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Seven Must-See Things in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan city situated on the edge of the Rub Al Khali Desert. Whether you’re an expat currently living in Abu Dhabi or simply thinking of exploring the area in the future, here are seven things you should definitely see during your time in city.

1. Heritage Village

A historic reconstruction of pre-oil UAE, the village provides an insight into Bedouin heritage and culture. It offers visitors the chance to shop at traditional markets or the opportunity to watch craftsmen demonstrate their traditional skills in pottery, weaving, and even metal work. 

The village is also home to a museum, which recalls the city’s development from a small settlement into a bustling metropolis: a must-see for all history buffs out there. The location of the village also offers a fantastic view of the Abu Dhabi skyline, a perfect photo opportunity and a breathtaking sight!

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi

The perfect destination for art lovers to spend a relaxing afternoon, the Louvre Abu Dhabi takes its name for the world-famous gallery in Paris, and houses a collection from all around the world, including loans from French institutions. The gallery’s exhibition is designed to highlight connections between different cultures and peoples, offering an interesting and unique approach to curation.   

Opened in November 2017, the building is itself also a piece of art. It was designed by Jean Nouvel, and was inspired by the Saadiyat island, upon which the gallery is situated. The influence of the sand and sea, with its shade and light are important aspects of the buildings architecture. With work underway to complete the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Zayed National Museum on the same island, the area will truly live up to its name — the Cultural District.  

If you can’t get enough of art in Abu Dhabi, you should also check out N2N gallery or the Salwa Zeidan Gallery.

3. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Not only is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque the biggest mosque in the UAE, it is also the eighth biggest in the world. Featuring a staggering 82 domes, the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, over 1,000 columns, and 24 carat gold-gilded chandeliers, the pristine white structure is truly a magnificent sight. The religious structure has space for 40,000 worshipers and was designed to encompass the varying schools of Islamic architecture. Whether you follow the Islamic religion or not, the structure is an absolute must see, not only for its architectural wonder, but for its spiritual beauty: the mosque was intended to embody Islamic values of peace, tolerance, and diversity. 

4. Souk Central Market

Modern in its architecture but traditional at its core, the Souk Central Market is built on the exact local of the city’s very first souk. If you are looking for unique antiques, traditional handicraft items, as well as aromatic perfumes, then this is the place for you. Here, luxury meets tradition and shopping meets culture, so don’t miss the chance to experience this gem at the heart of Abu Dhabi. 

If you’re looking to continue your UAE shopping experience, then take a trip to the Old Souk, where you will find a rich mixture of rugs, crafts, jewelry, textiles, and spices available to buy. Make sure you practice your haggling skills before you arrive, as there are bargains to be had and treasures to be found.

5. Observation Deck at 300

Located on the 74th floor of tower two of the Etihad Towers Complex, this spot has the best view of Abu Dhabi. At 300 meters high you get an amazing 360° panorama of this fascinating city. Although the location is particularly popular with tourists, and there is also an entrance fee, the experience is not one to miss. Afternoon tea is also on offer here, so get ready to enjoy high tea at the highest of heights, and take in the stunning sight. 

6. Rub Al Khali

The city of Abu Dhabi is located on the edge of the Rub Al Khali, one of the world’s largest deserts. While you shouldn’t attempt to explore the 650,000 km2 sand-covered area of the Rub Al Khali all at once, why not give sandboarding, camel riding, or falconry a go while you are in Abu Dhabi.

The Tel Moreeb sand dune is over 300 meters high and has an incline of 50 degrees, one of the world’s largest sand dunes, the site is a prime location for motor sports aficionados. Each year, the Moreeb Hill Climb event sees the four-wheel drivers and quad bikers attempt to complete the climb.

Although the sand dune is located a fair distance from Abu Dhabi (around 220 km to be precise), it is certainly worth a visit should you get the chance.

7. InterNations Official Events and Activities

Our InterNations Official Events are another occasion you should not miss, whether you’re already a member or thinking of joining, don’t miss the chance to get to know expats and locals alike. Albatross Members can also join as many of our activities as they want, from bowling, to brunch, to movie nights! If you want to organize your own activity, just get in touch with our team!

Antoine Mariaux

"Thanks to InterNations, I've received very useful tips about the Emirates and expat life in Abu Dhabi."

Maria Loura

"The idea to connect expatriates in Abu Dhabi is just fantastic! Have been looking for such a platform for a long time."

Global Expat Guide