10 lush things to do in Abu Dhabi this weekend: Feb 3 to 5
Cracking open a fresh can of weekend on you…
February is here, a month representing love, the refreshing winds of spring breeze, slowly mounting temperatures and the commercialisation of an elemental aspect of the human experience.
Friday, February 3
Cinema in the Park is back at Umm Al Emarat Park — a series of free-to-watch (although you need to pay the Dhs10 entry park entrance fee) movies screening every Friday and Saturday outside of sweat season. If you’re headed that way this weekend, you’ll also be able to catch ‘The Rage’ — not the zombie plague from the 28 Days Later franchise, this is an event showcasing fashion brands, food trends, musical performances and more between Feb 2 and 5. Zombies TBC.
You’ll find showings at 6pm and 8pm — and popcorn is available to purchase on site. Mushrif area, entry to the park is charged at Dhs10 per person. Located at Umm Al Emarat Park, ummalemaratpark.ae
La Carnita was named are bar of the month for February. It has a Latin attraction to it that can’t be cultivated without sincerity — people see through gimmickry and move on if there’s nothing meaningful behind it. Add to that, promotions such as Tuesday’s taco and margaritas night (Dhs250), Thursday’s ladies’ night (which also comes with bottomless margs), the Saturday brunch (soft Dhs199, house Dhs299) and the Monday to Friday 4pm to 7pm happy hour and the canvas on which La Carnita’s popularity is painted on comes alive with colour.
Yas Bay, Yas Island, daily midday to 2am (Sat 1pm to 2am). Tel: (050) 185 8068, @lacarnita_auh
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
Saturday, February 4
Head in the sand
There’s an ostrich festival happening in Abu Dhabi this weekend, and without needing to know anything more, we’re already down. Doing more stuff with ostriches was one of our core new year’s resolutions. It’s all happening this weekend at Ostrich Oasis, a farm in the Nahil region of the emirate, and the event is open to day guests as well as those seeking to camp overnight. What can you do at an ostrich festival? Other than mingle with the flightless birds? We’re going to stick out neck out and say — a lot. There are arts and crafts set ups, a bouncy castle, face-painting, ostrich education sessions, camel and horse riding, food stalls, photo booths and more.
Nahil region, Feb 3 to 4, WhatsApp: (058) 513 8909 to confirm your place.
PJ O’Reilly’s is swapping its emerald green for an all-black colour scheme this weeknd, in honour of New Zealand National Day, AKA Waitangi Day. There’s a four hour feast celebrating the gastronomic highlands of the small but mighty nation, you’ll be able to get your Haka on to live musical perfomances from Sweet Chilli Jam and DJ Sonya Mac, and you can even secure pool access with one of the thriftiest passes on the Abu Dhabi circuit, available for just Dhs50.
PJ O’Reilly’s, Le Royal Meridien, Sheikh Khalifa Street, Sat Feb 4, soft Dhs199, house Dhs225, premium Dhs295. @leroyalmeridienabudhabi
Welcome to Mission Ferrari — a “multisensory 5D rollercoaster experience” with what’s being called “the world’s first sideways coaster drop”. To clarify this specifically applies to roller coasters, so prior claims pertaining to passive-aggressive cats knocking drinks coasters off tables are not being considered. We know that the ride will employ a mix of virtual, and very real thrills to create its adrenalin-baiting experiences “cutting-edge technology with stunning scenic show sets, an exhilarating inverted loop, and state-of-the-art special effects”. We sampled the ride this week and it is a very special new addition. Pro tip: Just don’t eat soup before you go.
Yas Island, open daily midday to 8pm, adults Dhs310, kids Dhs240. @ferrariworldabudhabi
Sunday, February 5
Smashing sporting tournament
Some of the biggest tennis players in the world are headed to Abu Dhabi this February. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and IMG will host an eight-day WTA 500 tournament, called Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, from February 5 to 12. The event will bring together the world’s top female players to Zayed Sports City’s International Tennis Centre, including World No. 2, Ons Jabeur. The roster of incredible talent features Grand Slam champions, Rybakina, Jelena Ostapenko and Bianca Andreescu, as well as Grand Slam finalists, Ons Jabeur and Danielle Collins. Tennis fans can also expect to see World No. 8 and 9, Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova, as well as a number of other stars of the game.
Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi, February 5 to 12, from Dhs50. @MubadalaAbuDhabiOpen
You’ve been surfed
Fresh from a little pandemic hibernation, Al Ain Adventure has now reopened and is serving up gnarley swells and white water rodeos to the nation’s thrill seekers. You’ll find it in the Jebel Hafeet area of Al Ain and even though it’s not returned to full operational capacity just yet — the park is offering rafting experiences, kayaking, surfing and access to the on-site wave pool. You can purchase a package which includes access to Wadi Adventure, the wave pool and rafting for Dhs125. There are intermediate surfing packages available for Dhs290 (which includes board rental). Expert surf packages start at Dhs325.
Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain, open daily 11am to 7pm, priced from Dhs125. Tel: (03) 781 8422, @alainadventure
Located in Al Qana, Pixoul is the largest gaming hub of its type in Abu Dhabi 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. Strap on the headset and you can free roam individually or with teams a selection of strategy, racing and *finger guns* shoot-em-ups.
Al Qana, Sun to Thu midday to midnight, Fri to Sat midday to 2am, pixoulgaming.com
This nautical tour operating outfit is extending an invitation for you to live your very best Disney pirate life. Jump aboard one of their modern vessels for a six hour tour of Abu Dhabi’s islandscape, with barbecue (though you’ll need to bring your own food). It’s land ahoy with scenic stops at such enchanting sea-hemmed spots as Salt Island and Bahrani Island. Their boats come with music systems for stereophonic shanty support and soft drinks are included in the Dhs450 per person package price (private charters of up to eight are available for Dhs2,500, or Dhs3,000 for 15). seasafari.ae