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Since we had a few days in Dubai, we decided to visit the neighbouring city, Abu Dhabi. We managed to book a day tour to Abu Dhabi with a tour company called Arabian Adventures, a well known tour operator in the UAE. The tour included a free hotel pick-up and drop off, so we were shuttled from our hotel to a designated meeting point, where we boarded the coach for the one and a half hour drive to Abu Dhabi. During the drive, our tour guide, Mohammed, gave us a an overview of the history of the United Arab Emirates and Abu Dhabi. He was really engaging and gave us a glimpse into the culture and daily lifestyle of the Emirati people.
Yas Marina F1 Circuit
Our first stop was the Yas Marina F1 Circuit on Yas Island. We made a stop at the 5-star Viceroy hotel, which is the only hotel in the world to be built within an F1 race track. Too bad there was no race going on at the time! After some refreshments served to us in the lobby, we were free to wander around the property and take pictures. Other notable attractions on the man-made island include Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park and Yas Waterworld.
Abu Dhabi Downtown
We continued to a viewing point where we could see the skyline of Abu Dhabi, and were given another photo op.
Next stop was a rather touristy spot with a heritage village, a camel, and a small outdoor market with shops selling souvenirs. I DID go check out the camel, as I had never seen one in person up to this point, but there really wasn’t much to see here. We did a quick loop of the place, but I was able to snap a nice photo along the beach with Abu Dhabi in the backdrop.
Our driver took us for a sightseeing drive along the Abu Dhabi Corniche, which is a stretch of waterfront that has several iconic buildings in Abu Dhabi, including Capital Gate (aka the “Leaning Gate of Abu Dhabi”), and the Etihad Towers, where they filmed the crazy action sequence in the latest Fast & Furious franchise.
By now it was around lunch time, so we were dropped off at the Marina Mall to grab some lunch on our own. We sat down at a cafe, and I ordered a smoked salmon and avocado sandwich, with a berry iced tea.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Up next was the tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is a truly impressive building. Keep in mind that a modest dress code is required to visit this building. We walked around the mosque in 45 degree celsius weather and were literally sweating after 10 seconds. Luckily, there was air conditioning inside the mosque for us to escape the summer heat. We spent an hour there admiring the architecture. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Following the mosque visit, it was time to head back to Dubai. Due to rush hour traffic, the journey back took almost two hours, but eventually we were dropped off back at our hotel.
Overall I would definitely recommend a visit to Abu Dhabi. The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque and Abu Dhabi skyline were really nice stops, and the tour was well organized. It was a great way to see another part of the UAE, away from the bustling city of Dubai.