The Emirate of Abu Dhabi is one of 7 Emirates of the UAE. It comprises almost 87% of the total land area in the UAE and contains Abu Dhabi City, the largest city of the emirate (2nd largest of the UAE after Dubai) followed by Al Ain. Many wouldn’t be aware that Abu Dhabi consists of more than 200 islands along the Persian Gulf just off the UAE mainland. Abu Dhabi city is one of those islands.
This emirate has plenty of attractions on offer. Abu Dhabi is also a great halal tourism destination with a high availability of halal food, mosques, female-only and family facilities. Here are some attractions you should consider checking out:
Sheikh Zayed Bridge
You’ll cross over this 842 meter long landmark to get into the island that Abi Dhabi city is located on from the mainland (where the airport, Dubai and Al Ain are located). Its curved arch design represents the undulating sand dunes of the desert.
Located near Marina Mall, the Heritage Village houses a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village to give visitors a glimpse of how locals previously lived in the Emirates.
Opening times are from 9am to 5pm Saturday to Thursday, and from 3.30pm to 9pm on Friday. I visited after hours but was not disappointed as the location has an amazing view of the Abu Dhabi skyline.
This building stretches over a kilometre from wing to wing with gardens and surroundings spread across 100 hectares. The hotel features 114 domes and a reservation at this hotel is affordable to some fortunate individuals.
Qasr al Hosn
This is the oldest stone building and permanent structure in the emirate. The fort was built to protect the city’s only fresh water well in 1761. The Qasr al-Hosn festival is an annual 11 day cultural event staged on the grounds of the fort.
This square in the city has an oversized cannon, a coffee pot, makabbah and mabaakhur. Each structure represents a traditional symbol of Emirati identity.
The Masajid of Abu Dhabi
Sheikh Zayed mosque is probably the first attraction that you’ll see on your way into the city.
Here’s an article listing some of the masajid (plural of masjid, a more appropriate term than ‘mosque’) in Abu Dhabi.
Located 25 minutes from Abu Dhabi City you can visit this resort island which contains:
This is the worlds largest Ferrari indoor theme park with plenty of Ferrari models on display and thrilling rides to experience.
You’ll never see me on a ride like this!
I visited the Taste of Abu Dhabi exhibition at the arena. This is an outdoor events facility. Check out the event listings here.
Yas Marina Circuit
This is where the F1 Grand Prix is held.
Yas Water World
A 15 hectare water park with 43 rides. More details here.
A bridge links Ferrari World to Yas Mall. It’s got shopping, movies and lots of restaurants. More details here.
Sadiyah Island Public Beach
If you fancy a day at the beach consider visiting the public beach at Sadiyah Island (which you have to pay a fee to enter). I took a taxi there just to get a peek at it on my way from Abu Dhabi city to Yas Island.
The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has individual air-conditioned rooms for over 200 birds. They also examine 6000 falcons each year. This institution is a world-first.
Masdar City is a sustainable mixed-use development city that is planned for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. They offer a tour into what an eco-friendly futuristic city will look like.
Downtown and Corniche
The 8km Corniche stretch along the coast offers a number of swimming opportunities on the beach, restaurants, parks (with children’s and sports facilities) and cycle pathways.
You’ll need to pass through Downtown to get there. There’s plenty of shops and restaurants to check out.
Jumeirah Etihad Towers – High Tea at 300
You can make a reservation for high tea on the 74th floor Observation Deck, 300m above ground level. There is a minimum fee that you need to pay. I skipped this as I like taking photos and they don’t have any windows that can be opened for a clear picture.
Visit Al Marina near Etihad Palace and the Heritage Village to check out the marina, “Eye of the Emirates” ferris wheel and visit Marina Mall. Dhow Cruise.
There are various companies offering dhow cruises at various times (afternoon, sunset and a dinner cruise with live entertainment)
Mangrove Park Kayak Tour
Consider a short kayaking tour in the Eastern Mangroves National Park, Yas Mangroves or Al Rahba with offerings from a number of operators. You’ll have a different experience kayaking at low tide or high tide. To learn more about Abu Dhabi check out these articles:
A Guide to the Masajid of Abu Dhabi
Arabian Nights Village – Desert Adventure in Abu Dhabi
Culinary Delights of Abu Dhabi