Dubai Abu Dhabi

Oh where to go Dubai or Abu Dhabi?

Maybe you’ve chosen the wrong emirate, should it be Dubai or Abu Dhabi?

Is it true that Dubai is better than Abu Dhabi, is it true there’s more to do in Dubai? This may be disputed, others may sigh in disbelief and others simply nod their heads in agreement.

So what do we know about Dubai?  It is impossible to ignore, it’s an ethnically diverse metropolis sometimes described as the playground of kings.

With its futuristic skyline, its obsession with fashion,  abundance of western entertainment, sumptuous shopping malls, the development of an  arty side,  a fast-rising gallery district and world-class night-life spots, it has something for everyone.

Only Dubai can boast the highest building (the Burj Khalifa) — more than 160 stories soaring 2,716.5 feet in the air, the world’s tallest hotel (JW Marriott Marquis Dubai), the world’s largest artificial island (the Palm Jumeirah) and the world’s biggest mall with (Dubai Mall), an indoor ski park, a sleek metro that zips through the sky like something out of Blade Runner.  Where else could you take a submarine elevator down to a restaurant being watched by a shark in a huge aquarium?  The hotel resorts are magnificent —Al Qasr, Grosvenor House, the One & Only Royal Mirage or you can stay in a hotel that looks like a boat or one that looks like a sail.

Travel to the Nad Al Sheba, Dubai’s world-class racetrack, and you’ll find horses wearing the royal blue colors of Sheikh Mohammed’s, travel along the highway and you’ll see  a long, wide, security-monitored boulevard, a huge palace that belongs to the sheikh. Drive out to the desert and you’ll end up at Bab Al Shams, a sandy resort built to Sheikh Mohammed’s specifications

When to go

The best time of the year to visit Dubai is between November and April, when the weather is coolest. Though in the past few years, January, once considered the optimum month to visit, has been overcast and rainy.

Summer, while blistering, is increasingly proving popular with budget travellers and families for the bargains that can be found – it’s the cheapest time to visit, but note that from June to September the average daily temperature is well over a scorching 40 degrees Celsius.

Getting there

Flights: British Airways and Emirates fly from London

Currency:

Currency: Dirham, written as Dh or Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)

Time difference:

+4 hours

Flight time:

London to Dubai is around seven to eight hours

Visas

Visas: free 30-day visas can be obtained on arrival at the immigration desk, with a 30-day extension possible at the immigration office. Passports must be valid for six months beyond your date of entry

So can Abu Dhabi compete?  What has is got to offer?

  1. The Mangroves

Dubai may be building a canal, but can it compete with a 60,000 square metres of wild, mangroves. The famous mangroves around Abu Dhabi provide the perfect setting.  You can go on night paddles explore a new part of the mangroves in either circular tours or point to point providing some great entertainment when the temperatures drop.

  1. Formula 1 at Yas Marina Circuit

Dubai Autodrome can’t compete with the Yas Marina Circuit.  The circuit has five grandstand areas, twenty-one corners that twist through Yas Island off the Abu Dhabi coast, passing by the marina and through the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel and winding its way through sand dunes, with several long straights and tight corners.

The marina-based development includes a theme park, a water park, as well as residential areas, hotels and beaches.

  1. The corniche

Abu Dhabi must be doing something right with its corniche. The Corniche Road spreads across an impressive eight kilometres of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach – a lifeguarded beach park.

Abu Dhabi’s pristine Corniche beachfront has been awarded coveted Blue Flag status – the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas that guarantees clean and safe bathing water.

  1. Yas Links

Dubai may have more golf courses than Abu Dhabi but does it have a seriously good links course? Yes!  Challenge your golfing skills on the magnificent 18 hole championship course, the links provides golf’s ultimate test: uneven fairways, pot bunkers and unpredictable wind conditions.

Relax in the club house’s signature infinity pool overlooking the Arabian Gulf and the greens of the Academy.

  1. Which islands!

Dubai has Palm Jumeirah, Jebel Ali Palm, Palm Deira yet Abu Dhabi offers you Sir Bani Yas Island – A nature-based destination alive with wildlife, home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals including Arabian Oryx, gazelles and giraffes, hyenas and cheetahs. Guests can take a 4×4 Nature & Wildlife Drive of the park in specially made vehicles accompanied by expert or simply relax in a  5-star boutique luxury hotel.

  1. Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island promises to be a highbrow and high-rolling amusement park, a place to park your yacht or toddle from green to green in close proximity to some of the world’s most celebrated art.

They’ve been a long time coming, but when completed the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island will be a 450,000 square foot museum, making it the largest Guggenheim in the world with the Louvre Abu Dhabi just next door.

When they are finally completed, both the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be almost entirely surrounded by water. Perched on the eastern rim of Saadiyat Island – a monumental £18bn complex that seeks to turn the capital of the United Arab Emirates into a global cultural hub

Its additional frills are a performance space designed by Zaha Hadid, a marina, a golf course, exclusive villas and luxury hotels.

  1. Liwa desert & tall sand dunes

Liwa desert is the world’s largest sand desert; until you drive through the Empty Quarter you have no idea how massive a desert can be.  And somewhere in that mass expanse of sand is Tel Moreeb – a 300 metre-high sand dune, considered by many to be the world’s tallest. It also has a 50-degree incline, making it a haven for motor sports enthusiasts.

  1. Al Ain

An oasis, a palace museum, a great zoo, an old fort, a camel market, a shooting club and a man-made white water rafting facility – all of this Al Ain has to offer.

  1. Emirates Palace

In a country of huge hotels that stun the senses, Emirates Palace is a colossus; nothing comes close to it.

  1. Grand Mosque

One of the most stunning mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque looks like a real-life palace out of Aladdin. Seeing is believing!

  1. Ferrari World

Dubai has theme parks but Abu Dhabi has Ferrari World, home to the fastest roller coaster on the planet.

When to go

The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is between April and May or from September to October. The spring and fall shoulder seasons yield pleasant weather, manageable crowds and reasonable hotel rates.

Getting there

Flights: British Airways and Ethiad fly from London

Currency:

The local currency is the UAE dirham (AED or Dhs)

Time difference:

+4 hours

Flight time:

London to Abu Dhabi is around seven to eight hours

Visas

The citizens of the UK will be issued a free-of-charge entry visa upon arrival to Abu Dhabi International Airport

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