Wade Lambert | 9 February 2018
Explore like a local in Abu Dhabi
If you are planning a holiday to Abu Dhabi then this post is for you! Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and is a well-ordered, industrious city with a pretty waterside location. First inhabited by the nomadic Bani Yas tribe in 1760, the settlement remained a small fishing village until oil was discovered. The revenues transformed Abu Dhabi into the modern city of today – a bustling centre of government and business.
Apart from the major sightseeing attractions such as the magical Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and exciting Ferarri world, we will focus on other things to see and do in the capital. Explore like a local with these hidden gems:
This French eatery is situated in the Mercure Hotel on Hamdam Street. From outside, it doesn’t look like much but this classic and authentic French eatery has been a local favourite for decades.
Cycle along this scenic 8km waterfront with the locals. The bike path runs parallel to the boardwalk, ensuring a smooth, carefree journey with the city skyline as your backdrop. If you don’t have a bicycle, don’t worry. You can hire one from the nearby rental stations.
Every morning, fishermen load their catch on to the quayside and prepare for a day of haggling. Take a trip to the Fish Souk at Mina Zayed, near Abu Dhabi’s main port area, and experience a fascinating insight into the way traditional business is done. Dip in and out of through the stalls bursting with colour as each seller arranges his produce outside. The choice is amazing, and you can buy by the kilo or the box. Even if you are not buying, this area provides excellent photo opportunities.
To see a different side of Abu Dhabi’s steel and glass exterior, head into the mangrove forests that still ring the islands along the shore surrounding the city. Sign up for a spot on a tour or if you are more experienced and feeling brave head out for a kayak on your own. There’s a bundle of kayaking tours available for all levels of experience and age, and ranging from 1.5 hours to three hours of paddling.
In Arabic, there’s a special phrase for someone who’s looking good and fresh after a shave, haircut or even a shower: na’eeman. A trip to the barbershop is an integral part of life for men in the Gulf from all countries, Arab or otherwise. Women in the capital can get a more intimate view of Abu Dhabi by visiting a Moroccan bath. One of the city’s oldest hammams is at Naama Centre, hidden on the first floor of an ordinary high rise on Hamdan Street. Najat Bennis, a Moroccan who has long called Abu Dhabi home, opened the salon in 1990 and it is a favourite for women from traditional communities like Baniyas, Al Wathba and Madinat Zayed. Barbershop and bathhouse are a chance to meet those born and raised in Abu Dhabi, and freshen up in the process.
Add any of the above to one of our fabulous Abu Dhabi offers!