It’s a very young capital and of one blatant wealth where the women wear long black robes and where the Ferrari are more common than small cars, a forest of skyscrapers among which towering seven-star hotels that host ATMs in their lobbies gold bars, the headquarters of a new world based on oil which, however, cannot give up escapes in the desert, among the dunes, and where the rhythm, despite everything, is marked by calls to prayer. The capital of the United Arab Emirates it is all this and more. And even if still the neighbor Dubai steals, in part, the scene things to do, discover and see ad Abu Dhabi they are a multitude.
Starting from the consideration that at the basis of everything there is, almost always, a contradiction. Between money and faithbetween frenzy and slowness. Between yesterday and today.
Skyscrapers and luxury. A stone’s throw from the desert
The capital of the rich United Arab Emirates is a pulsating city, with futuristic skyscrapers and wide tree-lined avenues that are increasingly trying to exploit their obvious wealth, the extraordinary shopping offer, luxury hotels and the latest generation of communication and transport infrastructures to attract more and more tourists. In addition to the triumph of marble, glass and steel, they are also enticed by the possibility of discovering, in the territory of the largest of the seven emirates, also splendid desert landscapes.
Abu Dhabi: an island of skyscrapers
The climate of the Emirates it is definitely hot. So the best time to visit Abu Dhabi is the one understood by mid-October to mid-April, when the temperatures are more pleasant and you can feel good in the open air. From May to September, however, the hot is terrible and very often, during the day, it exceeds 40 degrees with, in addition, very high humidity. To evaluate then whether to go in the Ramadam period (which changes from year to year) because in those days some services are reduced, many restaurants closed during the day and even eating in public can be viewed with suspicion.
There city is almost an islandwhich extends into the Persian Gulfwith large stretches of coast that have been literally snatched from the waves such as the suggestive and long corniche on the waterfront, lined with gardens and gushing fountains against a backdrop of skyscrapers. We said it: Abu Dhabi is a very young city given that the area was initially colonized by nomadic tribes only in the mid-eighteenth century, however remaining little more than a pearl fishing village until the discovery of oil in the 1950s. From there nothing was more the same and the future exploded. And from palm leaf huts we have moved on to hundreds of storey buildings.
Abu Dhabi new tourist destination
Today the international airport where it has its hub is the Ethiad company and the port where even the big cruise ships call, brings visitors from all over the world to Abu Dhabi who, with a credit card in their hand, have the opportunity to spend without limit in the endless shopping malls that have replaced the old souk.
The shopping fever reaches its peak during the year Shopping Festivals which is held at the beginning of March and which also represents one of the moments in which the peak influx of visitors is reached. Between shopping centers to see in Abu Dhabi there is the Marina Mallnear the hotel Emirates Palace. This four-story building is spread over an area of 122,000 m2 which houses all the more famous luxury brands and for leisure. There is also a wide choice of restaurants, a nine-screen cinema and areas dedicated to bowling and video games.
The Mushrif Mall instead it is in the suburbs towards the airport and is also visited by those looking for a large food court and a wide choice of restaurants. There are also a mega supermarket and over 200 shops of all kinds including a huge space for aquarium enthusiasts.
Not only shopping but also culture
But not just shopping: Abu Dhabi also wants to become a cultural reference point. This is why museums of international standing were born and are being built. Perhaps the most famous is the Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel with a particular structure that resembles a medina. The Louvre is located in the cultural district ofSaadiyat Island and has a good 8,000 square meters destined for exhibitions which give it the primacy of largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula. Works of art from all over the world will be exhibited in the museum creating an ideal link between Eastern and Western art.
New museums are born in Abu Dhabi
Always among the great museums to see in Abu Dhabi, one cannot fail to mention the Guggenheim which will have to be the largest of the museums Guggenheim in the world (surpassing that of Bilbao and of New York). The museum is built on the island of Saadiyat and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation from New York signed an agreement with the city of Abu Dhabi to manage and establish the museum. But the works are still in progress and it is not possible to say when it will be inaugurated.
Among the things to see in Abu Dhabi, however, it has held first place for years Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is in fact the city’s landmark building and by far the most popular tourist attraction. The mosque blends traditional elements with very modern references to celebrate theIslamic architecture. Opened in 2007 after almost 20 years of construction can host 40,000 faithfulis the largest mosque in the UAE and, like the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Fujairahis dedicated to the deceased Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, president of the Emirates from 1971 to 2004
THE not Muslims they are allowed in all areas of the mosque (including the extensive library), and guided tours are available. But you need to wear a gown that is provided on site if you bring shorts and a t-shirt.
A mangrove forest
To discover that Abu Dhabi also has a different face than the expanse of glass and steel, just point towards the mangrove forests which still surround much of the coast. To immerse yourself in this still strangely well preserved world are available kayak tours for all experience levels and ages, ranging from just over an hour up to three hours of paddling. Tours allow you to discover the ecological importance of what’s left of immense mangrove forests which once covered the whole area. For a truly special experience, night tours after dark are also organised.
A park for the legend of Formula One
Among the things to see in Abu Dhabi there is certainly the Ferrari World. And not just for car enthusiasts. This theme park aims to bring the thrill of Formula 1 and is one of the main attractions of the city for families too. Kids can test their driving skills on the Junior GT track, while adrenaline junkies take to the skies Flying Aces roller coaster which offer the thrill of reaching 240km per hour in 5 seconds. And it is no coincidence that they are the fastest in the world. In addition there are a theatre, a 3D cinema, an exhibition of historic cars and the reproduction of the F1 race paddock.
If you want to relax then in between shopping session it’s a walk between museums and skyscrapers you can always take off. The best views of Abu Dhabi skyline you have from the sea and in fact many tour operators organize boat trips of different lengths and costs. They range from simple outings to see the city from the sea to real ones island hopping tourswhich also include a few hours of beach e snorkeling in the bay. There are also sunset cruises which allow you to see the city lights come on when the sun goes down. The show is always very impressive.
What to see in Abu Dhabi: the city seen from above
If instead you want the city see from above you must not miss visiting the panoramic terrace located at 74th floor of the hotel Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. In practice it is the answer of Abu Dhabi to the mythical Burj Khalifa from Dubai. And between the two is a good challenge. The Etihad Towers they are five towers that represent one of the fundamental points of the panorama of the city. Number 1, in fact, houses a sumptuous hotel that is one of the most extraordinary luxury experiences in the city. There is also one 1000 square meter suite and 360 degree view. The price is adequate. From the 74th floor you can enjoy an extraordinary view and there is also the restaurant”Observation Deck at 300”.
From the newest to the oldest: from the skyscraper to the stone palace. Among the things to see in Abu Dhabi there is also theAl Hosn Palace, i.e. the White Fort, the oldest building in the city. Was built in 1793 as the official residence of the former ruling family, and was extensively renovated in 1983. It now houses the cultural foundation, with a museum of traditional artefacts and historic photographs.
Finally, if you want to get out of the city consider it a trip of 150 km in the beautiful liwa oasis located in the heart of the desert, near the border with theOman. This is one of the zones richer in groundwater and in fact it has always been cultivated a lot even if around there are some of the tallest sand dunes in the world, many of which can be explored on foot or by jeep. There are also ancient fortresses and even a luxury hotel in the middle of the desert. And the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi almost seem like an illusion.