Today we welcome Keri Hedrick, Editor of Family Travel in the Middle East to share her 5 favourite things about Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and her expat home where she lives with her 3 children.
Somewhere Free: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
It’s hard to believe that the cities most magnificent building, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is completely free to enter. You must get an entry ticket and hire an abaya or kandura (the traditional local dress) if you are not completed covered, but all at no cost.
Inside you can grab a free handheld eGuide as you tour around or join one of the daily free cultural tours with a live guide. It really is a place to open your heart and soul to the city’s beautiful Islamic culture in breath-taking surroundings.
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Somewhere For The Whole Day: Yas Waterworld
Situated on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi Yas Waterworld is one of the world’s leading water parks. It has something to suit all age groups from tiny tots through to epic slides and rides so you can really please the whole family here.
The huge variety or rides and attractions means you can easily spend the whole day and barely repeat a ride (but you will want to!). There are plenty of eateries on site, and a cool new Cinesplash 5D cinema experience which is great for cooling off between rides.
Somewhere Outdoors: Umm al Emarat Park
Our favourite inner-city oasis is Umm Al Emarat Park. Located in the very Middle of Abu Dhabi Island, it is just 10AED to enter (about $3USD), under 3’s free. It has two giant playground areas, a botanical garden and a lovely splash park area including a small wadi (natural waterways found in the region – Ok, this one is a replica, there’s no mountains in the city!) a perfect way to cool off in the hot season (most of the year!).
The park also offers a petting zoo – an opportunity to see some native Arabian animals and on occasion camel rides, as well as an electric train and in the cooler winter months, a giant maze. Plenty of events are held here as well from Saturday markets to fun runs and sports day.
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Somewhere To Eat: Souk Qaryat al Beri
In a very international city, it’s no surprise there are plenty of dining choices. You will find most restaurants are attached to a hotel or part of a shopping mall. A favourite area we like to dine is
along Bab Al Bahr and the Grand Canal. This is the area where Abu Dhabi Island is separated from the mainland (the whole city is actually a series of islands!)
Wondering along from the Fairmont to the Shangri-La hotel you will get stunning views back to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. There’s a playground in front of Traders Hotel to burn some energy, then keep walking to the Shangri-La where you will find Souk Qayrat Al Beri and plenty of dining options with a view. The cheap and cheerful Noodle Bowl is normally a winner with kids, through to trés posh steak houses. After dinner treat the kids to an abra ride (traditional boat) through the Venetian Village-style water ways of the souk.
Somewhere For A Rainy Day: Warner Bros World
We don’t get too many rainy days in Abu Dhabi, but when we do, parents are all scrambling for ideas! Luckily, our city is very well equipped with indoor family activities as that’s how we cope with the incredibly hot summers.
There are so many choices from shopping mall soft plays to Bounce trampoline centre and indoor go karts to ice skating and bowling. Our favourite sure to keep everyone satisfied though is Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. This is another brilliant theme park on Yas Island, entirely indoors.
Warner Bros World has everything from action rides to interactive stage shows and cinema experiences, encompassing favourite characters from Bugs Bunny and Tweety through to DC Comic heroes in Gotham City and Metropolis.
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