To many, traveling is not just about leisure; it’s also about learning and experiencing another person’s history and culture, exploring their food, traditions, lifestyles, and eventually gaining new friends.
Appreciating the differences and similarities of cultures can be one of the best parts of going on an adventure. And if you’re planning to visit a melting pot of cultures, the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, the Emirates, would be a good start.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is bordered by Oman and the Eastern part of Saudi Arabia. It comprises seven domains, which became one of the world’s biggest economic movers. The country is now responsible for producing global energy markets, thanks to its ever-vibrant tourism industry.
Explore the land that bridges Western and Eastern cultures and the historical foundations and modern structures that stretch from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
WHEN IN DUBAI
Let’s start our route in Downtown Dubai, a large-scale complex in the city that is home to some of the most notable landmarks in the Emirates, such as the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain. The development of Downtown Dubai was a government decision and was aimed at diversifying Dubai’s economic resources, which also led to the city’s recognition across international borders.
Previously known as Burj Dubai, Burj Khalifa was named in honor of Abu Dhabi’s ruler and president of UAE, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This skyscraper stands at 829.8 meters, with a roof height of 828 meters.
It has been known to be the tallest structure not just in the country, but also in the world since 2009. Burj Khalifa was designed to be the centerpiece of Downtown Dubai.
Dubai Opera is a 2000-seater and multi-format performing arts theater situated within the Opera District in Downtown Dubai. The infrastructure was developed by Eaamar Properties and opened on August 31, 2006. It hosts a variety of performances and can also be used for weddings, dinners, fashion shows or exhibits.
Some of the notable performances held here were by Plácido Domingo on its opening, Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers Opera, and the legendary tenor Jose Carreras.
Dubai Fountain is a choreographed fountain system situated in the man-made Burj Khalifa Lake in Downtown Dubai. The fountain is designed by WET Design, a California-based company.
The Dubai Fountain is illuminated with 6600 lights and 50 colored projectors dancing to the rhythm of classical and contemporary world and Arabic music.
The Green Planet
The Green Planet is an indoor rainforest designed as an enclosed ecosystem. Filled with birds whose sweet sound never fails to arrest one’s ears, it sets the right atmosphere for a tropical rainforest that harbors over 3000 plants. This man-made environment is also the residence of the largest indoor life-sustaining tree.
Just outside Downtown Dubai, marvel at the traditional markets such as the Aziz Saffron. There is spice souk just in Deira and adjacent to it is the Dubai Gold souk. Vendors here sell a variety of spices and fragrances, incenses, artifacts, textiles, and tea.
Grand Bur Dubai Masjid
Grand Bur Dubai Masjid is commonly known as the Grand Mosque in Dubai. It is considered as the hub of Dubai for religion and culture. The grand mosque was originally built in 1900 and now holds 1200 worshipers.
House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum
House of Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum is one of the most notable historic places in Dubai. It is the former residence of Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, the former ruler of Dubai. Now, it houses important artifacts and images of old town Dubai.
GETTING AROUND ABU DHABI
From Dubai, it only takes an hour to get to Nurai Island. It is located along the Arabian Peninsula and is just a 12-minute boat ride from Saadiyat Island. Nurai Island is surrounded by wonderful clear waters and white sand. It features oceanside spa, fine foods, and lots of in-land and sea activities.
Culture and arts are part of the journey anywhere you go. From Nurai Island, take a boat ride back to Saadiyat Island and be engulfed with the magnificence of world class paintings, sculptures, and artifacts.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is located in Saadiyat Island Cultural District. The art museum was designed by architect Frank Gehry and is part of a larger complex of arts being built on the island.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Right next to Guggenheim, Louvre Abu Dhabi houses a large variety of arts that bridges the gap between Eastern and Western Arts. It is the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula.
Some of the must-see landmarks in Louvre are:
- Monumental Statue with two heads
- Rameses II Pharaoh of Egypt Statue
- Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black
- Self Portrait of Vincent Van Gogh
- Nautical Treatise by Ahmed Ibn Majid in 1576
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Portrait of a Woman, also called La Belle Ferroniere
There are so much more to revel at in the Louvre and those are just some of the breathtaking ones.
From a historically rich afternoon, you can take a trip back to modernity by going on a relaxing bicycle ride from Saadiyat Island to Yas Island, which is known as a popular leisure hub. It holds the Yas Marina Circuit and the Yas Mall.
Enjoy the different leisure activities offered such as concerts, sporting events and theatrical performances, all of which can be found in the Yas Island Calendar.
Looking for a quiet time to end a wonderful day? Stroll along the marina and be engulfed by the glistening sea and wide blue skies. Dine in the pier for a savory meal with the calming sounds of water and perfect backdrop of blues and parked yachts.
Next to that is Abu Dhabi’s largest luxury shopping mall where you can splurge or feast with your eyes. Hop on an adventure with indoor skydiving and climbing, or get behind the wheel at a renowned Formula 1 racetrack at the Yas Marina Circuit. There is no course to boredom, only fun.
One popular historical landmark in Abu Dhabi is the Qar Al Hosn, which is the oldest stone building built in 1761. There is also Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the Emirates.
Taking the bus that connects significant parts of Abu Dhabi is a convenient and cheap way to get from one tourist spot to another. The route from Al Mina Fish Market connects to Al Zahiyah, which is a popular entertainment hub. You can also alight right at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque there.
From the Al Wahda bus station, you have the option to go to Louvre or explore Downtown Abu Dhabi. The Yas Mall and Ferrari World is also one of the destinations by bus.
And if you are ever in a hurry, download the Abu Dhabi Taxi app so you can just relax and plan your next stops and activities. Travel with ease around the country while celebrating the rich history and culture of the United Arab Emirates! Don’t just visit. Experience the wonderful stories that made the country the destination of your dreams!