190505 kayaking at Louvre Abu Dhabi
Kayaking at Louvre Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Art and adventure beckons families this week in Abu Dhabi. Whether you want to brush up on your history lesson or just enroll the kids in a workshop, here’s a look at your options when you are in the emirate.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

This sprawling museum on Saadiyat Island has a180-metre eight-layer star-latticed dome to shade you from errant sunlight in case of a warm day. It’s also home to a 9,200-square-metre series of galleries with exhibits from across the globe as well as classes for everyone, no matter their ages. Want to explore the museum in a slightly different way? Take a kayak tour that will ferry you across the still waters of the museum and give you an ace look at the architectural marvel.

Qasr Al Hosn

Speaking of a cultural rendezvous, this – the home of the oldest building in Abu Dhabi, the watchtower (1970) – has got to be on the agenda for any history buff. The compound also stands an Inner Fort (1795) and an Outer Palace (1939-45). The monument was transformed into a museum back in 2018 after an intensive renovation project and offers interesting learning opportunities. If your child likes to paint or sketch, they may also like to create their own etchings of the fort grounds. When here, stop over at the House of Artisans for a quick look at Emirati arts and crafts and workshops for the young ones that teach them skills such as calligraphy and pottery.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Another must-visit on the cultural scale is one of the largest mosques in the world where daily guided tours not only delve into Emirati culture but also belief systems. There are calligraphy verses etched into marble domes, reflective pools, chandeliers, mosaic artworks and the world’s largest hand-knit carpet.

Qasr Al Watan

Want to give the kids – and let’s face it, yourself – a look at the Presidential Palace? Now you can when you visit Qasr Al Watan, which is home to the largest dome in the country at a height equal to seven stories and with the diameter of 37 metres. Surrounded by lush gardens and grand archways, the structure’s rooms have been divided into exhibition points that showcase art, architecture and bilateral relations – there’s a giant hall with the gifts given by various countries to the UAE lie under glass covers. There’s also a Banquet Room with ornate pale grey chairs (all the way from Turkey) and place settings to give you an idea of what a dinner party here may look like.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

Here’s an odd fact about Flamingos – it’s the algae they are so fond of eating that turn their skin and feathers pink. You can witness it yourself when you head to this reserve where about 4,000 of them live during autumn and spring. Head on one of the walking trails – your options are 1.5km or 3km – and you’ll see them and some of the more than 250 species of birds, 37 types of plants and a whole lot of water animals.

Jabal Hafit National Park

One of the best ways to inculcate a love for all creatures big and small is to introduce – even if it’s from afar - the tots to them. Head to Abu Dhabi’s second highest peak, 1,240 metres tall, and you can see endangered beasts such as Blandford’s Fox, Brandt’s Hedgehog, Arabian Tahr and Egyptian Vulture; 500 tombs that date back 5,000 years; and some rare plants such as the Dwarf Palm. As an added bonus, take your camping supplies along – or pick a glamping experience with a tour operator - and relax under moonlight.

Warehouse 421

At this arts and design centre, you can not only see artistic work displayed, you can create it yourself thanks to rotating workshops – some free, others paid – learn dance and drama and even photography.

Entering Abu Dhabi
The Abu Dhabi Government Media office website lists as of February 15 at 4.45pm, the following entry requirements for those wanting to head to Abu Dhabi from within the UAE:
Effective December 30, 2021, entering the emirate from within the UAE requires showing green status on Alhosn App for vaccinated people. Unvaccinated individuals are required to present a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours.