Recommended routes Abu Dhabi
While the stopover in Dubai revolves mainly around shopping and the city's sometimes crazy attractions, the emirate of Abu Dhabi offers a much wider and more authentic array of places to discover. More formal than its neighbor and competitor, the city of Abu Dhabi is also experiencing uninterrupted growth. Its desire to become a cultural capital sets it apart, as does the scale of some of its projects: all you have to do is see the colossal and splendid Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
But, beyond Khali, at the foot of which sheep, in particular, the palm groves of Al Aïn and Liwa. So, are you ready for a swerve in the land of 1001 nights?
It all starts géciel. Two separate sections of the sand mat are reserved for families and singles.
To the north, backing onto the modern Mina Harbor, where cruise ships stop, the port of dhows takes you back to time spent with its fishing boats overloaded with huge traps. Many of the sailors here are Indians. The fish market is located on the central platform; you can buy your fish there (from the sellers dressed in blue) and have it prepared and cooked on site (by those dressed in red)!
At 200 m, set back, stands the great fruit and vegetable souk (indicated), with its mountains of dates. A little further on are also the plant souk and Iranian souk, where 1001 everyday objects are piled up - not to mention the carpet souk, for those interested in the subject (at least divide the prices by two!).
At the southern end of the Corniche stands the famous Emirates Palace, the 1st hotel in the world to have displayed… 7 stars! Needless to say, room prices are not accessible to all budgets. On the other hand, it would be a shame not to stick your nose there to make fun of the ingot dispenser in the hall (!), Treat yourself to a cappuccino sprinkled with gold leaf (!) Or take one of the 2 organized guided tours. daily (except Fri; duration 45 min) at 10 a.m. and 16 p.m. (100 Dhs per person). For the latter, you must book at least 24 hours in advance at 2 690 7108.
Cô18h), count 75 Dhs (including 50 Dhs recoverable on drinks).
Path between a small ethnographic museum and a souk for tourists - craftsmen make demonstrations there, but there is not enough to make a big detour either ... From there, you can see, to the north, the large artificial island of Lulu, transformed into a sort of seaside park, but public access is suspended.
Stay in Hosn, the White Fort, the first stronghold of the éHosn Festival in February, you can visit the cultural Center adjoining, with its mainly photographic exhibition retracing the history of the emirate.
On the outskirts of Abu Dhabi
Leaving the center by the Coast Road (direction Mussafah), it would be a shame not to take a look, about 10 km to the east, at the Capital Gate Tower (2011), better known as the Leaning Tower, designed to lean 4,5 times more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa! 160 m high, it houses a hotel (Hyatt).
Four Muslim kilometers and (guided) tours are free!
On your way to 10, in Al Raha, also stop in front of the headquarters of the real estate company Aldar (Aldar HQ) - behind some of the emirate's biggest projects. The astonishing building takes the shape of a giant cookie!
Near the airport, the curious can also discover the Falcon Hospital during a guided tour.
While waiting for the completion of the works of the various museums of theSaadiyat Island, the first of which is none other than Louvre Abu Dhabi (which opened at the end of 2017), it is possible to go to the visitor center of Manarat Al Saadiyat : we get an idea of the scope of the project, we see temporary exhibitions, as well as the Emirati pavilion of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, transferred just next door. And why not combine the visit with a few hours on the beautiful Saadiyat public beach ?
The beach of Yas Island also has its aficionados. Largely redesigned by man, like Saadiyat, the island is home to a marina, one of the city's main shopping centers, one of the largest water parks in the world (Yas Waterworld) and the famous Ferrari World amusement park. for his roller coaster (Formula Rossa) reaching a record speed of 240 km / h !!! There is also the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 circuit, accessible free of charge on foot or by bike on Tuesday evenings (with the possibility of driving racing cars with an instructor on the other days). It is spanned by the amazing Yas Viceroy hotel. In short, adrenaline guaranteed in the area.
More informative than fun, the visit of the Masdar l & rsquocity, born on the fringes of the airport, allows us to visualize what the city of tomorrow could be. Designed to be 100% sustainable, without carbon emissions or waste, it dreams of being totally autonomous thanks to renewable energies - in particular solar. Its architecture, not necessarily very harmonious, is notably inspired by traditional wind towers, designed to refresh the atmosphere without having to resort to air conditioning. It is accessed by electric vehicle 4 places automatic from the car park. However, there isn't much to see and the place lacks a bit of life - for now at least.
That's a million Khali. Numerous springs maintain 1 ha of pretty palm groves fed by a very old irrigation system, where some 147 trees thrive. They have also been classified as World Heritage, along with some of the neighboring archaeological sites.
In the city center, do not miss the forts built by the local governors at the end of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXth century to watch over the caravan route connecting the coast of the current Emirates to Oman. All raw earth and palm wood, they seem to emerge from a much more distant past, like the superb Jahili fort (1891) guarded by a round tower with four battlement levels - the site of an exhibition dedicated to the great English writer and explorer Wilfred Thesiger.
Le fort d & rsquosam Oct-May) recreated to encourage the preservation of local crafts. On the Omani side (the border is crossed without difficulty), the two forts ofAl Khandaq and D'Al Hila also deserve a look.
West, past Fort Jahili, the Qasr al Muwaiji, where the current emir was born, was opened to visitors at the end of 2015 (hagiographic exhibition and history of the place).
Mêville, give l & rsquoniquer on the grass. It changes, all this green! Given the popularity of the place with locals, it is better to go there on weekdays.
Just north of 23h, bus n ° Nar (2300-2200 BC) dereliefs, one of which represents a couple holding hands between two giant oryxes. Splendid !
The Rub Al-Khali
We do not have specialized operators to offer you a day of fighting (wadi bashing in original version) through the dunes. To get a more precise idea, see the "Sports and leisure" section.
This tastes solo, you could set off on foot to assault the beautiful dunes that stand at the western exit of Al Ain (towards Abu Dhabi), or approach those, colossal, which swarm at the gates of the oasis of Liwa.
West of quopalmeraies stretched out on an arc of a hundred kilometers from east to west, where you come across a whole series of old earthen forts. It is accessed through the town of Mezaira'a. 22 km south of the latter is the highest dune, Moreeb Hill, site of an annual 4x4 race. It is its very steep slope that has earned it its name, meaning "scary"! Those who are not afraid to brave the summer heatwave will also come to celebrate the dates in July.
Long out of the reach of visitors, the region has seen several recent hotels built, including the very luxurious Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, where a master falconer introduces guests to this centuries-old activity!
Sir Bani Yas
The story is surprising. In the 1970s, the father of the current emir, Cheikh Zayed, began to create from scratch a nature reserve private on a coastal island in the west of the emirate. Four decades later, some 13 animals live there in freedom, including more than 000 Arabian oryx, a species saved from extinction at the last minute. Giraffes also point their large necks above the desert steppe and cheetahs and hyenas haunt the place, introduced to control the natural explosion of the population of antelopes and gazelles. In short, here is a kind of reinvented Noah's ark, where water was brought by man to allow life to bloom!
It is now accessible to everyone, by plane or ferry, with a luxury hotel and villas (Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara). The reserve (Arabian Wildlife Park), which occupies half of the island, can be visited by 4x4, on foot, by bike or even on horseback. You can also explore the mangroves by kayak, dive or observe sea turtles.
On the coast, a little before the emergence of Islam. Unexpected to say the least!
Rarely visited by tourists, the small island floats 40 km off the western coast of the emirate. Inhabited for at least 7 years, it was once among the main home port for pearl boats and still retains many dhows. You can visit a museum there. It is easily reached by ferry from the Jebel Dhanna pier, just west of Ruwais (000h1).