We recommend heading to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) if you are keener on experiencing local Emirati life. Life here is more relaxed and intimate with a greater focus on preserving the traditions and heritage. A great example of this can be seen at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, an authentic replica of a Bedouin village of the Nomadic Bani Yas tribesmen, who first settled here and established small fishing and pearl diving villages.
The recently restored Al-Hosn Fort, traces the Islamic history and culture of Abu Dhabi, and the beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque showcases the harnessing of ancient craftsmanship with contemporary modern design. The Louvre, Abu ‘s quintessential museum travels further back in time to trace humanity from Neolithic times to the modern day alongside its very impressive collection of paintings by Picasso, which even outshines Hermitage’s collection.
Away from high culture, Abu Dhabi is also a great holiday destination for families with numerous attractions to keep children of all ages entertained from Falcon Hospital where you can get up and close to birds of prey and learn about the origins of Falconry; Ferrari World, a Formula One Theme park with attractions for all ages from the very young to the adrenaline junkies; Mangrove Kayaking among Abu Dhabi’s numerous island inlets, and Warner Bros World amusement park, Yas Waterworld.
A visit to the Al Ain Oasis, now an UNESCO listed heritage site, complete with its original Falaj irrigation system beneath a thick canopy of date palms and other fruit trees offers a great opportunity to see what was once a vital link along the caravan trade route to Oman. Today it preserves the delicate oasis ecosystem and celebrates the invaluable contribution local farmers have made in maintaining traditional farming methods here to sustain the oasis.
Another fabulous day excursion to the Wildlife reserve of Sir Bani Yas Island is a must, where indigenous wildlife like the gazelles and endangered Arabian Oryx roam free alongside giraffes, ostrich and leopards. You will also have an opportunity to learn about turtle conservation among other local traditions.
Most people enjoy a visit to the Jabeel Desert for jeep or camel rides on the dunes but the adventurers might like to camp under the stars or even hike to the summit of the Jebel Hafeet, the second highest peak of the UAE. The not so active can also enjoy a drive to the summit along its beautiful winding road that twists upwards through the mountain scapes.
Best time to visit Abu Dhabi:
High Season runs from November to April
Shoulder Season sits within September and October
Low Season between May and August