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The capital of the UAE got off to a relatively slow start. With abundant oil reserves, the sense of urgency to diversify the economy was practically non-existent. But in true Emirati style, when Abu Dhabi put tourism on its agenda, it did so with a bang, coming up with several initiatives meant to increase tourist numbers. Not surprising then that Sir Bani Yas Island, one of the capital’s many natural islands, was named by The Guardian early this year as one of the top 40 destinations to visit.
So, what can you do in Abu Dhabi? The most productive days start with a little quality quiet time. And what better place to get that than at the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a fitting tribute to the founder of the country? With its 24-carat gold chandelier that also happens to be the world’s largest and its more than 80 domes in varying sizes that change color with the phases of the moon, the mosque is paradoxically a palatial place of worship. There is also the Emirates Palace with its amazing architecture and several cultural and art addresses for tourists to check.
You can also head for the popular Abu Dhabi Corniche for a lap or two. Venues are also available for you to indulge in different water sports, or you may opt for kayaking tours along the mangroves. For those looking for the next adrenaline rush, the world’s fastest roller coaster at the Ferrari World should provide a little over the recommended dosage. Just a walk and a skip away from Ferrari World, a day trip to Yas Waterworld should get you a year’s supply of endorphins.
Not an emirate to leave the animal lovers out, the world’s largest award-winning Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital provides guided tours. The garden city of Al Ain, which also falls under the emirate, features a zoo that has a 30% population of endangered species. For an opportunity to get up close and personal with the ship of the desert, nothing beats the city’s camel market. Alternatively, the Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island is the Middle East’s version of a game park, and features giraffes, gazelles and cheetahs.
* Abu Dhabi’s diverse attractions attract tourists of all ages
* Yas Island is frequented by thrill seekers from around the world
* The world’s sophisticated falcon hospital provides guided tours
Learn why Yas Island is frequented by thrill seekers from around the world.
Source: Bushra Hameduddin, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer