Welcome to a destination dubbed “arguably the world’s most exciting new tourism hotspot” by Britain’s influential Travel Weekly UK magazine.
This emirate, which hosts the island capital of the United Arab Emirates, is an intriguing mix of the past, the present and an exciting future.
For a chance to connect with the emirate’s deep-rooted culture, Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village and Zayed Centre are two of the best attractions. The Heritage Village, a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village, provides an interesting glimpse into the country’s past. There are also workshops where craftsmen demonstrate their skills and may give you the chance to take part as well as a little spice shop, where you can get a range of dried herbs, handmade soap and plenty of chatter.
The Zayed Centre, in the historic Al Bateen district, gives visitors a sneak-peek into the life of the late UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, affectionately known as the ‘Father of the Nation’. The museum, housed in an Emirati heritage village replete with camels, is an incredible homage to a man who shaped the country.
If you fancy taking in the fresh ocean air, try visiting the sweeping Abu Dhabi Corniche which is great for joggers, cyclists, walkers, sun worshippers, bathers or for those who just wish to sip a fragrant coffee and watch the world go by. The beauty, particularly at sunset, of the Corniche, home to the opulent Emirates Palace hotel, has an almost mystical ‘pull.’ You can relax on a clean, well-managed public beach, complete with lifeguards, which edges clear, safe waters.
Further afield, the city is linked to Abu Dhabi mainland by four main bridges one of which will lead you to our signature destinations of Yas and Saadiyat islands.
Yas Island is home to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – the world’s largest indoor theme park. You will be awe-struck at its size – it is bigger than 12 football pitches put together. Inside you’ll find a host of rides and, if you have the nerve, can try out the daring Formula Rossa – the world’s fastest rollercoaster.
Here you’ll also find the iconic Yas Hotel, the only hotel in the world straddling an F1™ race track, and can visit the magnificent Yas Marina Circuit – home to the annual F1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Golfers will love a round on the stunning Yas Links golf course.
On Saadiyat Island you can visit the Manarat Al Saadiyat arts and culture exhibition centre which regularly hosts award-winning art shows and displays. Those wanting to feel at one with nature may like to play a round at the fabulous Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, an inspiring 18-hole championship-ready ‘ocean’ course designed by golfing legend Gary Player. Don’t be surprised if you spot dolphins frolicking in the Gulf as you try to concentrate on your putting!
For those with more time on their hands, take a late afternoon drive towards the towering Jebel Hafeet heights in our Oasis City of Al Ain, and enjoy the sunset while cruising up one of the world’s most incredible roads. Make sure, before hitting the summit, you turn off for a break at the stunning, Mercure Grand hotel, and take in breathtaking vistas of the desert and oases below.
Jebel Hafeet’s foothills are also home to more than 500 ancient burial tombs dating back 5,000 years. These vital pieces in the jigsaw of the city’s ancient history allow you to connect with a deep-rooted heritage that continues to shape its future.
Or for a visit to nature, try the Arabian Wildlife Park on the nature reserve of Sir Bani Yas Island, which boasts more than 10,000 free roaming animals from giraffe to Arabian Oryx.
Guests at the boutique Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara can take 4x4 Nature & Wildlife Drives of the park in specially made vehicles accompanied by expert island staff.
Those with an adventurous streak can take in the awe-inspiring beauty of the Rub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter), a vast expanse of desert that lies outside the Liwa oasis in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region with a visit to the majestic Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara.
Nestled in the lieu of 200-metre high dunes and a long sand valley, this breath taking 5-star resort offers unparalleled luxury and comfort amid mystic desert charm. Whether riding on a camel over sun-soaked dunes as this foreboding landscape unwinds eternally in front of you or soaking in the freeform swimming pool while desert wildlife grazes in the shade below, there is something for every discerning taste.
So come knowing what you want to see. And see what you do not know. Lose track of days, discover endless tranquillity, and leave with a new found sense of discovery.
Abu Dhabi – Travellers Welcome www.visitabudhabi.ae