Abu Dhabi, the capital city of UAE, is also known as the ‘city of billionaires’. It’s a breathtaking place, which has opulence and affluence written all over it. It is synonyms with high-end malls, futuristic architecture and theme parks, and super-luxury hotels.
However, there are many things to do in Abu Dhabi and attractions to see, which will not burn a hole in your pocket. You just need to take a bit of detour from the usual touristy places, and you will be amazed at what all you can enjoy. Here is a list of some of such things:
Travelling to Abu Dhabi on a budget
Middle-eastern countries are popular for their souks or traditional market places. A visit to the souk during your Abu Dhabi tour doesn’t cost you anything but gives you a rich insight into the lives of the locals. In fact, this is the best way to get to know the culture and heritage of any place. Mina Port is one such place where you can shop to your heart’s content for authentic and ethnic Arab products. The Port has dedicated sections for all your needs. At the homeware section, you can pick up enamel trays, cooking utensils, coffee mugs, and wooden equipment, etc. For your furnishing needs, pick up colourful sofa beds, rugs, cushions, and wicker chairs. You can also buy quirky knick-knacks like vintage radios and gramophones. Mina Port is a good place to purchase the famous Arabic coffee and dates.
See cultural exhibits
This is one of the best activities in Abu Dhabi and the greatest way to get to know the culture of the place. The Cultural Foundation was conceptualised to foster cultural awakening in the new generations while promoting and protecting the rich Arab culture at the same time.
Here you will see digitally presented artworks by eminent artists in world-class galleries. The Cultural Foundation also houses Art Studios to facilitate the production of artworks. There is an in-house Book Club that meets once every month to meet national and international authors especially invited to the Foundation. You can also observe a panel discussion between educators, artists, scholars, and experts, etc.
Abu Dhabi has a rich coastline that is dotted with serene and beautiful beaches perfect for a getaway from the chaos of the streets and the market places. Corniche is the most popular beach and is visited by travellers from all over the world. Al Bahar is the newly developed beachfront that is popular for its events and festivals. There are lively promenades to walk on, plenty of restaurants and cafes, and even an open-air gym at the beachfront. Al Bateen Beach is another popular place to spend a quiet and tranquil evening near the soothing ocean waters during your vacation in Abu Dhabi. You can also visit the Reem Central Park located alongside Al Raha Beach to see colourful dancing fountains and artworks. There is a skating rink, canal walk, and of course the city beach, which are great ways to unwind without spending too much money.
Museums are a great place to known the historic origins and traditions of any place. People interested in getting to know the middle-eastern culture better must visit the UAE Currency Museum during their travel to Abu Dhabi. As the name suggests, it is dedicated solely to currency and its evolution to the present day Dirham. See huge collections of Bahraini Dinar and Saudi Riyal along with age-old currency notes. The museum features sheets of printed money before they are cut. In this, you can observe ways in which forgery is prevented by creating unique designs on the notes.
Don’t forget to make an appointment before you go. This is required since the museum is locatedinside the UAE Central Bank complex.
See the Grand Mosque of Sheikh Zayed
The Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque is one attraction that should not be missed. Not because it can be accessed without incurring any cost but because it is one of the most stunning mosques in the entire Middle East. Considered as one of the largest mosques in the world it is visited by people from all over from the worldfor its stunning yet tranquil ambience. This is one of the few unique religious landmarks that are diverse in the truest sense. People of all faiths visit the mosque to see its designs that are not restricted to being only Islamic. It has borrowed inspiration from Italian, Turkish, British, and Egyptian cultures.
The mosque has spectacular onion domes made with pristine white marble stone, huge reflective pools, adorned with the world’s largest carpet and the world’s largest Swaroski studded chandelier.The walls are covered in intricate gold-painted calligraphy of Quran verses.
Catch rare films
In case you are a film buff and are especially fond of world cinema, visit the Cinema Space at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Located at The Saadiyat Island, this is an independent initiative to promote classic world cinema that has been restored amongst a wider audience. You can catch wonderful films from genres like contemporary, matinee, and revival from countries like Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Sweden, and Japan. Do remember to book your seats in advance before you head over for a screening for an interesting add-on to your Abu Dhabi activities.
Right from larger than life mosques to an ancient heritage village, outdoor art installations, and cultural spaces, Abu Dhabi has something for everybody without costing too much. Visit these places on your next trip to explore the unique culture and legacy that Abu Dhabi is symbolic of.