Things To Do in Abu Dhabi

SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE

Clad in Macedonian marble, the beautiful and absolutely mammoth Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s landmark building. The mosque fuses Mameluke, Ottoman and Fatamid design elements to create a harmonious and thoroughly modern mosque that celebrates Islamic architecture. Artisans utilised glass-work, mosaic tiling and intricate carvings to spectacular effect on both the interior and exterior. It was opened in 2007 after nearly 20 years of construction and holds up to a capacity of 40,000 worshippers, it is the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and, like the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Fujairah, is dedicated to the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. Non-Muslims are allowed into all areas of the mosque (including the vast library), and there are also guided tours available.

EMIRATES PALACE

What the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is to the vertical, the Emirates Palace is to the horizontal, with audacious domed gatehouses and flying ramps to the foyer, 114 domes and a 1.3km private beach. Built at a cost of Dh11 billion, this is the big hotel in the Gulf, with 1002 crystal chandeliers and 400 luxury rooms and suites. You don’t have to check in to check out the Emirates Palace, as it doubles as a cultural hub of the city.

Hosting opera and renowned orchestras during the Abu Dhabi Classics concert season, and showing screenings during the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Emirates Palace has played its part in the cultural expansion of the capital.

SIR BANY YAS ISLAND

A nature-based destination alive with wildlife and adventure activities, a 5-star boutique hotel, luxury villas, purpose-built stables and historical sites, Sir Bani Yas Island is one of the eight which make up the Desert Islands in Al Gharbia.

Recently awarded the ‘World’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination’, more than half the island is made up of the Arabian Wildlife Park, one of region’s largest wildlife reserves, which is home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals including Arabian Oryx, gazelles and giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs. Guests can take a 4x4 Nature & Wildlife Drive of the park in specially made vehicles accompanied by expert guides. The island is also home to UAE's only discovered Christian monastery, which can be visited during a Desert Islands Resort & Spa Culture Tour. Believed to have been built around 600 AD, and abandoned in 750 AD, the monastery was initially discovered during excavations in 1992. The island can be reached via flights or a speedboat.

HERITAGE VILLAGE

Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village is an authentic replica of a typical Bedouin encampment that gives an idea of typical Emirati life before the oil boom. It’s located in a pretty beach area of the city, which is a pleasant place to wander after a visit. There are exhibits featuring traditional day-to-day objects, as well as introducing local agriculture and the pearl diving trade.

AL HOSN PALACE OR WHITE PALACE

Also known as the Old Fort or the White Fort, Al Hosn Palace is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. The palace was built in 1793 as the residence of the ruling family and the seat of government. The interior of the Al Hosn Palace has been renovated and modernized, and is now used by the Cultural Foundation to house the Centre for Documentation and Research, which holds a collection of documents on the heritage and history of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf region. The courtyard and the magnificent tile work over the main northern gate are notable features. Within the palace is a museum of traditional artifacts and historical photographs. Displays include a natural history section featuring animal life from the desert, and a historical section with displays of the history of Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI FALCON HOSPITAL

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH) is the first public institution in the United Arab Emirates providing comprehensive veterinary health care services exclusively for falcons. Established by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, and opened on 3rd of October, 1999, Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has become the largest falcon hospital in the UAE and in the world with a patient influx of more than 75,000 patients in the first fourteen years of existence.

FERRARI WORLD

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi offers a truly amazing experience for every family member with thrilling rides, exciting attractions, themed stores and restaurants, all inspired by the rich Ferrari brand and its Italian heritage. The park boasts more than 20 unique rides and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests – from speed thrill rides to the truly advanced simulators and family-friendly attractions – in addition to a wide variety of Italian restaurants, unique shopping experiences and dedicated entertainment.

EASTERN MANGROVE LAGOON NATIONAL PARK

Stretching for five miles along Eastern Ring Road in Abu Dhabi, the Eastern Mangroves Lagoon National Park provides the habitat for 200 fish and 50 bird species. Venture into this wild frontier beyond the city with a kayak excursion with a local guide taking you around the mangroves and even throw in a few facts on local wildlife.

AL AIN OASIS

Picturesque and laid-back, Al Ain charms visitors with its lush foliage, despite its barren, desert location. The secret lies deep underground: by tapping into wells, locals have been able to cultivate dates for about 3,000 years in isolated pockets of greenery. The city’s best-known oases include Al Ain Oasis, which is thought to contain about 150,000 date palms, as well as other fruit-bearing trees, including fig, orange, banana and mango. The trees are all irrigated via an ingenious and ancient system of narrow water channels known as falaj. Al Mutaredh Oasis is also home to thousands of date palms, along with acacia and lemon trees, while Al Jimi Oasis also has native trees such as sidr and ghaf. Strolling along these shady pathways listening to the leaves rustling in the breeze is an experience not to be missed. Location: Look out for brown road signs in Al Ain indicating the ¬oases.

YAS WATERWORLD

For a full day experience, this futuristic waterpark spans an area of around 15 football pitches, with 43 rides, slides & attractions – five of which are one-of-a-kind. Visitors can try the 238-metre long, world’s first, and largest hydromagnetic-powered, six-person tornado waterslide. For adrenaline seekers there are three-meter high waves on Bubble’s Barrel, which has the world’s largest surfable sheet wave for flow boards and body boards. The Bandit Bomber, a 550–meter coaster, is the first with onboard water and laser effects. Riders can shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects, while people below can spray them with water as they pass.

YAS ISLAND

Home to some of the UAE's most exciting attractions, racing events, concerts, luxury hotels and much much more; Yas Island is the place to be. Experience life at its richest, through adventure and entertainment, all created for you to share with friends and family.

HAJAR MOUNTAINS IN AL AIN

If the arid desert landscape summons your walking shoes, strap on your boots and head for Al Ain, a city 100 miles east of Abu Dhabi along the border of Oman. While there, hike the Al Hajar Mountains—the highest mountain range in the Eastern Arabian Peninsula; the central section of the range reaches 9,834 feet. Absolute Adventure organizes treks in the mountains, desert, and coastline of Oman and the UAE, especially to the Hajar Mountains. Excursions range from single to multiple-day hikes (camping gear included in the price). Beginners, for example, could choose a three-hour run along the Secret Staircase: a series of steps near Dibba Beach built by Pakistani goat herders who inhabit the peak of the climb.

AL AIN JEBEL HAFEET AND GREEN MUBAZZARAH

This green expanse at the foot of Jebel Hafeet is another spectacle which will leave you amazed at how Mother Nature has blessed Al Ain. This place is a perfect spot for picnics and family outings and during ideal weather conditions, the place is thronged with families out to enjoy the sun. A popular sight is adventurists who aim to trek up the mountain and pitch tents at the base. In addition to special attractions such as mini train for children and thermal baths, there are also outdoor hot water springs which can be enjoyed by the general public. Also available is the facility to rent chalets at Green Mubazzarah which are sure to provide you with a wonderful stay experience.

LOUVRE ABU DHABI

Louvre Abu Dhabi, opening soon as a universal museum in the Arab world. Its very name is testament to what is an unprecedented alliance of an intergovernmental agreement between the emirate of Abu Dhabi and France, through one of the highest level of cultural cooperation ever created between two sovereign countries. This unprecedented gesture establishes a long and solid relationship between Musée du Louvre, the greatest museums located in Paris, and Abu Dhabi, which is a dynamic force in the contemporary world.

LIWA OASIS

Liwa Oasis lies 220km south-west of Abu Dhabi Island on the northern edge of the Empty Quarter (the Ruba’ Al Khali Desert) and is one of the largest oases on the Arabian Peninsula. The 100km long crescent-shaped oasis is home to dunes of many different-coloured sands, and date plantations which make the oasis an important agricultural site of Al Gharbia (the Western Region). The annual Liwa Date Festival has made Liwa a star attraction for local farmers, whilst sporting enthusiasts flock to Liwa for its desert sporting events.