ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Publication Date : 27-04-2012
A typical day as a holidaymaker in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, might start at around 6am with the sun pouring in through the window.
Whether you are on a remote island or in the city centre, you can eat a world-class breakfast, jog in a fully-equipped gym and shower under a gigantic rain shower, before grabbing a taxi and touring around the skyscrapers, going on a shopping spree or setting out on a desert safari.
The scorching sun also means there are plenty of opportunities to work on your tan.
When it comes to dining, you could indulge in the creations of world-renown chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Joel Robuchon and others at the fine dining restaurants scattered around the city and get busy being pampered by high end a masseuse or manicurist.
Then the day draws to a close. But in Abu Dhabi, things are just beginning: The city never sleeps.
When dark blankets the city, a new type of atmosphere reveals itself. People come out to the streets or malls, mingle and cherish the “coolth”.
The perfect day to get immersed in this atmosphere is Thursday. From Thursday through Saturday is considered the weekend in the Muslim state, with Thursday night the peak of weekend fever.
Malls, more than places to shop
If you cannot find people on the street, grab a cab and ask the driver to take you to the shopping mall. They may suggest either Abu Dhabi Mall or Marina Mall.
Marina Mall is perhaps more flashy and attracts the young. Hosting more than 200 shops including French-based giant retailer, Carrefour, English fashion retailer NEXT and more, the mall is always crowded.
Patrons drink coffee ― Arabs seem to love coffee mixed with herbs, rosemary water and other ingredients. It smells great and isn’t sugary at all ― and share large pieces of cake. Sweet, yet sour and salty, Emirati desserts are beyond a delicacy.
If you are lucky, you might spot the most conservative-looking men bargaining for a kilogram of dates while young housewives stock up on boxes of Korean firm Orion’s Choco Pies, hand-in-hand with their children.
Because of the sizzling heat, Abu Dhabi might not have the most energetic streets in the world. But Corniche Road linking the most prestigious spots in the city centre, from Hilton Hotel to Sheraton Hotel, is where the young hang out at night.
Open for restricted use to families or guests at nearby exclusive hotels, the beach is not available for the majority of citizens during weekdays. You may find people hidden behind the walls, swimming and sunbathing under parasols.
On the weekend and evenings, the street is filled with people seeking romance. Young lovers hand-in-hand cuddle and whisper while taking in the night atmosphere of the city. Children will scuttle down the boardwalks on four-wheel bikes while inline skaters and joggers pass.
If you are a bit peckish, grab a donut at Krispy Kreme or Sugar Daddy’s Cup Cakes. From Cold Stone to noodles, the city never falls short of food. Just walking along the beach barefoot under the moonlight is a magical way to spend the evening.
If neither tempt you
Simply walk around the streets. Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. You may not enter ― inside is accessible to visitors only on certain occasions ― but you can easily feel the sacred atmosphere with a glance.
Or just tour around the Emirates Palace, one of the largest hotels in the world. You may easily mistake it as a palace and the stunning exterior will easily seduce you to go inside. Go and find the gold vending machine, something that you wouldn’t easily find elsewhere in the world.