I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘I’ll get round to it.’ You’re thinking, ‘It’s only two hours up the road – it’s not going anywhere.’ Well, I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Abu Dhabi is a mere 90 minutes up the road (on a good day) and it’s going places fast.
You may have heard the rumours. Again, I can confirm they’re all true. With the summer a sweaty memory, the capital is heading outdoors, basking on the corniche and gearing up for the mega events coming our way. There’s Timbaland, Kings of Leon, Jamiroquai, Beyoncé, Aerosmith, … oh, and the small matter of the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Elsewhere, a huge party on the beach is rumoured to have attracted the attention of Brangelina, among others. Yep, you certainly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else this autumn.
And it’s not as if things haven’t been happening here before, either. Some of you ventured this way earlier in the year for Coldplay, Andrea Bocelli and the fantastic Womad festival that saw 80,000 revellers take to the beach. Or maybe you’re thinking of putting off your visit until Saadiyat Island is complete, with the Guggenheim, the Louvre and more.
But why wait until then? We’re a friendly bunch. We’ve got room for all of you. Come and join us for the Yasalam events that have already begun and continue until October 31. I’ll save a seat for you at the open-air cinema; we can watch the Grand Prix together.
I’m often asked whether Abu Dhabi is the new Dubai. I don’t think it is. It’s in no race to better itself, you see. The extras will be unveiled when they’re good and ready. Turn away from the current pomp and it has a retro feel – dusty backstreets that ooze character; restaurants where you can eat your fill and feel like you’ve ripped someone off. It feels lived-in.
It’s not that I think you’re being rude, of course, but it seems silly to keep putting us off. Come on, come and join in. I’d really hate to see you miss out.
Nov 3, 6 & 9
20Twenty: Pakistan vs New Zealand
Pakistan return to the city for a series of 20Twenty games against the team who knocked them out of the recent ICC Champions Trophy. Grudge match!
Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium. Tickets: call stadium on 02 558 8331
Manchester City vs UAE
Abu Dhabi’s very own team of multi-millionaires (including Wright Phillips, Robinho, Adebayor et al) descend on the capital for a one-off exhibition match against the UAE national side.
Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Tickets: Etihad shops, Virgin Megastores and www.ticketingboxoffice.com
Art Abu Dhabi
Bang went Art Paris, and in its place arrives Art Abu Dhabi, with international galleries, local artists, workshops, talks and a preview of the Guggenheim’s latest acquisitions.
Emirates Palace. Free
It’s been rumoured all year – finally, The Killers come to the capital.
Emirates Palace. Tickets: www.timeouttickets.com
Fifa Club World Cup
Some of the best clubs in the world pay a visit to the capital, including Barcelona FC and the winners of the South American Copa Libertadores, Estudiantes.
Various stadia. Tickets: available at www.fifa.com
Saadiyat Island Ocean Golf Course opens
Gary Player’s championship signature ocean course is eco-friendly and even skirts a turtle reserve. Watch out with your drives!
Dec 31-Jan 2
Capitala World Tennis Championship
World number one Roger Federer and last year’s beaten finalist Rafael Nadal return for more championship tennis action.
Sheikh Zayed Tennis Complex. Tickets: call stadium on 02 449 2160
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship
Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Geoff Ogilvy, among others, battle it out for the falcon trophy as the Desert Swing tees off again in the New Year.
Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Tickets: call club on 02 558 8990 (available Nov)
Gourmet Abu Dhabi
Michelin-starred chefs from around the world descend on the city’s hotels for special dinners, masterclasses, tastings and more culinary trickery.
Various hotels. Visit www.gourmetabudhabi.ae
Womad Abu Dhabi
A hit last year, Peter Gabriel’s world music festival turned the corniche into a dramatic whirlwind of colours, music and flags. Expect more of the same in 2010.
The Abu Dhabi Corniche. Tickets on sale in Feb/Mar
Ferrari World opens
Want to drive a Ferrari round a real race track? Ferrari World may be open already for the likes of Beyoncé and Aerosmith to perform, but it won’t be officially unveiled until the middle of next year (fingers crossed).
Yas Island. Visit www.yasisland.ae
Louvre Abu Dhabi
With close to US$2billion (Dhs7.3billion) spent on naming rights and building a collection, the exhibits span 100,000BC to contemporary modern art. Look out for taster exhibitions in the coming year.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Frank Gehry’s ambitious design promises a dramatic look. Visit Art Abu Dhabi in November to catch a glimpse of the museum’s art collection.
Performing Arts Centre
With a capacity that dwarfs even London’s Royal Albert Hall, this is set to be the crux of the city’s theatrical and classical ambitions.