United Arab Emirates

Comprised of a number of different kingdoms, the United Arab Emirates is a rising star in the middle east. I have been able to visit Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi

Buildings are Popping Up Everywhere

Abu Dhabi is the second largest emirate after Dhubai and seems to play second-fiddle to it's larger sibling. Abu Dhabi, much like the rest of the UAE, is still largely under construction and has ambitious plans for the future (included it's much touted links with the Guggenheim and the Louvre).

New Development on Saadiyat Island

What to See

A few things of note:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - One of the largest in the world (2nd largest outside of Mecca), this massive structure is open to the public but be careful and check the hours before traveling out to see it (it is very close to the airport).
  • Ferrari World - See below.

Heritage Village

  • Heritage Village - Located very close to the Marina Mall, this artificial attraction, it is said, is very interesting to visit (I looked in from the tour bus but did not visit).
  • Public Beaches - There are a number of public beaches but if you want to visit be aware that they are segregated into “families” and “single men”. Most public beaches are free.

Public Beach


This appears to be quite a pass-time in Abu Dhabi and there are a couple of large malls you can visit:

Abu Dhabi Mall

  • Abu Dhabi Mall - Located on the north end of the city centre

Marina Mall

  • Marina Mall - Located just off the coast of the southern end of the city centre. Boasts many attractions including an ice skating rink and an observation tower.

Ferrari World

Ferrari World Main Entrance

Being a bit of a fan of Formula One, I could not visit Abu Dhabi and not see the F1 track and Ferrari World. It is located on Yas Island which is about a 15 minute drive from the middle of Abu Dhabi. Yas is an artificial island containing the F1 track, Ferrari World and a number of hotels and restaurants.

Inside the Giant Tent of Ferrari World

Ferrari World is the world's largest indoor theme park and, given that it is so hot outside, you will be glad it is inside. There are a number of exhibits and rides to enjoy that are all covered by the admission fee. I was lucky enough to visit when not busy so made it onto the world's fastest roller coaster - the “Formula Rossa” - 0-240km/h in 4.9 sec (basically, it accelerates as fast as a Formula One car). I sat in the front two times…If you visit and have a ride make sure you put your head BACK…

Formula Rossa Track

The highlight of my trip (other than Formula Rossa) was probably seeing a number of the famous cars driven by Michael Schumacher as well as “Cinema Maranello” which showed an amazing film “Coppa di Sicilia” which is an unbelievable step back in time of the true racing pioneers.

Getting Around

Basically, a visitor is best just taking taxis. There are public buses, many of which are not air conditioned, but for the price taxis cannot be beat. Most drivers speak English.

There is a “hop-on, hop-off” bus company that tours around the major sites but the distances are so large don't expect to go around the circuit more than once or twice in a day so it is unclear how much of a value this offers…

Where to Stay

There are loads of nice hotels that offer good value in Abu Dhabi. Personally I stayed (on business) at “Le Royal Meridien” (not to be confused with “Le Meridien” which is a bit smaller and, I believe, more expensive) which is close to the beach at the northern part of central Abu Dhabi. Very nice but quite expensive. Great pool…

Le Royal Meridien


The weather is pretty consistent all year around with only minor fluctuations with the seasons. Basically, hot and sunny all the time (it never rains here). In the summer expect temperatures to be 40 celcius or more while in the winter it can be as cool as 15.

Further Information

Further information about Abu Dhabi is available from: