It maybe is “the most wonderful time of the year” but often is the time when you start missing summer the most if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. This is why Abu Dhabi is the best city trip destination, if you’re looking for some sun and good food, all sprinkled with a ‘wow’ factor.
The UAE’s capital maybe less cosmopolitan than its neighbour Dubai, but it certainly has got a lot going on for it. Every November, car enthusiasts and party goers gather on the island for the AD Formula 1, while since the 11th November art aficionados can’t get enough of the newly inaugurated Louvre Abu Dhabi.
To me, Abu Dhabi was a very pleasant surprise. After spending a few days in Dubai for work, I headed to Abu Dhabi to spend a long weekend with one of my dearest friends, whom I had neglected to visit. While I initially thought I’d find a soulless city with not that much to do, I got totally hooked on Abu Dhabi’s vibe. More relaxed that Dubai, even in a country as young as the UAE, I found Abu Dhabi had a story to tell. A purpose that extended maybe a bit further from corporate ambitions. Locals are always keen to explain the UAE’s vision to become a link between East and West; while in Dubai one feels this only extends to business, Abu Dhabi seems to want to do more, especially in the arts and sports arena. One has to wonder though what will happen should oil reserves run out, given the majority of sectors and activities are either directly or indirectly linked to oil revenues. But we’ll leave the Sheikh to worry about that for now…
As a visitor, what really made a difference was the easy access to the sea. Abu Dhabi is built on multiple islands and access to the beach is easier than one would think. However, as my friend explained all islands have a different character. Reem island is home to all financial institutions and some of the best restaurants, Yass island hosts the Formula one, as well as a Universal Studios theme park and some of the city’s best clubs, Saadiyat is “home of the arts” with the Louvre and the NYU campus, while the main island is filled with the local hustle and bustle.
After spending an afternoon walking on a beach where sea turtles come to hatch their eggs, being mind blown by the Louvre’s aesthetics, dining with an amazing urban landscape view in the backdrop and dancing my night away in an outdoor club, I can safely say: Abu Dhabi I’ll be back.