As you arrive in Abu Dhabi you will see the world’s tallest flag pole, proudly flying the United Arab Emirates flag. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a stunning sight. Dripping in opulence, this bright white mosque has 80 marble domes, mosaic tiled fountains and inside you’ll find royal Persian carpet and nine Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Explore Abu Dhabi’s beautiful waterfront, stretching eight kilometres along Corniche Road. Bathe at Corniche Beach or ride a bike ride along the shore. Khalifa Park is perfect for families - with pristine gardens, children’s playgrounds, picnic facilities and even a water park. For a treat, take the kids to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. This large theme park has over 20 exhilarating rides including the world’s fastest roller coaster. A popular sport in Abu Dhabi is camel racing. For a unique experience, visit the Al Wathba Camel Race Track and marvel at these creatures as they gallop at surprisingly high speeds.
Saadiyat is a development project sitting off the Abu Dhabi coast that caters brilliantly to tourists. For those looking to get active, there is a range of sport and recreational activities including yoga classes, windsurfing, and sailing. You can also enjoy the golf course designed by Gary Player while the public beach makes for a great spot to cool off afterwards.
For a change of pace, head over to the Saadiyat Cultural District which has been cleverly designed by some of the world’s foremost architectural minds. It features the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
Saadiyat boasts a treasure trove of shopping and restaurants to enjoy as well.
The museum is located on the fringe of Al Ain Oasis in the same complex as the Sultan Bin Zayed Fort. It’s divided into three sections – archaeology, ethnography, and gifts.
This detailed museum space helps you to build an understanding of the local cultural and history via ancient artefacts dating back thousands of years. Among the extensive collections you’ll find weapons, jewellery and musical instruments that hark back to ancient times. It’s worth a visit before you dive into Abu Dhabi’s modern landscape.
Perhaps the most striking piece of architecture in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a key place of worship for the region. The scale of the place really needs to be experienced up close. It is one of the world’s largest mosques with capacity for 40,000 worshippers among the spectacular domes, columns, and chandeliers.
Unlike many other mosques in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open daily to visitors – with the exception of Friday which is for worshippers only. Tourists should be mindful of the customs and clothing regulations.
The mosque is transformed at night by a lighting system that mimics the lunar cycle. This is where architecture, art, and faith intersect.
Yas Island is one of the most vibrant locations in Abu Dhabi. It is home to racing events, luxury hotels, and is the site of the largest outdoor concert venue in the Middle East, du Arena. Big international acts such as Depeche Mode and The Rolling Stones have played here.
Visitors looking for more more adrenaline pumping activities can also take a ride on Flying Aces – a rollercoaster at Ferrari World that simulates a biplane flight. It features the steepest and fastest cable lift incline as well as the world’s tallest loop and 10 separate moments of zero gravity.
Qasr al-Hosn is considered the symbolic origin of Abu Dhabi. It is the oldest stone building and first permanent structure in the region. It houses a free exhibition detailing Abu Dhabi’s fascinating history and transformation. Visitors can relive the stories and photographs told through its founding monument.
The building takes on added importance as a historical waypoint in a region now experiencing such rapid development. Qasr al-Hosn also hosts an annual festival in February to celebrate Emirati culture.