Abu Dhabi: a Getaway to the Exotic East

18.05.18
Abu Dhabi: a Getaway to the Exotic East
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We often find ourselves in a too-familiar situation: vacation time is approaching, all the local and neighboring sightseeing spots are visited several times, and multiple Instagram photos of winding European streets don’t stir any emotions. If you feel like seeing it all, it might be the time to switch the gears or, rather, shake the compass. This time we’ll explore the East — Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE and the largest emirate with cutting-edge technologies and ancient traditions.

History
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The abundance of modern architecture can lead to misconceptions that Abu Dhabi is a young city. However, the truth is that the first settlement in the area appeared way back in 1761 when the Bani Yas Bedouin tribe found a source of fresh water. The tribe built a fort around the well and dedicated themselves to fishing, pearling and camel breeding. Life in Abu Dhabi had flown the same way until the late 1950s when multiple oil sources were found just outside the city. Thanks to the fact, in mere 30 years Abu Dhabi evolved from a small fishing village to the prosperous city with multiple attractions.
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Up to this day, it stays the country's oil production center that attracts millions of tourists each year. The climate makes the city even more attractive as a winter getaway — in January and February, the temperature here drops to comfortable 20°C. Those who enjoy the heat might be more interested in summer vacation when the outside temperature hits about 38-40°C and locals spend their time in shopping centers and numerous pools.
Sightseeing
Despite being located in the middle of a huge desert, Abu Dhabi has numerous sightseeing spots for every taste: from traditional mosques and skyscrapers to multiple beaches and entertainment parks. Up to date, the most popular are the following ones:
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
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This grand building that has been under construction for over 10 years is truly a majestic sight. The stunning white color mosque has more than 80 different domes, as well as four minarets that can be served for orienting around. The spacious inner courtyard of the mosque, decorated with marble floral mosaics, takes up more than 17 thousand square meters.
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The interior of praying halls is luxuriously decorated as well: gold, precious stones and ceramics easily catch the eye. There are tips to visit the sightseeing during sunset which can be seen from 4.30 P.M. to 5 P.M — the delicate sunlight illuminates white marble and gentle breeze gives true pleasure after the heat of the day. The mosque is opened for visitors from 9 A.M. to 10 P.M. on Saturday to Thursday and 4.30 P.M. to 10 P.M. on Fridays.
Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, 5th street
Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Surprisingly, since 2017 the Louvre isn’t exclusively a trademark of Paris. The project is a part of an agreement between the UAE and the French government, aimed at breaching the cultural gap between the East and West. Located in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, Louvre Abu Dhabi gathers the lovers of art and photography from all over the region: the exposition boasts with works by Picasso, Bellini, and Da Vinci.
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On the whole, twelve galleries show the humanity’s development via collections of historical artifacts, sculptures, ceramics, and paintings. The final twelfth hall concentrates on contemporary art, where visitors can witness the work of a famous Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. The museum is opened from 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. on Saturday to Wednesday and from 10 A.M. to 10 P.M. on Thursday and Friday.
Address: Saadiyat Cultural District, Saadiyat Island
Etihad Towers
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This tower complex is one of the most well-known architectural views of Abu Dhabi. The five towers, the highest being 305 meters, have even appeared in Furious 7, but to locals, the place is known for its enormous capacity and shopping. The 74th floor of Tower 2 hides an observation deck, which shows off the whole city and close islands in the Arabian Gulf in all their glory. The Avenue at Etihad Towers with its numerous boutiques often lures in hundreds of tourists for a shopping spree.
Address: Corniche West Street, Opp Emirates Palace Hotel
Ferrari World
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This theme park is a multiple record-breaker: the first Ferrari-themed park and the largest indoors entertainment park in the world hosts the world’s fastest rollercoaster. Beloved by local kids and tourists, this iconic place doesn't really need an introduction. All in all Ferrari World has four roller coasters, with Formula Rossa being the fastest, about 10 family rides and 5 children-exclusively rides to spend the day. Visitors are welcome to enjoy flight simulators, 4-D ride, karts and, of course, drive a Ferrari ride.
Address: Yas Island
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Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
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Awesome news for lovers of comics: on July 25 Abu Dhabi will witness the opening of the brand-new Warned Bros. entertainment park. The vast territory of 150 thousand square meters will host 29 rides, family areas, and restaurants. The interior of the complex’s first hall will be styled as a Golden Age of Hollywood town with art deco elements. Besides, the park will host thematic cities like Metropolis, Gotham City and the world of Cartoon Junction characters. The price for adult ticket starts from USD 80, while the kid’s ticket price starts from USD 60.
Address: Yas Island
Beaches in Abu Dhabi
The emirate’s location near the ocean is calling for spending some time on the beach. Luckily, the local businesses and government recognize the importance of this leisure, that’s why the beaches in Abu Dhabi are always pristine clean and safe for visitors. The most popular beaches offer not only a stunning view and relaxation, but also opportunities for active water sports: diving, surfing, and even fishing.
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Riding the waves and exploring the underwater world are one of the most popular activities among tourists. The three main beaches provide a chance to combine business with pleasure:
The Corniche
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The vast public beach with the great view on the Arabian Gulf is often riddled with tourists and considered a favorite place to hang out among locals. To make sure everyone has a chance to relax, the beach is divided into several areas: for singles, couples, and families. The Corniche is fully equipped with showers and toilets and has multiple beach chairs and umbrellas rental spots.
Address: Corniche Road
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Al Bateen
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Al Bateen is one of the most popular free beaches in Abu Dhabi. The area overlooks the city skyline and Hudariyat Island and provides great opportunities for snorkeling due to the rich underwater flora and fauna. The beach is considered kid-friendly, as it has a large playground. Multiple rental spots are available here.
Address: Khalifa Al Mubarak Street
Yas Beach
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As you may have noticed, Yas Island is filled with numerous attractions from amusement parks like Ferrari World and Warner Bros. World to SeaWorld and multiple shopping locations. The island is also famous for its Yas Beach, accessible for those who stay at the nearby hotels and tourists from the mainland. A great spot for beach volleyball, Yas Beach also offers mangrove tours for those interested in the natural wonders of the region.
Address: Opp Crown Plaza, Yas Island
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Breaking cultural barriers is one of the greatest merits of traveling, wherever you are headed. Have a great stay!
Photos provided by Etihad, shutterstock.com. All images belong to their rightful authors.

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