The A-Z of weird & wonderful Abu Dhabi
The bizarre, remarkable, astonishing, fantastic, surprising and incredible things you can do in the UAE’s capital.
A is for Al Ghazal Golf Club
During a round of golf, the idea is usually to avoid the sandy bunkers, although that’s more than a little tough at Al Ghazal. With an 18-hole course made of specially treated compact sand, you’ll be aiming for the browns instead of the greens.
Al Ghazal Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 8pm, tee timings vary, Sun to Thurs Dhs160 for non-members playing 18 holes, Fri and Sat Dhs180 for non-members playing 18 holes. Tel: (02) 5758040. Taxi: Close to Abu Dhabi International Airport, Terminal 2.
Bucket Listers is a meetup group that sees people get together to do incredible things. The list of upcoming activities include dancing at an ice-skating disco, exploring cuisines and going to a formal Scottish Ball. Members of the group can also suggest events and co-host.
Dhs10 membership fee
C is for Chakra Crystal Massage
Use the supposed healing power of crystals to sort out your chakras. The massage will see guests have a variety of gem stones (amethyst and quartz make an appearance) placed on specific points on their body in an attempt to open up blocked chakras. Afterwards you’ll receive a hot stone massage.
Anhata Wellness Spa, Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 9am to 9pm, Friday 10am to 7pm, Dhs450. Tel: (02) 5577722. Taxi: Villa 39, on Street 35.
D is for Driverless cars in Masdar
Leave your licence at home and let the robots at Masdar City do the driving. The Personal Rapid Transit vehicles, as they are officially called, use computers and magnets embedded in the concrete floors to help navigate. The cars can even reach speeds of 40kph, while all you have to do is sit back and relax.
Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 8.30am to 4.30pm, free. Tel: (02) 8109333. Taxi: Masdar City.
E is for Emirates National Auto Museum
The private collection of HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan features some amazingly supersized and modified cars. There’s seven matching Mercedes in the colours of the rainbow, a handful of classic cars, and even military vehicles (one has a golfing range on top) that have been tricked out into your wildest dreams.
E65 Road to Liwa Oasis, Western Region, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 5.30pm, Dhs50. Tel: (055) 7492155. Taxi: South of Abu Dhabi, Hamim Road, off E11 in Al Gharbia.
F is for Flyboarding
Invented in 2012 by Frenchman Franky Zapata, this relatively new sport allows participants to “fly” through the air using water propulsion. After you’ve strapped your feet into the special flyboard, which is connected by a pipe to a jet ski, you can shoot above the surface of the water. Score extra points if you can manage a few flips.
Cassel Hotel Resort, Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, daily 9am to sunset, Dhs300 for 30 minutes, Dhs500 for one hour. Tel: (050) 8173071. Taxi: Cassel Hotel Resort in Ghantoot.
G is for Gold vending machines
While surrounded by the opulent surroundings of Emirates Palace, it can be a little tempting to splash some cash. So it should come as no surprise the hotel was the first to keep a Gold-to-Go vending machine in the lobby. Guests and tourists can purchase special keepsakes that range from 10gram gold bars to UAE-themed gold coins.
Emirates Palace, Al Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, daily 24-hours. Tel: (02) 6907999. Taxi: Emirates Palace.
H is for Hijama
Translated as cupping from Arabic, this ancient suction treatment is popular in both Arab and Asian traditions. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Lena Dunham have all tried the alternative health practice, which is meant to promote healing and is claimed to help with blood disorders, fertility issues and skin problems.
Gulf Chinese Medical Centre, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 9am to 1pm, 5pm to 9pm, Dhs200. Tel: (02) 6343538. Taxi: Corner of Old Airport Road and Al Nasr Street.
I is for Indoor skydiving
Ditch the plane and the parachute with this indoor version of skydiving. The Spacewalk at the Abu Dhabi Country Club features a vertical wind tunnel that can lift you up in the air. It features an 875-horsepower fan system, which means wind speeds can reach up to 160kph. Participants should note there is an 85kg weight limit.
Abu Dhabi Country Club, Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, daily noon to 8pm, Dhs180 for two minutes. Tel: (02) 6577601. Taxi: Abu Dhabi Country Club.
J is for Juicing
The juicing craze is booming at the moment and we recommend trying The Raw Place’s signature savoury specialty the Salmorejo. The 16oz drink is made up of tomato, watermelon, green peppers, spring onion, garlic, mustard seeds, olive oil, Himalayan sea salt and black pepper, and tastes like a chilled tomato soup.
World Trade Center Souk, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 7am to 10.30pm, Dhs38. Tel: (02) 6334677. Taxi: World Trade Center Mall.
K is for Kangoos
Fancy acting like a kangaroo at your next workout? Kangoo Jumps is a quirky fitness trend that sees participants strap on specially made bouncy shoes that are meant to reduce stress on your joints while you run or jump. Originally designed for injured athletes, the boots have spawned their very own fitness classes that feature both floor exercises and aerobic dance routines to really work up a sweat. Inspire Sports offers ladies-only classes here in the capital.
Al Bateen Secondary School, Al Bateen, Abu Dhabi, timings to be confirmed, Dhs90 inclusive of a Dhs45 Kangoo shoe rental. Tel: (050) 1575508. Taxi: Al Bateen Secondary School.
L is for Land sailing
Surf the dunes of the Liwa Desert in a land sail at the Qasr Al Sarab resort. Using the power of wind, a sail rigged up to a three wheeler-like bike will let you move across the sand effortlessly. Sessions are subject to availability and weather conditions.
Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara, Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, timings vary, Dhs280, Dhs220 for eight- to 11-year-olds. Tel: (02) 8862088. Taxi: Qasr Al Sarab.
M is for Micro-pigmentation
Wake up with make-up. South African Marcell van der Plas specialises in a semi-permanent pigmentation process that sees coloured particles placed under the skin (think bold eyebrows, perfectly applied eyeliner or bright lips) for results that will last for approximately two to four years. The cosmetic treatments have also been used for cancer patients who have undergone chemotherapy and experienced hair loss. Prices start from Dhs2,000.
N is for Neorun
Need some extra motivation to get you running? Then check out the city’s first Neorun. Hosted at Zayed Sports City on October 29, this fun run will see runners get splattered with glowing UV paint as they make their way through a Halloween-themed spooky track. Runners can then celebrate crossing the finish line at the psychedelic Enigma Party, complete with DJs.
Zayed Sports City, Al Madina Al Riyadiya, Abu Dhabi, 8pm, Dhs165. Tel: (02) 4034200. Taxi: Zayed Sports City.
O is for Oxygen facial
Blast your face with cold oxygen! The Age Defying Oxygen Treatment at the Anantara Spa uses German technology to apply 95 per cent pure oxygen on to the skin, which is said to boost elasticity and enhance skin cell renewal. The treatment lasts 90 minute.
Eastern Mangroves Hotel And Spa By Anantara, Al Markaziyah, Abu Dhabi, daily 10am to 11pm, Dhs790. Tel: (02) 6561146. Taxi: Eastern Mangroves.
P is for Point Zero Floatation Centre
Float your worries away with a treatment that is similar to taking a dip in the Dead Sea. Guests will be able to float effortlessly on a super-saturated salt solution in either a special pool or pod. The treatment’s makers claims guests will be able to relax deeply, due to a decrease in external stimuli. Participants can also request meditative music or lights for a different experience. Floating treatments are available from 30 minutes, 45 minutes to
Point Zero Floatation Centre, Khalifa City A, Abu Dhabi, Sat to Thur 10am to 10pm, Fri 2pm to 10pm, Dhs200. Tel: (02) 4455775. Taxi: Opposite Al Forsan International Sports Resort.
Q is for Quinoa biryani
For a healthier twist on your next biryani, check out one of our favourite dishes – the protein-packed quinoa version being served at Biryani Pot. The What’s On Award-winning Indian restaurant serves up the gluten-free and organic veggie dish in a clay pot that is topped with a crisped layer of flat bread. Meat eaters have the option of adding lamb, chicken or shrimp to their biryani pots for an extra charge.
The Galleria, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Al Maryah Island, Sat to Wed 11.30am to 11pm, Thur and Fri 11.30am to midnight, Dhs44 to Dhs66. Tel: (02) 6766555. Taxi: Galleria, Al Maryah Island.
R is for Reiki
This hands-on approach (pun intended) to healing sees a therapist use their palms (both directly on the skin and by hovering over it) to transfer healing energy to patients. While no scientific research has proven the healing claims of the treatment, the Japanese discipline is still practised today and can be used for a variety of ailments including depression, pain management and sports injuries.
Dna Health Center, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 9.30am to 6pm, Sat 10.30am to 4pm, Dhs495. Tel: (02) 6109000. Taxi: The Collection on Saadiyat Island.
S is for Spabiking
Part massage and part hydrotherapy, this exercise will see you cycle yourself slim in a partially submerged bath. Meant to help firm and tone the body, the bath/biking set up at Bodylines Gym at the Yas Rotana will see you pedal against the resistance of the water for a deeper workout. It’s claimed you can burn up to 700 calories per session and that the aquatic training can also help reduce cellulite.
Yas Rotana, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, daily 8am to 9pm, Dhs185. Tel: (02) 6564000. Taxi: Yas Island.
T is for T-Rex
Even though Tinker, the world’s first and only juvenile T-Rex, is currently on tour in Japan, you can still visit the Etihad Modern Art Gallery and see a Tyrannosaurus Rex head. The museum currently has a life-size replica of a 12-metre long female’s skull on display. And because it is a replica, you’ll be able to touch it and snap a selfie too.
Etihad Modern Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thur 10am to 10pm. Tel: (02) 6210145. Taxi: opposite Al Bateen Mall.
U is for Underwater snorkeling safari
Head under the sea for a safari like you’ve never been to before. The Noukhada Adventure Company hosts four-hour snorkel safaris with stops at the ooid shoals and offshore coral reefs. The trips are only hosted in low tide, when the ooid shoals are exposed, and are dependent on weather.
Yas Beach launch point, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, timings vary, Dhs300. Tel: (02) 5581889. Taxi: Yas Beach.
V is for Vertical flex
Also known as pole dancing, these ladies-only exercise/dance classes will help women build up their upper body strength and learn a few moves in the process. Participants will learn dance steps used in the tango, cha cha and samba as well as practise specific pole, transition and floor moves.
One To One Hotel, Al Nayhan, Abu Dhabi, timings to be confirmed, Dhs100 per hour. Tel: (02) 4930115. Taxi: One To One, Salam Street.
W is for Whitewater rafting
Head to land-locked Al Ain for a spot of whitewater rafting. The man-made rapids at Wadi Adventure were the first to be built in the region and have three separate levels, so both beginners and experts can have a crack at it. Each raft seats up to a maximum of six people and includes a professional guide.
Wadi Adventure, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Sun to Thurs 11am to 8pm, Fri and Sat 10am to 8pm, Dhs 100 for 90 minutes, admission to park is an extra Dhs50 for adults. Tel: (03) 7818422. Taxi: Wadi Adventure.
X is for X-factor auditions
Put your microphones away, these auditions aren’t for a singing competition; they’re actually for a job with Bounce Abu Dhabi. The indoor trampoline park at Marina Mall will have people literally bouncing off the walls, in order to join the free-jumping crew. The auditions should be taking place this month.
Marina Mall, Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi. Taxi: Marina Mall.
Y is for Yas Wire World
While everyone What’s On has spoken to is tight lipped about just what the new outdoor adventure park on Yas Island will offer, we’ve been told that the amusement space will include 75 activities including high wire ropes, a bike park, and bungee trampolines.
Z is for Zaya Nurai Island
This hideaway just off the coast of Saadiyat Island features a boutique hotel resort that is as posh as it is pretty (with the prices to match). Expect white sand beaches, turquoise sea views as far as the eye can see and elegant facilities. The Zaya Spa should be opening up later this month and will feature a range of treatments including foot reflexology, Swedish massages and facial treatments.
Zaya Nurai Island, Nurai Island, Abu Dhabi, from Dhs4,250 per night. Tel: (02) 5066222. Taxi: Welcome Centre on Saadiyat Island, opposite Saadiyat Beach Residences.