What are you doing for the first full weekend of 2023..?

Chilled and mellow, wild and free, or a little bit of both — whichever path you’ve chosen for 2023, we’re here to help you stay on course.

Friday, January 6

Invested in festive

Cling onto the festive season at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi’s Winterfest. Alongside all the usual adrenaline-pumping thrills and chills, enjoy an interactive winter village adored with Christmas décor, watch in awe at a new ice skating show, and round out your visit by stopping by the Gingerbread Factory. And if you hold a season pass, you can get yourself an exclusive early preview of the new mega-coaster — Mission Ferrari.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, until January 8, Dhs325. ferrariworldabudhabi.com

On yer bike

Chic boutique fitness outfit, CRANK Abu Dhabi recently opened its doors at Sheikha Fatima Park and has been putting the city’s fitties through their black-lit paces from the jump. The brand offers 45 minute programmes of intense cycle fitness, getting riders to incinerate those kcals in churning sprints and endurance climbs all in the glow of distinctly midnight rave ‘art lighting’ aesthetics specially designed for the studios. And, importantly, the soundtrack slaps. CRANK operates an innovative ride ranking system (which, if this thought fills you with dread, you are free to opt out of) — which allocates points according to your pedal power and torque settings, and then puts you on a leader board at the front of the class. In the Dubai locations, they offer Shape and Stretch classes, which don’t seem to be available in Abu Dhabi just yet — fingers crossed for the future. Pro tip: They give new riders a discounted trial session, but be careful, once you CRANK, there’s no turning back.

Sheikha Fatima Park, Rides from 8.30am to 7.30pm, pricing from Dhs60 for trial. Tel: (04) 321 2095, @crank.uae

Punjab Grill

This, now Michelin Guide recognised, Indian restaurant brings a huge amount to the table — and a fair proportion of it, is cruelty free. You’ll find clear indications throughout the menu of which dishes are served as vegan-friendly, and which dishes can be adapted so that they can be prepared as vegan-friendly. That demonstrates a great deal of thought and care, the bonus is that this is also one of the best high end South Asian diners in Abu Dhabi.  We’re big fans of the veg mixed grill (Dhs100), chaat options, and the bhagara baingan (Dhs75). And as an extra plant-based boost for January, they’re offering a full, limited edition, vegan menu.

Punjab Grill, Venetian Village of Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi. WhatsApp: (050) 668 3054, @punjabgrillabudhabi

Saturday, January 7

Not jazzed another brunch

We have no idea how or why it happened, but Abu Dhabi seems to be living through a golden age of jazz at the moment, and we are here for it. The latest cats to drop their needle in this groove, are — Acres Grill, at Yas Acres Golf & Country Club as part of their brand new Saturday brunch offerings. Much like the scatty rhythms of a jazz beat, they’re doing things a little differently — their packages are tiered, giving you the freedom to only pay for what you want to eat and drink. On the double bass,  there’s a selection of unlimited starters and salads for Dhs99. Over there on the keys, is an a la carte main course starting from Dhs110. Trumpets — a freeflow beverage package for just Dhs149. And on the mic, for your entertainment pleasure, the soothing sounds of a live jazz band. Nice.

Yas Acres Golf & Country Club, every Sat 12.30pm to 3.30pm. Tel: (02) 208 733 or reserve now via viyagolf.com

How many kms Qana you manage?

The effortlessly handsome Al Qana waterfront leisure project is hosting a scenic community fitness event this weekend and it’s welcoming those wanting to hit the new year jogging. The event is open to hot steppers of all ability ranges and offers split distance categories of 1km, 3km, 5km, or 10km. Keen? You can sign up now via the premieronline.com website, entry is priced at Dhs57.75.

Al Qana, Rabdan Area, the race starts at 7am, you’ll need to be there 30 minutes ahead of that time. 

Pyro stuff

If you’re the sort that really just can’t get enough of the saucy sky fire, don’t worry — you can still get your fix. Every Saturday at 10pm, enjoy some of the biggest and most elaborate fireworks displays, which light up the Al Wathba skies. Enjoy spectacular colours and dazzling formations alongside laser and hologram shows.

Sheikh Zayed Festival, Al Wathba, 4pm to midnight daily until March, 18 2023, Dhs5. zayedfestival.ae

How you dune?

Now open, Bateen Liwa Resort is the latest leisure project from those grand dames of glamping, Bab Al Nojoum. This new development is comprised entirely of villas, with one, two and three bedroom options available, as well as the rather regal looking Royal Villas. Themes that have carried through from previous include a commitment to low environmental impact operations, and providing guests with a ‘great outdoors’ experience — each lodging comes with private facilities that enhance interactions with the natural world around it.

Find out more in our full story.

Sunday, January 8

Circuit training

Judging by the way some of you treat the expressways here, it’s very unlikely you’ll get a shock call up to next year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. But there is still a way you could find yourself doing laps of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit. They have a stacked grid of car experiences, but the best for thrill seekers has to be Formula Yas 3000 (Dhs1,840). Described as, “the closest thing to an F1 car most people will ever drive,” you’ll get to zoom around in a race car armed with a 3.0 litre V6 Jaguar Cosworth engine, plus Formula One-style paddle shift flappy paddle gear sticks. Looking for something a little less fast pace? Yas Marina also offers karting sessions too (from Dhs120). yasmarinacircuit.com


The desert areas of the UAE hold many wonders, but few can compare to the ethereal beauty of Al Wathba’s fossil dunes. These naturally occurring monoliths are jutting, jagged reminders of the emirate’s storied geological past, having been forged over the past 120,000 years. Found a short distance away from the (also well-worth a visit) Al Wathba Wildlife Reserve, an expanse covering more than 1,700 of the fossil dunes has now been designated as a protected landmark. The Al Wathba Fossil Dune Protected Area now features a visitor centre, a viewing area, an amphitheatre and 7kms of hike-able trails with educational signage explaining the origins and cultural significance of these magnificent sand relics.

Conduct a prison break

Taking inspiration from iconic TV shows, The Crystal Maze and Fort Boyard, Prison Island – Beat the Bars is a new adventure experience now open at Abu Dhabi Mall. Set over a 1,000m² expanse, this is no escape room — it’s a network of 26 individual ‘cells’ featuring tasks each more fiendishly conundrous (shhh, that’s a word) than the last, and you’ll have to beat them all if you want to escape the island, with winner’s bragging rights.

Abu Dhabi Mall, Dhs125, @prisonisland.abudhabi.

Images: Provided