What to do in Abu Dhabi
There is no shortage of options for what to do in Abu Dhabi - for a
small island, its packed with stuff for everyone.
And to top it off, there is something to fit every budget from the
highest of high end, to the back street bargain.
Here's our overview for those who live here long term, options of what
to do in Abu Dhabi on weekends and week nights to keep yourself
If you have family visiting, then check out our Abu Dhabi Top 10 list
of things to do, to give them a fun filled holiday in your home city.
Restaurants Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi has an excellent and ever increasing variety of restaurants
(e.g. Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Korean,
Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai) that will suit the most discerning palate.
The Entertainer voucher book is an excellent purchase if you enjoy
eating out. It contains 2 for 1 deals at every venue imaginable and can
pay for itself in as little as one or two meals!
Starting at 12pm and finishing at 4pm on a Friday, the Friday Brunch,
is everyones favourite UAE experience. It's offered by selected hotel
restaurants in both Abu and Dubai and prices vary greatly depending on
venue, fare and whether or not complimentary alcoholic drink(s) are
included. Check out our favourites here.
Remember that alcohol is only served in licensed restaurants that are
associated with hotels, selected clubs and associations (e.g. golf
clubs) and some government owned establishments and that
the legal drinking age in the UAE is 21 years and residents
can only legally partake in alcohol after obtaining an alcohol license
As a woman in Abu Dhabi you can drink for free every night of the week
at the various Ladies Nights (free selected drink for ladies). See our Ladies
for a venue listings.
Whether it’s an afternoon matinee with the family or an evening out
with ‘dinner and a movie,’ going to the cinema is one of the most
popular forms of entertainment in the UAE – second only to ‘going to
the mall’. Most of the newer cinemas are multi-screen mega
(similar to the AMC or Cineplex chains in Canada) screening the latest
Arabic, Asian, Bollywood, and Hollywood films. The UAE’s only IMAX
cinema is located in the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai.
For comedy in
Abu Dhabi The Laughter Factory (Tues nights at the Crowne Plaza, Abu
Dhabi) is well established - and probably the best - of the UAE’s
stand-up comedy clubs.
Cultural Activities (Music/Art/Theatre/Museums)
Abu Dhabi is planning to become the cultural centre of the UAE with big
and bold projects underway (the Saadiyat Project - Louvre and
Guggenheim, opening 2015).
The Abu Dhabi Art Exhibition is held in November and the Emirates
palace regularly hosts fantastic events in the world of art. Check out www.artsabudhabi.ae
for up-coming gallery shows.
The new Manarat Al Saadiyat is a multi-purpose venue housing lecture
theatres, three galleries, an auditorium and acts as a visitors centre
to the Saadiyat Project.
There are four independent art galleries of note – Ghaf Art Gallery,
Qibab Art Gallery, Acento Gallery and Salwa Zeidan Gallery.
Abu Dhabi Arts Festival is the UAE’s premier classical arts event and
takes place in March and April each rear.
There are plenty of interesting places to visit for a cultural and
heritage experience and to get a glimpse of pre-Oil Arabic
Village (near Marina Mall) 026814455. Visit the past at
this venue where the Bedouin life has been recreated.
- Abu Dhabi
Authority for Culture and Heritage (near Zayed Sports
City) – 026215300. Currently being improved, this venue hopes to become
the foremost cultural visitor attraction in Abu Dhabi.
- Al Maqtaa
Fort (near Maqtaa Bridge). 200 year old fort build to
fend of bandits.
- Bateen Dhow
Shipyard (near Intercontinental Hotel). Busy boat yard
that is in active use today.
National Auto Museum (45km south of Abu Dhabi). Home to
almost 200 cars of all kinds it’s a great museum for a car enthusiast.
Exhibition (Corniche) 024446900. This Exhibition shows the
growth from a desert oasis to an impressive cosmopolitan city.
- Qasr Al Hosn
(Al Nasr St) 026215300. The Old Fort or the White Fort is the oldest
building in Abu Dhabi and the plan is to house a museum.
- Sheikh Zayed
Grand Mosque (near Mussafah Bridge) 800555. One of the
largest and most opulent mosques in the world.
Handicraft Centre (Al Karahmah St) 025621918. Museum run
by the Abu Dhabi Women’s Association as a showcase for local art and
- Museum and
Aquarium, Khalifa Park. Great for young children, with a
gentle intereactive ride through the history of Abu Dhabi, followed by
a walk round the lovely huge aquarium.
Sport and Leisure Activities
Abu Dhabi and Dubai, play host to a number of world-class
sporting events that are sure to please any sport enthusiast.
These include the Abu Dhabi Formula One, Dubai Desert Classic (PGA
tournament) and the Dubai Ladies Masters (LPGA tournament), the Dubai
World Cup (the world’s richest horse race and the biggest social event
of the year), the Dubai Men’s and Women’s Open (tennis championships),
the Dubai Marathon, the Dubai Show Jumping Championship (world’s
richest show jumping competition), and the Dubai Rugby 7s (perhaps the
largest party of the year).
Abu Dhabi currently plays host to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grad Prix, the Abu
Dhabi Golf Championship (PGA European Tour), the Red Bull Air Race (the
world’s fastest race), and the U.I.M. F1 World Powerboat Racing
Championship. The final event on the sporting calendar is the
UAE Desert Challenge, a FIA affiliated cross-country car rally from Abu
Dhabi to Dubai.
All of these events are extremely accessible and affordable - a luxury
that does not exist in many parts of the world.
- Ferarri World
- Yas Waterworld
- Khalifa Park and the Splash Park
Beach / Health and Fitness Clubs
There are a number of beach / health and fitness clubs in Abu Dhabi,
all with excellent gym facilities, pools, private beaches, steam rooms,
sauna, Jacuzzi, tennis and squash courts and offering a variety of
lessons (e.g. swimming, tennis) and classes (e.g. pilates, yoga).
Joining a club is a great way to settle into Abu Dhabi life, giving you
something to do on weekends and a great way to increase you social
Annual memberships prices between beach clubs are varied.
The UAE is known as the best Golfing destination in the Gulf with
excellent year round facilities and many important tournaments being
held. Courses are either fully grassed or brown sand courses or a
mixture of the d\two. Abu Dhabi is home to a variety of local and
international tournaments held on an annual or monthly basis.
The UAE offers some of the best diving/snorkelling in the world for all
tastes and levels of expertise. Wreck divers will revel in
what the west coast of the country has to offer – over thirty wrecks in
relatively shallow (and warm) waters. While the east coast
does offer some wrecks, it is the destination for those
divers/snorkellers seeking tropical marine life. In addition
to hard and soft corals and a multitude of exotic fish (e.g. golden
cardinal fish, parrot fish, clownfish, jawfish, soldier fish), it is
not uncommon for divers/snorkellers to see moray eels, reef sharks,
rays, barracuda and sea turtles.
Scuba diving in the Musandam is geared toward more adventurous and
experienced divers. There are many excellent diving centres and clubs
that will help you make the most of the UAE’s wonderful
Outside of Abu Dhabi Emirate
There is a plethora of things to see and do beyond the city limits of
Abu Dhabi that make for wonderful ‘getaway’ weekends and holidays.
Often referred to as the “cultural capital’ of the UAE, the city of
Sharjah is an ideal weekend destination for culture and art buffs.
Dubai is only an hour up the motorway and is a brimming with
attractions, cultural events, shopping malls, sporting events, the
world’s tallest building and more.
The small town of Hatta is a popular weekend getaway spot.
Hatta boasts what is arguably the best Heritage Village in the UAE
(complete with a restored watchtower) and a visit here is highly
recommended. Nineteen kilometres and a half-day excursion
outside of Hatta are the Hatta Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls
that nature has carved out of the rocks. The pools are a
popular place for picnics and a trip to the pools is worth it for the
Other popular weekend getaway destinations in the UAE are the AL
Ain/Burami Oasis (on the UAE/Oman border), and the Liwa Oasis (on the
edge of the Empty Quarter) for its magnificent sand dunes. A
visit to Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan’s (the ‘Rainbow Sheikh’) Car
Museum on the way to Liwa (near Hmeem) is a must for car
Neighbouring Oman is a popular destination and an easy half-day/one-day
drive from Abu Dhabi as is the Emirate of Fugairah.
Competitive hotel packages can be found on groupon and cobone.
Other popular and affordable weekend breaks include Qatar, Turkey,
Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, India, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, and the
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