Abu Dhabi: Where Culture Cools You Down in Winter
By PRADEEP PURAVANKARA
Forget frosty landscapes and cozy fireplaces - this winter, find your warmth in the heart of Abu Dhabi! A recent press trip hosted by the Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi proved that the emirate’s “Can’t Wait to Winter” campaign isn’t just a slogan, it’s a sensory explosion.
My journey began with a pulse-quickening drive through the newly minted Abu Dhabi International Airport. My chatty cab driver, Ali, couldn’t contain his excitement as he recapped the recent National Day festivities, his words bubbling with pride and patriotism.
This infectious energy set the tone for a trip brimming with cultural immersion and modern marvels.
Palaces Past and Present
First on the docket was Qasr Al Watan, a presidential palace that transcended mere architecture. It was a monument to Arabian heritage, intricately woven with history and purpose.
Every chamber whispered tales of past rulers, while the library showcased the legacy of Arab thinkers in fields from astronomy to art. Moving forward in time, the Louvre Abu Dhabi offered a captivating blend of East and West.
This architectural marvel, designed by Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel, houses a treasure trove of art spanning epochs and continents. As twilight descended, we were treated to a mesmerizing drone and light show that danced across the Saadiyat Island skyline.
Underwater Adventures and Mangrove Magic
Next stop, SeaWorld Yas Island! This watery wonderland whisked us through eight thematic zones, where we came face-to-fin with playful dolphins, majestic manta rays, and even curious Arctic foxes. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we glided through the lush mangroves aboard a boat, the silence broken only by the gentle lapping of water.
Desert Tales and Oasis Dreams
Day three dawned with a trip to Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain. This restored fortress, now a cultural hub, whispered tales of explorers like Sir Wilfred Thesiger, who crossed the vast Empty Quarter. The Al Ain Zoo further fuelled our adventurous spirit, offering camel rides, giraffe feeding, and a chance to meet adorable creatures at the Elezba petting zoo.
Our day culminated in a breathtaking safari drive through the Al Ain Oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where emerald palms whispered secrets beneath the watchful gaze of Jebel Hafeet Mountain.
Culinary Delights and Rotana Respite
Throughout our journey, the Rotana Group provided luxurious sanctuaries.
Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Rotana pampered us with Michelin-starred cuisine, serene spa treatments, and a chance to unwind at the beach club. From Antonia’s pizza perfection to the fusion symphony at Bushra, each meal was a celebration of flavour.
A Tapestry Woven with Memories
As we bid farewell to Abu Dhabi, I carried with me not just souvenirs and photos, but a tapestry woven with breathtaking landscapes, cultural gems, and culinary delights.
The emirate proved that winter isn’t just about escaping the cold, it’s about embracing the warmth of new experiences, rich traditions, and unforgettable memories. So, this winter, ditch the mittens and pack your bags – Abu Dhabi’s “Can’t Wait to Winter” campaign is waiting to embrace you with open arms.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Qasr Al Watan