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United Arab Emirates

Welcome to Abu Dhabi

City description  

While neighbouring Dubai is all about towering skyscrapers and business, Abu Dhabi has a more horizontal horizon and the focus is more upon culture. Next to the clear blue water of the Persian Gulf, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Emirate, and also the capital of the United Arab Emirates, overlooks the sculpted curves of its infinite dunes, which are every bit as beautiful as the pictures hanging in its museums.

In their dark tents, there are some Bedouins who continue to raise their camels on the outskirts of the city, while on the Corniche - a boulevard not dissimilar from La Croisette which stretches along the seafront with its brightly lit motorways - their descendants show off their 4X4s and Ferraris. This is the reality for an Emirate that fearlessly looks towards the future and in which Italian racing cars are just as highly regarded as the Arabian dromedary camel. Unlike in the Old Continent, there is nothing shocking about showing off your wealth here, in fact, quite the contrary! Abu Dhabi’s nouveau riche drive Ferraris and Hummers to shopping centres like Yas Mall, Dalma Mall and Abu Dhabi Mall, where prestigious brands fulfil a wide array of shopping needs. They live it up at Yas Waterworld and pray at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is open to the public outside prayer times and Ramadan. In this place of worship, a real work of art, surrounded by ornamental lakes, thousands of marble flowers decorate the columns and walls, lit by massive crystal chandeliers.

A big fan of culture and education, the Sheikh dedicates a considerable budget to these areas. He has filled his Emirate with universities, including a joint venture with the Sorbonne, and museums. At Al-Bateen Mall, the Etihad Modern Art Gallery is popular with fans of contemporary art, as is its stunning Art House Café, which is well worth a visit. The Louvre, designed by Jean Nouvel in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District is due to open in 2016, alongside Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim, which is currently being built. International conductors and musicians perform during the Classical Music season (October to May) as well as after the famous Etihad Airways Formula 1 Grand Prix race.
The Sheikh is also sensitive to environmental challenges, and it was he who encouraged the introduction of a huge eco-farm right in the middle of the desert, fifteen minutes from the city centre, that produces internationally organic certified products. His Majesty also keeps a watchful eye on the development of Masdar City, an ambitious project for an eco-solar city that rose up out of the sand in 2008. When it has been completed, it is set to house around 40,000 people and around a thousand businesses. At the end of April each year, architects, designers and investors gather at the Cityscape real estate event, while every other year in February, professionals from the defence and security industry discuss their latest news at IDEX.
Abu Dhabi, one of the most enlightened of the United Arab Emirates, is also keen to preserve its historic heart, Qasr Al Hosn, the stronghold of the ruling family, and loves nothing more than attracting more and more visitors. The construction of its new airport, which, when completed, will be one of the most high-tech in the world, with a duty free area ten times bigger than the current one, proves that this beautiful desert city is ambitiously focusing on its long-term future.

Top things to do in Abu Dhabi

Enjoy our selection of finest attractions

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  • Highlight
  • Art & design
  • Shopping
  • Other

Where to Eat

  • Sofitel restaurants
  • Café
  • Restaurants

Iris

Located in the heart of Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, Iris Yas Island exudes a unique atmosphere accompanied by its Garden of Eden-style background tunes. Very trendy, the address is prized for its delicious cocktails and live performances by top international DJs.

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Byblos Sur Mer

This sultry Lebanese restaurant in the Intercontinental Abu Dhabi features a beautiful alfresco terrace overlooking a marina. Enjoy the high-flying culinary show at Byblos Sur Mer.

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Zuma

Following the success of its sister restaurant in Dubai, Zuma Abu Dhabi restaurant brilliantly and creatively reinvents Japanese cuisine, featuring exquisite sushi. Expect a very chic, lounge-style atmosphere.

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Silk & Spice

Silk & Spice, an award-winning Thai restaurant in Dubai, nestles with its traditional décor in the heart of the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche. The menu features delicious curries and exotic fruit cocktails, offering a true sensory journey.

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Hakkasan

Transported from the shores of London, Hakkasan combines Cantonese cuisine with modern Chinese gastronomy. Imagine sumptuous duck served with Beluga caviar, savoredd in a sublime setting designed by French designers, Gilles & Boissier.

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Beach House Rooftop

From the terrace of the Rooftop Beach House at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, the view of the Arabian Sea is breathtaking. Lounge music and delicious cocktails complete this fashionable nightlife experience in Abu Dhabi.

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Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill

Chef Marco Pierre White, the enfant terrible of the London gastronomy scene, brings his rock'n'roll cache and three Michelin-starred cuisine to Abu Dhabi. The result, an innovative and award-winning steakhouse with an extensive selection of wine.

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Jamaica Blue Yas Mall

Bringing one of Australia’s favourite coffee concepts to Abu Dhabi, Jamaica Blue is the ideal place to enjoy great coffee while taking a shopping break at the world-class Yas Mall. Start the day with a hearty breakfast and a superb coffee brewed with beans sourced from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica.

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Leopold’s of London

Sleek café by day and sophisticated brasserie by night, Leopold’s of London boasts five chic coffee spots in Abu Dhabi. Head to the Boutik Mall address for its spacious bistro-style setting, where you can enjoy coffee made with beans roasted in-house, a dizzying Tea Library and a delicious international menu.

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Corniche Restaurant

Situated within the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche Hotel, the Corniche Restaurant offers the best of Arabic and French cuisine by celebrated Chef Kim Gates in a chic and casual setting. Settle into the dining room and enjoy a front row view of the action taking place in the open kitchen which boasts three live cooking stations. Savour tempting platters of traditional hot and cold mezze, or the succulent tenderloin steaks prepared on a sizzling charcoal grill. Known for its attentive and friendly service, the Corniche’s convivial atmosphere is a major part of its charm – not to mention its tempting range of beautiful French pastries. Don’t miss the chance to try the authentic Baklava for a sweet indulgence. 

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Practical information

  • where to stay
  • when to go
  • Travel transportation
  • event calendar

Abu Dhabi • United Arab Emirates

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche welcomes you to the capital of the United Arab Emirat...

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When to go

The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is from October to May, when the temperature is moderate, around 30° C.
From June to September, the average daily temperature increases to more than 36°C and can reach August 40° Celsius and 90% humidity in the month of August. January is the coldest month with average temperature around 18°C.

Abu Dhabi annual calendar

  • Jan

    Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, 21 - 24 January 2016

  • Fev

    Qasr Al Hosn, heritage and culture Festival, 3 - 13 February 2016

  • Mar

    ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, 4 - 5 March 2016

  • Apr

    Cityscape Fair, real estate and investment trade fair, 12 - 14 April 2016

  • May

    Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, 27 April - 3 May 2016

  • Jun

    Muslim celebrations of Ramadan Abu Dhabi, 6 June to 5 July 2016

  • Jul

    Muslim celebrations of Eid Al Fitr, 7 July 2016

  • Aug

    Sales and special events in Abu Dhabi Malls, August 2016

  • Sep

    Muslim Celebrations of Eid Al Adha, 11 September 2016

  • Oct

    Arabex - The Arabian style exhibition, 31 October - 5 November 2016

  • Nov

    Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2016, 25 – 27 November 2016

  • Dec

    Abu Dhabi Classics, classical concerts/shows, late 2016 to May 2017

Travel transportation

Transportation

Public transportation options are limited in Abu Dhabi and includes local taxis, private chauffeur, rental car, bus and shuttle. Abu Dhabi City Bus offers modern-air conditioned buses which operate 24/24h on 14 different routes. It costs 2 Dirham per ride which you will have to drop in a collection box next to the driver. Make sure that you have some cash with you.
The Halifat temporary smart card offers very reasonably priced travel passes for 1 day, 2 weeks or a month. You can purchase one from vending machines or at shopping malls.
Another very convenient way to travel around Yas Island is the Yas Express, which is a free shuttle bus service covering the main attractions in Yas Island (major hotels, Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Yas Marina and Yas Beach). The two routes of the Yas Express (Blue and Red) operate from 9am to 9pm.
Keep in mind that when driving in Abu Dhabi​, you must drive on the ​right ​side of the road.

Taxis

Taxi is the best way to travel around Abu Dhabi and renting a car is not recommended for safety reasons. There are hundreds of taxis which can be booked over the phone, hailed on the roadside or found at taxi stations. Metered taxis in Abu Dhabi are comfortable, reasonably priced and safe, and the majority of drivers speak English. You can easily recognise them with their silver color and white or yellow roof sign. The initial charge is ​3.50 Dirham (4 Dirham at night time) and then add 1.60 Dirham (1.69 Dirham at night time) for each kilometer. Some additional charges may apply, such as 8 Dirham if you book over the phone.​

getting to & from the airport

The impressive Abu Dhabi International Airport has been elected in the last few years as the “Best Airport in the Middle East”. It is located 30 km and about 40 minutes by bus or taxi from Abu Dhabi City. The air-conditioned A1 buses depart every 40 minutes, 24/24h, and it will cost you 4 Dirham for a single ticket. Metered taxis are available and private transfers can be arranged at the airport. By taxi, the journey into Abu Dhabi City will cost you 70 to 80 Dirham.

Getting around

Other destinations

* Prices start from. Offer subject to the hotel's conditions and availability. See the sales conditions for the rate. Depending on the country, these prices may not include taxes, may include VAT only or may include all taxes (VAT and city tax). When prices do not include all taxes, the relevant taxes (VAT and/or city tax) will be stated in the following stages of the reservation process. The price is only guaranteed at the time of reservation.

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