It’s got a romantic origin story; a group of nomads followed an antelope to fresh water. And the ‘Land of Gazelle’, or Abu Dhabi, was born. Kitted out with manicured lawns and high-rises, the desert city has revamped the word oasis.
As part of our ongoing series, Gulf News tabloid! looks at the various ways to discover the city.
If you thought that sand, sun and shopping were the only things to do in the capital of the UAE, prepare to be thoroughly embarrassed. Race past the dunes and into the capital resort of Anantara for a day out with a family or just to flex your muscles. On offer is the Nature and Wildlife Walk that sees you and an experienced guide sauntering down lush walkways and, sometimes, grit-laden roads to capture wild animals — such as giraffes — on your camera, of course.
Or, if you consider yourself an amateur archeologist, take on the Wadi Walk; you’ll pass naturally occurring salt-dome hilltops and discover ancient fossils and minerals on your by-the-foot adventure.
Details: Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resorts Cost Dh145 per adult; Dh75 per child
A repository for art and its contemplation, visiting Abu Dhabi without scouring the Louvre does not bear thinking about.
In keeping with its French origins, the largest art museum in the region offers a way to bend space and time, through a wander past artefacts and exhibits. Until April 7 you can even trace the origins of the Paris-based museum — the show is called From One Louvre to Another — and how it came to be.
On this tour, wear very, very comfortable shoes and head to the museum for about two hours with your guide. After your information-filled stroll, you will be led to Abu Dhabi’s famed Grand Mosque, with 80 domes, more than 1,000 columns, gold-plated chandeliers and the world’s largest handwoven carpet. This mosque can accommodate about 40,000 people at a time — big and beautiful, typical.
Details: Ocean Air Travels Cost Dh334.22, including pick-up from Dubai
Walk like a local
What better way to see a place than through the eyes of a citizen? Join Heba Bin Redha for a walk around Al Mushrif Neighbourhood, one of the city’s oldest areas and brimming with local flavour.
Here you can learn about Emirati lifestyle, family traditions, culture, and history, and see what a typical Majlis — or gathering area for the community — looks like. This one-to-two hour walk comes with dates and water — the UAE way to stay hydrated and healthy.
Details: Heba Bin Redha Cost Dh300
Hungry for adventure?
There is no rest for the weary on this sole-full trip. Nip down to traditional outlets for your fast — and rather indulgent — introduction to Emirati cuisine. The experience includes a shared lunch or dinner, Arabic sweets and coffee.
Plus it means you get a three-hour comprehensive guide on food, flavours and most accessible eateries in Abu Dhabi. Just go with an appetite.
Details: Saleh Al AlAmeri Cost Dh100
Taking things apart — brick by brick
While the dynamism of Abu Dhabi may be one of its best qualities, the ever changing landscape can get a bit daunting. Get in front of the blueprint with guides who specialise in architecture. They add social, cultural and historical context to the areas, for discovery — plus it helps in mnemonics.
Details: Contact Guiding Architects
Go fish — for pearls
Get the kids, get your friends and head out for a day of edutainment with this one. Not only do you get to sail on a traditional jalboot (Arab pearling dhow) and take in the views of the Eastern Mangroves you also get to learn about pearl diving. From demonstrations on diving for the pearls to shucking an oyster and harvesting a pearl — which you get to keep — this is a great way to learn about the region and its people.
Details: Eastern Mangrove Hotel & Spa by Anantara Cost Dh500