Amazing architecture. The interesting heritage. The surprising entertainment. And a fantastic art scene. And of course, you can always add the sun & the beach to the list of Abu Dhabi wonders.
I have always wanted to go there, to see what other people named “the next Dubai”. To find out how, in just a couple of years, a nation can build skyrocket buildings and highways through the dessert. I have also discovered, out that Abu Dhabi is, apart from the splendid architecture, a place of art wonders. And a good spot to spend a weekend.
The heritage. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the UAE and the seventh largest mosque in the world — it features 82 domes, 24 carat gold chandeliers, the world’s largest hand knotted carpet and can accommodate up to 40.000 persons. It is, probably, the most beautiful mosque I have ever entered in. The white domes and their reflection on the marble floor is just out of this world. The beautiful mosaics were made with blue lapis lazuli red agate, transparent violet of amethyst, iridescent blues, greens and purples of abalone shell, and creamy white mother of pearl. The gorgeous floral pattern is repeated on the qibla wall.
Interesting to know: the place is seen as a place of worship that would help people come together, a place of tolerance. The materials used (marbles, stones, carpet, crystals, chandeliers) are from all over the world, from Italy to New Zealand, India, Macedonia, Austria.
Good to know: the access is free, just stay in the line to receive the entrance ticket. Wear long pants, long dresses, be fully covered and take a scarf with you – otherwise, you might be advised to wear one of the free of charge rental abaya (no, pictures with no scarf on your head are not permitted inside). More info – https://www.szgmc.gov.ae
The architecture. That’s how I imagine that a sci-fi city would look like. Of course, the city itself is very wide, and you can encounter “normal” area with apartments buildings, normal streets and little green areas where the citizens gather in the evening for an ice-cream and some small talk.
Take a walk on The Corniche and walk a bit on the beach. Then, stop at the Emirates Palace, the most impressive hotel & residence in the city. The hotel, opened in 2005, is is opened for free visits (if you have an appropriate dress code) and for a delicious 5’o clock tea. Apart from the fact that the scenes of Sex and the City 2 were supposed to take place at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi (not, they used Morocco instead), the hotel is known for its gold distributor machine, for tea service, for the beautiful setup of its gardens and water fountains and… for the incredible view across the street to Etihad Towers and Bab Al Qasr tower and hotel. That is what I call sci-fi view! More info – https://www.kempinski.com/en/abudhabi/emirates-palace/
The entertainment. For those in love with cars and cartoons, I have just one destination in mind: Yas Island. Because there is also the Ferrari World (Info – https://www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com) and Warner Bros (info – https://www.wbworldabudhabi.com). Don’t expect to ride a real Ferrari – I would say that the amusement park is more appropriate for a teenager without a driving licence than for a sport car lover, but it’s fun for a couple of hours. Superman, Batman, Tom & Jerry and The Flinstones will wait for you. And, speaking of entertainment, we will always have Yas Waterworld. Or a SUP ride on the calm water.
The Art. And there is an entire island dedicated to that, Saadiyat Island. Apart from the amazing building of Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel (info – https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae), here is planned also a Guggenheim museum (by Frank Gehry). And some other venues, as a planned National Museum (designed by Lord Foster). The museum is extraordinary – 180-metres wide, open to the air on all sides and constructed from an irregular honeycomb of aluminium and stainless steel that filters the sunshine into random shafts of light. The selection of art is quite eclectic, but the display is awesome. My favourite? The trio of sculptures – Brancusi-Giacometti-ancient sculpture.
Not to forget: The Etihad Modern Art gallery – cute, quite and full of nice surprises (info – https://etihadmodernart.com). The black and white series of pictures from the Arabian desert was very interesting, as well as the mirror playground of the Italian contemporary artist, Lucia Oliva in “Reflections”.