Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates in the Arabian Gulf and is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south and Oman to the east.
Abu Dhabi offers a blend of east and west that attracts holidaymakers who like to engage with the local traditions and heritage of the destination. It appeals to business and leisure travellers.
A new exhibition centre has opened on Saadiyat Island in advance of the building there of the world’s single largest concentration of premier cultural institutions. This centre is called Manarat Saadiyat and will host a series of temporary exhibitions – it’ best to check details before a visit. Abu Dhabi also has a host of independent galleries. A visit to the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain (the second city) is worth the trip – there’s a permanent exhibition there to the exploits of British adventurer and explorer Wilfred Thesiger who crossed the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) in the 1940s.
In addition to landmark buildings such as Emirates Palace hotel on the Abu Dhabi Corniche and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – one of the largest in the world, there is the Capital Gate building at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, it is a leaning tower masterpiece of engineering and will be featured on National Geographic’s ‘Mega Structures’ programme.
In the midst of the Liwa desert the landmark is the new Qasr Al Sarab desert retreat by Anantara – a five star resort nestling among the world’s largest sand dunes.
Spas are plentiful and will be found in most five-star hotels and also in independent villas – try the Hamman baths for an exceptional cleansing treatment. There are also spas for men where male grooming treatments are on offer.
Top Attractions – The Corniche, the city’s heart; Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – complementary guided tours Sunday – Thursday.
Heritage Village, a museum of over 1,600sq metres; Desert Safari; Shisha on the breakwater; Souk shopping; Al Ain Oasis, a fertile wonderland of palm plantations; Al Ain Camel Market, the last of its kind in the UAE: Liwa – see some of the world’s tallest sand dunes; Sir Bani Yas Island, an island get-away with the Arabian Wildlife Park; Sail away in a dhow – charter your own dhow or join a sunset cruise; Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort – one of the emirate’s top attractions Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital – guided tours of the world’s most advanced facility of its kind; Saluki Centre – take a guided tour and learn all about the world’s oldest recorded breed of hunting dog; Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain – entry free of charge.
There are a number of major events held in Abu Dhabi including the Aerobatic Show, Golf Championship, Culinary Festival, Yacht Show, Desert Challenge, Classic Music Festival, Red Bull Air Race, Water sports Festival,
Visit traditional souks for bargain gold and silver jewellery and local spices. Other traditional crafts include floor mats, food mats and bowls woven from date palm fibres and camel blankets.
Abu Dhabi has an array of top-end accommodation, though cheaper options are available. The majority of places to stay are hotels of three to five stars and it is the five star bracket that really stands out. The choice has developed throughout the entire emirate and encompasses city centre hotels, beach resorts, retreats in the Oasis City of Al Ain.
To travel to Abu Dhabi from the UK British Airways has daily flights and Etihad Airways has non-stop flights from Heathrow and Manchester. Passengers wishing to fly from most UK regional airports can do so via KLM via Schiphol.
British citizens are issued free 30-day visit visas on arrival. Check the details when making your reservations.