something for every visitor to this most hospitable of cities.