The architectural marvel – which has been brought to the Middle East thanks to a partnership between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France – will be home to more than 600 artworks, half of which will be loaned by 13 of France’s biggest cultural institutions.
The art on display will include famous works from masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse and Édouard Manet. There will also be regular talks and a brilliant kids’ museum and workshop. It caters for everyone, whether you’re an art expert or not.
It will also be the first museum in the Middle East to group art by when it was created, rather than by nation or style. The great news is that nobody will be priced out of a visit either, with admission set at Dh60 for adults and just Dhs30 for those aged between 13 and 22 and UAE educational professionals. November can’t come soon enough. From Dhs30. Opening Sat Nov 11, 2017. Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, www.louvreabudhabi.ae (600 565 566).
The sport of kings reigns supreme in Dubai. Not only is the globe’s greatest horse racing stable, Godolphin, owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, but one of the planet’s richest races is held here, too.
The horse racing seasons gets up and running in November at Meydan Racecourse, culminating with the prestigious Dubai World Cup at the end of March. The eagerly-awaited meet is one of the biggest sporting and social events of the year, with 60,000 race-goers dressed to the nines for the occasion. Seriously, it’s not just the equine competitors on parade.
An international crop of riders and horses will be jockeying for position in a bid to claim a share of the US$10 million jackpot once again in 2018. Plus, once the last nag is past the post, it’s time for the post-race gig; always a spectacular event.
The landmark Abu Dhabi hotel is as regal as it gets in the UAE
We all like to be treated like royalty now and again, don’t we? Well, there’s no better place to lap up the luxury than at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Guests who stay at the grand, palatial hotel can amble around 1.3km of pristine beach, swim in numerous pools and look on in awe at a private marina overlooking a natural bay.
The hotel, which features 394 luxurious rooms and suites, is also home to a rich array of top-class restaurants. Enjoy a taste of the Orient at world-renowned Chinese restaurant Hakkasan, experience authentic Emirati cuisine cooked with flair at Mezlai, or get hooked on the catch of the day at Sayad Seafood Restaurant. And when the weather is good, step outside and enjoy some grills on the beach at BBQ Al Qasr (pictured right, middle). Italian fans will find plenty to smile about at Mezzaluna, too. And when you’re ready to chill out, take a break in the Emirates Palace Spa.
Whether you are booking a luxurious stay or stopping by for a decadent dining experience, a date at the palace will be one forever etched in your memory. West Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi, www.kempinski.com (02 690 7999).
Thrill seekers can climb high and soar through the sky from Jebel Jais
World’s tallest building? Check. World’s tallest hotel? Tick that one off. World’s fastest roller coaster? Yes, that’s sorted. What’s next, UAE? Well, why not have a go at constructing the world’s longest zip line? The ambitious project will be developed around Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest point located in Ras Al Khaimah. At the time of writing, the exact length of the zip line is still under wraps but it is to be certified by Guinness World Records after its planned December 2017 opening, and is expected to take the global crown away from Puerto Rico’s Toro Verde Adventure Park, which measures a staggering 2,530 metres in length. Just to send another record tumbling, it is also expected to be the world’s highest zip line, sitting upon one of Jebel Jais’ tallest points, nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. The attraction will be able to accommodate 350 people a day when it opens, with two parallel wires allowing families and couples to experience the ride together.
The most fun sporting event in the calendar calls for extra sartorial effort
Not a rugby fan? Well, this annual festival of sporting fun might just be the thing to convert you.
Every year the streamlined version of the popular game comes to Dubai and brings a brilliant party vibe with it.
There is almost as much entertainment to be found in the stands as there is on the pitch, as fans from all over the world get decked out in the craziest, most colourful costumes possible while cheering on their heroes.
From a team of Teletubbies to a fearsome mariachi band, you just don’t know what quirky sight you’ll see next. This is how sport should be enjoyed.
While the fans bring a generous helping of fun to proceedings, the ultra-competitive athletes will be sure to steal the show on the pitch.
Whether you’re backing the All Blacks, roaring on the English or supporting the South Africans, the Dubai Rugby Sevens, usually held at the end of November to early December every year, has to be tackled head-on. The Sevens Stadium, Al Ain Road, Dubai, dubairugby7s.com (04 321 0008).
Make a splash at a waterpark
These fun-filled attractions across the UAE definitely are not just for kids
There is no trouble finding water in the UAE. In fact, three of the top ten waterparks on the planet were found to be right here, according to a poll done in 2016.
Discover an incredible underwater world at Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai, based at Atlantis The Palm (pictured right, middle), which is overflowing with fun. Experience a series of adrenaline-pumping rides such as Poseidon’s Revenge, which sees hardy thrillseekers propelled through the heart of The Tower of Poseidon at 60km per hour.
If you want to double up on your Dubai fun, dip your toe in the water at the Arabian-themed Wild Wadi Waterpark (pictured, top), which is home to more than 30 rides and attractions.
Abu Dhabi isn’t left high and dry, either, as Yas Waterworld (pictured, bottom) one of the top tourist attractions on Yas Island. The popular destination boasts 45 rides for all ages, regular ladies’ night offers and even introduced a Neon Nights evening event in September 2017, which will run sporadically throughout the year. Dubai: Aquaventure Waterpark Dubai. From Dhs170. Open daily 10am to sunset. Atlantis The Palm Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, www.atlantisthepalm.com (04 426 2000); Wild Wadi Waterpark: Dhs270 (adult all-day ticket), Dhs220 (child all-day ticket). Call for seasonal timings. Umm Suqeim 3, www.jumeirah.com (04 348 4444). Abu Dhabi: Yas Waterworld: From Dhs250. Open daily 10am-7pm. Yas Island, www.yaswaterworld.com (02 414 2000).
Speed on the world’s Fastest ride
Riding the Formula Rossa at Ferrari World is a thrill like no other
Super-fast cars, even faster roller coasters; when the kings of Italian motoring style get involved, you just know it is going to be good.
This massive Abu Dhabi attraction is a fantastic white-knuckle ride – all in red. The theme park boasts more than 20 rides and activities, but the one you will want to strap yourself in to is the record-smashing Formula Rossa. It’s not for the faint-hearted, however.
Brace yourself for blast off as you scale heart-pumping heights of 52 metres while reaching speeds of 240km per hour. Once you’ve had your fill of G-force thrills, there is plenty of other ground to cover at the Yas Island park.
From dining at an array of family-friendly eateries, to racking up scorching lap times on a state-of-the-art simulator, and even getting behind the wheel yourself for some go-karting action, there is a plenty of fun to be had. From Dhs275. Open daily 11am-8pm. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com (02 496 8000).
Kayak in the Eastern Mangroves
A brilliant way to explore a huge national park filled with wildlife
One thing we love about the UAE’s capital is that it’s not all about stunning skyscrapers, impressive landmarks and long stretches of golden sands (although we do love those things, too).
The lush greenery and azure waters of the Eastern Mangroves are truly a sight to behold, so a visit should be right at the top of your Abu Dhabi bucket list.
You can see them up-close by diving in for a fun-packed kayak session. Pick up a paddle and explore Abu Dhabi’s beautiful landscapes during a trip through the Gulf waters.
You can try out the activity during a stay at the luxurious five-star Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, which overlooks the waterways.
There really isn’t a better way of taking in the vast mangrove forests. You can even journey to some of the emirate’s huge network of idyllic islands while in the waters. Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa, Abu Dhabi by Anantara, Sheikh Zayed Street, abu-dhabi.anantara.com (02 656 1000).
On either side of Dubai Creek you’ll find stalls selling gold, spices and textiles
If you think the only shopping experience you can have is in a glittering multi-level mall (take your pick, there is plenty of them) with high-end retail chains lurking around every corner, then think again.
For some more traditional retail therapy, head down to one of the many souks dotted on either side of Dubai Creek. It’s the oldest part of town and the traditional trades are still in place.
One favourite is the Gold Souk, in Deira. The aisles are lined with gold (naturally). Hundreds of retailers offer a selection of jewellery, diamonds and other precious stones.
You don’t have to venture too far from there to chance upon the Spice Souk. Its narrow passageways are filled with traders selling every herb and spice you can imagine. Saffron is good value here.
On the opposite side of Dubai Creek lies the Textile Souk in the old trading centre of Bur Dubai. Here you will find a vast collection of colourful garments and fabrics that you couldn’t find in any high street store. Make sure you’re ready to haggle, too, as those who dare can end up with a bargain or two. Deira and Bur Dubai.
Dive into water sports in Al Ain
Wadi Adventure is a one-stop shop for thrillseekers at the base of Jebel Hafeet
Get ready to have an “oar-some” time at the UAE’s first-ever man-made white water rafting, kayaking, wakeboarding and surfing attraction.
The levels of fun will be turned up rapidly once you start navigating your way through crashing waves of an adrenaline-charged white-water rafting experience at the base of Al Ain’s Jebel Hafeet.
Whether you’re new to the activity or have dipped your toe in the waters before, you are in for plenty of thrills and spills. There are three different levels of white-water rapids available and no experience is necessary.
For those with a sense of adventure, this is an exhilarating experience that is not to missed. All raft trips include a professional guide, a short briefing on the essentials, and all the safety equipment you could need. With that taken care of, all that’s left is to make an almighty splash. From Dhs100 per person. Open daily 11am-7pm. Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain, www.wadiadventure.ae (03 781 8422).