The eye popping sights of Abu Dhabi
5 Things to Do
Ideas for your next trip in the UAE's capital
Home to the fastest roller coaster in the world and floor to the world’s largest handloomed carpet, UAE’s capital is dotted with eye-popping sights and unforgettable experiences. Our pick of the best.
1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The final resting place of Sheikh Zayed, the UAE’s first President, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world, and in Abu Dhabi, it is one of the few that allows tourists in.
>> Sheikh Zayed Mosque has more than 80 domes and over 1000 pillars.
>> It is made from white Greek and Macedonian marble. Intricate floral patterns inlaid with semi-precious stones adorn its walls.
>> Three huge chandeliers made from steel, gold, brass, and crystal illuminate the main prayer hall. The largest of these weighs nearly 11 tonnes, and is decorated with Swarovski crystals and 40kg of 24-carat galvanised gold.
>> The world’s largest hand- loomed carpet is spread out in another prayer hall. Crafted from Iranian cotton and New Zealand wool, it was flown on two aeroplanes from Iran.
2. Two incredible theme parks
Located in Yas Islands, an entertainment and recreation destination, Ferrari World and Warner Bros. World boast many superlatives.
>> Ferrari World, the world’s first Ferrari-branded theme park, houses Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in the world.
>> Designed to simulate an F1 driving experience, it makes you accelerate from 0km/h to 240km/h in 4.9 seconds.
>> The G-Force ride at the Park shoots you 62 meters in the air before plummeting to ground, making you experience the actual G-force of a Ferrari.
>> Dare yourself to take the Fiorano GT Challenge, a racing roller coaster. With a ride of the Ferrari 599 supercar, a hands-on session on workings of Scuderia Ferrari, the racing team division at Ferrari, a display of various Ferrari F1 cars, a virtual tour of the Ferrari factory in Italy- the park offers unique Ferrari experiences.
Warner Bros. World’ six immersive lands are as if one gave life to a child’s colour book.
>> Metropolis and Gotham City are inspired by the universe of DC Super Heroes and SuperVillains.
>> Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, and Dynamite Gulch are themed after iconic animated properties such as Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera.
>> Warner Bros. Plaza is reminiscent of old Hollywood, where these characters were originally brought to life. From super heroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman to cartoon stars like Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo, and Fred Flintstone, the indoor park houses them all.
Hit the shops featuring Warner Bros goodies, some of which have been made exclusively for the park, then take a table at one of the many themed restaurants in the park.
3. Magnificent Museums
Conceptualised in 2007 when France and the UAE joined hands for a cultural venture, Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in 2017. You’ll also see French art and sculpture here.
Al Ain, the oldest museum in the UAE, charts the history of Al Ain from the Stone Age all through to the foundation of the UAE. It houses the Sultan Fort, one of the most important historic buildings in the region. There is also the Zayed Centre, replete with the personal memorabilia of Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE. His collection of hunting rifles is particularly interesting. Stop by at the Women’s Handicraft Museum, run by the Abu Dhabi Women’s Association. There’s a small curio shop too, where you can buy souvenirs. Take a glimpse into Abu Dhabi’s future development plans at the Saadiyat Cultural District Exhibition.
4. Ever tasted camel milk?
Head to Al Ain’s famous camel market to try it. This fair-like setting is actually a local trading ground for young and trained camels. Located 15 km away from downtown Al Ain, the market is in stark contrast from the city. Take a look at the different camels, attend mock races, take pictures or simply watch the locals indulge in this unique trade. Also check out the small huts near the Women’s Handicraft Centre, where female artists display distinctive Arabian oils, handmade souvenirs, incense, local dress, silver thread work, and weaving. There’s belly dancing and henna application, too.
5. The best of Arabic gastronomy
Stop counting calories while you’re in Abu Dhabi— hearty Bedouin cuisine awaits you here. Starting with an appetising mezze platter, delve into traditional delicacies such as machboos ( rice and meat), kabsa (a family of mixed rice dishes) and harees (dish of boiled, cracked, or coarsely-ground wheat, mixed with meat). There’s creamy muhalabiyah and syrup-coated luqaimat for dessert, washed down with a shot of Arabic coffee. The most authentic way to enjoy these is in a Bedouin tent beneath a sky full of stars in the desert, while chilly winds gush past. For a fine dining experience, try Al Arish, one of the first restaurants to serve authentic Emirati cuisine.