Desert Diaries: A First Timer’s Guide to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi often falls short on the kind of popularity that Dubai enjoys. However, if one were to peruse carefully, one would find Abu Dhabi just as glamorous, opportune, and possibly with more in the way of a rich heritage, culture and the arts. A skyline that easily competes with that of Manhattan, Abu Dhabi, too, has much to offer- souks, beaches and international restaurants abound in this stunning city.

People travelling to this spectacular destination for the first time need not worry about entertainment. Abu Dhabi is all that it appears to be, and a lot more.

Saunter along the Promenade

The Corniche spreads out for four whopping miles. That’s a lot of space, and it sure has a lot to offer. You can cover the entire length on foot, while enjoying the waterfront. The entire path is punctuated with plenty of green spaces- ideal for hosting picnics, as well as cafés and restaurants serving Arabic delicacies, international cuisine and coffee. These interludes are ideal for a day out with the family or friends, while enjoying a concert, or just a good old sunset.

sheikh zayed mosque

Of Art, Heritage and Culture

Usually, one of the first things a traveller wants to acquaint themselves with is the culture of the place they are visiting. The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village and Women’s Handicraft Centre truly depict the Abu Dhabi cultural life in all its authenticity, and all its glory. The Heritage Village is a depiction of a Bedouin village, a souk, goat-hair tents and a mosque. It’s a structure reminiscent of simpler times. The Women’s Handicraft Centre displays women making textiles and embroidery, weaving traditional baskets, and applying henna.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque- Quintessential Tourist Attraction

It’s the third largest mosque in the world with the largest Persian carpet ever made decorating its interior! With an elegant architecture and a graceful air about it, this is a truly spectacular structure built of the finest materials such as crystals, semi-precious stones, and Italian marble and quality ceramics. If you’re a Non-Muslim unfamiliar with the traditions of a mosque, you must tour with a guide and dress modestly.

Fun Times at Lulu and Saadiyat Islands

Punctuated with peach-colour dunes, Lulu Island is completely man-made. One can easily reach by availing the facilities of ferry boats. Camel rides, swimming, trainride about the islands- it it the perfect spot to keep you occupied. Saadiyat Island is famously called the “island of happiness” and with good reason. It has a performing arts complex and branched of the renowned Louvre and Guggenheim museums for all art and history aficionados.

Jaunting through the Desert

In the desert just outside Abu Dhabi some of the tallest sand dunes in the world stand stark and inviting. Visit and indulge in some sand-boarding or just ride along in your vehicle up and down the dunes. It also hosts camel races and barbeque nights.

Skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi at dusk, United Arab Emirates


Abu Dhabi Mall

A three storey mall, this is trendy, chic and versatile. It has both high-end and budget shopping options.

Al Wahda Mall

Located downtown, this is a modern mall with branded shops, plenty of eateries and the biggest LuLu Hypermart in the city.


The Olive Branch

This place is eclectic and serves Mediterranean cuisine with a dash of borrowed flavours from various countries.

The Burlington Grill

Visit this joint for delectable steaks and grilled meat.