Abu Dhabi is not only the country’s capital, but it also occupies approximately 80% of its territory. The city is also the home of the UAE’s president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. In fact, all of the country’s presidents must be from the Al Nahyan family, which is from Abu Dhabi. This makes Abu Dhabi perhaps the most important city in the country politically, geographically and historically. When visiting the UAE, seeing – and even staying – in the capital is a must!
Anyone who has been to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi will agree that the capital is much more traditional than the vastly more touristy city of Dubai. In Abu Dhabi, visitors will be more in touch with the local culture, being around locals much more often. This is the best place to see the Emirati costumes, garments and traditions. Whereas in Dubai one would most likely be surrounded by expats and other tourists, Abu Dhabi offers a more traditional experience.
Abu Dhabi has become known for amazing concerts. The capital has hosted some household names in music internationally such as Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Rihanna and Lionel Richie. Events such as Beats On The Beach have made Abu Dhabi the UAE’s most important hub for live music. The city has an event heavy calendar that includes music festivals, cultural happenings and sporting events, attracting people from all over the world.
A big part of Abu Dhabi is an archipelago of natural islands, one of those islands being Sir Bani Yas Island. This island located only 170km off the coast of Abu Dhabi is a true wildlife paradise in the middle of a region that is mostly known for its deserts. Sir Bani Yas Island has impressive fauna and flora, as well as unlikely animals such as cheetahs and hyenas. The natural beauty of the island is a must see for all nature lovers visiting the UAE, combining a luxurious resort experience with natural surroundings.
For those who are impressed by the Burj Al Arab, the Emirates Palace will be a true jaw-dropping sight. This hotel, better known as a palace, is definitely the most luxurious in the entire UAE. The hotel has gone down in history as the most expensive to ever be built, costing approximately $3 billion to construct. It is also the best spot in Abu Dhabi to sip on delicious cappuccino – with flakes of real gold! Yes, Le Cafe at the Emirates Palace offers visitors the chance to try a golden cappuccino, making this a must visit destination.
Emirates Palace, West Corniche Road, +971 2 690 9000
Anyone who has visited Dubai during peak season can confirm this – the city is packed! Seeing that this is a vastly popular tourist destination, people from all over the world fly to Dubai during the months of October-March in order to spend some time in the city. Airports are packed, hotels are super expensive and even just buying a ticket to go up the Burj Khalifa needs to be done months in advance. Abu Dhabi has attractions that are just as fun and exciting as Dubai, with much less hassle, making it a much better destination during peak season.
Abu Dhabi has made itself known worldwide for holding Formula 1 races. The capital has a state-of-the-art, luxurious racing circuit and some of the most famous races in the world have taken place here. Yas Marina Circuit is definitely an attraction to see – and maybe even race in. The circuit offers experiences for those who don’t want to spectate only, you can rent cars and actually race in the circuit. Definitely makes the trip to Abu Dhabi worth it!
Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, +971 2 659 9800
While everyone around is saying they have been to Dubai and seen Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa, anyone who choose to visit Abu Dhabi will be able to share stories of a truly authentic and unusual holiday. Everyone who has been to the UAE has had the chance to see the Burj Al Arab, but not all got to contemplate the skyline from Fast and Furious 7. Choosing Abu Dhabi over Dubai will guarantee new and unique stories to share with those back home.