Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Resort
Say Abu Dhabi to most people a few years ago, and they would look at you strangely, or correct you and say “isn’t it Abu Dubai?” assuming you just got the name wrong.
With the recent advertising push by Abu Dhabi tourism and with daily flights on their national carrier Etihad, as well as easy access from Dubai on Emirates consequently Abu Dhabi has brought more to the fore as an incentive destination or as a stop-over city en-route to somewhere else. Indeed, like its neighbour Dubai, Abu Dhabi has decided to place itself as such and then spring-boarding itself into the minds of travellers, as an end destination as well.
Using that strategy, Abu Dhabi is definitely becoming a destination in the Middle East to be reckoned with. Similar to Dubai, it offers world-class infrastructure, a culture very tolerant of western visitors, high-quality hotels, beaches and desert, and a range of activities.
Where Dubai can be seen as the flashy younger brother, where everything needs to be bigger, faster, taller, brighter, etc., Abu Dhabi, would be the older sister, with a little more elegance and experience behind her. Here the city is well planned, with a distinct business and leisure areas. Roads are wide and even in peak hour, congestion is at a minimum.
Emirate’s Palace 18ct gold cappuccinos
Good quality hotels abound across the spectrum of levels, from entry level rooms to well-known international brands, and over the top WOW spots such as The Emirate’s Palace with its 18ct gold cappuccinos. With islands setup specifically for visitors, and away from the centre, there is no need to even go into the business area. Yas Island offers activities to keep you busy, busy, busy! From F1 grand Prix circuit where you can enjoy fast-paced activities, Ferrari World with its Guinness World Record holding rollercoaster, to cooling off at Yas Waterworld with its looping waterslide! If this is too much adrenalin, then how about some shopping at the largest Ikea branch in the Middle East or 18 holes at an award winning golf course. This place is all about taking your breath away.
For a change of pace, visit Saadiyat Island with its luxury beach front hotels, world-class shopping, and a Gary Player designed beach front golf course. This is the other side of the coin from Yas, where sand gazelles are often seen roaming the golf course, and dolphins surf the waves off the island, here you sit back and relax, and remember how to breathe.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
This is the UAE, and nothing stays still for long…asthe older of the developed emirates, Abu Dhabi feels a certain responsibility towards culture, both international and local. The exquisite Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque greets you as you enter the city, and a visit there is a must. Coming soon for your enjoyment are the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
And if none of those appeals, and you’re looking for something more off the beaten track, how about staying a few nights at Zaya Nurai Island. A 15-minute boat ride brings you to this lovely private island, with a selection of accommodation to choose from, you really can take the time to feel the sand between your toes and the wind in your hair. Fabulous food and cocktails by the pool are followed by movies under the stars.
On the other side of the emirate is the Empty Quarter, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Resort. Here visitors feel like they’ve stepped into the pages of 1001 Arabian Nights. Welcomed with a traditional drink of milk sweetened with dates, lanterns light your way to dinners under Bedouin tents, and the call of camel herders welcome the new day.
So when you’re over the flash and glitter of Dubai, or you’re looking for a destination that is at once accessible, yet out of this world, try this extraordinary spot. You will not be sorry.
Abu Dhabi Tourism – http://visitabudhabi.ae/en/default.aspx