Kempinski Blog Article
Symbolic of the fast pace of economic and technological change that has been taking place across the Arabian Peninsula over the past twenty years, Abu Dhabi is the capital of the seven kingdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.
The city has an enormous amount to offer visitors to its crystal-blue shores, from sprawling souks, to world-class attractions and museums, all the way to extraordinarily luxurious hotspots, each built to entertain and enthral the world's high society.
Record-breaking Abu Dhabi
If there is one word that best describes the capital of the UAE, it has to be "unique". This is a city built around the notions of wealth and luxury, and the majority of locations on and off the tourist trail are made to impress visitors.
The city's gleaming skyline is the most obvious expression of the city's wealth, with The Landmark (324m, 1,063ft), Etihad Tower 2 (305m, 1,001ft) and appropriately-named Sky Tower (292m, 958ft) being the most notable examples. Structural wonders continue with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – the world's most expensive. A relatively recent addition to the city, its stark, white façade definitely requires a pair of sunglasses if visited during the day.
Abu Dhabi is also home to the Emirates Palace - the world's most expensive hotel when it was opened in 2006 - one of the world's tallest flagpoles and the world's fastest rollercoaster, Ferrari World's Formula Rossa.
Abu Dhabi's cuisine
Positioned at a global aviation hub and home to a large number of international businesses and their accompanying expatriates, Abu Dhabi has a huge amount to offer in terms of fine food, both from the Arabic world and from far further afield.
Lovers of Italian cuisine will revel in the comfortable and enjoyable Frankie's Italian Restaurant and Bar, a joint venture of Marco Pierre White and Frankie Dettori, while those craving a modern take on traditional Chinese cookery will enjoy the opulent Hakkasan, the brother of the respected London restaurant of the same name.
For a modern, polished take on Vietnamese cuisine, an evening at Hoi An is a must-visit, while those wanting to try the culinary offerings of the region itself should head to Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi's Mezlai, where traditional meats such as rabbit, sheep, camel and ostrich are served alongside classic dishes from the Gulf.
There are a host of things to see and do in Abu Dhabi, allowing visitors to sample a great selection of engaging activities, entertainment and experiences that are sure to delight.
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
Absolutely enormous, Abu Dhabi's largest mosque holds a range of astonishing treasures throughout its vast structure. With a capacity for 40,000 worshippers, the building has 82 domes, more than a thousand columns, the world's largest hand-knotted carpet and massive 24-carat gold chandeliers hung throughout. Visitors can come and see the endless sea of marble at any time during the week between 9am and 10pm, taking advantage of free guided tours.
Sir Bani Yas Island
While a desert location such as Abu Dhabi might not be conceived as the most ecological place to visit, nature-lovers will nevertheless love Sir Bani Yas Island. A huge wildlife reserve, here, visitors can take guided safari tours, catching glimpses of gazelles, giraffes, Arabian Oryx and cheetahs.
The second-largest indoor theme park in the world, Ferrari World is a must-visit for speed lovers. Alongside Ferrari go-karting rides, exhibitions, race simulators and Italian dining, guests can push up their adrenaline levels with a trip on Formula Rossa, the world's fastest rollercoaster – reaching 250km/h in 4.9 seconds!
Al Ain Oasis
Want to escape the shining glass and baking heat of downtown Abu Dhabi? A visit to the Al Ain Oasis is the perfect respite. Stretching over 3,000 acres, the leafy palm oasis features date trees, irrigation channels and ancient structures – a perfect place to spend an afternoon wandering and exploring.
Visiting Abu Dhabi
Those visiting Abu Dhabi will most likely be able to arrive via direct flight. Abu Dhabi International Airport is the UAE's second biggest, and home to the internationally renowned Etihad Airways, alongside Air India, KLM, British Airways, Jet Airways and Turkish Airlines. Dubai is also a 130km drive away, if flights to Abu Dhabi are unavailable.
From the airport, taxis costing between AED 60-70 can be taken to the city centre, with the journey taking around 40 minutes, and bus services are also available at regular intervals. Both of these are useful means of getting around the city while you are travelling during your stay.
A car, taxi or bus are the most useful means of travel around Abu Dhabi, and pedestrians will find that the combination of vehicle-centric town planning and a very hot climate will make getting around on foot rather difficult. Drivers must be careful of the hectic and reckless driving found within the country, so if you are not experienced, hail a taxi.
In terms of observing cultural standards, international visitors should act in accordance with the Islamic laws of the country. Although clothing rules for foreign women are generally less strict than for locals and they can both drive and travel unescorted, homosexuality and public alcohol consumption are illegal and photographing others without permission is not appropriate. Public displays of affection and the use of offensive gestures are also poorly received.
The city's most desirable accommodations are found in Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi. A wonderfully lavish hotel with liberal use of marble and gold in its construction, here, visitors can stay in complete luxury – a suitable place to stay when travelling to the UAE.
For more information on Abu Dhabi and the many things it has to offer, please do not hesitate to contact us.