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Abu Dhabi is the federal capital and center of government in the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and one of the most modern cities in the world.
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Points of Interest in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi offers little in the way of historical or cultural sights but it certainly isn’t lacking in attractions and many of them are free.
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, ☎ +971 2 4416444. Sat-Thu 9AM-10PM. The 8th largest mosque in the world. Friday is closed for worshipers. You can easily get there by public bus. Ask the bus driver to let you know once you get there. The public bus stop is a 100 metres before the mosque and after that is no stop for the next 5km.The Mosque Center offers several free tours through the mosque everyday. Times vary on a daily basis, so check the homepage. As it is a place for worshipers, dress conservatively (ladies need to wear a scarf).
- Corniche. Abu Dhabi's spectacular waterfront stretches for miles from the Breakwater near Marina Shopping Mall almost up to the Mina Zayed port. It has a walkway for the entire length, and certain stretches have sandy beaches. There are also many activities like go-cart riding, playgrounds and even stages for shows. All this against a backdrop of the impressive towers of downtown Abu Dhabi. Come in the evening and you feel as if the whole of Abu Dhabi have come here for their evening walk.
- Flagpole. At 123m, this is among the world's tallest flagpoles, and you won't miss the massive UAE flag hanging off it. On Marina Island across from Marina Mall.
Abu Dhabi has several large green spaces, many of which include play areas and equipment for children, and the city is studded with lovely fountains, swathes of neon light, and the occasional sculpture.
- Khalifa Park (off Al Salam St (8th) near the Grand Mosque). The best park by far, built at a cost of $50 million. Has its own aquarium, museum, train, play parks and formal gardens.
- Cultural Events The Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre has become a landmark in the Emirates and holds cultural events and workshops throughout the year. It has a well-stocked library, children's programs, art exhibitions, benefits, and other culture-related activities that are the hallmark of any city. It's well worth a look.
There are a vast number of projects coming up in Abu Dhabi.
- Saadiyat Island is being developed into a cultural haven (see Understand).
- Yas Island: The alpha-male motorsports den of Yas Island will feature a world-class motor sports racetrack which held the final Formula 1 race of the 2009 season and is on the race calendar for 2010 - the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix , a Ferrari theme park, water park, and — of course — enormous shopping malls.
- Lulu Islands are a group of artificial islands, already built just offshore at great expense, but currently sitting there doing absolutely nothing after a tourism venture failed to even start construction.
About Abu Dhabi
The city has an arid climate, with very hot temperatures in the summer.
- Swimming Nearly all hotels and private clubs in Abu Dhabi offer swimming facilities, usually in the form of private beaches. You can pay for a day's use, or for a year's. Another, notably cheaper, option is The Club, an organization geared towards expatriates.
- Lessons Some hotels also offer dance lessons, aerobics classes, and other physical entertainment.
- Desert Safari trips are a tourist but fun experience. They must be booked ahead, but can often be booked as late as the day before, most hotel receptionists can arrange this for you. Trips start late afternoon and end late evening. You will be collected from your hotel and driven to the desert in a 4 x4 vehicle. Most packages include a bone-rattling drive over the dunes, a short camel ride, a mediocre Arabic buffet and a belly dancer. Note that the belly dancer is normally only included if there are enough of you in your party so enquire at the time of booking. Another option would be renting/buying a 4x4 and joining the many growing 4x4 clubs in the UAE. Most popular off them is the Abu Dhabi 4x4 offroad club  AKA AD4x4 that offers a free learning experience for all newcomers. The club consists of all nationalities and is currently active with over 2000 members and schedule trips weekly to suit all levels of driving skills.
- The official sport of the Emirates is shopping, and Abu Dhabi offers plenty of opportunity in this area.
- Abu Dhabi Classics Run - Beat Beethoven (Sept 29th - Oct 1st 2010; Corniche Beach, Abu Dhabi). Charity event, proceeds go to music education and diabetes prevention programs.
Helicopter Tour Board a luxurious 6-seater Eurocopter EC130 B4 and Discover Abu Dhabi from a birds' eye view with Falcon Aviation Services.Tours operate daily from 9AM to 5PM out of the Marina Mall Terminal. Reservations recommended (tours can be booked on an individual or private basis)
Although Abu Dhabi hosts to a wide range of palates and ethnicities, there isn't much variety when it comes to cuisine. Indian food is relatively cheap, and there are a few Chinese chain restaurants with reasonable prices. Hotel restaurants are usually the most expensive. The city is home to all manner of fast food like McDonald's and Hardees, but there is little call for most people to eat at those places.
The fun thing about Abu Dhabi is that everywhere, literally from tiny falafel shacks to the cushy hotel restaurants to Burger King, delivers to anywhere in the city. Delivery is quick and reliable, and usually doesn't cost extra.
Vegetarians will find the city's selection of meals very satisfying. Vegetable and bean-heavy native dishes, the array of splendid pure vegetarian Indian cuisine, and the ready availability of fresh salads make eating in Abu Dhabi a stress-free experience. Strict vegans may have a little difficulty communicating their precise demands, but most places offer vegan dishes and are always willing to accommodate a paying customer. The best choice for pure Vegans would be one of the many Indian veg restaurants like Evergreen, Sangeetha in Tourist Club area.
Visitors should always check the Islamic calendar to determine whether they will be visiting during the month of Ramadan. Since Muslims fast during daylight hours, restaurants are, by law, closed during the day. It is also against the law to eat or drink anything, even water, in public and tourists (and non-Muslim residents) have been arrested and given fines. Large hotels generally have one restaurant open during the day to serve meals to non-Muslims. During the evening, however, it's quite a different story, as the festive atmosphere of iftar (breaking the fast) begins and residents gather for lavish, Thanksgiving-like meals. As long as you don't mind tiding yourself over in private, the evening meals are magnificent.
- The Olive Branch, Mafraq - Abu Dhabi, ☎ +971 2 659666. Mafraq’s all day restaurant serves up fresh Mediterranean cuisine borrowing influence from various regions, including France, Spain and Turkey. The buffet is prepared with the freshest of ingredients and the interior décor is equally breezy and funky.
Open 24 hours daily serving buffet and an A La Carte menu Buffet serving times: Breakfast 06.00 - 10.30
- hunter’s b&r, Mafraq - Abu Dhabi, ☎ +971 2 659666. The international bar and restaurant showcases a new look, taking on a modern twist with green brick walls, solid wood tables and numerous flat screen TVs showing all the latest sporting action. The menu is packed with sumptuous mains and tempting nibbles to accompany the thirst quenching bevies on tap. Ideal for after work drinks, or an evening with friends, hunter’s b&r offers a casual environment with a social buzz.
Open daily from noon to 02.30 with food served throughout
- Rimal, Mafraq - Abu Dhabi, ☎ +971 2 659666. The new Rimal Asian fusion bar serves up oriental dishes in an authentic atmosphere with a modern edge. Taste the delicious flavours from Korea, China and Japan in this Asian inspired outlet, complete with Sake and signature cocktails. The perfect place to enjoy an evening with friends.
Open daily from noon to 02.30 with food served till midnight
- Oasis Courtyard, Mafraq - Abu Dhabi. This poolside bar and restaurant serves refreshing drinks under the sun and a wide selection of snacks. The swim-up bar in the pool offers another level of refreshment, with dedicated bartenders who blend and whip sensational cocktail creations. Shisha is also available in a melody of flavours, perfect for an afternoon or evening with friends.
Open daily from noon to 21.00 with food served throughout.
- The Burlington Grill, Mafraq Abu Dhabi, ☎ +971 2 659666. The hotel’s signature grill restaurant serves up succulent grilled meat and seafood steaks. The red leather interior, coupled with a show kitchen delivers a treat for all the senses. Choose from an array of starters and salads including crab cakes and goats cheese tartlets, dig into American-style Louisiana fish gumbo, or choose an al dente risotto. The main event brings a hefty offering of grilled fish, rack of lamb and meaty steaks complemented by a selection of daily chef’s specials. With al fresco dining on the terrace, an aperitif bar and a knowledgeable team, The Burlington Grill will soon become an Abu Dhabi favourite.
Opening Hours: Lunch noon – 15.00 and Dinner 19.00 – midnight
Some of the cheapest (but not necessarily good) food in the city can be found at its many Indian restaurants. Portions are almost always generous, prices low, and quality excellent. Set meals of rice, fish curry, lentil curry (dhal), peppery soup (rasam), a vegetable side dish and perhaps a small fried fish, served on a large steel tray (thali) with little steel bowls for the accompaniments, can go for as low as Dhs.5.
- Arabian Palace (behind Baynunah Tower), ☎ +971 2 6343396. The decor is basic and the food, while cheap and filling, is forgettable, but the shisha here is excellent. Puff up a pipe, order their excellent "lemon with mint" drink and gaze at the skyscrapers. Dh 50.
- Anand Vegetarian Restaurant, Hamdan Street (behind Dunia Finance Building and Al Mansouri Plaza), ☎ +971 2 6775599. This is a pure veg Gujarati (North Indian) style restaurant. The demand for Puri Bhaji (a deep fried bread and Potato and Chick Pea veg dish) is so great that you will have to wait your turn but it's worth it. There is a special part for ladies and families. Friday lunch with sweets and as much Puri as you want for only at Dhs 12.
Sometimes you will have to wait for 10 mins to get a roti. Dhs.10 per person Eat all you can and various.
- Nalas Aappakadai Restaurant (Behind the NDC building on Salam St). Speciality for Aappam & Excellent South Indian food from the Chettinad cuisine, Chinese & Tandoor
- Cettinad Restaurant (Behind Eldorado cinema/National cinema, in between Hamdan and Electra St, next to Abudhabi Floor Mill), ☎ +971 2 6777699, +971 2 6780002. Authentic Chettinad food available at reasonable price. Also serving North Indian,Chinese,Tandoor and Mughalai food. Both vegetarian and non vegetarian foods are available. Cettinad Restaurant branch is next to the taxi station flyover traffic light, on the back isde of Brightway advertisement building, +971 24454331, +971 2 4454332
- Al Safadi (Sheik Zayed Road Khalidiya Area). In an older building in one of the older & more walkable parts of Abu Dhabi, Al Safadi is a Lebanese gem for Shawarma: both lamb and chicken. Shawarma sandwiches for 5 AED each. Each entree comes with a huge plate of greens, pickles, peppers and Lebanese bread. Dh 50.
- Zen, Al Ain Palace Hotel, ☎ +971 2 6794777. 12PM-3PM, 7PM-12AM. The more widely known and older Japanese restaurant, serving traditional Japanese foods and drinks. The fine dining experience is accompanied with a great decor.
Only restaurants located in hotels are allowed to serve alcohol. Therefore, all nightlife is associated with hotels. The drinking age is 21, but most places don't care. Unlike some other Middle Eastern nations, the bars in Abu Dhabi will be able to accommodate most drink orders.
Technically, you are supposed to purchase a permit to buy alcohol for private storage, although Spinney's and other liquor stores usually take proof that you aren't a local Muslim (a military ID or driver's license.)
- Hemingway's, Hilton Abu Dhabi (Corniche West) – There are three different places inside. The main restaurant has a good tex-mex menu, a wide selection of beer on tap and features live music in the evening. Jazz Bar – The second venue, has great food and a good jazz band. The band normally changes every six months or so, but the quality is consistent and they take requests. The bartenders normally put on a show by tossing bottles around while mixing a mean cocktail. The third place is Cinnabar, a nightclub that normally gets going after midnight, although it can be a nice place for a quiet drink early in the evening, even though bartenders there can be rude. The music is mostly house/club, although they have a salsa night.
- The Captain's Arms Le Meridien (Eastern Abu Dhabi) – Traditional British pub located in the hotel courtyard. The pub features traditional food and a great selection of beer on tap. The large terrace is great during the cooler months of the year. A typical hang-out for the expat crowd, but try to get there early, as it attracts a large after-work crowd.
- Wakatua, Le Meridien (Eastern Abu Dhabi) is a Polynesian-themed cocktail bar located at the far end of the courtyard, right on the water. The cocktails are amazing. The Navy Grog is highly recommended. It has a nice view at night, over the water.
- Rock Bottom, at the Capital Hotel, is one of the most popular night club locations in all of Abu Dhabi. It stays open later than most venues, and is cheaper. If you get there early enough, they have decent food you can enjoy in the restaurant area. They have both a live band and an excellent DJ, along with black lights and lasers. There is even a hot dog stand later in the night, providing some delicious drunk snacks. Thur nights can get extremely crowded, be warned.
- The Embassy is a fairly new nightclub in The Emirates Palace Hotel. Though drinks are expensive, it is worth a visit. The grand hotel is a must-see in Abu Dhabi and the actual club is nicely decorated, comfortable, has great service, a balcony overlooking the hotel grounds, and provides a fun time with great music and very colorful laser shows.
- Sax is a popular night club located in The Royal Meridian Hotel (not to be confused with Le Meridian Hotel). Next door to the restaurant/bar "Oceans". Sax is a beautifully decorated club with sleek black marble floors, two bars, a DJ, and depending on the time, a jazz band. The club is often very loud and very dark with little more than lasers lighting the room. It's not a place to go if you expect to talk at all, at least not on a weekend night. Collared shirts are required for men, and sneakers usually don't pass the bouncers either. It's not uncommon to have to pay an entry fee. There are free drinks for the ladies on Wednesday nights, so expect it to be crowded.
- PJ's is a 'traditional' Irish Pub in the Royal Meridian Hotel, boasting brunch buffets and a long happy hour. The majority of the guests are usually English/British/American/Australian. There is something entertaining going on every day of the week, from 'Quiz Night' to 'Ladies Night'. If you want to start drinking early, this is the place to go. No one will bat an eye if you order beer with brunch, and you'll probably find yourself staying for more than one round. The music earlier in the day is a mix of oldies and rock with faster-tempo songs for the late night crowd. This is also a great place to come to watch sports, as the quiet daytime atmosphere and televisions throughout ensure a pleasant experience. The outdoor seating near the hotel's pool is also a great asset on cooler days.
- Zenith at the Sheraton Corniche is nicely decorated club and has a nice sized dance floor. If you like the local Abu Dhabi crowd and Arabic music, this is a great place to go. The drinks can be expensive,but the presentation is entertaining. Just around the corner is a quiet outside venue where you can drink and smoke sheesha near a pond.
- Trader Vic's is a famous cocktail bar/restaurant located in The Beach Rotana Hotel (connected to The Abu Dhabi Mall). The flattering lighting, interesting menu, and soft but fun island music make this a great place for a date or hanging out with people you actually want to talk to. The cocktail menu is pages long, and ordering a complicated fruity concoction is a must. The drinks may be a little on the expensive side at times, but the atmostphere is great. Try ordering one of their two or four person drinks, which come in a giant fishbowl. They're a lot of fun if you don't mind sharing!
- 49ers is a steakhouse/bar. It is often quoted as "More of a meat market than a steakhouse" because of its solid reputation for prostitution. I wouldn't recommend a non-prostitute woman going there. It is uncomfortable and the men in the bar will probably assume you are for sale. The Novotel Hotel and The Sands Hotel are also notorious for their nightclubs that men frequent when looking to purchase a date for the night.
- Heroes is a friendly sports grill/bar. Located in The Crowne Hotel's basement, it offers reasonable meals, and fair drink prices. The bar is often full of men and women watching various sports games on television. Later at night they have a DJ and a live band that play softer rock songs. It is a pleasant place to hang out with friends, though the lack of windows or ventilation can make it stuffy and smoke-filled quickly.
- Mardi Gras is a small restaurant/bar located in The Capital Hotel. Its ambiance reminds one of a spa. The service is good, the drinks are reasonable, and the food is tasty. The band often leaves much to be desired, and the DJ is worse.
- The Yacht Club at the Intercontinental Hotel is newer bar/restaurant, and offers a gorgeous view of the sunset over the marina if you sit outside. Inside has a very modern, minimalistic feel. The cocktails are delicious, but expensive.
- Left Bank at the Souk at the Shangrila Hotel (between the two bridges)is a popular and lively spot. It serves a wide range of interesting cocktails (try the pineapple-ginger collins) as well as nicely prepared and presented meals. They are still new so they are trying a little harder right now, and the service tends to be pretty good. Worth the 15 to 20-minute trip out of the downtown core.
- Rabbit Hutch. The dedicated British Embassy Rabbit Hutch is a nice pub with music, a pool and a small play area for children. Although you have to know someone on the inside to get into this rather exclusive pub, the British friends and the refreshing pool is definitely worth it. They do all sorts of drinks, but don't ask for a martini, on the rocks, shaken not stirred.
- Lebinese Flower (downtown Abu Dhabi). Great food and nice atmosphere.
- arkadia (marina club), marina club,tourist club area (besides abu dhabi mall), ☎ +971 558814479. 8PM -3AM. one of the hottest club in town,just check it out and you'll surely enjoy your night with their resident band "wired to the floor" and dj onnie. 50dhs below.
- harvesters (sands hotel), electra street, abu dhabi. 12pm until 3am. great english pub, free pool, dart boards, multiple screens showing sports, excellent fish and chips as well as other English style meals, friendly staff, English band every night except Sundays, quiz nights every Tuesday and possibly the cheapest beer in town.
Abu Dhabi is a compulsive shopper's dream. There are several malls, most of which have the same stores as other malls. Besides establishments aimed at locals, malls also include popular foreign chain stores, as well as designer places. Many visitors will be surprised at the female fashion dichotomy - while local custom calls for women to be covered in public, most stores sell short skirts and halter tops alongside the more sedate floor-length skirts and high-necked shirts.
- Abu Dhabi Mall is a three story shopping mall located in Tourist Club Area, adjacent to the Beach Rotana Hotel.
- Marina Mall boasts a musical fountain and ceilings that thunder and rain. It is in the Water Breaker area near the magnificent Emirates Palace. It also contains one of two Carrefour hypermarkets in town.
- Al Wahda Mall, opened in 2007, is a large, modern mall in the center of downtown (11th and 4th Streets). Stores are high-end, the food court is extensive, and the LuLu Hypermart in the basement is probably the largest grocery and dry goods store in, well, anywhere.
- Khalidiya Mall. Khalidiya mall is a nice place to visit. The droll fashion stores may grip you for maybe several seconds, but then the obvious lack of things to do kicks in. However, the food court is popular, alongside New York Fries, Chili's and a Dunkin' Donuts + Baskin Robbins.
Downstairs there is an extortionate Krispy Kreme and Starbucks, and a what looks to be an Indian/Arabian cuisine restaurant, which seems good but looks to be unpopular.
There are also many small, independent stores around the city. On the bottom floor of one building, a person can purchase fancy chocolates, computer parts, antiques, and clothing. It is better to purchase things like carpets, art, native jewelry, and antiques at the independent or souk-like places than at the malls, as the price will be lower and the shopkeepers more willing to haggle.
Bargaining is a big part of shopping in the Emirates, but be prudent. Don't bargain at Marks and Spencer or Hang Ten. Save your discounting skills for independent shops dealing in antiques and the like.
Shopping in most places can be frustrating, as the clerks will follow you around the store. This is partly due to their concept of what constitutes good service, and partly because there is a shoplifting problem. Most will not be intrusive, but some employees can be very pushy and overly obsequious. Smile and thank them often, and you're more likely to be left alone after a bit.
In carpet stores - or anywhere that sells tapestries, Indian antiques, and the like don't feel too pressured to buy, and don't be shocked if they start unrolling beautiful rug after beautiful rug at your feet. You are under no obligation to buy, no matter how much time they spend with you. However, the pressure will be very steady, and shyer shoppers may want to travel in packs for comfort's sake.
Grocery stores such as Spinney's, Carrefours, and the Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society are inexpensive and usually stocked with Western goods. Be careful to examine all products before purchasing. Visitors wishing to purchase pork products will likely have to enter a separate room to do so, as no nationals are permitted in these sections of the grocery stores.
Prices in Abu Dhabi tend to be very competitive, and there is no tax.
General discount season - end of the year and midyear. These are the time where you can get some branded items with a very low price, maybe last season stock.
Khalidiya Mall. The Indian restaurant is called Asha's. It's the one franchise in Abu Dhabi, part of a chain based in Dubai. Named after the popular Bollywood singer, who came up with some of the recipes. It's really quite a good restaurant and relatively inexpensive.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Abu Dhabi on Wikivoyage.