Arabian treasure

April 27th 2012

Arabian treasure

Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s exciting new hubs for culture, entertainment and luxury living, as Best in Travel finds out.

Eternal sunshine, pristine beaches, spectacular desertscapes and a thriving cultural scene have transformed Abu Dhabi into one of the hottest destinations on earth, as well as a blueprint for 21st century capital living. This island capital is characterised by its signature Corniche, which fronts the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf. You can stroll, cycle, roller-blade or drive the along the waterfront. At the tip, on a tranquil stretch of beach, sits the majestic Emirates Palace – one of the world’s most opulent hotels. The Yas Island development is the hub of Abu Dhabi’s entertainment and recreation, including Ferrari World. The 40-acre park is the world’s only Ferrari theme park and the home of the world’s fastest rollercoaster, plus a host of other ground-breaking rides.

The flagship project of the $36 billion Yas Island development is Yas Viceroy hotel, a breathtaking fusion of architecture, design and technology, set half on land and half on water. It is also the first hotel in the world built directly over a Formula One race track. In June, the Yas Arena will set the stage for Madonna’s Show Weekend. Both nights have already sold out but fans who moved swiftly can still snap up VIP packages, which include accommodation at the Yas and Golden Circle Tickets to the concert. Another of Abu Dhabi’s new destinations is Saadiyat Island, a natural island 500 metres off the mainland coast. The island will soon be home to the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions, including a branch of the Louvre designed by Jean Nouvel, a Guggenheim by Frank Gehry, and a national museum by Norman Foster, all of which are set to open over the next couple of years.

The fabulous Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – designed by the legendary Gary Player – can be found of Saadiyat and is the region’s only ‘ocean’ course with several beach front holes Meanwhile last autumn saw the opening of Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, the first five-star hotel within the multi-billion pound development. The landmark resort enjoys a prime location on a nine kilometre stretch of pristine sandy beach, and is located close to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Abu Dhabi’s business district. Another essential place to visit is the awe-inspiring Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – one of the world’s largest Fine dining abounds, as do opportunities for more affordable fare in numerous city centre outlets. Shopping is as diverse as the emirate – there’s everything from marble-clad malls with haute couture brands to a textile souk tucked away behind the main Hamdan Centre and a carpet souk at the Mina Port. Another exciting new addition to Abu Dhabi’s sparkling skyline is the breathtaking Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.

Nestling on the beachfront of the exclusive West Corniche, the 280-metre, 66-floor property has become the first Jumeirah hotel to open in Abu Dhabi. It forms one of five towers that make up the Etihad Towers complex – a ground-breaking lifestyle development that also incorporates offices, residential apartments, as well as a shopping centre filled with designer boutique. Guests can expect the trademark Jumeirah opulence with 382 rooms and suites loaded with the very latest in lifestyle technology and luxury fittings. For the full Jumeirah experience check into the Royal Etihad Suite, located on the 60th floor and occupying an amazing 980 square metres.