We had a trip that was truly unforgettable and perfect in every sense.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi was, for many years, a stolid administrative center with little appeal to tourists. After the passing of ruler Sheikh Zayed, his successor, Sheikh Khalifa, took the reigns of power and immediately reached out to foreign companies, sparking a huge building and development boom. Today, Abu Dhabi is a major world city and continues its ambitious development. While it may not quite match the glitz and commercial appeal of Dubai, its younger, more glamorous sibling, Abu Dhabi is certainly catching up in a hurry.
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Our General Manager Victoria Hilley enjoyed her stay at the Burj Al Arab, as well as sandboarding and taking a 4x4 drive across the amazing dunes.
Head to the desert in a four-wheel drive vehicle for a bit of dune blasting – a wild, rollicking ride that will see your vehicle bouncing and careening off sand dunes. Your drivers will partially deflate the tires for maximum effect.
Afterwards, you will be taken to a quiet, peaceful spot in the desert where you’ll be able to go on camel rides, feast on a meal of traditional Emirati cuisine, and watch performances by belly dancers.
Try your hand at writing Arabic Script. Arabic is widely used and well known in this part of the world but its influence extends all the way to Brunei in Southeast Asia. Arabic calligraphy is beautiful and exotic. Learn the Arabic alphabet and by doing so raise your multicultural awareness.
See the curvature of one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way. Wish upon a shooting start next to a roaring bonfire. Watch the heavenly bodies twinkle in all their glory. Since you are so close to the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia, visitors have an unparalleled opportunity to feast upon the night sky: Beta Carina, the Big Dipper and other stars will seem so close it will be as though you can pluck them out of the sky and put them in a jar and take it home for safekeeping.
Visit the Qasr al-Husn, built in 1761 and the oldest structure in Dubai. For over two hundred years, the Qasr al-Husn was the center of administration for Abu Dhabi – first as a fort protecting a valuable water source, and later as the residence of the ruling sheikh. Given its importance, the Qasr al-Husn was decorated accordingly, with whitewashed walls, imposing turrets, and a mix of European and Arabic decor. Today, after a series of extensive renovations, the building is open to the public.
Abu Dhabi Cultural Center
Charged with the preservation and promotion of the traditions and customs of the Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Cultural Center hosts a number of events, including exhibits, lectures, concerts, and interactive workshops. Housed in an elegant, glass-and-steel modernist structure that fuses contemporary elements with traditional aesthetics, the Cultural Center offers a deeper look at the rich (yet not widely known) heritage of the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
For a glimpse at Abu Dhabi before the tapping of oil, visit the Heritage Village. Within its confines are a Bedouin camp, complete with tents, mock-ups of traditional vessels, and plenty of handicrafts and trinkets for sale. In addition, visitors can try their hand at a number of crafts, including weaving on a loom, and blowing glass.
Women's Handicraft Center
Visit the Women’s Handicraft Center, which features the work of local female artists. Browse handmade incense, textiles, traditional scented oils, and other products. It is also a popular place for henna stenciling, which lasts on the skin for approximately two weeks.
Falcons are a fundamental part of UAE culture so ensuring the health of these noble birds is of utmost importance. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital provides veterinary health care services exclusively for falcons, treating around 11,200 falcons a year. The facility offers tours which include the free-flight aviary, examination rooms, museum and you can even get a photo with one of these magnificent birds perched on your arm.
Yas Marina Circuit Driving Experience
If visitors want to feel the thrill of driving around an official F1 race track, then this is the place for you. Get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin GT4, Chevrolet Camero, a Yas Radical SST or a Formula Yas 3000 and put the pedal to the metal and feel like a champion.
There are literally hundreds of things to do on Yas Island. Shop at Yas Mall with over 400 international brands, spend the day at Ferrari World the world's largest indoor theme park - great for thrill seekers (with the world's fastest rollercoaster!) and families, Yas Waterworld is perfect for any age looking for some wet and wild action including 43 rides and slides, perhaps a round of golf at Yas Links Golf Course - or maybe enjoy Yas Island from above with Seawings on a breathtaking seaplane across Abu Dhabi enjoying panoramic views the city's architecture and beautiful landscape.
Opening soon in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island is the largest Guggenheim in the world, playing host to global art and exhibitions, educational programs and a focus on the incredible array that constitutes Middle Eastern Art.
Day Trip to Al Ain
Only an 1.5-hour drive from Abu Dhabi, known as the Garden City, visitors can fill their day enjoying the many picturesque forts, visit the Al Ain Oasis with over 147,000 shade-giving date palms set within an incredible maze of peaceful walkways, or the more adventurous may wish to hit the Wadi Adventure park - an incredible man-made whitewater rafting, kayaking and surfing facility that includes pools and activities for children, Hili Fun City is also great for thrillseekers with more than 30 attractions and rides for varying ages, and for animals lovers, a trip to Al Ain Zoo is a must, the perfect family destination with over 4,000 animals in natural habitats allowing the animals to live freely.
Experience the best that Abu Dhabi has to offer on this lavish 5-day trip. You’ll dine beneath the desert stars to the beat of bellydancing, visit important spiritual sites like the Grand Mosque, take the ride of your life at Ferrari World, kayak through dense mangroves, and stay at the plush Yas Viceroy Hotel.
This nine-day itinerary starts and ends in two most well-known cities in the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Discover the opulence and wealth of the country along with history and culture as the journey stops at Sharjah, Al Ain and more.
This eight-day itinerary starts off in the best-known UAE city where opulence and wealth can be seen at every turn. Moving on to Abu Dhabi, a city to rival Dubai, the extravagance continues before traveling to Al Ain and Al Maha to discover the desert, wildlife, traditional markets and souks and true Emirati life.
This nine-day itinerary starts and ends in two of the most iconic cities in the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Shop to your heart’s content with travel through Al Maha and a stay at the Qasr Al Sarab for some pure indulgence in this desert oasis.
Hop between the UAE’s two most opulent desert emirates on this exclusive 6-day luxury tour. You’ll experience a few nights in the world-renowned Armani Hotel Dubai, see the sand dunes on a safari ride, visit important mosques, and spend time at the fast-paced Ferrari World, on this exciting adventure.
This fun-filled ten-day adventure promises to entertain and fascinate visitors of all ages. Experience the beguiling combination of otherworldly deserts and action-packed excitement as you explore the lively culture and relaxing resorts of Abu Dhabi.
Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi
The majestic architecture of this beautiful hotel sprawls along the waterfront, overlooking the exotic mangrove lagoon. Surrounded by nature and tranquility, a visit to Anantara Eastern Mangroves is an escape and yet, the excitement and bustle of the city is within easy reach. The high, arched ceilings soar overhead as guests stroll through the hotel’s hallways, and beautiful lavish decor enchants within the luxurious rooms and suites. Diners can indulge in international cuisine from the all-day buffet or sample Asian delicacies at the renowned Thai restaurant. Sitting poolside with a cocktail, on the roof at sunset, or enjoying afternoon tea, guests will never want for refreshments and with a range of state-of-the-art facilities, they can remain as active or pampered as they please.
Traditional design meets contemporary luxury in this award-winning five-star resort and is enjoyed by celebrities, heads of states as well as royal families from all over the globe. With 302 rooms and 92 suites adorned with the finest upholstery and craftsmanship, the Palace stands apart from its competition in the city, a testament to the renowned quality and bespoke service of this iconic Abu Dhabi landmark. Guests can treat their taste buds to a culinary adventure in one of the fourteen restaurants and lounges throughout the Palace. Choices range from the all-day restaurant, Le Vendome Brasserie, with its incredible international buffet, to the award-winning Emirati restaurant Mezlai, boasting more than 100 different local dishes. If that’s not enough, an authentic taste of Italy at Mezzaluna or succulent meats off the grill is available at BBQ Al Qasr, as well as fresh seafood at Sayad or contemporary Chinese cuisine at Hakkasan. Emirates Palace is a culinary mecca of award-winning restaurants with something for everyone.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Savvy travelers choose the Park Hyatt when they stay in Abu Dhabi; this elegant five-star resort has everything covered. Located right on Saadiyat beach with stunning views of the ocean, surrounded by a pristine green golf course, it’s also just a short drive from the airport and close to Saadiyat’s cultural quarter. The hotel’s 306 spacious and comfortable suites and villas boast elegant touches like private balconies with views of the golf course, ocean or exclusive open-air plunge pools. The hotel’s range of restaurants, cafes and bars provide a range of delicious cuisines in various stylish settings, from the chic and laid back to the sophisticated and elegant. Business guests will be delighted with the excellent conference facilities, while visitors in town for more leisurely pursuits are also catered to, whether it’s a game of tennis, a round of golf or a thorough workout in the fitness center. Alternatively, guests can simply laze by the pool or indulge at the spa.
Shangri-La Abu Dhabi
Within the Qaryat Al Beri complex, the Shangri-La stands on its own stretch of beach, with views across the strait to the mainland. While it’s only a 10-minute drive from the airport and just 15 minutes from the city center, the hotel inhabits its own world, where guests can escape for a little peace and privacy. Traditional abras convey guests around the hotel, along its waterways, amidst impressive architecture and gorgeous decor. The rooms are similarly decked out with warm tones and lush fabrics, their private balconies afford stunning views and the self contained suites come with private butlers for total convenience. Guests can indulge in international cuisine across five highly-acclaimed restaurants and enjoy drinks at sunset, on the roof or by the pool. The Shangri-La’s private beach lures guests with glittering waves while the health club and spa promise relaxation and invigoration amidst world class facilities.