Immerse yourself in a capital city brimming with art and culture
Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
You've arrived in Abu Dhabi, the UAE's capital, so welcome to a city that is home to a massive range of activities and things to do, from beaches and parks to award-winning restaurants.
The city also proudly plays host to a wide range of major global sporting events throughout the year, including both the F1 and the HSBC Golf Championships.
It's a very family-friendly city, too, with a multitude of after-school clubs, outdoor areas and restaurants waiting for you to explore and tuck into, now you're settling into your new home in the UAE.
Of course, there's also the year-round beautiful rays of sunshine beaming out from cloudless blue skies to perk up your mood.
But while Abu Dhabi is full of style, the importance of community and family is vital to the city. These virtues were put in place by the county’s founding Bedouin families, who first settled here in the 1700s.
Fast forward to 1958 and the country was swiftly on its golden path by the discovery of oil.
It was Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who used his business savvy to convert the state’s oil to riches, which in turn transformed the UAE’s humble village settlements and fuelled extensive modernisation.
Abu Dhabi owns a ten percent stake of the world’s oil production and is in the top ten oil producers on the planet.
Rather than rest easy on the riches that oil has provided, Abu Dhabi is continuing to use its wealth to build firm foundations for world-class recreation, cultural, entertainment and academic facilities.
Saadiyat Island, otherwise known as “The Island of Happiness”, is a cultural district, which will be home to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi, both of which are in the latter stages of development.
And then you have the shimmering delights that are on offer at Yas Island, where life can move at record-breaking speed.
There are enough attractions in this sprawling man-made space to make a huge dent in even the grandest of bucket lists.
You can enjoy a luxurious stay at the Yas Viceroy, the world’s only hotel to be a part of an F1 racetrack, the Yas Marina Circuit which plays host to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix each year.
Then you can get your adrenaline pumping by taking a ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World or enjoy life at a more sedate pace by playing the GCC’s only links golf course (without the soggy British climate).
For those looking for some shopping, don't miss the massive Yas Mall.
With a staggering 2.5m sq ft of space to cover, you can shop until you drop before taking time for a valuable refuel at one of the long line of top restaurants featuring a wide range of international cuisines.
Today, the expat community makes up nearly 80 percent of the exciting multicultural melting pot.
Each of the seven emirates – Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Kaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi – has a ruler and its own laws.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the President of the UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The name is said to mean “father of the gazelle”, harking back to the first island gazelle that led the founding Bani Yas tribe to fresh water from their barasti (palm) huts.
Arabic is the official language, although English is widely spoken. UAE nationals practise Islam and follow its five pillars: profession of faith, charity, prayer, fasting and pilgrimage. The call to prayer can be heard ringing throughout the city five times a day.
It is not only wise but fascinating to be familiar with local laws, customs and behaviour, and many locals are happy to talk about their country and to showcase their religion, traditions and landmarks.
A great way to build up your knowledge is to pay a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, an architectural marvel with room for 40,000 worshippers, 80 domes, over 1,000 columns and the world’s largest hand- woven carpet.
You can also see Abu Dhabi as it once was at Heritage Village. The reconstructed village on The Corniche Breakwater holds demonstrations of traditional Emirati crafts, authentic shops and military displays.
Abu Dhabi is a city looking to the future but always eager to honour its past.
With sunshine, sport, arts and culture, a raft of fantastic restaurants and idyllic island resorts, Abu Dhabi offers a great new life, whatever you're after.