Dubai to Abu Dhabi

Meet Dubai's laid-back and cultured big brother


The old: Café Layali Zaman
This large, old building on the Corniche Road is perfect for whiling away a warm evening with Arabian tapas and shisha. While the expats tend to avoid it, the locals have it heaving by 9pm, playing cards and backgammon.
Lake Park, Corniche (02 627 7745)

The new: Sardinia
From its location, behind the Abu Dhabi Fitness Club, to its name (picked before they hired French the chef), everything about this restaurant is surprising. Not the place you’d expect to find some of the finest food in the city, but, we assure you, it’s here.
Abu Dhabi Health & Fitness Club (02 446 5455;


The old: Le Méridien
Le Méridien stands as testament to a bygone era. Though shabby on the outside, the interior looks like Hollywood’s interpretation of old Arabia. It feels as though the entire expat community can be found around the pool for Friday brunch.
Tourist Club Area (02 644 6666;

The new: Shangri-La
Sat outside of the main city, the hotel basks in glorious sunsets, lapping it up with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, its ultra-glam neighbour. The attached Souk Qaryat Al Beri – if not traditional – houses some of the city’s hippest eateries.
The Shangri-La (02 509 8888;


The old: Heritage village
This recreated Bedouin settlement offers a fantastic opportunity to have a glimpse into the past with a museum, local craftsmen (even an iron monger bashing out swords) and a woman who sits out in the sun all day just to make you freshly fried doughnuts. Need we say more?
Abu Dhabi Breakwater. Free

The new: Skydiving
The Fitness Club offers indoor skydiving at a reasonable price, allowing you to experience the thrill of freefalling at a convenient (and somewhat wimpy) six foot above the ground. It’s over in a matter of moments, but at least you can say you’ve defied gravity.
Abu Dhabi Health & Fitness Club (02 446 5455;

Getting there

Abu Dhabi is approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Dubai – follow the signs along Sheikh Zayed Road. A taxi is around Dhs250, or take a bus from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station for Dhs10-20

Hotel deals

Stay two nights at the Anantara Desert Resort & Spa for Dhs1,624 per night and get the third night free. Sir Bani Yas Island (02 801 5400;

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