8 places to visit in Abu Dhabi to feel like a local
Abu Dhabi is known for its beautiful beaches, futuristic architecture, fine restaurants and so much more. Over 200 nationalities call the city home and it's the hospitable nature of local citizens, known as Emiratis, that make tourists alike feel so at home.
Emirati culture and traditions are almost identical to Bedouin traditions that have existed for millennia. Bedouins are famous for their remarkable resourcefulness and warm hospitality, qualities that remain central to the Emirati character.
Here are the essential places you need to visit to experience the local side of Abu Dhabi.
1. House of Artisans
At the House of Artisans in Qasr Al Hosn, visitors can take part in workshops taught by local artisans who craft beautiful pieces using traditional methods. The high-quality handcrafted items are available for purchase and make for the perfect holiday souvenir.
2. Bait Al Gawha
Gahwa (Arabic coffee) is an essential part of Emirati culture and one of the UAE’s most cherished traditions. Visit Bait Al Gawha in Qasr Al Hosn to sample the local coffee and learn the art of this social ritual.
3. Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Falcons and falconry have been connected to Emirati culture and Bedouin’s lives for centuries. Tour the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital's luxurious wards, explore the falconry museum and, if watch the falcons swoop through the free-flight aviary. The hospital's guided tours come highly recommended.
4. Bedouin Desert Experiences
Get a taste of Emirati heritage at the Desert Rose Bedouin Desert Camp. Set against the golden dunes of Al Khaznah between Abu Dhabi city and Al Ain, the camp offers visitors authentic desert activities including camel rides, evening buffets, belly dance performances and much more.
5. Al Ain Camel Market
Al Ain Camel Market is a great place to get a closer look at the animal that symbolises desert life. Immerse yourself in the bustling market, located 15km away from downtown Al Ain. Watch morning trades, capture photos with the camels, and attend mock camel races at this family-friendly spot.
6. Al Ain Safari
Al Ain Safari isn’t just an opportunity to get close to the UAE’s wildest residents, it’s a chance to see the spectacular sights of Jebel Hafit, Abu Dhabi’s tallest peak. Inside the park, located 90 minutes from Abu Dhabi city, visitors can see wildlife native to the UAE and a range of animals native to the UAE and Africa too.
To feel like a local you must eat like a local. There's nowhere better to do this than Mezlai at Emirates Palace. The award-winning restaurant is designed to resemble an airy Bedouin tent and pays homage to the UAE's heritage through traditional Emirati dishes and beverages.
8. Mina Markets
Explore Abu Dhabi’s dynamic market culture at the Mina Markets. Learn about the city's historic connection with the Arabian Gulf at the Fish Souk, pick up a memento for your trip at the Carpet Souk, and see the Vegetable Souk’s vibrant selection of fresh produce.