Why the UAE deserves to be on the bucket list
Why the UAE deserves to be on your bucket-list.
Abu Dhabi is revving up for an exciting period of change and development in the next few years, with new attractions, experiences, and new hotels currently in the pipeline. Which isn’t to suggest that Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE isn’t already a destination in its own right, because it most certainly is.
Case in point: Dubai.
But Abu Dhabi in particular has yet to become fully homogenised – it’s on its way, but not just there yet – which makes it all the more appealing to Aussies keen on experiencing a rich culture of exotic traditions and even more exotic landscapes. After all, real holiday experiences come from being challenged and put out of your comfort zone.
But of course, you’ll want to pick the right hotel for your stay – in the right area, up to your standards, amazing customer service, etc., etc. With all this in mind, here’s a mini guide to exploring the best of the UAE right now and where you should stay.
MARVEL AT ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURAL FLAIR
Not only is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi considered to be the most important mosque in the country, but it’s also one of the most stunning examples of Islamic architecture, with its brilliant white marble a sight to behold. The mosque was designed and built using artisans and materials from all over the planet in an effort to unite the world, and can accommodate over 40,000 worshippers.
The excellent (and nearby) five-star Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas is set on a private beach with commanding view of the turquoise Arabian Gulf.
WITNESS TRADITIONAL DESERT HUNTING SPECTACLES
For centuries, nomadic tribes living in the UAE and beyond have practiced the ancient art of desert hunting using falcons and salukis – a breed of dog native to the region. Working side by side, falcons swoop on the prey whilst the salukis race for the bait.
The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter offers its guests the chance to witness this amazing spectacle twice daily. This five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi is the ultimate in luxury, designed to look like a desert oasis.
TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Take a trip to Al Jahili Fort and walk around its immaculately maintained gardens and discover one of the UAE’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1891 and built to defend against marauding tribes and protect its precious palm groves. Also worth a visit is the 100-year-old Qasr Al Muwaiji – the birthplace of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.
The Al Ain Palace is a gorgeous three-star property only a stone’s throw from both of these historical sites.
GO SHOPPING IN A TRADITIONAL SOUK
Spending a morning or afternoon shopping in one of the UAE’s traditional souks (markets) where colourful spices sit next to shops selling gold and precious stones, electronic goods, souvenirs and clothing. The Souk Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai is a modern take on the traditional souk, and makes for a perfect introduction to the joys of shopping souk-style. The exclusive Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel is a mere 15-minute taxi ride from the market.