Meaning 'Land of the Gazelle' in Arabic, Abu Dhabi was founded when a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water, on an island with no more than 300 palm ('barasti') huts, a few coral buildings and the Ruler's fort. This simple island settlement has since been transformed into the modern, cosmopolitan city of Abu Dhabi and the high-rise capital of the United Arab Emirates. Find out more about Abu Dhabi’s religion and traditions with a visit to one of the world's most impressive landmarks, the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This architectural marvel, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers, features 80 domes, over 1,000 columns, gold plated chandeliers and the world's largest hand woven carpet.
Head to our landmark Corniche and enjoy an impressive eight kilometres of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach - a lifeguarded beach park. Beachgoers should also spend some time on the stunning Saadiyat and Yas public beaches or for a spot of luxury they can book a day in the uber-luxurious Saadiyat Beach Club. While in Abu Dhabi, don’t forget to get on the water! From wake-boarding to surfing and parasailing, from cruising in a traditional pearling boat to kayaking through our natural mangrove forests, from zooming to the pace of a speedboat tour to diving, cruising, snorkelling or swimming, the emirate’s waters are yours to discover.
For a 360˚ entertainment experience, head to Yas Island where you can burn rubber at Yas Marina Circuit – home to the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, have a coffee or stay at the iconic Yas Viceroy - the world’s only hotel to straddle an F1 race track - ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, have a giant splash at Yas Waterworld, play Arabia’s only links course and relax on a white sandy beach.
Shopping is something of a national pastime in Abu Dhabi, perhaps because it’s so diverse and tax-free: everything from luxurious and ultra-modern malls with the latest brands, to small, souk-like shops where you can buy traditional perfumes, handicrafts, spices and carpets. If you’re interested in culture and heritage, catch a cab to the Heritage Village on the Corniche Breakwater and step back in time to a traditional desert lifestyle. Bargain with souvenir sellers and watch craftsmen at work producing pottery, weaving and metal work.
Sights and sounds of Abu Dhabi
Corniche & Al Maryah Island
This lengthy stretch of beach extends along Corniche Road from near the Hilton Hotel to beyond Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, where you’ll find its main entrance. During the week you can usually find a beach umbrella, but during the weekend they may all go quickly. You can’t swim out very far; floating fences keep you within 40 metres of the beach, and there are plenty of lifeguards around. Abu Dhabi’s pristine Corniche beachfront has been awarded coveted Blue Flag status - the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas that guarantees clean and safe bathing water.Some 30,000 to 50,000 visitors flock to the Corniche every month, enjoying three separate sections for families, singles and the general public. There are more than 1,100 free parking spaces with a five minute walk of the beach, which charges AED 10 (US $2.7) entry to the family and singles sections. Entry to the public beach is free.Abu Dhabi’s business and lifestyle destination and home to the world’s newest international financial center, luxury retail and dining offerings, premium hospitality and world-class healthcare.
Al Maryah Island is Abu Dhabi’s business and lifestyle destination and home to the world’s newest international financial center, luxury retail and dining offerings, premium hospitality and world-class healthcare. It is home to two five star world class hotels, Rosewood Abu Dhabi and Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi. The area is flocked luxury boutiques and contemporary brands as well as wide array of dining experiences to suit any occasion.
Observation Deck at 300
Heritage Village Abu Dhabi
The Empty Quarter
The world's largest uninterrupted sand mass, the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) will blow you away with massive expanses of awesome desert and enormous dunes. It’s a landscape of ever-changing endless dunes made famous by the British explorer Wilfred Thesiger and his Emirati and Omani companions in the 1940s and 50s. Almost a fairytale from ‘1001 nights’, the magnificent Qasr Al Sarab or Mirage Palace is a luxurious oasis in the midst of the desert. Resembling an old Arabian fortress town nestled in the valley of mountainous dunes, this is actually a five-star resort letting you experience lots of desert activities – dune dawn walks, camel trekking, dune bashing, falconry shows and camp fire barbecues.Perched at the edge of the majestic Rub Al Khali, Tilal Al Liwa is a stunningly secluded desert hideaway. There are restaurants, a sparkling outdoor pool, and a full range of desert activities. Considered by many to be the world's tallest sand dune, Tel Moreeb is over 300 metres high and the 50 degree incline to the top makes it a prime destination for motor sports enthusiasts. Every winter, the region's most powerful four wheel drivers and quad bikers compete in the Moreeb Hill Climb event, which is part of the Liwa International Festival.
Qasr Al Sarab
Saadiyat & Yas Island
Saadiyat is located just 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi. This 27 square kilometre island was planned and created around an environmentally-sensitive philosophy and low-density master plan. As a result, Saadiyat's developments have been built around natural beauty, cultural experiences, architectural splendours and vast business potential. The main districts in the island are Saadiyat Cultural District, Saadiyat Beach District and Saadiyat Marina District. The island can be reached in just a five-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi, 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport and an hour's drive from Dubai.
Yas Island is an emerging entertainment destination within to 30 minute drive of the UAE capital, Yas Island is home to the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit – host to the annual F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Get to grips with Yas Marina Circuit through a series of track day packages, including ‘Driver Experiences’, ‘Passenger Experiences’, ‘Private Driving Tuition’ programmes and ‘Racing License Courses’. At the circuit’s centrepiece is Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, a five star, iconic hotel – the only one in the world to straddle an F1 race track being breathtakingly built half on land and half over water.
Louvre Museum Abu Dhabi
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Yas Marina Circuit
Ferrari World Theme Park
A one and a half hour drive from Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain is one of the world's oldest permanently inhabited settlements, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city abounds in picturesque forts. One of the UAE’s most historic buildings, Al Jahili Fort was erected in 1891 to defend the city and protect precious palm groves and is home to a permanent exhibition of the work of British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger and his 1940s crossings of the Rub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter) desert. The redeveloped Al Qattara Fort is now home to a brilliant arts centre and gallery, offering hundreds of modern exhibits within its walls and with spaces for a variety of workshops – from pottery and painting to music and calligraphy. Get to grips with our culture and heritage with a visit to the city’s museums. With three main sections - archaeology, ethnography and gifts, Al Ain National Museum lets you explore various aspects of UAE life, including Bedouin jewellery and traditional musical instrument collections. The former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Al Ain Palace Museum houses a large collection of material about the ruling family. Visitors can tour the private rooms and gardens once occupied by the ‘Father of the Nation’.