Travelling around the island will no doubt provide plenty of photo opportunities. Among the landmarks not to be missed are the city’s many fountains and public art; Canon square dominates the surrounding buildings, with its magnificent water fountain and enormous concrete replicas of traditional Arabic artifacts.
The city is constantly evolving and growing. Older buildings are demolished to make way for sleeker new ones, and there are always new malls, apartments and villas under development. The island’s growth is spilling over onto the mainland of Abu Dhabi emirate, with new residential areas springing up from the desert closer to the airport.
Essential to traditional life in the Middle East is the souk. No visit to the emirates is complete without sampling the hustle and bustle of these marketplaces. Originally, the souks were also the place for people to meet friends, catch up on the news, and for the men to sit and enjoy shisha. Abu Dhabi has a number of thriving souks selling everything from plastic buckets, to fresh fish and hand-woven carpets. The souk is the place to test your bargaining skills and try to walk away with a cut-price souvenir.
Another facet of Arabian life is of course water. The sea encompasses the island and is a huge part of the Emirati, past and present. Don’t miss a boat trip to neighboring islands across the calm turquoise waters or a dive on a wreck or artificial reef. For those less inclined to take to the water, don’t miss your chance to see a traditional dhow or formula 1 speedboat race frequently held off the end of the Corniche in the cooler winter months. Yacht and boat charters are all available, as well as dinner dhow cruises and dhow trips to the outlying islands.
Many of the city’s striking examples of modern architecture show fascinating interpretations of islamic themes captured in today’s materials. Learn everything about the oil - the so called “black gold” - and how it transformed Abu Dhabi into the wealthy city of today at the capital’s Al Hosn palace and Cultural Centre - a white fort right in the heart of the metropolis. This reminder of Abu Dhabi’s historical past is now home to the Centre for documentation and research, permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as theatre productions and many cultural activities.
Excursions to the liwa oasis and the Empty Quarter are highly recommended in the winter months, with vast orange dunes stretching as far as the eye can see.
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