Country: United Arab Emirates
Currency: Dirham (AED)
Peak Season: December-February
Shoulder Season: March-May, September-November
Median Temperature: 33.70 C / 92.66 F
Main Languages: Arabic, English
Primary Modes of Transportation: Bus, car rental, taxi
Recommended Duration of Stay: 2 days
Recommended Pocket Money: $120.00/day
Tourist Passes: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
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Abu Dhabi's skyscrapers emanate the country's pinnacle of success in the past decade thanks to the multitude of partnerships it has opened with western and oriental countries. One of the most progressive Arab destinations, Abu Dhabi, welcomes its foreign tourists and investors with open arms and growing multiculturalism. Tourism is Abu Dhabi's main interest, evident in its lavish resorts and beaches overlooking the Persian Gulf. Stay here for a while and see what unravels beyond the Arab dunes

Tourist visitors and expatriates enjoy the warm hospitality exuded by the city of Abu Dhabi. And just like nearby Bahrain, Abu Dhabi is tolerant of many western ideologies and practices. More than anything, Abu Dhabi is the touted as the greatest city in the Middle East; evidence of which are its countless megastructures; plush entertainment venues; the harmonious political landscape; its strong diplomatic ties with the United States, Europe and Asia; its booming oil industry; and its salvo of cosmopolitan treats the guise of tourist attractions, food, and other affordable amenities. Abu Dhabi prides itself in giving equal priority to its tourism industry and oil sector—key constituents of its long-term success.

The city is located in an island on the northeastern part of the Persian Gulf. Abu Dhabi’s neighboring cities include Dubai to the northeast, Doha to the farther west, and Manama to the far northeast. The United Arab Emirates is known for fostering effective diplomatic ties with distant countries via its innocuous free trade policy and encouragement of infrastructure investments.

Abu Dhabi is an ideal place to go dune bashing, cruising/yachting on the Arab coast, lazing on the public beach, scouring for attractions, or splurging on Persian carpets and gold items. Of course, some of these activities will set you a pretty penny, especially with regards to the shopping experience. However, Indian, Chinese, and Arab cuisine in the city—for such generous servings—is quite cheap, thanks to many small restaurants serving the middle-class, diverse tourist population. Alcohol and pork are exclusively sold to non-Muslims. Hard partying in clubs and bistros is almost nonexistent in the city, though you can still enjoy a hotel bash with your friends, provided you tone it down. Taking pictures of the local women is also prohibited.

Packing List

  • Conservative-but-comfortable clothing, since parts of the city are still hostile against tourists wearing revealing dresses; bring a jacket or cardigan for air-conditioned establishments
  • Walking shoes, a sizeable backpack and a tent (if you prefer to camp out in the desert); a lot of good stuff are sold cheaply here, so try to bring extra storage for dry goods and spices
  • Portable media and books to keep you preoccupied overnight; you may want to bring earplugs or an mp3 player if you don’t want to hear early morning call to prayers
  • Essential medication and toiletries, particularly Immodium or Pepto Bismol to handle an upset stomach; the low humidity can leave your skin dried and lips chafed, so bring moisturizers
  • A decent camera, film/memory and batteries; if you prefer panoramic photography, bring some good zoom lenses and ask for permission from proprietors and authorities before shooting

Things to Do

  • Entering the seemingly whiteout Sheikh Zayed Mosque, whose interior is studded with precious stones; it has the world’s largest carpet and a library covering extensive Islamic disciplines
  • Revving up your engine at Ferrari World, the world’s largest indoor amusement park; key attractions include Galleria Ferrari, Junior Grand Prix for kids and Scuderia Challenge for adults
  • Visiting the Emirates Palace, a seven-star luxury hotel that appears to be made in gold and actually is; room prices shoot up to nearly $12,000 during the peak season, but amenities justify prices, though
  • Unwinding at Khalifa Park and its museum; the park is famous for its beautifully landscaped gardens that even feature cascading waterfalls and the “Time Tunnel” monorail of Arabic history
  • Chilling out at the Corniche, a 4.3-mile coastal promenade; it is the perfect place for relaxation in the city, due to its position near the road, its numerous gardens, as well as its white sandy beach

DON'T

  • Contemplate or even attempt to smuggle illegal drugs (including herbal remedies) in and out of the country; Abu Dhabi is very stringent with drug laws, and imposes death penalty in major cases
  • Display acts of homosexuality (even jokingly); because Abu Dhabi is a Muslim city—it is intolerant of homosexuals and lesbians—some women’s rights are also suppressed under Islamic laws
  • Bring any illegal items: propaganda material, pornography, signal jammers and anything that is otherwise prohibited by Islamic laws and tradition; non-compliance can lead to detainment
  • Incite any hostility by talking about Islam; Muslims can sense sarcasm and deceit from foreigners on conversations—it is best not to elaborate your opinions and to just agree with their sentiment
  • Commit to revelry that may otherwise hamper your safety and reentry into the UAE; drinking and driving, public display of affection, nudity, as well as dressing “improperly” are all prohibited