Abu Dhabi: not what you think it is

OK, well maybe it is a little. There is desert, there are camels, and the locals do wear dish-dashes.  But to say Abu Dhabi is developing as luxury holiday destination is something of an understatement. Gradually, the make-up of the landscape of Abu Dhabi is evolving into a cosmopolitan, dynamic resort. The tourist board have and are investing a huge amount of money to crank up the appeal of this sun drenched capital of the UAE. I visited last year and saw the scaled down model version of the ‘new Abu Dhabi’ which 18 months on has begun to really take shape.

Much of Abu Dhabi’s evolution is focused around the development of Saadiyat Island, a natural island located just 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi which has initially been fully developed almost entirely for the enhancement of tourism, and features several kilometres of natural beaches.

The Saadiyat Island Beach Golf Club is in full swing if you’ll excuse the pun, and garnering some great reviews from professionals delighted with the scenery and challenging straits of this 18-hole Gary Player designed course. Two brand new luxury hotels have opened too, Park Hyatt and St Regis. The future holds great things for the island, with a cultural district housing a Louvre and Guggenheim Museum, a performing arts centre and a campus for New York University to open in the next couple of years.

Future plans in the pipeline for Saadiyat include a huge promenade, a retreat featuring boutique hotels, Saadiyat Reserves featuring a tidal golf course, and a number of other ambitious projects. The final phase of the island’s development will see around 145,000 residents move in and a ten lane causeway connecting Saadiyat to the mainland will be built.

But it’s not just about what’s in the pipeline. Abu Dhabi is a great place to visit right here, right now. Large scale international sporting and leisure events have cottoned on to Abu Dhabi’s soaring appeal. The weekend of 12th-13th November this year will see the penultimate Grand Prix of the Formula One season being held at the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi and this is the first of a number of exciting events scheduled over the next couple of months.

I have blogged previously about the Volvo Ocean Race at the beginning of 2012 which will draw thousands of people from across the globe. The Corniche will be transformed into a marine village for the latest leg of this famous round the world event. Then it’s time for the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival which takes place in January and February on an annual basis, where traditional arts and crafts, Emirati gifts, candles, spices, textiles and trinkets are just some of the items you can barter for.

One thing is for certain, this is a destination proud of its heritage – but one focused on growing its stature and appeal to a worldwide public.

Carole Booth is Commercial Director at Destinology.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Comments (1)

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  1. Thanks for this information. Yes, Abu Dhabi has transformed much in the recent years as one o the premier destinations for tourism in the Middle East. Ab Dhabi is a nice place to be and its even better than Dubai in terms of financial stability.

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