On route to London, I decided to visit a good friend living in Abu Dhabi. She has lived there for around four years, so I was shown the best places to eat, drink and experience.
I arrived knowing very little about the United Arab Emirates, except that people can earn tax-free dollars, and lots at that! I was not wrong on that front. Abu Dhabi is an amazing mix of the traditional and modern decadence. It was clear that the UAE builds and spends to be the biggest and the best, which has resulted in some very impressive sights.
The Burj Al Arab in Dubai, which sticks out of the water like a wind surfer is unusual and a definite must see. Although we didn’t make it inside, it provides an interesting back drop to the island of Dubai. The Burj Kalihfa was another amazing structure which I’ve heard plays host to a light and water show most nights. I was too jet lagged to make it to the show, but next time!
We also drove along the palm-shaped island which is man-made and is home to many completed and in-progress resorts. Apparently many of the ‘arms’ of the palm house an array of exclusive villas.
Back in Abu Dhabi we toured the Sheik Zayad Grand Mosque Centre, which was breath-taking. Built over several years, it is an enormous Mosque that can accommodate tens of thousands of Islamic worshippers, inside and out. Built from various marbles, the exterior is beautiful, but it is nothing compared to the interior. I was overcome by the detail. Although, not my style, the finishes and materials are of the best quality, and the workmanship is mind-boggling.
The Park Hyatt on Sadiyat Island would have to be my favourite place. It is secluded and not too traditional in design, which was a refreshing change from the opulence of every other hotel we had been to. The sandy colour palette is warm and works harmoniously with the soft sand which would rival any of our Australian beaches. The restaurant we ate at was on the beach, and consequently was decked out beach style, much like what I imagine a Hamptons holiday home to look like. It was neutral with lots of timber, linen and texture. My tuna, niçoise salad was honestly gorgeous. The photos of the restaurant, pool are and lobby speak for themselves.
I could go on, but you’ll just have to visit yourself.
I was really impressed with Abu Dhabi and really enjoyed myself. I learned about a new culture, who were extremely charming, friendly and well groomed. I also noticed that most of the tourist sights are free to enter, which is a welcome change to some places in Europe! It’s clear the UAE are serious about tourism, which makes visting a very pleasant experience.