Meaning 'Land of the Gazelle' in Arabic, Abu Dhabi was founded when a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water, on an island with no more than 300 palm ('barasti') huts, a few coral buildings and the Ruler's fort. This simple island settlement has since been transformed into the modern, cosmopolitan city of Abu Dhabi and the high-rise capital of the United Arab Emirates. Find out more about Abu Dhabi’s religion and traditions with a visit to one of the world's most impressive landmarks, the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This architectural marvel, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers, features 80 domes, over 1,000 columns, gold plated chandeliers and the world's largest hand woven carpet.
Head to our landmark Corniche and enjoy an impressive eight kilometres of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach - a lifeguarded beach park. Beachgoers should also spend some time on the stunning Saadiyat and Yas public beaches or for a spot of luxury they can book a day in the uber-luxurious Saadiyat Beach Club. While in Abu Dhabi, don’t forget to get on the water! From wake-boarding to surfing and parasailing, from cruising in a traditional pearling boat to kayaking through our natural mangrove forests, from zooming to the pace of a speedboat tour to diving, cruising, snorkelling or swimming, the emirate’s waters are yours to discover.
For a 360˚ entertainment experience, head to Yas Island where you can burn rubber at Yas Marina Circuit – home to the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, have a coffee or stay at the iconic Yas Viceroy - the world’s only hotel to straddle an F1 race track - ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, have a giant splash at Yas Waterworld, play Arabia’s only links course and relax on a white sandy beach.
Shopping is something of a national pastime in Abu Dhabi, perhaps because it’s so diverse and tax-free: everything from luxurious and ultra-modern malls with the latest brands, to small, souk-like shops where you can buy traditional perfumes, handicrafts, spices and carpets. If you’re interested in culture and heritage, catch a cab to the Heritage Village on the Corniche Breakwater and step back in time to a traditional desert lifestyle. Bargain with souvenir sellers and watch craftsmen at work producing pottery, weaving and metal work.