Abu Dhabi

The Emirati capital is more refined than its busier and flashier cousin Dubai. Come to Abu Dhabi to visit the magnificent Grand Mosque.

Abu Dhabi has its own airport and is a 90 minute drive from Dubai. Most taxi drivers can take you to and from the cities for a metered rate.

Winter is a lovely here as the sun is out but the temperatures are a manageable 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.

Abu Dhabi is more conservative than Dubai and we would recommend that women pack scarves and more modest clothing for a visit.


Nolu’s Cafe California-Afghan fushion. Great for brunch or lunch.

Jones the Grocer This Australian restaurant is the only non-hotel restaurant in the city that serves alcohol and food. Recommended by a friend.

Zaatar w Zeit This Lebanese chain features delicious and healthy takeaway or casual eat-in options. Definitely try the manakeesh wraps with zaatar.


Asia de Cuba Fun drinks and fusion on the Corniche. Recommended by a friend.

Tamba Indian restaurant with great drinks at the World Trade Center. Recommended by a friend.


Corniche Beach A long, public beach for sun-worshiping, walking and relaxation.

Mangrove National Park Try kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding through the calm waterways of this national park.

Saadiyat Beach Club A luxurious, tranquil oasis just outside the city. Spend the day at this beach club and spa.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque This stunning mosque is the jewel of Abu Dhabi. Free, guided tours on site.


If you are only in town for a short period, we recommend staying near The Corniche to be close to the beach, shopping and restaurants.



The largest city in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is thought to have started out as a fishing village on the edge of the desert. Today it is the business hub of the MIddle East and known for its luxury shopping and decadent skyline.

Cabbing is the most convenient way to get around the city. While there is public transport, it is not extensive or efficient.

Abu Dhabi is a 90 minute drive from Dubai and cabs will take you there and back. It is worth the day trip to check out the grand Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.


Buddha Bar Asian cuisine with a vibrant atmosphere.

Chutney’s Indian restaurant in the Mövenpick hotel. Recommended by a friend

Saffron Restaurant While pricey and ostentatious, the Atlantis’ famous, four-hour, Friday brunches are an experience. Choose from over 20 different food stations and as many drink stalls for an “all-you-can-consume” affair.


Barasti Beach Club A beach club and lunch spot by day, Barasti is a club by night. Order a shisha water pipe to share, dance and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.


Burj Khalifa Book in advance to visit the observation decks of this 160-story skyscraper. We felt the 124-125 level experience was the best value.

Desert Safari For first-timers to the Middle East, consider a trip outside the city to explore the Emirati desert and culture. The Platinum Heritage company was recommended by a friend.

Dubai Souks While smaller than souks in Istanbul, Jerusalem or Marrakech, Dubai’s markets have something all their own. Check out the spice, perfume and gold souks before taking a ferry from the Deira Old Souq Station across Dubai Creek to the textile souk.

Shopping Malls Dubai takes its shopping very seriously. Malls are everywhere and attract shoppers from all of the world with their range of global, luxury brands.


If you are in town for business, stay closer to the city in the north. For pleasure? Stay near the marina or Palm for easy access to beaches and nightlife.

Our picks include Grosvenor House, a luxury, Marriott hotel in the marina, and Media One Hotel, a mid-range hotel near the beach, marina and the Palm Jumeriah, but a bit of a drive to the Burj Khalifa and souks.