Sitting on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi was voted 2019’s safest city in the world and is fast becoming the premier luxury destination of the Arabian Peninsula. A playground to the world’s rich and famous, this glistening metropolis mixes guaranteed sunshine, a rich Bedouin heritage and striking contemporary architecture.
Beyond the classic tourist attractions—which include the likes of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, stunning Saadiyat Island, movie backdrop Emirates Palace and bustling Marina Mall—you’ll find a playground of indoor and outdoor cultural activities that rival some of the world’s oldest and largest cities. This is a guide for culture lovers. A guide that’ll have you discovering the art and rich heritage of the proud capital of the United Arab Emirates.
You don’t have to venture to Paris to visit the Louvre. Ten years in the making, the highly anticipated, over-a-billion-dollar project opened its doors to a level of art that is ever-so apt to a city with an ever-growing culture. The whopping numbers: US$600m on the construction, US$525m to use the Louvre name and US$747m for art loans, special exhibitions and management advice.
A combination of French expertise and Arabic vision, Louvre Abu Dhabi houses hundreds of priceless masterpieces from all over the world, though the most striking masterpiece might just be its very own 180-metre lattice-work metal dome that is inspired by Islamic architecture’s trademark, cupola, and is almost as heavy as the Eiffel Tower.
Buildings don’t get much more extravagant than the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a 12-year project that attracts millions of visitors each year. The world’s largest and most ornate place of worship, this architectural triumph boasts 96 jewel-encrusted internal columns and 24-carat gold plated Swarovski crystal chandeliers and is currently ranked #2 in TripAdvisor’s list of the Top 10 Landmarks in the World.
Shining under the desert sun, this 22,412sqm white-marble structure features intricate wall decorations, colossal artworks and beautifully maintained gardens. Visitors can wander the gilded corridors and marvel at the world’s largest hand-woven carpet, while worshippers make use of a separate, private space.
Having opened its doors to the public in March 2019, the impressive Qasr Al Watan is home to the UAE Supreme Council and Federal Cabinet and is the ideal place to discover the UAE’s rich heritage. With a library that houses over 50,000 books, a venue that hosts official summits and doors that each took 350 hours to create, this working Palace is a unique attraction that’s draped in the nation’s history and culture.
Covering 10,000sqm of ornate space, The Great Hall sits as the Palace’s centrepiece; showcasing intricate design, art installations and a main dome that is one of the largest in the world.
Al Ain—known as the Oasis City—is the emirate’s heritage heartland and was the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, you’ll discover history. You’ll discover a glimpse of what the United Arab Emirates was like before the oil boom.
If you’re looking to experience authentic Arabian culture, set a day aside to wander the shady walkways and feel the rustic charms of the oldest permanently inhabited settlement. Dotted with ancient forts, oases, historic building and a plethora of archaeological sites, the 3,000-acre Al Ain’s roots stretch as far back as 4,000 years.
Ready to start planning your getaway in Abu Dhabi? With direct flights departing from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, there has never been a better time to visit the United Arab Emirates! Head to Visit Abu Dhabi for everything you’ll need to plan your trip.
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