Fav Abu Dhabi spots

..Hey there..

long time no read!
Hope you are still up for more UAE insights 🙂

Today I´ll drop my FAV Abu Dhabi spots:

Top of the top: Pearls & Caviar @ Shangri-La 

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yes.. unfortunately it is closed.. but wow.. i had the BEST nights with my crew over there.. insane views over the water towards the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the freshest breeze, the best tunes by my amazing friend Dj Kaboo and the most stunning moon light.
It makes me so sad knowing that this incredible place closed its doors and you guys will not have the chance to experience those memorable nights over there.
Writing this brief excerpt in honor of my fav place.

Same applause goes to my other hero: Eight @ Souq Al-Beri 

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Top 6: Iris @ Yas Marina on Yas Island 

A beautiful outside seating, some stressed waiters, stunning views to the Yas Viceroy Hotel & the greatest 80s/90s parties.


We had some really cool nights over here.
The ride (45min from AD) is absolutely worth it – if you mingle with the right people and get the right tunes.

Top 5: Up & Below @ Courtyard by Marriott

Located in the famous World Trade Center, part of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, one has the chance to oversee the whole beautiful city of Abu Dhabi.

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They just opened up their doors and I IMMEDIATELY took the chance to celebrate my 24th Bday over there. Amazing night, special souls and one of the highlights: my MUM – came all the way from Portugal to celebrate this important night with me.
It is a beautiful spot with comfy outdoor seating, fresh drinks, attractive happy hour and delicious snacks. Worth a visit.

 

Top 4: Bu! @ WTC 

Another “hidden gem” on top of the WTC.

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Delicious south American food, great and modern urban gardening seating, pricey drinks but an incredible Latin ambiance.
Came here to celebrate my 25th birthday and left incredibly happy.

 

Top 3: Relax 12 @ Aloft

One of the most special dance nights in Abu Dhabi! I had the happiest dance nights def. over here. Wow. Huge outdoor space, okish food & drinks and the view: i n c r e d i b l e.

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One looks right over to the 18° inclined Capital Gate Tower and is fascinated ONCE AGAIN about the beauty of this cosmopolitan city.

 

Top 2: Asia de Cuba @ St. Regis Corniche

A m a z i n g.

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If you want to be close to the sea, smell the fresh ocean breeze, indulge in some Asian delicacies, dance to some Latino vibes – then this is the right place to be.
I heard Dj have changed throughout the years reason why I am not too sure if it remains as cool as it used to be “back in the days”.
I just truly enjoyed myself each and everytime we came here…

 

Top 1: Beach House @ Park Hyatt Saadiyat Abu Dhabi

My personal highlight.. Countless times we came here after our full-beach day.
The one and only: HUGO in town.

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THE place for the typical, magical beach sunset. Some chillout music.. yummy tapas and the incredible ocean views.
The right place to unwind, to be grateful for the given and to celebrate life.

 

Another place I feel like mentioning is: Cabana Beach Bar & Grill @ St. Regis Corniche 

My better half and I came here for a pool day incl. a lunch break and once I even organized a romantic wedding proposal for a friend of mine. Other than that – I have never really treasured this place.


Until the day I was looking for THE spot for my grand farewell party.
I came and spoke to them about my idea and they made the impossible possible.


I got my own table set up right in front of the ocean; due to the weather conditions in December (yes – it gets pretty chilly) – they even got me some heating mantle and blankets for my dearest friends.
They served delicious food, a lovely farewell cake and literally made my night.
That night I knew exactly why I stayed in Abu Dhabi for 3 years:
It is beyond words what this city puts up and stands for.
An absolute grateful me left this beautiful city with a heart full of love.

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Breakfast spots TOP 5

yummy in my tummy…
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Mhh…there is nothing better than a yummy breakfast on the weekend.
Yes, sure we have breakfast every day but we kind of cherish and celebrate it on the weekend.
Sleeping in is set to be the first weekend goal and the second is surely to have a good, nourishing breakfast. Treat yourself more often!

Below you will find my TOP 5 Breakfast spots in Abu Dhabi:

 

5.
Shakespeare & Co. 

Shakespeare is a franchised company with almost 10 branches around Abu Dhabi.
Its old-fashioned furniture beams you back to the 18th century. It is known for its delicious breakfast combos and fair prices!

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My favourite brekkie is the “Healthy” one which contains: Egg white omelette with herbs, roast potatoes and asparagus, fresh fruit salad, natural yoghurt, brown toast and honey, grapefruit juice and latte macchiato.
This whole package at AED 58 only.
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BTW: My fav branch is the one on Saadiyat Island with a lovely outside seating in a hidden courtyard within the St. Regis Residences complex.
 
4.
Third Place Café

Third place is a small but very cute spot located on the Corniche. It’s not only a great breakfast spot but also a place where you can hang out, relax, read a book, do your work or simply enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
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Once you are here you have to try the smoothies! Simply delicious.
Actually I just realized that I always had those late, late breakfasts there – which kindly slip into a “lunch”. Therefore I suggest the Goats Cheese & Spinach salad. Delicious.At this spot you will also be able to sit outside and enjoy the Abu Dhabi breeze (if not during the hot summer months ;)).
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Al-Ulya

Al-Ulya made its way straight into my heart once it opened its doors almost 2 years ago.
I still remember that I somehow spotted it somewhere on social media; but then they still did not have a food & drinking license since they were just arriving from Portugal.
Al-Ulya means “Loule” in Portuguese and is a town located in the south of Portugal with strong Arabic roots.
Kind as Portuguese always are – they opened their doors to give us a taste of Portugal and to check the future customers feedback. Obviously those treats were handed out for free – Kindness 🙂
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It quickly became my second home – simply because it has all the delicious Portuguese dishes combined with the lovely Portuguese owners, completed by the Portuguese music as well as interior. From “pao com manteiga” (Bread with butter), “meia de leite” (Latte macchiato) over to “Natas” (custard tartlet) – you will get anything you would crave for.

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Even if the seating is only inside; this spot is definitely worth visiting.
2.
Byparkers

Byparkers is a fairly new spot located in the old Mushrif park (Umm Al Emarat Park). Lovely outside seating facing the greenery; and even if the weather does not allow you will not be disappointed by the creative interior.

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This spot has so much modernism and still sticks to good ol’ quality food.
The menu is quite “Organic” and so delicious.
I loved the poached eggs with avocado crème on a baked sweet potato. Further I ordered a fresh orange juice which includes free refill. To compliment my brekkie I ordered the banoffee pancakes. OH MY GOODNESS: amazing. Absolutely fantastic. Loved it.
IMG_4510Unfortunately the portions (eggs, tacos, etc.) are not too big therefore you better order another main dish ;)Overall a great spot with lovely, dedicated and knowledgeable staff!
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1.
Tasha’s

South African franchise Tasha’s is my personal number one! I just love everything about it… from the lovely location in Al Bateen Marina; the outside seating arrangement with the view; the stunning interior; the attentive staff and the delicious food.
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I have to admit – once I am here I ALWAYS order the same. But I can’t help myself… I just love it! And whats so special about it: it is consistently good… Which is quite special for Abu Dhabi – where you sometimes get your dessert with or without cream although you did not change anything upon ordering… Sounds familiar?
 
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I simply love the layered yoghurt with home-made granola and all kind of citrus fruits. Oh… I urgently need to satisfy my palate.
Of course other dishes are delicious, too. But definitely give my favourite a try…Well… certainly there are many other spots in our beautiful town – yet the above ones are my personal TOP 5 🙂

Give those a try as well…
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PS: If you are into trying a hotel breakfast buffet I highly recommend the one at Rosewater in Jumeirah Etihad Towers…

Al Ain

…enchanting.
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Al Ain is the “garden city” which is located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and has quite a lot to offer.
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Distance: 90min drive from Abu Dhabi
Ideal stay: either day trip or weekend getaway
Temperature: similar to Abu Dhabi
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Since Al Ain is a kind of neighbouring city to Abu Dhabi I had the pleasure to visit it quite a few times. Each time I was lucky to see something I had not seen before.
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It all starts with the amazing views while road-tripping all the way to the green city.
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..it is daily business to encounter camels or sheep which are tied on the old-school Toyota pick-ups..
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First stop: Al Ain Oasis
The Al Ain Oasis is the largest oasis and was crowned as a UNESCO world heritage site.
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It is def. the perfect getaway from the turbulent, hectic city vibes since here you hear – correct – nothing.
Calm, shady and silent – just you and nature (ok – and some tourists from time to time).
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..stroll around and get lost in the walkaways..
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Historical: Al Jahili Fort
The Al Jahili Fort is one of the most historic buildings which originally served to protect the palm groves and defend the city.
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Nowadays it is an active visitors destination due to its information centre and diverse exhibition area.
Check TCAs website to get the latest updates on exhibitions and events.
It is open daily from 09h00 to 17h00 (except Mondays). Enjoy!
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Ancient: National Museum
The Al Ain National Museum is the oldest museum in the UAE.
It shows the full history from the stone age through to the recent foundation of the UAE (Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was born here).
The fort is a well-preserved mudbrick structure which is divided into three main sections: ethnography, archaeology and souvenirs.
Yes, contrary to popular belief: there is a huge historical background to be seen! See for yourself.
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..as usual cultural sights are free of charge in the UAE..
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Dribbling: Camel Market
This traditional (one of the last of its kind) Camel Market delivers the real experience on how it was in former days.
“Livestock” feeling in the middle of the desert – they are not only bargaining with camels but also goats, sheep and chicken.
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The camel owners tend to be slightly pushy and intrusive but don`t worry: just a have a look around on your own without tipping them whenever you take a picture with the camels.
Try to look for the BABY camels 🙂 They are def. the CUTEST ❤
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High: Jebel Hafeet
With its 1240m height – Jebel Hafeet is the highest peak in the UAE and among the the worlds greatest driving roads.
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Once you (finally) reach the top by either car or bike you will be rewarded with incredibly stunning views.
(Un)Fortunately there is (only) one hotel (Mercure Al Ain) which will be able to satisy your thirst.
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Service and seating falls in the 3* hotel category but gets clearly outvoted by the magnificent surrounding vistas.
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Underwater: Wadi Adventure
At the foot of Jebel Hafeet you come upon the region’s first man-made kayaking, surf and white water rafting facility: Wadi Adventure.
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The almost 3m high man-made surf wave is (obviously) the world largest! Be brave. Be you.
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Wadi Adventure was quite “wild” for me but is for worth a day trip for families.
Caution: at first sight the entrance fee seems quite low – but in fact all activities get charged separately – so in the end you still end up paying quite a high amount (surcharges for locker; rafting; high rope course etc.).
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Also I have noticed that staff near the rafting site are not appropriately trained as they are not able to handle “dangerous” situations.
Yet the flying fox was AMAZING!
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Animal-ly: Al Ain Zoo
Although I am not a big fan of keeping wild animals in locked cages; I have to admit that Al Ain Zoo leads by example.
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All animals have spacious compounds and look quite healthy.
Al Ain Zoo is home to 4000 animals and provides plenty of green public spaces and kids activities.
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If you get the chance: Visit the new Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre – I heard it is quite good but unfortunately you can only access it in combination with the Zoo ticket.
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As you can see from the pictures: quite beautiful and yet different from bustling Abu Dhabi.
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Hotel-wise I would recommend the Al Ain Rotana or the brand new Aloft.
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Whether you are looking for a quick renewal of body and soul or some activities outside of the capital – Al Ain will satisfy either way.

 

Love letter to Abu Dhabi

Dear Abu Dhabi,
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For quite a long time I have felt the strong desire to write you a letter – a LOVE letter, to be precise.

You might ask yourself why I felt the need to do so. A love letter? To a city?
Well, the thing is, you are not just a city to me…
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Your International Airport is the door opener to a whole different world. It all starts at the “warm welcome” in immigration, led by the well-groomed officers in their white, perfectly-ironed Kandooras.
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Somehow, a heavy burden falls immediately off your shoulders (and no, I don’t mean the 30kg luggage which is carried by the lovely porters) once you breathe the UAE spirit in.
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The way from the airport (either by car or black, luxurious yet still “standard” taxi) to your centre makes one realize that you are the perfect combination of tradition and modernism.
You provide an incredible variety of attractions; activities; beauties; services and people.
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To be honest, I do not even know where to start my long list of praise!..

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Yes, you have a great waterpark; a stunning Formula1 race track; the fastest roller-coaster; the most palatial of all hotels; the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the biggest shopping malls but hey, this is definitely not all!

First and foremost you are the host of “happiness” – why?

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No, not just because there is actually a “Ministry of Happiness”, but because you were built according to people’s needs.
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..You make us feel at home, away from home!..
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Everyone who is here finds their own kind of happiness by, for example, earning enough money to feed their families; strolling around shopping malls to get the latest fashion or simply to relax on the beach during the weekend.
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Your streets enable camels in pick-ups and blondies in VW Polos to meet the biggest SUVs as well as the fastest Lamborghinis.

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..marvellous Saadiyat Beach..

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Endless beachfront; well-tempered, baby-blue and clean sea; balanced amount of algas and fish; delicate natural sand; jovial dolphin families; super amiable Bake-staff; delicious ice cream and comfortable sun beds.

Just one day over here makes up anything bad one might have experienced throughout the 55-hour work week!

I appreciate the lifestyle you provide!
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..Boredom? Not-at-all-ever! Beach? Desert? Sun?..
You really have it all: from the jet-ski session behind Lulu Island; yoga in the park; relaxing deep tissue massages; late night basketball sessions with the dudes, to the exhausting bootcamps at 5h30 with Haddins.
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The happy hours & ladies nights in the different rooftop bars; shisha-bars with a view; countless pool & island-party options; 180° bars near the waterfront are the perfect closing of the various international, gourmet or traditional, local dinner options.
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Thanks to your incredibly huge variety of nationalities, you spoil us with the finest cuisine in all possible variations – from Indian, to French, over to Chinese and Moroccan which ensures that literally EVERYONE will find something suitable. Even for the “conscious eaters” you established many Organic Cafes in addition to cute waterfront coffee shops.

I love you because you make me feel warm, loved, respected and safe at all times.

 

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Leaving bags unattended while grabbing some more food at the buffet; asking the waiter to charge the phone and getting a “tag” in return; dancing on my own in the club without getting harassed and revealing the debit card pin towards the petrol attendant make you stand out in comparison to any other city!
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..with you everything seems so relaxed and easy…
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The spontaneous off-road parking; the drive-through ATM on the way home; the affordable taxi drives; the natural rounding off at the cashier due to the lack of change; the delivery of McDonalds; pick-up of the dry-cleaning laundry at 23h00 or the helpful Baqala attendant who gets me the missing onion while I can continue chopping the meat.
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You are the stable bridge between a “low-key” and a “high-level” lifestyle.
Not all of us earn a huge amount of money over here – yet from time to time we are able to pamper ourselves with an exclusive high-tea on the 70th floor; the much-needed mani-pedi or a quick getaway to the fancy desert hotel nearby.
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You make me literally feel like a Princess whenever you spoil me with the sumptuous places; worryless lonely walks during night time; preferential treatment in queues, public transportation as well as waiting areas; stunning views supplemented by the services (like valet parking; butler service; shopping packer  etc.) with the greatest attitude instead of awaiting to be tipped.
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You make me happy with your stunning sunsets; the pleasant outside temperatures at night-time while dancing to the best songs; the dips in the warm sea and the people you connected me with. 
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You surprise me with your forward-thinking, conveyed by SMS from the Ministry of Interior; the instant print out of the drivers license; the chilled bus station; the free wi-fi connections in the most rural corners; the convenient E-Gate at the airport; the instant messaging & transfers by the bank; which clash with the missing mail addresses; illogical approach in many areas and the common “lack of common sense”.
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..You are the link between all of us..
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nationalities
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The leading example for a tolerant, peaceful co-existence between over 80 nationalities.
You taught me so much about people and awoke my interest in different cultures as well as religions.
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You and your cosmopolitan attitude deserve recognition. Contrary to the wide spread rumours you tolerate other dresscodes; merge highly diverse groups of people; provide everyone with the basic needs and make us residents but also tourists feel welcome.

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Because of you I have learned to appreciate every single given moment – I have learned not to take anything for granted; to be thankful for what I have.

 

..Love isn’t always pure and baby-rosa – of course there are days that I “hate” you..
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Sometimes it’s simply too hot, too sticky, too humid. The daily struggle at work or even in private life due to the multicultural environment is very real!
The high cost for a small, average-quality smoothie or the 15min delay due to the taxi drivers’ poor language and orientation skills can be depressing.
The lack of information and communication in the shopping mall or via call centres gets on ones nerves.  The promised-but-still-pending call backs; the wide-spread “no problem!” (which clearly prepares one for a bigger problem) and the “well-equipped” but often clueless maintenance guys make me go CRAZY.
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But like in every good relationship, one has to learn how to deal with and make the best out of it (even if your inner anger screams to be let out 🙂 )
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I really want you to know how proud I am for what you’ve achieved within a rather small time frame and especially what you did for me in the past 3 years.
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I thank you for from the bottom of my heart for connecting me with the people I now call “friends” and for deepening the relationship with my better half.
love you abu dhabi

You’ve provided and contributed to countless happy moments; unbelievable situations; unforgettable stories; stunning pictures; deeply felt gratitude as well as LOVE.
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Thank you, Abu Dhabi, for being simply you.
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Yours,
Jennylicious

Good to know

…Top 5+!
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Abu Dhabi and Dubai are becoming more and more popular as a destination, especially during Europe’s winter months – sure, where else can you get a nice tan in March?
To answer the most frequent, clichéd questions, I’ve put together the
“Top 5+ Good to know” (click on the links to get even more Information!).

1. Moving around
taxis

The most common way to move around is definitely by taxi. Contrary to the popular belief that taxi rides are bound to exorbitant prices, in the UAE it is more than affordable.
Everyone moves around by taxi: from the Expat to the Tourist.
It’s fast, clean, registered and safe (beside their slight crazy driving styles from time to time).
Unlike in other Arabic countries you cannot bargain your taxi price in the UAE.
It is a fixed taxi meter which starts from AED 3,50 and increases in 25fils increments.
If the meter is not running properly, the ride is free of charge. 😉
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At the airport some random drivers will try to convince you to join them – but watch out, it’s not legal.
Take the black (yes, they look very fancy) taxis with professional driver which start from AED 25.-.
Since a year those are the only legal taxis for an airport-city one way-trip – those taxis have to leave the city empty and return to their starting point: the airport.
The other taxis (greyish) will take you TO but not FROM the airport.
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I would not book an expensive shuttle organized by the hotel since it’s a common and safe way to move around with the taxi.
In Dubai the taxi drivers are not as knowledgeable as Abu Dhabi drivers… you better know roughly where you want to go.

…“ok, ok no problem” is the typical reaction but watch out that he takes you to Burj Khalifa Dubai instead of Eiffel Tower Paris…

Also keep in mind that all taxis are only payable by cash, never by credit card. By cash I mean AED 20 to MAX AED 50 notes otherwise those poor guys will not have change for you.
As mentioned, the taxis are clean, drivers wear uniforms and some cars are even equipped with screens and wi-fi!

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Alternatively you can rent a car since it is more than affordable! More or less EUR 20.- per day plus fuel AED 15.-. It only gets cheaper in Oman…

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Fun fact: there are no addresses like in any other country.. you guide yourself and the taxi driver through “landmarks” (“Hamdan Str. Corner Najda, near National Cinema Building”).

2. Tip & Service Charge
In Abu Dhabi´s Bars & Restaurants you will find prices including or excluding “10% service charge”. Either way, in the end, it will be included in your bill.
The service charge is fairly distributed among all team members with the monthly cheque – not only the waiters but also the cleaners, cooks etc. therefore there is no need to add additional tip onto your final check.
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Actually there are many proofs out there that it is not “healthy” to “overfeed” waiters etc. during your vacation.
Sure, it is your vacation and you are in a good mood but those people work there every day – the more you give, the more they expect from other travellers.
In the end they do literally expect you to tip them higher.
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..don’t spoil them..
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Eg. Algarve, Portugal – many years ago the Portuguese waiters were just kind, cheerful and loved their job – in the end, they got the “20cent” which were left behind in the small espresso saucer and it was fine.
Nowadays they stand partly next to you while settling up and expect you to tip them high. Sometimes you even here comments like “You a Swiss, you have money anyways” or “you Germans, you have more than us here”.
Why? Among others, it’s def. due to the traveller’s overacted behaviour!
One last thing, for Butler, Pool boys and Valets applies the same – obviously, you are always welcome to tip a bit but in general all those “luxurious” services are included in the UAE…
It´s not Europe where every single nice gesture is accompanied by a check 😉

3. Dress code

Typical rumour topic! 😉
Everyone hesitates before packing their bags for Abu Dhabi…

What’s the dress code? “I heard…”
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Generally Abu Dhabi became very open and is the perfect place where tradition meets modernism.
Feel free to wear skirts, t-shirts, tops & dresses. If you use your common sense when talking about “length” – it will be more than fine.

Even short pants are alright – just do not overdo this.
Bikinis are welcome on the beach or pools – no need to buy a “swimsuit” for your UAE trip!
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For males the dress code is even easier BUT for the evening it has to be any kind of shirt and closed shoes. Restaurants, Bars & Clubs will deny you the access if you appear in your Bermudas and flip flops.
During the hot months you will be more than grateful to be able to wear light and short clothes!
During the chilly months, don’t forget your cardigan – for the shopping malls you will also need your light pullover in order to withstand the strong AC winds.
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For two occasions you will have to wear long-sleeves and cover yourself a bit more.
During the holy month of Ramadan and if you want to visit a mosque from the inside.
This should be respected and it will not harm you at all to adapt in these few cases.
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4. Eat and Drink?
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All restaurants, bars and clubs are located in hotels due to the expensive “drinking license” which they have to obtain before being able to pour out drinks.
Don´t worry – prices are not exorbitant – it is simply normal to go to the normally “posh” hotels.
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In Europe you only step into 5* for Granny’s Brunch or Graduation Ball.
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Referring to Brunch… Friday Brunch is very popular but not comparable to the classy European Brunch..
Check the offers of the posh hotels and you will be blown away where their focus is on…
..oh yes it´s ladies night..
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Something which also no one believes: every night you will find a range of nice “ladies nights” in the city where ladies drink totally for free for certain hours or even throughout the whole night.. yes, in Abu Dhabi and in Dubai – unbelievable… 😉

In Abu Dhabi you do only have 2 locations which serve alcoholic beverages and are NOT situated in a hotel (Club MAD and Restaurant Pacifico Tikki).
Nevertheless you will be able to find an affordable local, nice restaurant where you can enjoy a full rice platter and some juicy chicken for little money! Enjoy it…
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5. Desert Safari Bookings?
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Travel agencies in your home country will try to sell expensive excursions; rather inform yourself upon arrival and go with a local partner – your hotel concierge will be able to help you out!

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Fake Place

..I don’t want to hear it anymore.. 

Why is it a fake place? Why an artificially raised metropolis?

Did your home countries simply exist? All of a sudden? No, they were also built. The main difference is that this happened way earlier than here in the UAE.
What’s so bad about that?
In fact I do see it as a great chance to implement all “successful” or “unsuccessful” things of other countries right from the beginning.  The UAE is actively being shaped according to people’s needs and yes, even exceeding it from time to time.
Of course, the UAE is well known for its record breaking buildings, malls and other kind of achievements within a small time frame but definitely not limited to this!

Quoting His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE – “what makes us proud is not the height of our buildings but rather the openness and tolerance of our nation” – which I totally agree with!
Rather than focusing on World Records we should highlight the fact that we all live here together in peace and safety.
This is a great gift, keeping in mind the hatred and fights which are surrounding us nowadays!

But now, let’s have a look at the “fake city”:

1. Saadiyat Beach 

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“People are paid to distribute diverse shells and stones among Saadiyat Beach” – NOT.
Saadiyat Beach is a beautiful, natural beach with amazing waves and stunning different kind of shells.
If you are lucky enough you might even be able to see dolphins, turtles, rays & crabs:

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Spot the ray!

2. Desert 

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“Everyday tons and tons of sand are shoveled all over the place” – NOT.
Liwa Desert for e.g. is beautiful! It offers high, endless dunes which you are able to access by feet or 4×4. Don’t even try to crest it with your “regular” car – it will def. not work! Desert rule: never go alone! The best way to enjoy a desert camping or BBQ is to drive in with 2/3 cars – be ready to be helped and to actively help whenever someone is in need & stuck in the sand. Follow the Local’s example.

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If you are visiting feel free to book one of the organized “Desert Safaris” which include pick-up/drop-off from/to the hotel; camel farm stop; dune bashing; sun downer; sand boarding; belly dance show; desert BBQ; shisha; henna painting; Arabic coffee & dates and upon extra charge you may even get the quad experience.
Never (!) book this through your agency back home since they will get their commission on it. Rather book it with local partners like for e.g. Desert Rose at around AED 250 p.P..

3. Eastern Mangroves 

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I cannot even think of a potential “rumor” why the Eastern Mangroves should be fake.. They def. are not.
The best way to explore this natural reserve is by Kayak. The Kayak Tour takes up to 2h, costs around AED 160 p.P. includes a snack and a stop on a small sandbank. I did mine with Noukhada and was more than happy with their service – departure point: Anantara Eastern Mangroves.

4. Al Wathba Wetland Reserve

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“Every day these flamingos are dropped off at 9h and picked up at 17h” – NOT.
This place is just lovely. To reach Al Wathba you have to calculate an hour drive from AD city center (between Baniyas, Mussafah and Al Ain Truck Road) .
You will find lovely walking trails alongside different plants and over hundred birds. My favorite spot is the bird hide which provides close view to the free-roaming Flamingos.
Al Wathba Wetland Reserve is an ecologically sensitive area therefore the visiting hours are quite limited: Thursdays and Saturdays from 8.00am to 2.00pm – free entrance.

5. Jebel Hafeet

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“This is an artificially built mountain” – NOT.
Jebel Hafeet is one of the tallest mountains we have with its 1240m. It’s worth a drive or a cycle up to enjoy a tremendous view over Al Ain.
Enjoy a coffee or a shisha at the Mercure Jebel Hafeet Hotel and absorb this moment to the max.

…soooo Fake?… 😉 

 

Abu Dhabi & Dubai = same same?!

“So how is your life in Dubai?” – “Well, I live in Abu Dhabi…” 

A comment which I am more than familiar with.
Ok, I understand that DUBAI is slightly more famous due to media/marketing and its breaking records…but hey, guess what, ABU DHABI is the capital of the UAE, not Dubai!

“Ah ok, same same – somewhere in the desert” 

Well, not really “same same”!

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Skyline Abu Dhabi

My Abu Dhabi is the perfect mix of new buildings, malls, beaches, restaurants & greenery, nature, tranquility and coziness. It is the largest of the seven Emirates as well as the Capital of the UAE.
If you really want you will find everything you need in this beautiful city.

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Skyline Dubai

However Dubai is well-known for its record breaking buildings (eg. Burj Khalifa); giant shopping malls; surreal attractions; busy nightlife and great open-mindedness towards the Western world.

Many people emphasize the “competition” between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. From my point of view they actually compliment each other very well – especially for visitors but also us residents! Where else would you find such diversity within 1.5h drive?
What was that again about a “boring sandpit”? 😉

Awful Arabs & Muslims..?!


“Arabs are all Muslims and really bad people”

Well…this is one of the statements I hear quite often therefore I need to URGENTLY comment on it.

Firstly, being an “Arab” does not automatically mean that the person is Muslim.
(In Lebanon for eg. live more or less 54% Muslims and 41% Christians)

Secondly, there will always be bad people regardless of religion, nationality etc. and I’m pleased to say that most of the “Arabs” and “Muslims” I met were simply amazing.

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My friends here in Abu Dhabi are mainly guys (yes..males..oh oh!) from Palestine, Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Oman, Lebanon, Syria and the UAE (Locals).

We do what friends do – we go to the beach..to the club & dance..to the restaurant..to the cinema..to exhibitions..to a friends’ place etc. – yes, we interact and it is “allowed” 😉
They do respect me like I respect them and we absolutely enjoy our time together! It’s an ongoing interaction and cultural exchange for both sides.
My Arab guys would always make sure I get home safely; I don’t carry too heavy things as a female and value discussion at eye level.

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Muslims
I do not wish to go into detail in regards to religion and beliefs but still I need to make three things clear:
A) Just because you are Muslim – you are not necessarily an extremist
B) The Quran is THE Holy Book in the Islam and at the same time an amazing piece of Arabic literature, written with the most precious Arabic words
C) Muslims do not necessarily have to be Arabic – they could also be Indian, Asian, Australian, Chinese or even American & German

The Muslims who I met appreciate the “female” (mother, wife etc.) contrary to their reputation. Some say there is no “law” which forces Muslim lady to cover her hair (hijab) – it is rather a personal choice – back in the days the covering intended protection against “annoyances” which is nowadays regulated by well-functioning law systems. Wearing a hijab (or not) does not portray her emancipation nor her “oppressed” opinion.
There will always be Muslims and/or Christians who practice or interpret something which was never meant to be practiced.
In the end it is all about communication and exchange – there is no right, no wrong.

Who says that your perception classifying something as “normal” is the correct one? 😉

Concluding:
Yes, almost all “Arabs” and “Muslims” are awful.. they are kind, graceful, food and family loving, generous, hospitable, understanding, loving, nice, funny, food-terrorists (“eat more, have more, serve yourself”), interested, respectful, caring and do not try to impose something on you. Horrible, isn’t it? 😉

We are all the same – we live to love. 

Hot..hotter..UAE..?!

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26.01.2016 – Pearls & Caviar, Abu Dhabi

“I can’t visit you, it’s always so hot over there – I cannot handle it”

People often associate the desert with unbearable heat throughout the year.

Well, first of all, once you are in ABU DHABI or DUBAI a) you do not see any desert (if you do not drive at least one hour out of the city) and b) it does not seem at all that the desert is nearby due to beautiful greenery, waves in the ocean and most different skyscrapers.

Secondly, yes, we are blessed with mainly sunny weather but still temperatures rise and fall..our temperatures may sound “high” in comparison to Europe but the heat/humidity is different..yes, it can get chilly due to the cool desert winds and yes, we do have some rainy days in between.

Jan – 15˚C – 23˚C  (windy evenings)
Feb – 15˚C – 25˚C  (windy evenings, rain possibility)
Mar – 18˚C – 27˚C (windy evenings, high rain possibility)
Apr – 20˚C – 30˚C (a-m-a-z-i-n-g) 
May – 23˚C – 35˚C (great but humidity increases)
Jun – 26˚C – 40˚C (in the past two years May & June were amazing in terms of weather) 
Jul – 28˚C – 42˚C (highway to hell..)
Aug – 30˚C – 46˚C (stuck in hell..only way out: take a plane!) 
Sep – 26˚C – 40˚C (humidity is still quite high!)
Oct – 23˚C – 36˚C (great and humidity fades out)
Nov – 20˚C – 32˚C (a-m-a-z-i-n-g)
Dec – 16˚C – 26˚C (great but it’s getting chilly)

If you are weather sensitive I would recommend you to come and explore this beautiful country from March till June + Mid October till December.

March 2016 was pretty bad: Hey Global warming, are you proud of this?

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“What about the sea? How’s the temperature?” 

Ranges between 22˚C and 35˚C
(yes, I would not go to the sea in July, August & September – “too much hot”)

‘Sheikh’-overload or traditional garment..?!

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This is one of THOSE widespread rumors and comments which I constantly hear from friends, visitors, guests etc..

“Does this white garment mean they are ‘Sheikhs’?”

Fortunately or unfortunately (matter of opinion) not everyone wearing a “white garment” (= Kandura) is a ‘Sheikh’.

The Kandura is the official UAE national dress which consists of a long, white shirt-like garment, a red checkered or white headdress (ghutra) and a black cord (agal).

As mentioned, the UAE manages pretty well to tie a not between MODERNISM and TRADITION – yes, many locals do have the most recent phone, the most expensive watch & drive fancy cars but they still identify themselves with their roots/traditions by for eg. wearing the Kandura in public.

“They seem so arrogant, untouchable”; “They are not friendly and have no good manners”

In this diverse world you will ALWAYS find “good” and “less good” people.
Generally speaking I’ve encountered mainly genuine, welcoming and kind Emiratis here in the UAE, who are thankful for what they have today and are “equipped” with an open mind due to overseas studies.
The reputation of an Emirati on “annual leave” is not the best but as I like to compare: does the German behave back home the same way he does in “Mallorca”? 😉
..second-hand embarrassment..just sayin’..

..you get what you give..

Once my car and I (yes, I drive, as mentioned earlier) had a battery issue at the petrol station. It was quite hard to find a helping hand due to the tinted windows of the XXL Nissan Patrols and Mitsubishi Pajeros which surrounded my VW Polo. After knocking on several windows I got two local helpers who were not “too arrogant” to help a “Blondie” or “too afraid” to sully their hands/garment! 😉