Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and is the biggest and richest of the seven emirates nations.Abu Dhabi is renowned for its arts museums and cultural attractions. The recently completed Louvre sits near the much delayed Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim, which is now expected to be ready next year. Together they occupy the eastern rim of Saadiyat Island, surrounded by sea. “Saadiyat” in Arabic means happiness. The island will eventually be turned into a high-end cultural park with a performance space designed by the London-based architect Zaha Hadid and will include a marina and golf course.
The Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal is in the city and 111 cruise ships with 210,000 passengers are expected to call at the port in the 2015/16 season. This is a five-fold increase in the number of passengers and ships visiting Abu Dhabi since the first cruise season in 2006/07. Often cruise lines call at Dubai and passengers can choose to go on a whole day shore excursion to neighbouring Abu Dhabi. The cruise season runs from October to May.
Who goes there: MSC Cruises, Aida, Costa, Hapag-Lloyd.
Cruisers like: Visiting the landmark building, the colossal Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Make sure your shoulders, knees and head are covered, if not you will be denied entry. The mosque, clad in Macedonian marble, mosaic tiles, intricate carvings on both the interior and exterior, took nearly 20 years to complete. The mosque is able to hold 40,000 worshippers and is the biggest in the UAE. For a more historical site, visit the Al-Hosn Palace which is also known as the Old Fort. Built in 1793 as the residence of the ruling family and the seat of government, it is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi.
Best for: family holidays and curious tourists who want a taste of Middle Eastern culture and history.
Getting around: Most tour buses will call at Abu Dhabi’s main tourist high spots like the Louvre, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Al-Hosn Palace. Otherwise hire a private car or taxi.