Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The city of Abu Dhabi is located on the northeastern part of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula. It is situated on an island less than 820 feet (250 metres) from the mainland, and joined to the mainland by the Maqta, Mussafah and Sheikh Zayed bridges. Abu Dhabi Island is also connected to Saadiyat Island by a five-lane motorway bridge, and the Al-Mafraq Bridge connects the city to Reem Island. This multi-layer, 27-lane interchange-bridge allows roughly 25,000 automobiles to move per hour. There are three major bridges in the project; the largest has eight lanes, four leaving Abu Dhabi city and four coming in. Most of Abu Dhabi City is located on the island itself, but it has many suburbs on the mainland, including: Khalifa City A, B and C; Al Raha Beach; Al Bahia City A, B and C; Al Shahama; Al Rahba; Between Two Bridges; Baniyas; and Mussafah Residential.
Archaeological evidence points to civilisations, such as the Umm an-Nar culture, existing in Abu Dhabi as early as the 3rd-millennium B.C. Settlements were also found further outside the modern city of Abu Dhabi, near Al Ain, and around the UAE's second-tallest mountain, Hafeet Mountain, or 'Jebel Hafeet'. The Bani Yas, a large Bedouin tribe, was originally centred on the Liwa Oasis. In 1793, the Al Bu Falah subsection migrated to the island of Abu Dhabi due to the discovery of fresh water there. One family within this section was the Al Nahyan family, which rules Abu Dhabi to this day. A series of 19th-century treaties with Great Britain protected Abu Dhabi from piracy, but the British maintained their influence in Abu Dhabi as a thriving pearling industry waned during the 1930s and interest in the oil potential of the Persian Gulf grew. The discovery of vast oil reserves in the late-1950s and early-1960s prompted the rapid development of the city's economy and infrastructure. In the years since, the city's economy and infrastructure developed rapidly, and changed Abu Dhabi beyond recognition.
Today, Abu Dhabi is one of the world's richest cities, with wide, tree-lined boulevards, lush green parks, gushing fountains and imposing skyscrapers. Apart from its modern cityscape, Abu Dhabi's most striking feature is its lushness. The municipality has spent a fortune and hired an army of labourers to transform this desert city into a green oasis. Abu Dhabi has over 2,000 well-maintained parks and gardens, and more than 249 miles (400 kilometres) of coastline, of which six miles (10 kilometres) are public beaches. Abu Dhabi has several large green spaces, many of which include play areas and equipment for children, and the city is studded with lovely fountains, swathes of neon light and the occasional sculpture. A small part of the land area is covered by mountains, containing several caves. The coastal area contains pockets of wetland and mangrove colonies. Abu Dhabi also has dozens of islands, mostly small and uninhabited, some of which have been designated as wildlife sanctuaries.
Abu Dhabi's culture and heritage can be explored during visits to the Al Maqtaa Fort, one of the oldest and major landmarks of Abu Dhabi City. The Hili Archaeological Park features tombs dating from the second-half of the 3rd-millenium B.C., including the important Hili Grand Tomb. At the Al Ain National Museum, explore the ethnographical and archaeological sections, along with an oasis featuring an excellent example of 'falaj', an ancient irrigation system. The Al Hosn Fort, an ancient, renovated fort that was formerly utilised as the official residence of the Sheikh, now serves as the home of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. At Heritage Village, you can explore the small museum which depicts the daily activities of the Arab community prior to the discovery of oil. Additional historic sites include the Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain National Museum, Sir Bani Yas Island Archaeological Site, Muraijib Fort, Al Jahili Fort, Qasr al Hosn Exhibition, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Library, and Al Maqtaa Fort.
Abu Dhabi's exquisite inland and desert beauty is the ideal setting for wonderfully scenic and memorable land excursions, including bird-watching, nature walks at the Al Ain Oasis and Heritage Heartland, bicycling, tennis, horseback-riding, caving, exhilarating dune rides in the Al Khatim Desert, exploring the Arabian Wildlife Park and Al Ain Zoo, and golfing at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Abu Dhabi Golf Club or Yas Links Golf Club. Abu Dhabi's crystal-clear coastal waters are ideally-suited for a wide array of popular water sports, including swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving at the Intercontinental Beach Resort and Rotana Beach, and fishing, sea-kayaking, boating, and sailing in the Arabian Gulf.
Please Note: Although the dress code in the UAE is more relaxed than elsewhere in the Middle East, it is still relatively conservative. As a rule, women should not wear miniskirts, shorts or sleeveless tops, and men should always wear a shirt in public. Please do not photograph people without their permission, especially women. The photography or videotaping of government buildings, embassies or anything military in nature, including airports, is strictly prohibited.
Going Ashore in Abu Dhabi
The ship is scheduled to dock at Port Mina Zayed. Abu Dhabi's city centre is located 2.5 miles (four kilometres) from the port. Complimentary shuttle bus service to a convenient location in town is offered in the morning and afternoon. Metered taxis are generally available outside the port's main gate; please make sure to establish a price before starting any journey.
Abu Dhabi is renowned for its embroidered linens, Bedouin silver jewellery and traditional coffee pots. Audio and video equipment, cameras and photographic equipment, electrical appliances, watches, fashion, fabrics, perfumes and cosmetics, gold, jewellery and precious stones, antiques, and souvenirs can be found at the Marina Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall, located 6.2 miles (10 kilometres) and 7.4 miles (12 kilometres) from the Mina Zayed Port, respectively. Another option is Abu Dhabi's central souk area, which stretches from Hamdan Street almost to the Corniche. The new souq provides air-conditioned comfort, sheltering a vast network of shop-lined walkways under one roof. Best buys here include gold jewellery, watches, perfumes, electronics, and spices. Most shops are open from 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. - 10 p.m. The local currency is the Dirham.
Abu Dhabi offers everything from traditional Arabic meals to Asian, Indian, Italian, French, Lebanese, and International cuisine, and is renowned for its kebabs, kofta, shawarma and biriyani. Popular local restaurants include the Levondame, BBQ Al Qasr and Le Vendôme Brasserie in the Emirates Palace Hotel, Bord Eau in the Shangri-La Hotel, Frankie's and CuiScene in the Fairmont Bab Al Bahar Hotel, Noodle House in Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Abdel Wahabin in the Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Meat Company in Souk Qaryat Al Beri, Hoi An in the Shangri La Hotel, Fish Market in the Intercontinental Hotel.
Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre
Occupying a sprawling complex in the centre of the city, the Cultural Centre incorporates a library, theatre-auditorium, lecture rooms and an exhibition centre. It was built with traditional Arabian-Islamic architecture, and is surrounded by courtyards and gardens.
Hili Archaeological Park
The Hili Archaeological Park combine an archaeological site with public gardens. The archaeological site has remnants of a Bronze Age settlement dating from 2,500-2,000 B.C., along with a series of ancient tombs, including the Hili Grand Tomb, which stands in the middle of the park. The garden features plants, fountains and a small children's play area.
Al Ain National Museum
Located on the edge of the Al Ain Oasis, the Al Ain National Museum showcases the city's unique heritage and history. The museum is divided into three main sections: Archaeology, Ethnography and Gifts. Its presentations illustrate various aspects of UAE life, and include an interesting collections of Bedouin jewellery, musical instruments, weapons, and a reconstruction of a traditional majlis. The archaeology displays are extensive, and include many artefacts from the nearby Hili Gardens. Some of the displays, such as the one from Garn Bint Saud, date from the 1st millennium B.C. The gifts section houses an unusual collection of gifts that Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan received during his lifetime. It includes golden swords, silver daggers and a golden palm tree. The oasis also features an excellent example of an ancient irrigation system, or falaj.
Al Ain Palace Museum
The former home of the late UAE founder, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Palace was once a political and social hub. Built in 1910, the building became a museum in 1998. Now creatively restored, the museum houses a large collection of artefacts belonging to the ruling family. During your visit, you can tour the private rooms and gardens once occupied by the 'Father of the Nation'.
Al Ain Heritage Heartland
Once a vital green oasis on the caravan route from UAE to Oman, Al Ain is the emirate's heritage heartland, one of the world's oldest continually inhabited settlements and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Al Ain locations include six oasis, the archaeological sites of Bida bint Saud, Hafeet and Hili, ancient circular stone tombs, wells, residential buildings, towers, palaces, and administrative buildings.
Heritage Theme Park
Located at the expansive Al Ain Sportplex, the Al Ain Heritage and Culture Village brings the richness of Emirati culture and diversity together in one place. The heritage-style theme park invites you to journey into the past, and experience traditional UAE life. The village includes an old café, a popular market and two theatres featuring art shows, poetry readings and concerts.
Sir Bani Yas Island Archaeological Site
Open to the public, the Sir Bani Yas Island Archaeological Site is the UAE's only discovered Christian monastery. Believed to have been built around 600 A.D., it was initially unearthed on the island during excavations in 1992. Almost two decades since its discovery and more than a thousand years since it was built, the site enables visitors to experience the rich tapestry that makes up the UAE's fascinating history.
Built in 1816, the Muraijib Fort is the oldest in Al Ain. Comprised of three free-standing buildings, the fort's restored remains are displayed within beautifully landscaped gardens, which are reserved for women and children.
Miraj Islamic Centre
This centre features museum-like displays of unique Islamic art pieces sourced from Egypt, Syria, Iran, India, Iraq, Kashmir, and Russia. Displays include meticulously hand-woven pictorial and bejewelled carpets, silk textiles, jewellery, marble pieces, Arabic calligraphy, engraved vases, and miniature paintings. During your visit, view and learn about the history and origin of the pieces, and the techniques used in making them. The centre also features a rooftop café with panoramic views of the Emirates Palace and Arabian Gulf.
Women's Handicraft Centre
This creative initiative is run by the Abu Dhabi Women's Association as a showcase for local arts and crafts. The small museum within offers a unique opportunity to explore and learn about the local artists' handiwork. There is also an onsite shop on site. The round buildings near the museum are workshops where female artists display distinctive Arabian oils, handmade souvenirs, incense, local dress, silver thread work, and weaving. The centre includes an onsite shop.
Al Jahili Fort
The picturesque Al Jahili Fort is one of the UAE's most historic buildings. The fort was erected in 1891 to defend the city, and protect its precious palm groves. The fort is the former headquarters of the Oman Trucial Scouts, the force that protected the mountain passes and kept inter-tribal peace. The fort also served as a residence for the local governour. Nestled amidst beautifully landscaped gardens, the fort has been carefully restored. It currently houses a permanent exhibition of the work of British adventurer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, and his crossings of the Rub Al Khali Desert during the 1940s.
Manarat Al Saadiyat
This popular venue was built to house the annual Abu Dhabi Art Fair. The event brings to the UAE capital leading art galleries from across the world, and is highlighted by a modern and contemporary art platform with public programmes.
Moved piece-by-piece from Shanghai, the UAE Pavilion welcomed almost two million visitors to the UAE's national exhibition during the World Expo 2010. Designed by London's acclaimed Foster & Partners, this striking, dune-shaped structure is located near Manarat al Saadiyat, adding to the island's cultural attractions. A landmark exhibition and events venue, the pavilion hosts some of the country's most important cultural functions.
Qasr al Hosn Exhibition
This permanent exhibition at the Qasr al Hosn Centre recounts the story of Abu Dhabi and its people through the city's oldest building. A public programme of talks, workshops and historic photographs bring this important monument to life. Contemporary Emirati voices reflect on Abu Dhabi's history and transformation, as well as Qasr al Hosn's key role as a vibrant symbol of Emirati heritage, culture and tradition. Admission is free.
Run by the Emirates Heritage Club, this reconstruction of a traditional oasis village provides an interesting glimpse into the Emirate's past. Traditional aspects of the desert way of life, including a campfire with coffee pots, a goats' hair tent and a falaj irrigation system are attractively displayed in this open-air museum. Included are workshops where craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills, such as metal work and pottery, whilst women are seated weaving and spinning. The craftsmen are happy to share their skills, and may occasionally offer you an opportunity to try them out. The little spice shop is a treat, and offers a wide array of dried herbs and handmade soap.
The Saluki Centre honours the desert traditions of hunting, training and breeding Salukis, a distinctive breed of dog found in desert regions. The centre invites visitors to learn about the unique traits and care of this type of dog.
Al Qattara Arts Centre
The restored Al Qattara Fort in Al Ain is now home to a splendid arts centre and gallery. With aesthetically traditional exterior facades, Al Qattara Arts Centre carefully maintains a blend of traditional architecture with state-of-the-art facilities. It offers hundreds of modern exhibits within its walls, and includes classrooms where arts and culture can be studied, practised and developed by the entire UAE community. The Centre also features a Dry Studio for activities such as music classes and arts and crafts, a Wet Studio for drawing and painting, a fully-equipped Pottery Studio, a Digital Room suitable for photography and computer classes, a spacious Calligraphy Studio, and an Exhibition Hall, Cafe and Library.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and Museum
This unique facility is the only one of its kind in the country. It houses 40 experts in avian medicine, and has acquired a reputation that attracts visiting veterinarians from around the world. View falconry tools and equipment, learn about the treatment and care of falcons, observe a free-flight falcon show, and visit the lovely garden to be photographed with a majestic falcon perched on your arm.
Al Khatim Desert
The Al Khatim Desert is home to the tallest sand dunes in the world. These constantly shifting sand dunes rise to impressive heights of up to 984 feet (300 metres). An ideal location for an exhilarating dune-ride over-and-between the dunes.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The 6th-largest mosque in the world, this architectural work of art accommodates up to 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over 1,000 columns, 24-carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world's largest hand-knotted carpet. The Main Prayer Hall is dominated by one of the world's largest chandeliers, 33 feet (10 metres) in diameter, 49 feet (15 metres) in height and weighing 13.4 tons (12 tonnes). The mosque's first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site. Reflective pools surround the mosque, amplifying its beauty. The striking white-and-gold colours shining in the sun are transformed at night by a unique lightning system that reflects the phases of the moon.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Library
A veritable treasure trove for literature enthusiasts, the specialised, state-of-the-art library at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre promotes intercultural discourse and interaction by showcasing the powerful continuity and traditions inherent in books spanning multiple Arabic and Islamic eras. Highlights include rare Arabic calligraphy collections and copies of the Holy Qur'an printed in Europe between the years 1537-1857. There are also more than 50,000 rare editions of manuscripts and imprints. Located on the 3rd floor of the Northern Minaret of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, this uniquely-designed library also offers panoramic views in all directions.
The Zayed Centre offers a fascinating look into the life of the late Sheikh Zayed, affectionately known as the 'Father of the Nation'. This museum, housed in an Emirati heritage village replete with camels, is an incredible homage to the man who shaped the nation. A photo gallery of Sheikh Zayed and many visiting regional and international royalty and dignitaries lines the walls of the museum, which is also full of personal memorabilia such as his favourite hunting rifles. Taking centre stage are the late-President's cherished vehicles, which he often drove through the city without a bodyguard, and gifts he received from all over the world, such as stuffed lions and cheetahs.
Emirates Palace Hotel
A real iconic Abu Dhabi landmark, this luxurious hotel blends Arabian splendour with the latest technology to create a magical and memorable experience. During daytime, the hotel's golden-sandy colour contrasts with its fresh green gardens, silvery water fountains and the blue sky. At night, the hotel's lighting changes subtly, featuring a majestic rainbow-changing effect over the main dome. The main Palace building stretches over 0.6 miles (one kilometre) from wing-to-wing, and its gardens and surroundings spread across 100 hectares. The hotel features 114 domes, with the central dome at an imposing 238 feet (72.6 metres) in height. Gold, mother of pearl and crystals dominate the interior. The Palace has 1,002 chandeliers, the largest weighing 2.75 tons (2.5 tonnes). Another memorable Palace feature is its two handmade wall display carpets, each portraying the Palace and weighing 1.1 tons (one tonne).
A true architectural triumph, this five-star iconic hotel is built over land and water, and the only one in the world to straddle an F1 race track. The hotel's main feature is its unique 'grid shell', a 719-foot (219-metre) expanse of sweeping curvilinear glass-and-steel covering that drapes over the two hotel towers, and is linked by a bridge that crosses the F1 circuit. The 'grid shell' features a lighting system incorporating video feeds that are transmitted over 5,096 diamond-shaped, colour-changing glass panels. The optical effect is stunning, reflecting thousands of coloured lights against the surrounding sky, sea and desert landscape.
A drive down Khaleej Al Arabi Street brings you to the Capital Gate, a modern-day challenger to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Developed by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, the Capital Gate has been certified as the 'World's Furthest Leaning Man Made Tower' by the Guinness Book of World Records. It leans 18 degrees westward, more than four times that of Pisa's famous Leaning Tower. The 524.9-foot (160-metre), 35-storey tower is a postcard image of Abu Dhabi, and offers outstanding photo opportunities. Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, a premium 5-star business hotel, is located within the iconic building.
A dramatic architectural statement, this five-tower complex invites residents and visitors to live, work, stay, shop, and dine in a single destination with panoramic city and Arabian Gulf views. A benchmark for luxury experiences, the complex includes three residential towers and the 919-foot (280-metre) high, five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel. On Tower 2's 74th floor, the Observation Deck at 300 offers unparalleled cityscape and island views. The Avenue at Etihad Towers is one of the world's most expensive and exclusive collections of boutique shops, with many having luxurious private rooms for VIP shopping.
Sheikh Zayed Bridge
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Zaha Hadid, the striking, 2,762-foot (842 metre) long, 210-foot (64 metre) tall Sheikh Zayed Bridge is said to be the most complex bridge ever built. Its curved arches evoke undulating sand dunes, and features a dynamic lighting design with subtle colours that flow across its spine. Its road decks are suspended from symmetrical steel arches, forming a waveform with a fluid silhouette.
Set upon an elevated peninsula with spectacular city and sea views, this is Arabia's first circular building. The 23-storey, 361-foot (110-metre) tall structure has been named by international building organisation Emporis as 'One of the World's Most Dazzling Corporate Offices' for its innovative design, visual impact and function. The Aldar HQ was also awarded 'Best Futuristic Design' at the 2008 Building Exchange Conference.
Al Hosn Fort
This ancient, renovated fort, formerly the official residence of the Sheikh, now serves as the home of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. The foundation is housed in a delightful modern building of Islamic design, and features arching white colonnades, cool courtyards and restful gardens.
Al Maqtaa Fort
The Al Maqtaa Fort is one of the oldest and most renowned landmarks of Abu Dhabi City. It is located next to the Maqtaa Bridge, which links Abu Dhabi Island to the mainland. The 200-year-old fort and nearby Watch Tower were strategically located on the edge of the island to fend off piracy. A testament to the history of the Emirates, the fort has been restored and houses a tourist information centre. The upstairs balcony offers stunning panoramic views of the Maqtaa Bridge, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Watch Tower.
The Corniche Road spreads across an impressive 3.7 miles (six kilometres) of spectacular manicured waterfront that includes children's play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach, a lifeguarded beach park. This lengthy stretch of beach extends along Corniche Road from near the Hilton Hotel to beyond Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, where you'll find its main entrance. Abu Dhabi's pristine Corniche beachfront has been awarded coveted Blue Flag status, the internationally-renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas that guarantees clean-and-safe bathing water.
Al Ain Oasis
Located in the heart of Al Ain and near the Al Ain National Museum, this impressive oasis is filled with palm plantations, many of which are still working farms. The cool, shady walkways transport you from the heat and noise of the city to a tranquil haven; all you'll hear is birdsong and rustle of palm fronds. Employing a 3,000-year-old falaj irrigation system, Al Ain Oasis features a series of mesmerising water channels that give life to the palm plantations in this inner-city paradise. Spread over 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) and containing more than 147,000 date palms of up to 100 different varieties, choose one of eight separate entrances to explore how countless generations have tapped into underground wells to keep the beautiful city green. Entry is free.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Close to Abu Dhabi International Airport, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is the world's largest and most advanced falcon hospital. Its highlight is a falcon display museum as well as a facility with free-flying falcons.
Guided tours of this award-winning specialist hospital are available. You can visit the luxurious wards where the birds are kept, explore the museum, which gives an insight into the noble desert sport of falconry, or try your hand at the pursuit in the lush gardens.
Hili Fun City
This flagship family entertainment destination in Al Ain has been a firm favourite since opening in 1985, when it became the Gulf's first theme park. Newly renovated, the park boasts 28 attractions for all visitors of all ages, a family show amphitheatre, and picnic and play areas.
Al Ain Camel Market
Located east of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, the Al Ain Camel Market is the last souk of its kind in the UAE. Experience a unique opportunity to observe camels up-close, and see-and-hear traders discussing the price and merits of their animals. You can also tour the pens, and watch locals arriving in pick-up trucks laden with goats and sheep.
Al Ain Zoo
Located near the base of Jebel Hafeet, this 2,224-acre (900-hectare) park features a large animal collection in enclosures that closely resemble their natural habitats. The Al Ain Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals, with at least 30% of its 180 species considered endangered. Giraffe-feeding, camel-riding and the 'Elezba' Petting Zoo are the latest interactive activities. Designed in the style of a local farm, the petting zoo enables visitors to feed and play with sheep, goats, camels, llamas, chicken and ducks, and feed-and-ride camels or picnic in a designated area. The Al Ain Zoo also features plenty of green public spaces for picnics, playgrounds, a cafeteria and train tour of the wildlife area.
A fun-filled, outdoor learning centre designed to inspire children with a love for biodiversity, the Children's Garden highlights the beauty of plants. It features a rolling hill, mixed-use play areas, picnic spots, a flower and native plant garden with species indigenous to the UAE, a recycling garden, and a vegetable, fruit and herb garden. With spectacular African Baobab trees framing the area, the towering trunks offer a genuine horticulture lesson in how specific plants can adapt to dry soil conditions.
Arabian Wildlife Park
Located in Sir Bani Yas Island, the Arabian Wildlife Park is home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals and occupies more than half of the island. Visitors can now get up close and personal, at eye-level, with the island's giraffes from a viewing platform made completely from recycled materials. The park also features numerous Arabian oryx, gazelles and giraffes, along with hyenas and cheetahs.
Classic Cars Museum
Combining history and style, the Classic Cars Museum collects, preserves and exhibits vehicles and informative books related to the evolution of transportation in the UAE. The museum has something for everyone, from seasoned petrol-heads to those with only a fleeting interest in antique automobiles.
Emirates National Auto Museum
Located 28 miles (45 kilometres) south of Abu Dhabi City, this 'pyramid' houses approximately 200 cars belonging to HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan. There is a vast collection of off-road vehicles, classic American cars, the Sheikh's Mercedes rainbow collection and the world's largest truck. A portion of the collection was featured in the BBC television programme, Top Gear.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
It's fast-and-furious fun for all ages at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world's first Ferrari theme park and the largest attraction of its kind. The park tells the Ferrari story with passion and excitement through more than 20 exhilarating and educational rides and attractions, interactive shopping and authentic Italian dining experiences. Beneath its huge, iconic red roof, attractions include: Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 149 mph (240 kmph); Galleria Ferrari, the world's largest Ferrari gallery outside Maranello with an interactive display of cars from 1947 through to the present; and Speed of Magic, a fantastic 4-D adventure through deep green jungles, icy caves and ravines, and into the mouth of a fiery volcano.
An emerging entertainment destination within a 30-minute drive of the UAE capital, Yas Island is home to the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit - host of the annual F1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Explore the Yas Marina Circuit through a series of track day packages, including: 'Driver Experiences'; 'Passenger Experiences'; 'Private Driving Tuition' programmes; and 'Racing License Courses'.
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi
At the circuit's centrepiece is the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, a 5-star iconic hotel, and the only one in the world to straddle an F1 race track whilst being built over land and water. Attracting mega yachts from as far away as Australia for the annual F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Yas Marina is central to Abu Dhabi's ambitions of becoming a strong rival to traditional yachting grounds such as the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Overlooking the stunning Yas Marina F1™ Circuit, Cipriani restaurant features signature dishes from Harry's Bar in Venice and classic Italian favourites.
This futuristic Yas Island waterpark spans an area of around 15 football pitches, with 43 rides, slides and attractions, five of which are one-of-a-kind. Visitors can try the 781-foot (238-metre) long, world's first and largest hydro-magnetic-powered, six-person tornado waterslide. For adrenaline seekers, there are 9.8-foot (three-metre) high waves on Bubble's Barrel, which has the world's largest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards. The Bandit Bomber, a 1,804-foot (550-metre) coaster, is the first with on-board water and laser effects. Riders can shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects, while people below can spray them with water as they pass.
Sitting atop Jebel Dana, the towering core of the park's altitude-defying summit and measuring 26 feet (eight metres) in diameter, the park's gigantic pearl is Yas Island's newest landmark. The park draws on Abu Dhabi's heritage and has 'The Lost Pearl' as its theme. Visitors follow the story of a young Emirati girl on a quest to find a legendary pearl as they make their way around the attractions, which include a souk, restaurants and pearl-diving exhibits.
Yas Links Abu Dhabi
On the west shores of Yas Island is the Yas Links Abu Dhabi, an award-winning golf course designed by Kyle Phillips, one of the world's leading golf course architects. Yas Links is in line with the traditional links golf commonly associated with the coastal towns of Scotland and Ireland. Voted among the 'Top 10 New International Golf Courses' by Golf magazine and one of the world's 'Top 25 Golf Courses' by Golf Digest, Yas Links features a 7,450-yard (6812-metre), Par-72 course, with five teeing grounds per hole and splendid ocean vistas from every hole.
Nestled along Yas Island's tranquil southern shores, Yas Beach is the island's only stretch of beach, and a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy the sun, sea, sand, food, and drinks.
Located just seven minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi and 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, the 10.4-square-mile (27-square-kilometre) Saadiyat Island is undergoing a remarkable transformation into a world-class leisure, residential, business and cultural hub of global proportions, housing the world's largest single concentration of premier cultural assets. These will include the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a performing arts centre, and maritime museum, all designed by Pritzker Prize-winners.
The island's Visitor's Centre, Manarat Al Saadiyat, brings the Saadiyat's vision to life. Two galleries are open to the public: 'The Saadiyat Story', on permanent display, gives visitors an interactive narrative on the history and cultural vision behind the island, and the 'Arts Abu Dhabi Gallery', hosts a series of exhibitions and educational programmes. Saadiyat Island is also home to the striking UAE Pavilion, magnificent oceanfront Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, two five-start properties, the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort - Abu Dhabi and Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, exclusive Saadiyat Beach Club, and white-sand Saadiyat Public Beach.
Sir Bani Yas Island
A nature-based destination alive with wildlife and adventure activities, a 5-star boutique hotel, luxury villas, purpose-built stables and historical sites, Sir Bani Yas Island is one of the eight which make up the Desert Islands in Al Gharbia.
More than half the island makes up the Arabian Wildlife Park. One of region's largest wildlife reserves, the park is home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals, including Arabian oryx, gazelles, giraffes, hyenas, and cheetahs, and offers 4X4 nature and wildlife game drives. Guests can take a 4x4 Nature & Wildlife Drive of the park in specially made vehicles accompanied by expert guides.
The island is also home to three, five-star Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas retreats on the island: the Desert Islands Resort & Spa, Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort, and Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort. Addition features on Sir Bani Yas Island include state-of-the-art stables offering a variety of equestrian activities and lessons, and the UAE's only Christian Monastery, which dates from around 600 A.D.
Al Maryah Island
This developing business, leisure and entertainment hub is Abu Dhabi's new Central Business District. With dramatic turquoise sea views, the luxurious, 5-star Rosewood Abu Dhabi sits at the core of the vibrant Sowwah Square. Adjacent to it, the Galleria has over 130 of the world's most renowned brand outlets.
This residential and commercial project, located off Abu Dhabi Island's coast, is home to one of the Emirate's architectural landmarks, the linked, Stonehenge-style Gate Towers. In the heart of the island, with an imposing central dome, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi was the first French higher-education institution to open in the Gulf, and the university's first international campus.
Inhabited for over 7,000 years and once one of the Gulf's most important pearl diving centres, Delma Island continues to maintain strong links to its maritime heritage. One of the oldest known permanent settlements in the UAE, the island boasts some of the region's earliest evidence of date palm cultivation, along with Mesopotamian pottery and finely-flaked stone tools. With a good supply of fresh water, the island is surprisingly fertile, with many farms and plantations growing a wide variety of produce.
UAE Public Library and Cultural Centre
The UAE Public Library and Cultural Centre is actually three buildings, a 1,000,000-volume National Library, performance auditorium and Conference/Exhibit Centre. The site includes a main entrance court with a central fountain, an amphitheatre for public and children's performances, and a parking facility.
Al Safa Park
Al Safa Park is one of the oldest parks in Abu Dhabi. It's a favourite among sports enthusiasts, and many visitors enjoy playing tennis, volleyball and soccer. The park also features a children's video arcade, Ferris wheel, bumper cars, a maze, and barbecue and picnic areas.
At 403 feet (123 metres), the flagpole on Marina Island across from the Marina Mall is among the world's tallest flagpoles, and has a massive UAE flag hanging off it.
Abu Dhabi is home to several large green spaces, many of which include play areas and equipment for children. Located off Al Salam St. near the Grand Mosque, Khalifa Park is Abu Dhabi's best park by far. Built at a cost of $50 million, the park has its own aquarium, museum, train, play areas, and formal gardens.
Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre
The Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre has become a landmark in the Emirates, and holds cultural events and workshops throughout the year. It has a well-stocked library, children's programs, art exhibitions, benefits, and other culture-related activities that are the hallmark of any city. It's well worth a look.
Events and Festival
Abu Dhabi is home to a wide array of popular, fun-filled annual events and festivals, including the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, Red Bull Air Show, Abu Dhabi Powerboat Race and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
Experience Abu Dhabi's exquisite inland and desert beauty during outdoor activities such as bird-watching, nature walks, bicycling, tennis, horseback-riding, caving, dune rides, exploring the green parks and zoos, and golfing. Abu Dhabi's crystal-clear coastal waters are ideally-suited for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, sea-kayaking, boating, sailing, and a wide array of other popular water sports during your visit.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.