Exploring Abu Dhabi’s hidden worlds of Culture and Cuisine

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Last week we looked at Abu Dhabi’s exciting worlds of nature and adventure. Now we’re taking that same pioneer spirit and applying it to the fascinating and rich territories of culture and cuisine.

Abu Dhabi is a globally-recognised hub for creativity and diversity, it has a long and fascinating history and has clear ambitions about its future. It is for these reasons, the worlds of culture and cuisine have their own distinct flavour in Abu Dhabi. And The Time Is Now to sample them, here are just a few of our favourites…

A world of culture

It doesn’t take much digging to uncover Abu Dhabi’s cultural bones. The emirate is a fascinating treasure cache of forts, museums, monuments, heritage sites, archaeological excavations, galleries, religious centres, craft communes, sculptures, art installations and culture districts.

You can meander around the timeless collections of objets d’art in Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat al Saadiyat, Warehouse421 and the Etihad Modern Art Gallery. If it’s a dive into the heart of heritage that interests you most, there’s plenty to uncover at Qasr Al Hosn, the emirate’s oldest standing building; Qasr Al Watan — the Presidential Palace of the Nation offers exhibits with insights into the UAE’s past; the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s largest mosques, with space for 40,000 worshipers, there are 82 white marble domes — one of which features beautiful gold leaf calligraphy of Quranic text on the interior, the mosque also houses the world’s largest hand-woven carpet.

Step back into the past and explore the garden city forts of Al Jahili, Al Ain Oasis and the Al Ain Palace Museum; or journey yet further along the timeline at the ancient, up to 5,000 years old archaeological sites at Jebel Hafit Desert Park and Hili Archeological Park.

Back in the modern era, our whistle-stop cultural tour is coming to an end, but we’re not finishing up in the gift shop. Abu Dhabi is launching the first ‘destination-led’ Collectors Week — a curated assemblage of collections from the plains of retail, entertainment and gastronomy. The 10-day festival will take place across the UAE capital from October 7 to 16, 2021,

A world of cuisine

Abu Dhabi has long been a thriving hub of culinary excellence. It’s kitchens and chef teams a constellation of stellar gastronomy – representing all the flavours of the world.

You’ll find many five-star examples of Emirati cuisine here, but perhaps none so consistently beautiful as Mezlai in Emirates Palace; Al Mabeet also offers regional delicacies but from a more authentic between-dune setting; more Arabian desert dining options come in the form of Suhail, named after the principal star used in bedouin navigation, this majlis-themed restaurant deals in grilled meats and super fresh seafood; join us as we head towards Asia and the Abu Dhabi waterfront outpost of the worldwide Japanese dining sensation — Zuma; another Emirates Palace gem can be seen in Hakkasan, serving up artful dim sum and ancient Cantonese recipes.

The foodie world tour finishes with our selected twin centre stay in Europe — elite prime cuts are seved in theatrical serving rituals at Salt Bae’s famous Turkish steakhouse, Nusr-Et; or if you fancy your food with a distinctly French accent, you’d struggle to find a more seductive plate than the ones emerging from La Petitie Maison’s kitchen.

The emirate’s cuisine scene is such an important feature in fact, that it has its own (nearly two month-long) festival. Abu Dhabi Culinary Season, taking place between October 18 and December 9 2021, brings a flurry of great value foodie events to help you explore the emirate’s top restaurants and shed a light on the creativity of its top kitchen talent.

Images: Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi