The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is among the top destinations in the Middle East. It’s a cultural hub, being home to several tourist attractions, museums and art galleries. This summer, I had the opportunity to visit Abu Dhabi for one day only but I quickly got the vibes of the city and I did some sightseeing during that day. Here’s a few things to do in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi has a wide choice of hotels ranging from small hotel apartments to luxurious palaces. There’s a place to stay for all budgets. However, in general the city is quite expensive. During my stopover, I stayed at Hyatt Capital Gate, one of the five-star hotels in the capital that offers an amazing service, as well as top quality rooms and suites. The hotel in itself is a landmark as it is located in the furthest leaning (18°) skyscraper in the world. A premium location in the city!
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the main thing to see in Abu Dhabi. It is an astonishing 82 dome-mosque and one of the largest in the world. Apart from being an architectural beauty, it clearly shows the Islamic art in all its glory: over 1000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The white walls of the mosque are reflected in the water of the pools surrounding it which gave me a great feeling of peace and calm. A must-see in Abu Dhabi!
The Abu Dhabi Corniche is a great place to hang out. I walked all along the beach and the Marina. The area is very pleasant especially with the sunset breeze! There are several shopping malls around, children’s play areas, cafes and restaurants to enjoy a nice stroll.
Right behind the corniche, multiple towers create the skyline of Abu Dhabi. Among them the Etihad Towers, which are some of the tallest in the city! There is an observation deck in the 75th floor of Tower 2 to enjoy the view with a drink. Right in front of the towers, there is the Emirates Palace, a five-star luxury hotel built as a landmark that showcases Arab culture.
From the Emirates Palace, of which I just saw the exterior, I walked over to the UAE Heritage Village, where I enjoyed an impression of traditional Emirati culture rather than the modern face of it that you see all over. This village is a great way to experience the traditional ways, including camel or Arab horse rides, village huts and the desert scenery. I walked down a path leading to the sea that suddenly took me back to the modern face…. I could see the gigantic towers again. I must admit that the view was impressive!
Something I heard a lot about but did not have time to see during my quick stopover was Ferrari World. It is a mega theme park with some of the fastest and most furious attractions in the world. For instance, it features the world’s fastest roller coaster that speeds up to 240kph / 150mph! Great place for a little adrenaline rush!
The Emirates Palace hosts the Barakat Gallery that displays ancient art and antiquities from China, Egypt, the Near East, Africa, the Pre-Columbian Americas and Ancient Greece and Rome. Moreover, all displayed items are for sale. So get your dollars ready for some auctions…
As for local art, the Folklore Gallery on Zayed 1st Street in Khalidiya is a nice place to discover art from the Arab World and local pottery. Hemisphere Design Studio & Gallery on Khalifa Street is an independent gallery that showcases works by local artists.
For art lovers, the Abu Dhabi Art Fair takes place on 5-8 November 2014. The fair presents museum quality artworks from several galleries. This year’s special programme includes a wide array of installations and large-scale sculptures. The fair is organised around talks with artists, workshops, exhibitions and much more to entertain the public. General admission is free of charge, go as you are to enjoy art in all its facets.
Photos: © Omar Oualili
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