25 awesome ideas for a rainy day in Abu Dhabi
In anticipation of precipitation, 25 things for a rainy day…
Normally known for its bright and sunny disposition, there are days when the rain does fall on our fair capital. And that’s a wonderful thing, the desert flora gets a much-needed soaking and we can grab some of those rare ‘selfies-in-the-rain’ opportunities.
But with much of the city’s alfresco action off-limits, what can you do if you want to escape the laundry-drying jungle of your own home? These are some of our favourites inside Abu Dhabi activities…
Plummet and summit
Inside Yas-based adventuredrome, Clymb — you can skydive and scale up an artificial Everest beneath the snug-comfort of a steel sky. The venue is home to a truly epic wind tunnel that lets you live out all the thrills of hurling yourself out of a plane, except at a few metres above sea-level and without having to put faith in square metres of voluminous nylon. Prefer your ascents a bit more hands-on? There is a huge collection of climbing walls, and boulder-edging to pit your finger strength against. It’s our nation’s spiritual home of the war on gravity.
Clymb, Yas Mall (by Ferrari World entrance), Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Sunday to Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 11pm, basic climb package Dhs120 for 60 minutes, Combo tickets from Dhs315. Tel: (600) 511115, clymbabudhabi.com
Under the sea
When it’s all looking a bit Atlantian outside, why not head to Abu Dhabi’s own underwater kingdom, The National Aquarium. In addition to the eight themed zones; an XXL reticulated python known only as ‘Super Snake’; back stage tours; and marine animal rehabilitation projects, there are also a range of marine life meet and greets. You can, for example, have an ‘Ocean Encounter’ feeding sharks measuring up to two metres in length for just Dhs180. And that price includes access to the ‘Aquarium Journey’.
The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi, Al Qana, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, general admission from Dhs105. Tel: (02) 418 6666. thenationalaquarium.ae
Journey into the Metaverse
They say you can’t run away from your problems, but you can put on a headset and blast them into oblivion. Groundbreaking Virtual Reality (VR) experience, Zero Latency, is now available at The Galleria Al Maryah Island. And it represents a true levelling up in gaming tech. The free-roam multiplayer experience allows teams of up to eight mates to fight off waves of brain-nibbling zombies. Gone are the cumbersome cables and wires of the old school VR world, now you can explore the open gamespace with absolute freedom. If you’re not down for duelling the undead, you can also take on a special virtual version of Ubisoft tropical Island caper, Far Cry 3. And for more cerebral fun, there’s the engaging puzzle conundrums of Engineerium.
The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi. Opens July 27. Tel:(0)2 493 7400, from Dhs150. @zerolatencyvrae
The long dark knight
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi was your top pick for ‘Favourite Attraction’ in the What’s On Abu Dhabi Awards 2021. And we felt that. All of our favourite DCU superheroes (and villains), Tom, Jerry, Buggs, Daffy, Tweetie, The Flintstones, and backed up by some spectacularly wild rides – there are the expertly choreographed shows.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi Dhs310 for adult and child. Tel: (600) 511 115. @wbworldad
Fall in Louvre with culture
Abu Dhabi is home to a treasure trove of galleries, musems and culturally significant awesomeness. We recommend you take a quick look at our guide to some of the local highbrow highlights. But if we were to pick one, it’d be Louvre Abu Dhabi. In addition to housing one of the most beautifully curated, story-telling collections of art and objets-de-wow, they host movie nights, there’s a children’s museum, paint and grape nights, special exhibitions (right now you can catch Dragon and Phoenix: Centuries of Exchange between Chinese and Islamic worlds) and even guided drawing tours. Held every Wednesday and lead by the Museum Educator you’ll learn insider skills, artistic trickery and see a different side to this world-class museum.
Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, every Wed 4.30pm to 6.30pm, Dhs81.50 (includes admission to museum, usually Dhs63). Tel: (02) 6736 688. louvreabudhabi.ae
Ahead full STEAM
National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, in The Galleria Al Maryah Island is new edutainment complex offering seven exciting attractions aimed at captivating kiddliwinks and stealthily uploading STEAM learning in them, all whilst they’re having one ‘world’s largest mammal’ of a time. There are two VR/AR experiences, including Space Jump, where snack-sized astronauts will be put through a training programme to see if they’ve got the gusto to thrive in the cavernous vacuum of space. And Recon River, which puts little explorers on a raft — sending them downstream in search of rare and exotic animals to capture in their augmented viewfinders.
National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Sat to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thu and Fri 10am to midnight, from Dhs80. Tel: (052) 403 7166, @natgeoultimateexplorerad
Food glorious food
The plat is now out of the Michelin bag in Abu Dhabi and, based on the whims and wants of its inspectors, we’ve learned who’s kind of a big deal on the capital’s culinary scene. A significant 42 restaurants were added to this inaugural 2023 Guide, four were awarded the sought-after Bib Gourmand status (good affordably priced food) and three more were honoured with what is likely international gastronomy’s most coveted prize of all, a Michelin Star. Those trio of Star-struck restaurants were — Hakkasan Abu Dhabi, Talea by Antonio Guida and 99 Sushi Bar and Restaurant.
Get a real job
If you’ve not been to Kidzania before, it’s essentially a theme park for careers. And we mean that in the most positive, complimentary way. Kids wander through the streets of a toy-town, with the opportunity to try their hand at role-playing a series of simulated job experiences. There’s a replica hospital, radio station, fire service, acting academy and more.
Kidzania can be found in Yas Mall, 1pm to 8pm, ticket prices for kids start from Dhs149, adults from Dhs69, other packages are available. Tel: (054) 998 6897, tickets.kidzania.ae
A constant battle
A brand new ‘digital paintball’ experience has just opened in Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall and it looks like a solid bullseye for the Call of Duty generation. There are a few different ways you can play at Battle Park — gather the squad for iBattle, a team deathmatch spawned in an abandoned prison-themed layout, from Dhs75 for a 20 minute game. There’s also a virtual shooting simulator with sessions priced from Dhs40, and target shooting from Dhs50.
Marina Mall Floor 2. Tel: (800) 228853, @battlepark.official
It’s coming dome…
A few leagues up from ‘jumpers for goalposts’ this inflatable 5-a-side dome with 5G (no tin foil hats please) pitch belongs to 321Sports, on Abu Dhabi’s adventure island — Hudayriyat. You and your squad can rent the pitch, along with a tidy collection of other sporting courts and amenities.
Hudayriyat Island, Dhs520 per hour. Tel: (02) 691 0256, 321sports.ae
Your own personal horror story
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A horror movie, but make it interactive. Said almost nobody ever, but somehow it still exists — and it does so right here in Abu Dhabi. Teams of two to 10 players can try their (disembodied) hand at a pair of spooky narrative-driven escape room experiences — with live actors. House of Evil and The Morgue — both take about 60 minutes to complete, and are priced at around Dhs180 (based on four players) per person.
Al Sikik Street, Al Danah. Tel: (050) 321 0541, @hauntedactivityuae
One of the world’s largest mosques, this inspirational building was commissioned by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and was completed in just over a decade. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has space for 40,000 worshipers each day and pulls design features from Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt, and other Islamic countries. There are 1,096 amethyst-and-jasper-embedded columns, 82 white marble domes — one of which features beautiful gold lead calligraphy of Quranic text on the interior, reflective pools, Swarovski chandeliers, the world’s largest hand-woven carpet, a breathtaking prayer hall, and a courtyard with one of the world’s largest marble mosaics.
Al Maqta’a, daily 11am to 11pm, free. Book your visit at visit.szgmc.gov.ae
Whare are you now?
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Now open at the Yas Bay Waterfront — The Warehouse Gym is serving up the perfect way to earn and burn the delicious range of craft calories on offer in the restaurants around the bay. Memberships start at just Dhs199, there are both mixed and ladies only classes available and the personal trainers have been hand selected for expertise, and turning excuses into reps and bulging biceps. They have a Blackbox studio (the brand’s signature multisensory workout), a cycle studio, Olympic lifting zone for those in search of beefcaking, a functional training area, crossfit obviously, free weights, cardio equipment, squat rack and there’s free parking. They also offer boxing classes (and kids’ boxing classes), Grit sessions (strength and conditioning exercises), abs and glute workouts and lots more.
Yas Bay Waterfront (next to Lock, Stock and Barrel), Mon to Fri 5.30am to 11pm, Sat to Sun 7am to 10pm. Tel: (02) 675 2221, @whgym_abudhabi
There’s something very different about watching movies in front of the big screen. The sweet smell of popcorn and five gallon sodas, the trailers, the rib-rattling surround sound, ther -erm- bigger screen. In Abu Dhabi you’ll find a huge range of cinema experiences, from in-theatre fine dining to 4D pan-experiential screens. There are also some absolutely cracking films coming up this year, check out our ‘most wanted’ guide for a little teaser of what’s to come.
Say bonjour to the second Abu Dhabi location of AirManiax right in the heart of the capital’s excitement hub, at Yas Mall (the first is in Marina Mall). It’s a gigantic indoor kids’ entertainment megaplex arriving, mercifully, just in time for the return of summer heat. Located on the ground floor of the mall, next to the Grand Prix entrance, this intelligently designed adventure complex is now open and offers multiple themed zones and attractions for all age groups of kiddlywinks. .
Air Maniax Abu Dhabi is open now at Yas Mall, daily 10 am to midnight, prices from Dhs85 for 60 minutes. Tel: (02) 635 2544, airmaniax.booknow
Abu Dhabi is all about the cafes, there’s literally thousands of them across the emirate, each with their own particular perks. But if you fancy indulging in some Java lava amongst some particularly ‘extra’ surrounds, have a pour through our guide to the most surreal cafe experiences in Abu Dhabi. There’s a cafe made to look like the inside of an aeroplane cabin, a cafe where you can pet owls, get your hair cut, dine in 2D and even creat a piece of art. Art House Cafe is a venue that celebrates the creative spark, letting you can go full Picasso on a plate for Dhs20, there’s the option to paint masks (Dhs30) or knock up a miniature brick painting (Dhs10).
Al Huwelat St, Bateen Area, Opp Al Bateen Villa No 15, 10am to midnight. Tel: (02) 666 0175. @arthousecafead
Abu Dhabi has a bumper network of indoor malls each with their own unique clusters of retail, dining and entertainment charm.
Making a difference
The artistry house formally known as Makespace, has a new name — Make, a new face, but their crafty collection of activities all go down in the same funky space. At Make Kids and adults can get involved in a dazzling range of arts, design, technology and craft workshops — with hands-on teaching sessions available in jewllery making, wordworking, cermaics and metalshopping. For a full list of their upcoming courses, keep your eyes on their social channels.
Block C1, Al Zeina, Al Raha Beach, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (0)2 558 8624. @makeabudhabi
Know your wErth
Sure Etizan the colossal fitness complex at hotel Erth (formally known as the Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel) does not qualify as boutique. The recreational hub is legitimately stacked with an Olympic range of sporting activities including a 3,500 sqm gym, tennis courts, multiple football pitches (including a fully FIFA-certified 11-a-side pitch), a boxing studio, martial arts space, an eight-lane-indoor-tournament-spec pool, facilities for gymnastics, aerobics, squash, bowling, track and field, volleyball, basketball, shooting and Jiu Jitsu. But something they do offer a more bijoux racket in, is everybody’s fave new court sport — padel tennis, with rental from Dhs240.
Erth, Khor Al Maqta, gym day passes from Dhs151, padel court rental from Dhs240, football pitch rental from Dhs504. Tel: (02) 497 5229, Etizan.ae
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.
Also located in Al Qana, Pixoul is the largest gaming hub of its type in Abu Dhab and includes the latest evolution of Location-Based Entertainment (LBE). In addition to futuristic VR tech, the venue will also operate the first certified eSports (that’s competitive gaming for any noobs out there) academy in the region.
Resorting to sports
The Al Forsan International Sports Resort has some pretty amazing recreational fun times to get involved with, and whilst a lot of it is staged on the outdoor grounds (including the karting track, paintball arena and archery range), there are indoor pursuits too. Take the shooting club for example, visitors line their on a range of firearms including handguns, rifles, sniper rifles, a bow and arrow – and even a virtual VirTra 300-powered shooting simulator.
Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Khalifa City. Tel: (800) 9900, alforsan.com
Going on strike
You can find our full guide to bowling in the capital here, but Central is without a doubt one of the most exciting new additions to the Yas Bay waterfront. Why? It’s a triple threat — great American fast food, on site bowling within striking distance of the licensed bar and there’s a collection of modern and retro arcade games — including a full size air hockey table. You can check out our review here, but it’s a solid gold win for hot
Central, Yas Bay, Yas Island, 4pm to 12am Mon to Thurs, 12pm to 3am Fri to Sun. @central_uae
On thin ice
There’s a full kitbag of indoor sporting entertainment available at Zayed Spot City, but one of our favourite active highlights is getting on the ice skating rink — a exceptional way to chill out from just Dhs55 — and there are even lessons available if, like us, you’re still a bit Bambi on stilts. You can also go on strike with Cosmic Bowling (7pm every Wednesday) at the compound’s Khalifa International Bowling Centre. Because in space, nobody can hear you gutter ball.
Zayed Sports City, Dhs20 per individual per game or Dhs140 per lane per hour. Tel: (02) 403 4200, zsc.ae
As the name suggests, this house of artistry is all about getting a little bit messy all in the pursuit of creating colourful abstract masterpieces. They run a few different programmes for adults as well as kids — with sessions in neon work, fluid paint, pendulum art, and spinning art. Prices start at around Dhs139 for an hour and include all the materials to go full Picasso on a piece of canvas.
AL Seef Village Mall. Tel: (02) 582 3353, @splatter_rooms