Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, lies just up the road from Dubai and is one of the Middle East’s up-and-coming city breaks for travellers in the know. This modern metropolis exudes luxury and comfort, with the city air freshened by exotic fragrances and breezes from the Persian Gulf. Visit the Yas Marina Circuit with its impressive race track, bars and restaurants, swim at the stunning Saadiyat beach or make a special purchase at the impressive Marina Mall.
Divine delicacies: The Taste of Abu Dhabi Festival
Already in its third year, Taste of Abu Dhabi is the most popular food, drink and music extravaganza in the city. Boasting over 15,000 visitors there to enjoy delicacies created by 25 of Abu Dhabi’s top restaurants, the festival also features world class chefs performing cooking demonstrations, over 100 different exhibitors, international music concerts and even cooking lessons to help you up your game in the kitchen. This year the festivals offers the Premier Family Lounge where the whole family can relax with Arabic tea, coffee, dates and even family cookery classes suited to even the youngest members.
Desert Tradition: The Camel Races
Al-Wathba race track hosts one of Abu Dhabi’s must-see activities: camel racing. This traditional sport really transports you to the Arab world, with the sweet smell of fruit tobacco in the air as the camels kick up dust and gallop round the track in front of a cheering crowd. You’ll be surprised just how fast camels can run (clue: up to 65 km/h!). Racing season runs from October until March; the races themselves take place in the cool of early morning, finishing around 10am. Al-Wathba lies around 45 km east of Abu Dhabi and entry is free.
Exhilarating ride: Sand Boarding on The Liwa Oasis Sand Dunes
Sand boarding is rapidly becoming one of the most popular and unusual sports around. Liwa Oasis, on the edge of Rub al-Khali, is the place to go if you fancy an exhilarating ride amongst spectacular desert scenery. Sand boarding and skiing has a large worldwide fan-base and is best done in the early morning. Some of the dunes are around 300 metres high, so beginners may prefer starting with one of the smaller dunes. Just don’t forget your sunscreen! The beautiful rolling sand dunes make ideal conditions, so strap on your sand board and off you go!