As fall begins and much of the world prepares to swap sunglasses for scarves, we take a look at the reasons why your winter travel plans should include a trip to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Summer in Winter
Only the brave and foolhardy would visit Abu Dhabi during the peak summer months spanning June to September, when temperatures can consistently hit 120°F. But for the rest of the year—October through May—visitors can expect a much more comfortable climate ranging from 70°F to 95°F.
While most countries experience chills, rain, and grey skies, Abu Dhabi will provide a welcome escape of warm Arabian days with a minimal risk of thunderstorms: the emirate experiences an average of just 75 mm of rainfall per year.
So, if you are looking to gain a winter tan or simply escape the cold and dark, few places will give you what you need quite like Abu Dhabi.
Located on the Persian Gulf, Abu Dhabi boasts some wonderful beaches with clear waters and golden sand. Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi Corniche, Yas Island, and Al Bateen Beach are the go-to places to hit the beach in winter.
As the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi prides itself on its world-class hospitality. With dozens of five-star hotels and hundreds of award-winning restaurants, bars, and cafés, the emirate will make you feel like a celebrity wherever you visit.
However, it’s not just the glitz and glamour that make a visitor feel special when in Abu Dhabi, but also the local customs and friendliness of the people. With an overall population of around 1.45 million people, the local Emiratis make up just 550,000, and they largely embrace the foreign presence in their community, including both expats and tourists.
Abu Dhabi residents will often invite visitors to their home or favorite café for coffee and dates. They’re generally a hospitable people interested in getting to know those who choose to visit their city.
Sports and Entertainment Capital
From September through April, Abu Dhabi plays host to some of the biggest sports and entertainment events in the world.
Sports fans can tailor their trip by timing it with one of the many international events taking place. Golf fans can visit in January for the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, where the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka are regular visitors.
Motorsport followers will not want to miss the Formula One season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, while martial arts fans will rejoice in the return of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to Abu Dhabi every September. There are also numerous local and international soccer and cricket events, sailing, horse racing, and many more sports events to take in while in Abu Dhabi.
Sports fans can do more than just watch games and matches while in Abu Dhabi. With several championship-grade golf courses, tennis clubs, indoor sports facilities, and running and cycle tracks, the active tourist will have plenty to keep them occupied.
For music fans, winter is typically the season when the biggest artists, DJs, and bands visit the UAE. In the last few years, everyone from Eminem, the Rolling Stones, and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Martin Garrix, Bruno Mars, and Jennifer Lopez have performed gigs in Abu Dhabi.
Arts and Culture
Abu Dhabi has made a concerted effort in recent years to position itself as the cultural capital of the Middle East—a move that is certainly paying dividends.
The emirate is home to the massively popular Louvre Abu Dhabi after paying hundreds of millions of dollars for both the name and partnership rights with the Louvre in Paris. Visitors to the Louvre Abu Dhabi will find a mix of international and regional exhibitions and some special events featuring history’s most famous artists.
Beyond the Louvre, culture lovers will also want to check out the Maritime Museum, which chronicles Abu Dhabi’s long and rich history with the sea. Also well worth a visit is the Qasr Al Hosn, once the original palace and government buildings of Abu Dhabi. The oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi, the structure dates back to 1761 and is now a reconstructed museum.
Art lovers should find time to visit the Etihad Modern Art Gallery and N2N Art Gallery, while automobile aficionados will want to spend hours in the Emirates National Auto Museum, which features a range of vintage American cars, off-road vehicles, and the world’s largest truck.
One of the most popular ways to experience a snapshot of Abu Dhabi culture (and to have a ton of fun while doing so) is to book a desert safari.
These all-day safaris will take you deep into the Abu Dhabi desert, where you will visit camel farms, explore the sand dunes, enjoy a traditional Arabic barbecue, and be entertained by belly dancers. Then the piece de resistance: watching the sun set and seeing the Arabian night sky fill up with stars. Expect plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” at this moment.