Experience the Wonders of Abu Dhabi
Any first time visitor to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, cannot help but be absolutely astounded at the opportunities for leisurely pursuits combined with the extravagant glories of one of the world’s richest nations.
In fact, Global Finance, an online news business focused on international wealth, named the small Arabian nation as the ninth richest nation on earth based on the value of its gross domestic product – the value of goods and services produced – with respect to the number of citizens in the country.
Do you have a bucket list – a list of things you want to accomplish before your time on earth runs out? Several of them might be accomplished with a trip to the capital of the UAE.
With more and more carriers such as AirBlue flying to the United Arab Emirates, the region has never been more accessible.
To give you some direction when planning your Abu Dhabi escape, I’ve chosen a few cultural sites, a few leisure activities, and one or two of the country’s environmental wonders.
Qasr Al Muwaiji
When you first see this enormous structure, you’d be forgiven for assuming is a fort, castle, palace, or even an imposing government building.
In fact, this enormous building is a public museum that was the palace where His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE was born. Brochures will tell you the structure “watched over” the oasis that surrounds it, but “guarded night and day,” is probably more accurate. While now a museum, the building was, essentially, the country’s Kremlin – the seat of government – the Capital building, as it were.
Al-Ain Palace Museum
Well, if you have an oasis of any great size, it helps to protect it in a desert community. This fortress-palace is really a huge sandcastle, which was built in 1937 and converted into a museum in 1998.
It is the quintessential palace you might envision if you think of Arabian Nights. It actually looks like it was made of sand by tipping over massive – really massive – plastic buckets and outlining the turrets with a stick. It isn’t playing around, however; this one is the real McCoy.
Abu Dhabi is known for extravagant package deals that combine gloriously modern hotels – with all the famous amenities: a pool, a restaurant and tons of sunshine. For example, you could try the Al Ain Rotana deal that starts with a stay at Al Ain Rotana and includes a buffet breakfast and four tickets to the Al Ain Zoo.
It might be debatable where the world’s best climate might be, but a convincing claim could be made for the United Arab Emirates. In so many words: Just look at the fabulous golf courses! If that doesn’t turn your head – well, then you probably don’t play golf.
The UAE is home to a few of the fanciest golf courses around – the Els Club Dubai, which costs up to $336 per player – to some with far more modest fees, such as the Emirates Golf Club that costs from $29 to $40 per player. A little bit for everybody.
Family fun options are just about never-ending here. Abu Dhabi is famous for fancy skyscrapers, even fancier shopping and even fancier restaurants. Best of all, however, it’s too hot for a coat and tie, so this is a casual dress type of fancy much of the time. And the country has theme parks and water sports beyond your wildest dreams – making it an ideal place to take the kids.
Abu Dubai is famous for – get this – snorkeling, diving, SUP events, and kayaking! This just isn’t what you expect to find when headed to the Middle East.
While you’re at it, you can try your hand at parasailing, floating lounges, or spending some time in an inflatable bubble. All this is made possible by the remarkable man-made lakes that include – you don’t see this everywhere – a section of beach exclusively dedicated to women and children large enough for 1,100 bathers.
Of course, the beach is not segregated for the children’s sake. It is segregated to accommodate women in a region where public displays of skin, especially among women, are frowned upon. With that in mind, even men in Abu Dubai are expected to conform to a dress code, even if the very modern capital of the UAE has among the most casual dress codes in the entire Middle East.
With so much to offer, which attraction do you want to try first?
Have you been to Abu Dhabi? What were your trip highlights?