24 Hours In …
- Morning in the Mangroves.
The average high temperatures in Abu Dhabi can be scorching at certain times of year, so early morning is the coolest time to explore the mangroves by kayak. Experience this unique marine eco-system 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 expats 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 Capital.
The first universal art museum in the Arab world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November 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. Chef de Cuisine Tran Thanh Chung, a native of Hanoi, Vietnam, is known for his modern interpretations of authentic Southeast Asian dishes, which have earned him repeated honors from Time Out magazine.
- 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.