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A slice of Emirati culture

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Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates federation. From luxurious resorts to thrilling rides on the world’s fastest roller coaster to ocean racing, Abu Dhabi is perfectly positioned as a destination that along with modern tourism attractions gives a unique insight into the Emirati culture. The desert experiences of Abu Dhabi tops the list of interesting products for the high-end traveller. A balloon adventure across the dramatic desertscape which surrounds Al Ain is a memorable way to take in the emirate’s landscape or visitors could opt for a helicopter tour around the emirate’s stunning coastline and islands. A visit to Al Ain is must to get unique insights into Emirati culture. One can visit renovated forts, a museum and palaces and the country’s last remaining camel market. Thrills are available at the Wadi Adventure Park where guests can go white water rafting, kayaking and surfing in a man-made structure at the foot of the city’s dominating heights. For those looking for thrills, Formula Rossa the world’s fastest roller coaster at the Ferrari World Middle East, is the best option.

Abu Dhabi’s iconic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has been named amongst the world’s most talked about attractions by TripAdvisor notching up more than 1,400 top ranked reviews. One user said it was ‘a vision that would last a lifetime’ whilst another added that in ’30 years of travel, it was the most beautiful building they had ever seen’.. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which welcomed 4.685 million visitors and worshippers in 2012, joined a line-up of 16 global attractions to make the list, which also included Sydney Harbour, Australia; The Colosseum in Rome, Italy; The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa; and Central Park in New York, USA.

Mega events

Events like the Formula 1 and Volvo Ocean Race are the top draws for visitors – both corporate and the VFS segment. While some of the events are for niche segments others can draw in wider crowds. To name a few – Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Champions held every January, Gourmet Abu Dhabi – a culinary festival held each February, Abu Dhabi Yacht Show, held every other March, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, held each March and the Abu Dhabi Festival – a celebration of the best in music and the performing arts held March/April. A recent entrant into the India market, statistics prove that visitor arrivals into Abu Dhabi from India has witnessed a high growth rate in the last one year. India is also the second largest source market for hotels in Abu Dhabi. The clientele ranges from VFR, honeymooners, families during school holidays, FITs during long weekends, and MICE visitors from India.

Luxe resorts

While Abu Dhabi has several luxurious resorts, the two iconic hotels are – the Emirates Palace and Yas Viceroy. The Emirates Palace is ranked amongst the world’s most opulent and is set on 1.3 kilometres of private beach with an upmarket marina from where visitors can sail around Abu Dhabi’s many islands onboard the largest catamaran in the Arabian Gulf via Cat Cruises. The Yas Viceroy is the only hotel in the world to straddle a F1 race track on our entertainment destination of Yas Island. The other stunning resorts on Saadiyat Island are – Park Hyatt Hotel & Villas, with its signature Atarmia Spa and The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, which is adjacent to the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara is in the western region of Abu Dhabi, which is called Al Gharbia and it is where the desert meets the sea. Also in Al Gharbia is the luxurious boutique Desert Islands Resort & Spa on the nature-based destination of Sir Bani Yas Island. There are many adventure activities to be explored here – from visits to an Christian monastery, mountain biking across salt domes, snorkelling in waters rich in marine life, kayaking through mangroves, taking a 4×4 safari through the Arabian Wildlife Park with its free roaming animals, etc.

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