This is a guest post from Neha.
Abu Dhabi is that rare gem that is enchanting, educational and thrilling at the same time. The city beckons to all and sundry to come and marvel at its spectacular scenery and sights. As the capital city of the UAE, Abu Dhabi has a quiet dignity of its own. The city may not be able to compete with Dubai’s uber-glamorous manmade monuments, but it has many exclusive delights that you’ll simply not find anywhere else.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque took over 10 years to build; it’s huge and breathtakingly magnificent. Imagine this – gleaming white Macedonian marble columns are set with colored glass; glimmering mosaic tiling is gilded with Islamic art patterns; huge chandeliers of Swarovski crystals throw light on the marble walls. And then – the world’s largest carpet, measuring 60,570 sq ft, weighing 35 tons, made of wool with 2,268,000,000 knots!
Abu Dhabi Dhow Cruise
The dhow is the traditional Arab vessel used from ancient times to travel and trade via the Persian Gulf. It’s a fairly large boat with a traditional double decker. When you’re in the city, do sign up for a Dhow cruise that comes with a Dhow cruise dinner in Abu Dhabi.
You’ll vastly enjoy the breathtaking views of Abu Dhabi as you cruise around the coast. The Dhow has been upgraded with all possible modern amenities for your cruise. It’ll be an unforgettable experience, so don’t miss it!
Mangrove Kayaking Tours
The mangrove forests of Abu Dhabi surround the islands along the city’s shore. The best way to explore them is by going on a kayaking trip. There and both day and night tours; the night tours are especially thrilling, because you have to gently maneuver your kayak among mangroves. It’s a delicate, dicey job that takes a lot of skill. Explore various mangrove coves and channels and get your fill of the fresh air minus the heat and dust of the city.
The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village gives you a chance to go back in time. It is a reconstructed Bedouin Oasis Village, where people in nomadic costumes make pottery and metal objects following age-old methods. Sit by an old carpet weaver and watch the intricate designs take form. Sit around a campfire and gorge on camel curry and rice with the locals. Visit the spice shop and marvel at the ancient irrigation system.
Qasr al-Hosn Palace
This building, also known as the White Fort was built as far back as 1793. The Al Nahyan family who ruled Abu Dhabi lived in this palace till 1966. The building was originally a conical watchtower built to guard Abu Dhabi’s only freshwater well. The Qasr al-Hosn displays a wide range of historical weapons. An 11-day annual cultural festival is held on the grounds in February, where nomadic campfire dancing and sword-fighting performances take place.
Emirates Palace Hotel
If it’s been your dream to live like a royal in a palace, then book a stay at the Emirates Palace Hotel. This hotel cost all of $3Billion to build, and is one of the costliest hotels ever constructed. Hiring a room can cost you a pretty packet, but the experience is worth it. The palatial elegance of marble columns, crystal chandeliers, million-dollar carpets and the silverware will stun your senses. Order the 24-carat gold cappuccino, which actually has bits of gold in it. Be sure to take pictures of you drinking it, or no one will believe you!
Al Ain Oasis
The Al Ain Oasis is a blissful and restful 3,000 acres of palm plantations, a tranquil haven, filled with birdsong and rustling palm fronds. Over here you can learn just how important the oasis eco-system is to desert life. The UAE’s traditional irrigation system, ‘aflaj’ is implemented here to supply water to the plantations. The nearby Al Ain National Museum is an excellent side trip.
Abu Dhabi Corniche
The Corniche is uniquely Abu Dhabi. It’s an 8-kilometer-long waterfront with kids’ play areas, jogging and bicycling lanes, cafes, boutique shops, restaurants and gardens. There’s also the blissfully blue Corniche Beach for a quick dip after your walk. The Corniche is where cultural events and celebrations take place on public holidays, with fireworks, food, drink and dancing.
Emirates National Auto Museum
If you’re a lover of antique autos, head straight to the desert Pyramid warehouse to view more than 200 vehicles owned by the ruling Sheikh. You’ll find Military Jeeps, Minis, and Mercedes in every color and Rolls Royces through the decades and the largest Caravan in the world! Each car is maintained in pristine condition; it’s a real pleasure to see them. The sheikhs and rich oil merchants of the UAE definitely have a passion for automobiles, as you can tell from this delightful exhibit!
Al Forsan International Sports Resort
This is an international-level sports facility, where you can enjoy any and every form of sport you desire. You can ride horses in the equestrian center, swim in the Olympic-sized pool, enjoy the go-kart track and the shooting range and more. There’s a wakeboarding Cable Park, paintball arena, an off-road race track, tennis courts, chess rooms and much, much more. Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and eateries around to keep you sated and ready for more sports.
Ferrari World is the first Ferrari-branded theme park in the world. The building is covered by a huge iconic red roof. Ferrari World offers high-octane rides such as world’s highest rollercoaster loop on the Flying Aces. Formula Rossa is the world’s fastest rollercoaster, speeding along at 250kmph in 4.9 seconds. The climate-controlled interiors of Ferrari World will encourage you to spend an entire day here. Browse the world’s largest Ferrari Store for memorabilia and enjoy speed racing using simulators. Your kids will love the electric-powered go-karts and the live race shows. Since Ferrari is from Italy, Ferrari World offers a range of authentic Italian fare.
Arabian Wildlife Park
The Arabian Wildlife Park is situated in the Sir Bani Yas Island. More than 10,000 wild animals roam freely all over the island. Here’s a chance to get an up close look at rare and exotic wildlife. The island has many giraffes that you can watch quietly from a special viewing platform. Other wildlife includes gazelles, hyenas, cheetahs, Arabian Oryx and many others.
The Jebel Hafeet peak is 1240 meters tall, and is the highest peak in the Emirates. The mountain borders the state of Oman and Al Ain. The craggy limestone peak is filled with fossils from ancient times and burial sites going back 5,000 years, to the Bronze Age. At the top of the peak you are rewarded with beautiful views over Al Ain.
Abu Dhabi is an enchanting city that shows respect for nature and natural ecosystems while maintaining a modern, cosmopolitan outlook. The island mangroves are protected by the government, along with the wildlife in the city’s zoos and parks. Abu Dhabi offers you perfect slices of every delight you could want – adrenalin-filled adventures, a journey through time, nature and wildlife, coastal fun and plenty of sun-drenched blue beaches. What more could one want?
A postgraduate in Mass Communications, Neha loves everything about life. Traveling is extremely close to her heart and writing came to her naturally. An avid trekker & explorer, who often takes off some time from her busy life for mountaineering, she loves meeting new people & gets attached to their culture very easily. Her ambition is to explore as many places as she can in her life. She strongly believes in Gandhian principle – “simple living high thinking”.