Im just back from a 3 month stay in the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi. I’m going to be writing feverishly to share what an amazing experience it was but wanted to get this page going to throw out some props to all my new friends (some names are changed to protect the innocent…): Cheet-Oh, Clutch, Matt, Kryptonite, Meeeena, Bob, Nuclear Dan, Osama (bin Laden, or abul Fatwa, I can’t get it right), the whole @CourtyardMarriott staff, and many others along the way. You guys made this the best trip and I’ll see most of you again!
From the grand mosque, to the Corniche (and my many walks there…), the Heritage Culture Center, and the most awesome-est Yacht ride ever this town has been great! But first, some pictures…
Abu Dhabi is everything and yet nothing that I was expecting from a Muslim country. Women in burkas & abayas, men in traditional garb, calls to prayer, yet also women in short shorts and bars with alcohol are just some of the contrasts. Another thing I wasn’t expecting was the lack of Emiratis themselves. With under 20% of the population being Emirati citizens the first thing you notice is all the “foreigners”. I use “” because they’re really foreigners in name only. This place is built around and runs on them. Filipinos, IMO, are the biggest group represented, followed by Indians and Pakistanis. From there you get a mixed bag of Africans, Australians, Europeans (Serbians, Russians, Brits, etc…). Another one of those unexpected things can be succinctly stated this way: Gay dudes, Prostitutes, Asians- and these are not mutually exclusive either!
I was a long stay guest at the @CourtyardMarriott so I didn’t get to check out many of the other hotels but Abu Dhabi has them all. Ramada, Sheraton, Marriott, The Ritz, Westin, and on and on. No matter what rewards program you prefer you’ll find it here. And the thing about the hotels is, they’re the ones who can serve alcohol. You won’t find any free-standing bars or clubs. There are plenty of awesome drinking establishments to choose from but they’re all located in or are attached to hotels. In no particular order, some of the regular ones I went to are: McGettigans, Porters, Coopers, Iris (maybe an exception to the “being attached to a hotel thing”, Sax, PJ Murphys, and I think one trip to Captains Arms. One thing you’ll notice is the drinks are fairly expensive. Maybe because of that whole Muslim country thing but it’s just a fact of life in Abu Dhabi. These places I frequented were within the range of $10-20 USD for a drink with beers being on the cheaper end and mixed drinks being higher. These drink prices can be mitigated for some people if they drink for free or at a reduced rate.
If prostitutes are your thing (not mine, but to each their own) then you’ll want to check out Illusions, 49ers, or Blitz. Each of these places is packed full of women willing to let you pay them for their company, either for the night or a shorter amount of time. Or you can just walk down the above pictured Hamdan Street and find them.
Full disclosure on the bars there in the @CourtyardMarriott is that their drinks are not the most competitively priced. They’ve really got 2 bars on the 12th floor: Up & Below and Pool Bar. U&B is more the party side and Pool Bar lends itself to chillin. The staff up there are great and the service here beats a lot of the other places I went to.
Another thing to check out is the beach. Me and my friends ended up at the Corniche beach on several occasions…sometimes late at night after they were closed and other times during the day and normal operating hours. There’s several different parts to this beach though. The free part and the pay areas. The pay area we went to was 10Dhs for entry and another 25Dhs for a chair and umbrella. At first, we didn’t think it was worth it but after quick and immediate reflection we jumped on it. Because, let’s be honest, the beach sucks if you’re just sitting there in the sand the whole time.
My buddy and I took the opportunity to smash some fools 2 games to 1 in beach volleyball as well. During those after-hours times the “security” is quick to let you know the beach is closed but they never really made sure you left either so you’re basically free to sit there and chill with whoever you want for however long you want.
The Heritage Culture Center over by the Marina is worth a visit and isn’t something that takes a lot of time. I’d recommend hitting that while also hitting the Marina Eye (the big Ferris wheel). Speaking of the Marina, if you’re in town for any length of time during nice weather, one thing you HAVE TO DO is take a yacht out for the night. Huge props to Sultan over at Abu Dhabi Yacht Charter who took us out for the night and was an amazing host. Great music, great people, and a mostly unplanned late-night swim made for probably the single best night I’ve ever had in my travels. We brought our own booze and partied the night away for 500Dhs per hour (minimum of 3 hours- 1500Dhs total = $410). When you bring 8 people and split the cost it is well worth it. Sultan also told us he runs Safaris just outside of Abu Dhabi with dune bashing, camel rides, hookah, and belly dancing. I’d also recommend one of these Safaris as well. We did one prior to meeting Sultan near Dubai and it was a great experience.
That’s a nice short overview of Abu Dhabi here but check me out on InstaGram @ginger_hawk to see many more pictures, there’s too many to post here. Or on Twitter @TheTravelHQ.
Check back soon for some more posts on the spots I’ve talked about here.