Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. The rapid growth of Dubai has been closely observed. Lessons have been learned from Dubai's recent bailout and have encouraged Abu Dhabi to progress at a slower rate. The culture and heritage is showcased in numerous locations around the city displaying anything from fishing boats to cattle farming.
The summer months are unbearably hot and even the locals escape to cooler climates during this season. The cooler months, on the other hand are perfect for outdoor visits, water sports and golf!
This is the largest indoor theme park in the world! It is home to the fastest roller coaster in the world! It's an adrenaline rush not for the faint hearted. There are 20 rides to keep you busy with a new attraction currently in the making. The entry fee is quite expensive but you can take advantage of the two for one voucher in 'The Entertainer' booklet.
There is plenty to do here for those adrenaline junkies! The water rides are awesome within this 15 hectares water theme park. There are 43 different rides to choose from including the worlds largest 3 meter high ‘Surfable Waves’ ride. The Dawwama is the world's biggest and fastest tornado ride. With so much to do, it's almost impossible to experience every ride in one day. Food is expensive and you are not allowed to take any food into the theme park as bags are searched on entry. Be prepared to walk up a lot of stairs. This attraction incurs an expensive entry fee but the 'two for one' voucher can be used here too.
Tip: If you are planning on visiting both Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, it might be worthwhile purchasing a two-day pass that gives entry to both attractions at a discounted price.
Formula One on Yas Marina Circuit
Even if your visit does not coincide with the Formula One season, you can still visit the Yas Marina Circuit and get a behind the scenes view of this fast paced attraction. A bus takes you on a guided tour of the track, garages, pits, race control room and the media facilities.
Emirates Park Zoo
There are over 1700 animals to visit in this zoo. For a small fee, you can feed the elephants and sea lions. You are able to get very close to the giraffes and zebras whilst feeding them. There is a relatively inexpensive admissions fee, but do watch out for Groupon deals to further reduce the cost.
There are many large shopping malls located in and around Abu Dhabi. The larger malls house all the big brands from around the world and most shops have inflated prices compared to England or the USA. These malls buzz with activity as people meet friends and family, shop in the supermarket or head to the food court for their favourite fast food joint.
The 8 kilometers of manicured waterfront include: parks, play areas, cafes, restaurants, cycle paths, footpaths and the all-important clean sandy beaches. There are floating fences that enclose the permitted swimming areas and several lifeguards that keep a watchful eye. The water is generally clean and warm. All males must wear swimming attire that covers from the naval to the knees or they are asked to leave! For a small fee, you can enter the private family beaches but the facilities are generally the same. If you don't fancy getting sand between your toes, you can hire bikes and cycle along the cycle paths instead.
Falcon Hospital and Falconry Museum
Abu Dhabi is home to the world's largest Falcon hospital catering for injured birds. The two hour tour includes a visit to the Falconry Museum where you can watch and learn about the many different species. There is an examination room where you will be able to watch these majestic birds having a pedicure or having their feathers repaired. You will have fantastic opportunities like having a falcon perch on your arm. A real picture moment!
Emirates Palace Hotel
This stunning hotel was built at a staggering cost of $6 Billion. This 7 star hotel may not come cheap but non-guests are allowed to visit the communal areas free of charge. You can also dine in the extremely high-class restaurants located within this gold and marble decorated hotel. The hotel oozes sumptuous luxury so a free look around the grounds is worth the visit.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The architecture of this beautiful mosque is enough of a reason to visit this attraction, which is the size of five football fields. It houses the world’s largest chandelier and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. This is your chance to dress up as an Arab. Before you enter the mosque, you are given the outer clothing worn as a respectful gesture whilst visiting this place of worship. A tour of the mosque reveals spectacular buildings with intricate interior art and design. Admission and tours are free but tourism activities are not held on Friday mornings.
If you want an insight into the Bedouin lifestyle, the Heritage Village is perfect. It is a purpose built reconstruction of what life was like before the discovery of oil! Skilled craftsmen conduct workshops using leather, glass, metal, spinning, weaving and pottery. You can buy souvenirs from the little stalls and gift shops. The location is very close to Marina mall and Emirates Palace. Entry is free.
If I haven't tempted you with any of the above, Dubai is only a one-hour car ride away. There is a regular bus service to and from Dubai costing only a few dirhams.
Taxis are regulated and very cheap to hire however there is a minimum charge of 10 Dhs after 10pm.
Lastly, if you plan to stay longer than 30 days, be sure to remember to get your visit visa extended. Failing to do so will result in a fine of 100 Dhs per day plus admin fees!
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