Abu Dhabi’s trading port Mina’s business as a cool new destination for shopping, dining and entertainment…

Bring a bottle or two of water and dress coolly, or better yet, get behind the wheel. It’s going to take you the better part of a day, or more, to explore Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed.

A port-side development that’s been around for over four decades, Mina Zayed is the capital’s expansive hub for trade, commerce and logistics. But the vision is to transform this waterside spot into a lifestyle and entertainment destination. And it’s already well on its way. Although much of the area remains under development, parts are now beginning to emerge as fun spots for casual coffees or creative afternoons.

Images: supplied

Begin at Souq Al Mina, where a smattering of restaurants line both sides of the walkway, bringing both local and international fare to the public, as well as little retail shops, wellness and leisure spaces and dessert delights. The sprawling promenade is beautifully lit up after sundown, allowing us to envision how the area will look once the weather calms down. It’s sure to make for an ideal day out by the sea with mighty trading vessels providing the ideal backdrop.

For dining, prepare to queue at the now renowned pizzeria Marmellata, the product of a father-son-duo serving up some of the best pies in the city. Balkan flavours cooked with love await at the quaint Kuzina 22, while Asyak Grill presents a menu of super-sized grills designed to share in typical Middle Eastern fashion. Of course no Abu Dhabi destination is complete without a collection of coffee shops, so enjoy a fresh brew at Instagrammable Amongst Few, slick Roof specialty coffee shop or artisanal gelateria, J.lato.

But there’s more than just dining to discover. A visit to Min’na offers the opportunity to shop a handpicked collection of textiles, jewellery and crafts, then there’s Hubel Ceramics, a ceramic studio where you can get creative with expert-led workshops, and even a wellness studio – sacral grounds – where you can find your zen with yoga, pilates and meditation. Then there’s a lovely collection of independent boutique like APS, creators of handmade soaps and candles; Flowerina, responsible for stunning floral arrangements; and Woods, a by-appointment store that creates custom home furnishings.

A 30-minute stroll down the development, an indicator of how vast the redevelopment plan is, our final destination is the fish market, a bustling seafood hub that we’ve heard plenty about.

But before we reach it, we chance upon a plant souk. Lines of shops, over thirty that we can count within seconds, are filled with lush greenery burgeoning out of their premises and storekeepers seated outside in plastic chairs, ready to haggle. The plant souk has everything you need to keep your plants, yard or gardens in optimal shape, with fertilizer, tools, decorative and vegetative plants, grasses, pots and more on offer. We recommend visiting during before dusk to enjoy the colours in all their splendour.

Among a multitude of other developments, Mina Zayed also includes the famed fruit and vegetable market, considered one of the mainstays of Mina Zayed. This destination has some of the best selections of fruits and vegetables in the capital, with apples, onions, oranges and other favourites ready for the picking from exporters belonging to North Africa, India and Asia.

We finally arrive at the Fish Market, which is the most populated spot of our tour even minutes from closing for the night. Walking in, we’re greeted with the scent of fresh catch, including fresh crabs, mussels, Shari, Hamour, Chanad and other varieties native to the local waters. There are separate cleaning and weighing areas, with customers lined up to watch their purchase being cleaned, portioned and packaged for purchase. In addition to the seafood on sale, the fish market also stocks numerous seafood-based sauces, preserves, fish salt and marinated products to accentuate your omega-3 packed meal.

We’re certain there is an abundance more to see. Our interest builds in tandem with the growing development that is Mina Zayed, a spot to explore and learn more about with the cooler time of the year only a few months away.

Find out more at @souqalminaad