Places to Visit and Things to Know Before You Arrive in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is not only the largest Emirate but also the capital of United Arab Emirates or UAE. Although not as popular or glamorous as Dubai, this Emirate city has its own charm. Deeply rooted in its traditions and culture, a visit to Abu Dhabi would give you the glimpse of Emirati culture and heritage. However, this does not mean that a holiday in Abu Dhabi comprises only sightseeing. On the other hand, there are several interesting things to do here. In fact, Abu Dhabi has an island dedicated to fun and entertainment. If you are planning a holiday in Abu Dhabi, here are a few things that you need to know before you arrive.
Abu Dhabi: Places to Visit
After you have booked your tickets but before you pack your bags, it is important to create your itinerary for your holiday in Abu Dhabi. While there are several tour companies that offer Abu Dhabi holiday packages, you can easily explore the city on your own too. Here are some of the places that you should not miss when in this Emirate city.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Palace: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, popularly known as Grand Mosque, is the largest mosque in the UAE and is a grand one in every way. Inspired by Indo-Islamic architecture, the mosque can accommodate 40,000 worshippers at a time. The entire place is created in marble with gold elements. Inside the mosque, you would find large crystal chandeliers, the largest carpet in the world adorning the prayer hall and gorgeous pools too.
Abu Dhabi Corniche: Complete with a beach, play area, pedestrian and cycle pathways, restaurants and cafes, the Corniche Road stretches for 8 kilometers and is the perfect place to relax and unwind with family and friends. You can also go on a dhow cruise here to enjoy the gorgeous Abu Dhabi skyline and have a great time.
Abu Dhabi Heritage Village: If you want to experience the Bedouin way of life, i.e. the Emirati life before the oil boom, the Heritage Village is a must visit place. A traditional oasis village, you would find a goats’ hair tent, campfire with coffee pots and a fajal irrigation system here. You would also find craftsmen demonstrating traditional skills of pottery, metalwork, etc.
Qasr Al Hosn: A visit to Qasr Al Hosn would give you a free demonstration of the life and history of Abu Dhabi and its people. Another highlight of Al Qasr Hosn is that it is the oldest stone building as well as the first permanent structure of Abu Dhabi.
Yas Island: Yas Island is a haven for those who are looking for fun and entertainment during their holiday. Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, and Yas Marina Circuit are some of the major attractions of the place. Moreover, Warner Bros. World and SeaWorld are two theme parks that would be added to the Yas Island in the near future.
Apart from the above-mentioned places, there are several malls in Abu Dhabi that would make for an interesting visit. You must also check out the Emirates Palace Hotel which is nothing less than a royal palace. Although you cannot go sightseeing at the hotel, you can have a meal at one of the restaurants or cafes if you really want to check the interiors.
Abu Dhabi: Important Things to Know
Knowing the places you must visit when in Abu Dhabi is only half the job done. While the luxurious buildings and skyscrapers may create a modern picture, it is important to remember that Abu Dhabi is a part of a Muslim state and hence is quite conservative. Also, there are several laws regarding things that are considered to be normal or regular in most countries. Hence, it is best to be equipped with all know before you begin your journey.
Best Time to Visit: The summer months (from May to October) are extremely hot in Abu Dhabi and hence best to be avoided. However, it is cheaper to travel during summer as you get everything at half rates at this time of the year. On the other hand, the best time to visit Abu Dhabi is the winter months i.e. between November and February when the climate is pleasant.
Traveling: The best way to travel in the city is by cab. Apart from being an inexpensive mode of transportation, you would also find it easy to flag down a cab anywhere in the city. While the silver taxis run on meters, it would be best to agree on a price before you begin your journey in a white and gold taxi. Pink taxis (driven by women) are exclusive for women passengers as well as families.
Dress Code: As the place has a warm climate, it is best to wear loose, cotton clothes during your holiday. As a respect to the cultural and religious beliefs of the locals, you must wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight and those that expose upper arm, cleavage, thighs, etc. as they are considered to be offensive. Beachwear and shorts can be worn at the beach and at the pool area in your hotel. If you are visiting a mosque, you must cover your arms and legs. The traditional garments for men and women are available for free at most mosques.
Language: English is widely spoken in the city and hence you do not have to worry about not knowing Arabic. Of course, you could learn a few words. But wherever you go, be it to airports, hotels, restaurants, malls, departmental stores, etc., you would find people speaking English. Hotels also employ staff who speak Russian, Chinese, German, etc. to help those guests who do not speak English.
Alcohol: Alcohol is available at most high-end restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. However, you must remember that drinking in public is illegal in Abu Dhabi. If you are caught drinking in malls, parks or other public areas, you would have to pay a fine and would also have to spend time in jail. Also, tourists cannot buy alcohol from stores. Only locals and expats with a license can do that.
Public Display of Affection: PDA is a strict no-no in Abu Dhabi. Apart from holding hands, couples should avoid hugging, kissing or cuddling in public. If someone reports you, you could be in big trouble. Moreover, staying in the same room with the person of the opposite sex (unless married) is illegal. So, if you are traveling to Abu Dhabi with your partner, it is best to stay in separate rooms.
Ramadan: Ramadan is the holy month of Muslims, during which people fast from morning till evening. While you may not have to fast, there are several rules that you would have to follow if you visit Abu Dhabi during this time of the month. Firstly, you would not be allowed to eat or drink in public although it is fine to eat in private areas of hotels or restaurants. Businesses close early and there is a ban on a lot of tourist activities. So, you may miss several interesting things and activities. But if you want to learn about the traditions, religion, and culture of the Arabs, this is a great time to visit.
Abu Dhabi is a place that offers sightseeing, adventure, entertainment and shopping, and hence a great addition to your travel bucket list. Moreover, by knowing everything you should about this Emirate city, you would definitely have a hassle-free holiday in Abu Dhabi.