What are you looking for

Close search

Visit Abu Dhabi

From magical desert resorts to the full throttle adrenalin of the Ferrari World theme park, Abu Dhabi lies twinkling like a polished gem, the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates

Like all the emirates, oil is the primary source of Abu Dhabi's opulent wealth, but less than a hundred years ago its humble economy was buoyed by pearls. Divers would plunge into the Persian Gulf for up to a minute and a half at a time to haul out the precious oysters, assisted by little more than a nose clip.

You don't have to plunge deep into the ocean to see Abu Dhabi's wealth today. The capital of the United Arab Emirates has evolved at breakneck speed into a hi-tech metropolis, where gleaming buildings tickle the desert sky and mad-made islands float offshore, while the world’s fastest rollercoaster bullets screeching visitors around Ferrari World. The entire city is a testament to what can be achieved with vision and fortitude. 

Travellers enjoy year-round sunshine, pristine beaches and – when it comes to hotels and restaurants – serious opulence. Abu Dhabi has also evolved into a hub of Gulf culture, with world-class museums and galleries. It is home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi (which cost the equivalent of about R17 billion to build), exhibiting art from Paris’ famous Louvre, Pompidou and Versailles collections, and from the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

You’ll have even more opportunities to experience local culture first-hand on the city’s vibrant streets. Try your hand at bartering at the local bazaar, relax at a shisha cafe, set sail from the dhow harbour, or stroll and bike the 8-kilometre seafront “Corniche” promenade, capping it all off with a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

But remember that Abu Dhabi's roots run far deeper than what you see on the surface. Archaeological evidence shows signs of Umm an-Nar – or bronze age civilisation – going back as far as the third millennium BC. Early Bedouins who populated the region moved between the ocean, the desert and the oasis. The Bedouins were known for their resourcefulness and independence despite the harsh environment in which they lived – a trait which clearly lives on today, along with diyafa, the Bedouin word for hospitality.

Difaya is far more than a word, however. It is a vital part of the Bedouin code of honour forged from a nomadic existence in the desert, where welcoming a traveller into your home could mean the difference between life and death.

The modern visitor is still treated to this hospitality in Abu Dhabi today, whether you’re sitting down to a meal at a humble restaurant, exploring the surrounding desert, or staying at the world-renowned Emirates Palace hotel. Even here, beyond the palatial suites and extravagant luxury of the second most expensive hotel ever built, diyafa still forms the bedrock upon which everything in Abu Dhabi is built.

Best for:

Arts + Culture Lovers; Beach Bums; History Buffs; Luxury Travellers; Religious Travellers

Go there!

Abu Dhabi
from R15,597 p/p sharing
A thrilling season finale to the Formula 1 calender
Add to suitcase
Log In to Access Your Suitcase

You need to log in to add packages to, and manage, your suitcase. Please log in or register.