Turquoise sea, untouched white beaches, nature reserves, entertainment and culture
Abu Dhabi, modern capital of the United Arab Emirates, fascinates and captivates. Located in the largest and most populated of the seven Emirates, it is a cosmopolitan city with a stratospheric skyline. Abu Dhabi can be visited at any time of the year, but the coolest months, from November to April, are the best time to enjoy the area, with temperatures of 24°C by day and 13°C by night. The city has an interesting cultural heritage, with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful architecture, ancient palaces, fortresses, local art and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, one of the largest in the world with 80 domes, over a thousand pillars, candelabras plated in 24 carat gold and the largest hand-woven rug in the world.
Abu Dhabi is also appreciated for its natural environment, which can be found in the twenty public parks and also along the Corniche beachfront, which offers bathing in clean waters, but also playground areas, cycle and footpaths, bars and restaurants, green areas, gardens and lakes.
The city of Abu Dhabi is lively and organises various events during the year: cultural and traditional sporting events, such as falconry, horse riding and camel races, and sailing in typical wooden dhow sailing boats, which are perfect for enjoying a local dinner onboard or spending a lovely evening along the Corniche.
A place for taking a souvenir photo is Capital Gate, a leaning tower of 35 floors, 160 metres high with an incline of 18°, some four times greater than the Tower of Pisa; another is the Observation Deck at 300, at the 74th floor of Tower 2 of the Etihad Towers complex, which offers an unrivalled view over the city and surrounding islands.
Exploring Abu Dhabi does not necessarily mean staying on the streets of the capital, but also visiting the islands that are dotted in the water around the main island. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi offers 200 natural islands with mangrove forests, rocky uplands, deserts, oases, beaches and a sea filled with tropical fish, corals, dolphins, whales and turtles.
Just 500 metres from the coast is Saadiyat Island, which is devoted to the arts and culture. The island is home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a floating building designed by Jean Nouvel, a museum that represents the art of the Arab world from ancient times to the present day and illustrates the history of humanity with works from the museum’s collection together with masterpieces from famous French museums. Saadiyat will also be home to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum and offer art works in fascinating twenty-first century architectural structures.
Saadiyat Beach Golf Club
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, the first club on the ocean in the region with a course designed by Gary Player, and the Monte Carlo Beach Club, which celebrates the famous Riviera club with pools and spas on the beach, are also found on the island.
Yas Island is a place of entertainment and just thirty minutes by car from the capital. The Yas Marina Circuit is located here, which hosts the annual Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as well as Yas Marina and Yas Links Golf Course. In addition, it is also home to Ferrari World, the first Ferrari-themed park with rollercoasters, a Ferrari Gallery with an interactive exhibition of cars from 1947 to the present day, a Ferrari store and even Italian gastronomic experiences.
Sir Bani Yas Island, one of the largest natural islands of the Emirate, 240 kilometres from Abu Dhabi, has one of the largest nature reserves of the UAE, the Arabian Wildlife Park, home to the Arabian oryx, gazelles, giraffes, cheetahs and hyenas. It is also home to the only Christian Monastery, an archaeological site dating back to 600 AD.
Lovers of history can take a tour of the oasis city of Al Ain, the UAE’s first UN ESCO World Heritage Site, which features the Al Jahili Fort and museum of the Al Nahyan family, and then continue with a trip to the prehistoric tomb of Hili Fort dating back 4000 years.
The more adventurous can head to the immense dunes in the western desert region of the “Empty Quarter” of Al Gharbia, with a visit to Liwa, a historic oasis town that sits at entrance to Rub Al Khali, the largest desert in the world. Once here a trip on an off-road vehicle over the impressive desert dunes, camping with dinner around the first and a night under the starry sky, are a must.
Another must is shopping in the souks of Abu Dhabi, which sell traditional perfumes, craft items, rugs, as well as Lebanese sweets (made of pastry, honey, chopped nuts and dates), Iranian caviar, chocolate made of camel’s milk, dates covered with chocolate or filled with almonds or with candied orange peel.
Datteri ricoperti di cioccolato
Cioccolatini al latte di cammello
There is also a wide array of shopping centres featuring amazing architecture and stores with all the latest designer labels, including Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Raha Mall, Al Wahda Mall, Avenue at Etihad Towers, Fotouh Al Khair Centre, Khalidiyah Mall, Marina Mall and Mushrif Mal.
Where to sleep in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.
Hotels for stars, differentiated by type of services:
Hotel in tourist areas
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Discover the city, the main tourist attractions, the most important museums to visit and tours not to be missed, selected for you by the Editorial Staff of Avion Tourism.
WHERE TO GO
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This is one of the largest mosques in the world, an architectural gem that is large enough to accommodate 40,000 worshippers. With 80 domes, over 1,000 columns and gold-plated chandeliers, it also has the largest handwoven rug in the world. Sheikh Zayed is buried here and gives his name to the mosque. Outside, reflective pools of water are beautiful even at night thanks to a lighting system that mirrors the lunar phases.
Heritage Village is located near Marina Mall on the Breakwater Corniche. A reconstruction of a village oasis, it takes visitors back in time, giving them a taste of the desert lifestyle. It has a souk, mosque and camp. It is also an excellent place for souvenir shopping, with traditional items made of ceramic, glass, fabric or metal, as well as spices, dried herbs and craft soaps.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is situated in the Saadiyat Cultural District on the Island of Saadiyat and displays works of historical-cultural importance from ancient times to the present day. Designed by the architect Jean Nouvel, winner of the Pritzker prize, it covers an area of 9,200 square metres and has a Permanent Gallery and a Temporary Gallery. Along the museum, an irrigation system illustrates ancient Arab engineering techniques, while the pierced dome is inspired by palm trees. The Cultural District also houses the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
This is Abu Dhabi’s beautiful sea front, which overlooks the Persian Gulf and extends for eight kilometres with gardens and benches, play areas for children, a cycle path, foot paths, sports structures (playing fields, football pitches and volleyball courts), bars and restaurants. The public Corniche Beach is divided into three areas: Al Sahil for singles and groups, the tranquil Gate 2 for families; la Gate 3, ideal for children with the whole family.
Yas Island and the Yas Marina Circuit, the site of the annual Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, is 30 minutes away.
Here visitors can book a lesson on the track or relax at the Yas Viceroy, the only hotel in the world built over a F1 race track, or even ride a roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi or Yas Waterworld. There are also many golf courses and a beautiful beach of white sand, Yas Beach, ideal for enjoying the sea and sunbathing.
Al-Ain, 1.5 hours by car from Abu Dhabi, is an ancient settlement designated a UNESCO world heritage site. The town has several fortresses such as Al Jahili, one of the largest in the United Arab Emirates built in 1890 on the orders of Zayed the First for the Al Nahyan ruling family. It houses a permanent exhibition of Wilfred Thesiger, (explorer, writer, travel photographer). Near Al Jahili, alongside the Al Ain Oasis, is Qasr al-Ain, “Al Ain Palace”, a small restored Bedouin fort which, together with the Al-Ain Museum, offers a glimpse into the traditions and culture of the country through archaeological finds and historical artefacts.
Text by Nicolò Villa
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Photos: Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Published on Avion Tourism N4/2018-19.
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