By: Catriona Cherrie
From the largest indoor theme park in the world to Grand Prix race tracks to crystal-strewn hotels, Abu Dhabi—the wealthiest of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates—is fast becoming one of the most extravagant and exciting places in the world to visit. For those who can only afford to take two days from their charter schedule to make the visit, you will find Abu Dhabi is filled with more than enough to keep you busy in 48 hours.
Until recently, Abu Dhabi had been known as the federal telecommunications and banking hub of the region and with this, had struggled to compete with tourist destination Dubai, about a 90-minute drive away.
This has all changed in the last 20 years, with a huge growth in Abu Dhabi’s building sector aimed towards tourism drawing in hordes of interested visitors. Despite this impressive boom, Abu Dhabi has retained the essence of its rich culture and unique customs and remains the best place in the Middle East to experience true Emirati food and culture.
Upon arrival at the beautiful and very well serviced Yas Marina, berth with ease and take a short taxi ride to the opulent Emirates Palace Hotel. Located on the western end of the Abu Dhabi Corniche, next to the Royal Palace, this hotel is widely known for its extravagant decor and even more extravagant clientele.
The hotel was the third most expensive in the world to be built, at a cost of approximately US$ 3 billion and at the Le Cafe, located inside the hotel, guests can indulge in the famous 24K Gold Flakes Palace Cappuccino.
Next, it's time to make your way back to Yas Marina, where the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place every year in November as part of the international Formula 1 circuit. From the comfort of your very own yacht, you can view and engage in the excitement of the real Grand Prix, which will be held this coming weekend from the 26th November.
Otherwise, guaranteed fun for the whole family can be found at Ferrari World, the only Ferrari-themed park in the world, which has rides and activities for all ages. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the park is home to the fastest rollercoaster in the world.
As the sun sets, on your first day in Abu Dhabi, make your way to dinner and drinks at Stratos. The award-winning restaurant has a very distinctive quality to it, as it spins 360 degrees, allowing diners to have a panoramic view of Abu Dhabi while dining.
The next day is your opportunity to truly take in some of the culture of Abu Dhabi, starting off at the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi. This new museum of world cultural history is a feat of modern architecture and cost over £1 billion to create and build.
From here, make your way to one of the most beautiful feats of architecture in the Middle East, to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The building is spectacular, with a mix of Mughal and Moorish styles, incorporating 82 marble domes of various sizes and minarets up to 351ft high.
Inside you will find the world’s largest carpet and chandeliers incorporating millions of Swarovski crystals. On the third floor of the northern minaret is the mosque’s state-of-the-art library containing more than 50,000 rare books and manuscripts.
Have a leisurely cocktail from the vast array of options on the bar menu of Asia de Cuba, before a decadent dinner of fusion Asian tapas on the terrace. From here, watch as the sun sets on your final day in Abu Dhabi