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Planning Your Trip

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Whether you are visiting Abu Dhabi for business, pleasure, or both, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates offers a wide range of cosmopolitan, cultural, and natural attractions to captivate you beyond the length of your stay. Here’s what to bring along.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Abu Dhabi
What To Pack

There are a few things to keep in mind regarding photography in the UAE. In general, taking photos or videos in public is acceptable unless explicitly stated otherwise — areas that may be restricted include government buildings, military sites, bridges, and airports. Don’t photograph locals, particularly women, without permission. With those guidelines, be ready to capture your own unique views of one of the world’s most photogenic destinations. Keep in mind the bright sun and monumental scale of Abu Dhabi’s sculpted skyscrapers can be challenging. 

Business Travel

In general, those of non-Middle Eastern descent should wear their usual corporate attire when traveling on business in the UAE, though keeping modesty in mind.

Women need not wear a headscarf or hijab. Wear a dress or skirt hemmed at least to the knee or full-length trousers. Shirts must cover the shoulder; avoid low or plunging necklines. Open-toe shoes and sandals are fine.

Smart business casual — long pants, a collared shirt — is fine in most professional environments, though if in doubt check with your company or err on the conservative side with a necktie and suit jacket.

Avoid synthetic fabrics that can trap heat in favor of natural fibers such as cotton, silk, linen, and tropical wool. Bring an outer layer such as a light jacket or scarf as strong air conditioning is common.

Exploring the City

Throughout the UAE, dress for a mix of comfort and modesty. There’s no need to sacrifice your own style while respecting local traditions.

Abu Dhabi has a desert climate, with hot summers, ideal winters, abundant sunshine, and little rainfall.

Lightweight, comfortable clothing in natural fibers such as cotton and linen is ideal in hotter months. Bring a sweater, jacket, closed-toe shoes, and socks for cooler months (November to April), when temperatures may descend to the mid-50s (Fahrenheit) or mid-teens (Celsius).

Indoor areas such as malls and restaurants will be well-air-conditioned; it’s a good idea to take along a pashmina, wrap, or sweatshirt.

Cultural Considerations

While clothing customs in the UAE may differ from that of many visitors countries, a few simple guidelines ensure a smooth trip:

In public areas, women should wear clothing that covers from the shoulders to the knees. Men may wear shorts to the knee; a T-shirt is considered more respectful than a tank top or muscle T-shirt.

Swimwear (including bikinis, one-piece suits, and swimming trunks) is appropriate for the beach, but not as streetwear.

Dress more conservatively when visiting the Grand Mosque or other religious venues. Women should be covered from wrists to ankles and cover their hair (abayas may be borrowed on-site) and men must wear trousers and shirts with sleeves. Remove shoes before entering a mosque.

Dress with special care during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when rules are more likely to be officially enforced.

Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Ritz Carlton Hotel image
Abu Dhabi
What To Reserve

Take advantage of Abu Dhabi’s esteemed good life: year-round sunshine, a beautiful bay, cultural treasures, a diverse population, and top-notch global cuisine. Here’s what to reserve in advance.

In a city saturated with extravagant options, the ultimate luxury may be discovering the small cohort of culinary innovators who are quietly dedicated to producing unique, masterful meals. For the city’s most meticulously sourced and prepared steak, reserve dinner at The Forge at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, where an ambitious range of cuts from seven nations are served in a sleek, romantic ambiance alongside a global wine list. A short walk from the hotel lobby is the Venetian Village, where adventurous foodies can discover options from traditional Japanese robatayaki cuisine to authentic Emirati fare to an iconic French brasserie.


Abu Dhabi is a world-class spa city, with its Bedouin traditions authentically informing treatments for a sophisticated clientele. The sumptuous setting of ESPA at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is unlike any other in the emirate: a secluded, oceanfront oasis whose more than 20,000 square feet includes a private beach, 16 luxurious treatment rooms, a plunge pool, and a waterfall. Try the Indulgence Hammam Ritual, a two-hour treatment that includes a hammam exfoliation, full-body, and foot scrubs, a face exfoliation and mask, a hair cleanse, and a gentle body massage. For the ultimate in relaxation, two therapists administer the Four Handed Synchronized Massage with warm oil and hot volcanic stones, followed by a facial custom-tailored for your skin type.  


Abu Dhabi offers a beguiling mix of city, sand, and sea. When you’re ready to explore beyond its futuristic skyline, plan a trip exploring the beautiful beaches of Saadiyat Island, or a kayak ride along the coastline’s pristine mangrove forests and lagoons. Your concierge can also help you plan a desert “glamping” excursion — the untouched dunes of the Al Khatem desert, 50 miles outside the city, make a fine spot for stargazing and wildlife spotting. No need to retreat indoors when you return to the hotel; reserve dinner at the outdoor Pan-Asian restaurant Li Jiang, set in a beautiful olive garden with views of the Grand Mosque.

From strolling the city’s picturesque Corniche to bargaining in the souks, Abu Dhabi offers many opportunities to engage with vibrant gulf culture. Experience the soaring beauty and serene surroundings of the legendary Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, then shift into high gear for the fast-paced thrills of Ferrari World. The Souk at Central Market combines Arabic souk traditions with modern design, luxury boutiques, and local food and crafts. One of the area’s unique attractions is the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, an award-winning institution that offers an up-close look at the stature of these magnificent creatures as they are brought in by anxious owners from across the region and attended to with world-class medical care. The lush facility also features education on the history of falconry and chances to feed and even pose with the raptors for pictures. Lastly, don’t miss the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is home to some of the world’s finest art.

Garden House and Suite Surroundings
Garden House and Suite Surroundings
Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s rare destinations that can simultaneously enchant and excite — a place where thousand-year-old traditions and ultramodern attractions commingle to create an entirely new type of desert oasis. Visitors already have a dizzying array of outstanding options in everything from international cuisine to daily entertainment, and the capital of the United Arab Emirates has ambitious plans for cultivating and expanding its cultural and culinary offerings even further. Imagination and enterprise have no boundaries in Abu Dhabi, which means your visit will be an experience without equal. 


Queens of Clubs. After years of running a traveling dinner-event club, two Emirati girlfriends opened No.57 Boutique Café for their culinary fans who preferred to frequent one place for reliably inventive options (like activated charcoal pancakes). Go traditional for your first meal of the trip — shakshuka, eggs baked with chickpeas, peppers, chilies, and onions — but be sure to save room for the signature dessert with a name lifted from a thoroughly American meme, the Ermahgerd (toffee crumble, cream and roasted marshmallows).


Line Up Some Dates. Wander the Al Mina fruit and vegetable souk to find an array of imported exotic foods and locally grown produce. Sample the different dates — some shops sell 40 varieties — and roasted pistachios before buying your favorites to snack on or ship home as gifts.

Make a Mezze. The patio at Flooka, with its view of the gulf and mangroves, is made for a long, lazy lunch, so opt for a set menu and several dishes of seafood mezze for the table to sample and share, along with mint lemonade.


Feast Your Eyes, Too. The Louvre Abu Dhabi with loaned works including van Gogh’s self-portrait and Whistler’s painting of his mother, but the building by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel is its own work of art. Grab an iced coffee in the open-air café that sits under the museum’s huge, star-filled dome that weighs as much as the Eiffel Tower.

As The World Churns. Cool off in the delightfully breezy pool and beach restaurant Al Fresco, while enjoying a refreshing crafted beverage. Indulge in a healthy balanced afternoon snack in the chic interior of Dolce.


Rush Menu. Speed demons flock to Yas Island, home of the world’s fastest roller coaster (from zero to 150 mph in less than five seconds at Ferrari World) and a Formula 1 auto racing school (at Yas Marina Circuit). Finish off your evening with gourmet pizza and tapas at Diablito. Try the Trufa-Blanca — a white pizza served with goat cheese, mushrooms, and white truffle oil.


Cafe Couture. Join the locals and ex-pats who frequent Café Arabia for a shakshouka breakfast. Befitting the villa-style coffeehouse’s multi-culti milieu, the dish is prepared either Emirati-style, scrambled with chili paste, or Palestinian-style, baked with feta, olives, and garlic mint yogurt.


Sugar Rush. Don’t slow the shopping spree; grab one of the limited-edition cupcakes of the day at Magnolia Bakery, an outcropping from the bake shop in New York City’s West Village.


Gourmet Dining. Indulge in a fine dining experience in the sophisticated French brasserie, Fouquet’s Abu Dhabi. Discover an authentic and flavorful menu created in collaboration with a French Michelin star for an unforgettable experience.

Enjoy the Beach Life: Take a stroll on the white sands of Soul Beach, with infinite blue ocean views. Head to Mamsha Al Saadiyat to enjoy an al fresco meal at one of the charming restaurants.


Go For a Wok. The medley of Southeast Asian dishes at Li Jiang includes several wok-fried options: vegetables, chicken, lamb, prawns, scallops, or hamour fillet. Any would make a wonderful main course — and for dessert, don’t skip the sticky rice mango pudding, a classic that never disappoints.

Midnight Mezzeh. Wrap up your visit with a sampling of cold mezzeh at Mijana, which serves traditional Arabic cuisine with a contemporary Lebanese twist until 11 p.m. and shisha until 2 a.m.


Morning in the Mangroves. The average high temperatures in Abu Dhabi can be scorching at certain times of the year, so early morning is the coolest time to explore the mangroves by kayak. Experience this unique marine ecosystem on a short, guided tour — ask the concierge at The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi to arrange it for you.

Bean Counter. Join the locals and ex-pats who frequent Café Arabia for a shakshouka breakfast. Befitting the villa-style coffeehouse’s multi-culti milieu, the dish is prepared either Emirati-style, scrambled with chili paste, or Palestinian-style, baked with feta, olives, and garlic mint yogurt.


Culture Captial. The first universal art museum in the Arab world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi with loaned works including van Gogh’s self-portrait and Whistler’s painting of his mother. The Louvre’s 55-building “museum city,” surrounded by water, is covered by an elaborate perforated dome with a diameter that’s nearly the length of two football fields.

Beach Time. Soak up the sun at Saadiyat Beach and enjoy an unfettered view of the gulf’s cerulean waters. 

Raptor-ous Attention: Discover the long history of falconry in the Middle East — including how the birds of prey are raised, groomed, and registered with unique “passports” today — during a guided tour of Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital


Play Speed Racer. Car enthusiasts looking for exhilarating acceleration can take to the track at Yas Marina Circuit as a driver or passenger in some of the world’s fastest automobiles, including an Aston Martin GT4, a Ferrari 458 GT, and a Mercedes-AMG GTS. Or schedule an hour-long private tutorial with a driving coach as you prepare to become a certified circuit driver.

World-Record Amusements. Those who crave an even faster experience can board Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster (zero to 150 mph in less than five seconds). The Ferrari World amusement park, the city’s biggest tourist attraction since it opened in 2010, also is home to Flying Aces — the world’s steepest and fastest cable lift and steepest inverted loop — and the world’s largest indoor theme park.

Luster for Life. Before the United Arab Emirates became synonymous with oil, it was known for its pearls — for more than a thousand years, divers plumbed the seas for oysters on voyages that lasted four straight months. Your venture will be much easier and quicker: Board a graceful pearling dhow and cruise the serene waters off Abu Dhabi with guides who explain the history of the local gem trade. After traditional snacks and coffee, guests will try to persuade some living, natural oysters to open up and share their semiprecious payloads for mementos.


A Majestic Mosque. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world, constructed with more than 100,000 tons of gleaming white marble, including the floor of the 183,000-square-foot main courtyard that can hold 22,000 worshippers. Guided tours lead visitors through the main prayer hall, which contains the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, with more than 2.3 billion knots, columns inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and a 49-foot-high chandelier made of Italian glass and Swarovski crystals.

Dine Alfresco. Take your dinner on the terrace of Li Jiang. From your table in the olive grove, you’ll find the views as spectacular as the food. The menu features classic and contemporary Chinese cuisine, as well as pan-Asian dishes. Several styles of dim sum, soups, wok-fried meats, seafood, and handmade noodles are available.

Barreling Through. Unwind with a Spiced Old-Fashioned, one of the barrel-aged cocktails at Sorso. The dark wood walls, subtle lighting, and classic décor at this restaurant and lounge evoke the intimacy of a sophisticated British gentleman’s club.

Take the Plunge. You have time for one more exclusive experience: Just outside your two-bedroom villa is a private plunge pool with a view of the Grand Canal. It’s the perfect vantage point from which to reflect on your whirlwind day, as the waters reflect the sparkling evening lights.