50 exciting indoor adventures for when it's raining in Abu Dhabi
The inside track…
These are just some of our favourite ways to tackle rainy days in the capital. Indoors, engaged, safe and dry while we look out at the pouring rain…
The fun stuff
This ‘digital paintball’ experience in Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall 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
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
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 – plus all those expertly choreographed shows. And if all that wasn’t enough, there’s the additional incentive that kids go free to Yas Theme Parks all summer long (now extended until September).
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi Dhs310 for adult and child. Tel: (600) 511 115. @wbworldad
Getting the ball rolling on this bowling round up is this cheeky little 12-lane ten-pin funtropolis found in Al Ain Mall. Don’t fancy staying in your lane? You can also sink balls on the on-site billiards tables, get your ping-pong on with table tennis facilities or press X to continue with the resident Playstation.
Al Ain Mal, Dhs15 per player per game on weekdays, Dhs21 per player per game on weekends. Tel: (03) 751 0006, @bowlingcity.uae
After swinging open its doors this Eid Al Fitr — Adrenark Adventure is now in full, adrenal gland sapping, operation. The chief deliverables are entertaining kids, heart rate spiking thrill experiences, and a wild three-level eKarting track. All with packages starting from Dhs99. There are activities such as potholing (that’s cave exploration for those that weren’t in the Girl Guides or Cub Scouts) and it is deifinitely not for the claustrophobic; a rooftop zipline that twists and turns, and allows you to control your own speed (and is maybe not one for the acrophobic) — Roll Glider; cheek-puffing thrill rides; bravery-testing stunt bag jumps; an elevated rope course; Through The Roof — a theme park style drop ride that gives your insides the John Cena treatment; softplay; a series of slides; multiple climbing walls; and more.
Al Qana, Khor Al Maqta, from Dhs135, Sun to Thurs 10am to 11pm, Fri and Sat 10am to midnight. @adrenarkuae
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, priced from Dhs35. pixoulgaming.com
Snow Abu Dhabi
Snow Abu Dhabi looks set to be the real ‘piste’ de résistance of 1.2 billion US Dollar mega project, Reem Mall. Your invitation to elope to the slopes begins on June 8, 2023 when this, the region’s largest snow park, finally unleashes an avalanche of sub-zero shinanigans on the capital. And we can’t wait to skidaddle over and live, laugh, LET IT GOOOO. There will be 12 exhilarating rides and 17 engaging attractions spread over a 10,000 square foot area. The temperature will be regulated to a super chilly 2ºC, and the slopes will be dusted in a snow capped coating to an average depth of around half a metre. Confirmed attractions include two giant slides, one named ‘Ice and Floes Toboggan Race’ which sounds nice and gentle, and ‘Grauppel’s Summit Escape’ which sounds theatrically less so. Other rides include The Entry Plaza, Flight of the Snowy Owl, Magic Carpet, Polar Express Train, Crystal Carousel and Ice and Floes Bumper Tubes, The Trolls Bowl, Drifts Downhill Run, and Snow Hares Bunny Hill and The Enchanted Tree (which will serve as a sort of central part of the story telling aspect of the park). Snow Abu Dhabi dining experiences come in the form of The Lodge Restaurant, Grotto Amphitheatre, Ice Café, the Party Room and VIP Room.
Reem Mall, pricing details to follow soon. @snowauh
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
The Galleria Al Maryah Island offers 44,200 sqft of recreational adventure. There’s the synapse-jangling thrills of electronic entertainment; all the button-mashing fun of the video games arcade; and intense virtual reality (VR) experiences. Prefer your activities a little more analog? You can pick up sticky splits at their 12-lane bowling alley, double-bounce your bestie at the trampoline park, beat the peak on the climbing wall, or take on the Tag Arena’s timed obstacle course for leaderboard bragging rights.
The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, Saturday to Wednesday 10am to 10pm, Thursday to Friday 10am to midnight. Tel: (02) 493 7400, thegalleria.ae
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
Diggers Lab, Drifty and Fun Rider
Located between the Family Park and the Level 2 food court of The Galleria Al maryah Island, there’s a fun zone that includes the kind of entertainment activities that really make you question your adulthood. Diggers Lab for example, is for the kids that are all about that backhoe life. Or even just the ball pit life. It’s an edutaining opportunity, to get behind the controls of a fun-sized construction vehicle, and carve out some epic fun times. Dhs40 for 10 minutes. At Drifty young speed-seekers can leap into the cockpit of an electric car, built for that mercurial automotive artform — drifting. It’s all set up to provide a safe, as well as insanely enjoyable simulated track experience. Dhs40 for 10 minutes. And Fun Rider allows younger children to pilot an LED animal-themed bike, padded and softened with plush material. The mini vehicles are also strong enough to carry the weight of parents or guardians. Dhs30 for 10 minutes.
The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, 10am to 10pm, combo pass from Dhs100. Tel: (02) 493 7400, @thegalleriauae
National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
Found at The Galleria Al Maryah Island, NGUE is an 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
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is home to record-breaking rollercoasters, a connoisseur’s collection of classic cars, family-friendly thrill rides, a huge zip-line and roof-walk adventure attraction and a series of fun festivals throughout the year. There’s little wonder why you voted this house of the dancing horse your Favourite Attraction at the What’s On Abu Dhabi Awards 2022.
Yas Island, open daily midday to 8pm, adults Dhs310, kids Dhs240. @ferrariworldabudhabi
Strike Out Bowling
This bijou four-lane, family friendly, fully-licensed strike shack can be found at Abu Dhabi Country Club, and it’s karaoke bar adjacent — so even if you fail to drop pins, you can still drop the mic on a virtuoso vocal performance. That’s how we roll.
Abu Dhabi Country Club, Al Mushrif, midday to 10pm, Dhs21 per player per game – or lane rental from Dhs105 per hour. Tel: (02) 657 7777, @adccuae
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Located on level three of WTC Mall’s The Hub – you can gain entrance to what might just be the cheapest thrill ride in the city, a pair of slides that make up the attraction called: Velocity. It only lasts a few seconds, but don’t judge — at Dhs15 (or Dhs35 for two goes and camera rental) — for a stylish tumble down a four storey drop, you really can’t go wrong.
World Trade Centre Mall Abu Dhabi, 10am to 10pm, from Dhs15. @wtcad
This 35,000 square foot entertainment zone at Dalma Mall includes a bowling zone (from Dhs30 per game), virtual relaity experiences, racing and rollercoaster simulators, pool tables, arcades and a network PC gaming room with 25 high spec computers. There’s also a shisha lounge and a restaurant on site.
Dalma Mall, 10am to 11pm. Tel: (02) 672 4922, @zealentertainmentcentre
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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
Got ’em mall
Malls are an inalienable part of life in the UAE and Abu Dhabi has some belters. Remember — malls aren’t just for shopping, there’s a ton of entertainment and dining adventures to be taken advantage of on the inside too.
The active stuff
Ladies, with the summer rolling in your fitness walks may be put on hold, but your body confidence doesn’t have to suffer as popular FitnGlam is heading to Abu Dhabi. The ladies-only fitness facility from Dubai is opening its doors in Reem Mall in the capital on Saturday, July 1 so you can take your fitness experience to new heights. The Instagrammable gym doesn’t just look good, but you are guaranteed to maintain or build your physique with the number of high-tech fitness offerings. If you haven’t heard of FitnGlam, it is the brainchild of Helena Hijazi, a pharmacist turned fitness visionary who was inspired by the lack of women-centric fitness spaces in the UAE. Backed by her passion for health and well-being, she created a fitness movement to help women rediscover their strength and potential.
FitnGlam, Reem Mall, Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, opening date tbc, @fitnglamgym
UFC Gym Middle East has just opened the doors to its latest UAE location, in Abu Dhabi. The team of experts provide fitness regimens tailored to each member’s unique physiques, and lifestyle and experiences targets, as well as providing holistic education on all aspects of the health and fitness programme. Facilities in the 1,600 square metre gym include strength equipment; cardio area; battle ropes; agility ladders; and expansive mat areas for (adult and youth) martial arts training. The launch offer means you can secure membership for Dhs11 per day, and there’s the option to try before you buy with a free day pass, to get yours, just jump on the ufcgym.me website and fill in the form.
Retired Military Personnel Association complex, Mohamed Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi, open 6am to 10pm daily. Tel: (800) 832 496, ufcgym.me
The Warehouse Gym
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
Al Maryah Island’s massive sports hub, ACTIVE has just opened a brand new 3,500 sqm indoor sports pavillion that will offer fitness enthusiasts an environment capable of providing a full 365-days-a-year of getting gains in glorious air conditioned equilibrium. Open now and ready to get involved with right away are facilities for padel, tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton and fitness. There’s also a café, and free water refill stations, because hydration, and snacking healthily are important too folks. Outside there’s even more space to flex. 83,000 sqm of it in fact. Acres more space for tennis, netball, padel, basketball, football and more. It’s also the new home of F45 in the capital, an Aussie-born cult fitness brand has a reputation for fierce but fair workouts, with dramatic conditioning results.
Al Maryah Island, Tel: (02) 403 4488, @activealmaryah
Zayed Sports City
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 cool down 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
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
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
Now open at The Galleria, Barry’s is on a mission to get you looking like hawt to trawt. Self-billed as the ‘The Best Workout in the World’ — there’s some muscle behind that claim. The HIIT classes that take place in their famous Red Room (sporting a low red-lit rave vibe, that makes everybody look good) can burn up to 1,000 calories in a session. Here your workout is split by intermittent switches between floor work and treadmill beasting, resulting in an all-round physical tune-up.
Barry’s, The Galleria Al Maryah Island. Tel: (02) 582 0755, @barrysuae
This Aussie-born cult fitness brand has a reputation for fierce but fair workouts, with dramatic conditioning results. The classes combine a mixture of HIIT sessions, functional training (which is where the ‘F’ comes from in the name), circuit training and a cool-down period where you lock your trainer in the eyes and mouth obscenities at them. Though that last part is entirely optional. Each 45 minute class is designed to burn fat, build muscle, improve functional form, torch up to 1,000 calories, make you sweat through your eyeballs and dry wretch over a bin, at least the first time. There’s no doubt that this outfit changes lives, it physically vibrates with positivity and community, it gets results fast and comes with a three-day free trial.
Active Sports Pavillion, Al Maryah Island, Dhs120 drop in session, unlimited month pass for Dhs1,119, discounts for multi-month purchases. Tel: (056) 332 3113, @f45_training_almaryahisland
Yeah circuits are fun, but have you ever tried launching your fists into an indestructable punch bag for 50 minutes with a plasma storm light show goes off all around you. *Ding ding* Step into the gym/ring for HIIT, Classic and Ladies only sessions at Punch, and fight yourself fit. More than just a spot of fisticuffs with an inanimaye sack, these HIIT workouts obviously work on your overall fitness and focuses on you knocking that ‘UAE stone’ clean out. The Classic classes go deeper into the skills and techniques behind the gentleperson’s sport of pugilism — tightening up your footwork, jab combos, defensive postures as well as helping you develop your strength, speed and agility.
Punch Boxing Club, Zayed Sports City, Dhs100 for one class (newbies get two for one), and it’s Dhs800 for an unlimited month pass. Tel: (02) 666 9717, @punchuae
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
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.
Al Forsan International Sports Resort
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
The hugely popular Dubai cycling studio, Motion recently opened an Abu Dhabi location on Al Reem Island. Part of the brand’s success has been built on the fact you can burn up to 1,000 calories per ride. The intense workouts have candlelit sessions (which sound deliciously trippy), women-only options, and R&B backed classes all lead by an expert team focused on keeping you motivated and pushing harder.
office 461, Floor 4, Wafra Square building, Al Reem Island, cycling classes from Dhs50 (for first ride). Tel: (055) 8530 0836, motion-cycling.ae
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
Get the jump on your week by heading to Marina Mall’s extreme trampoline park, Bounce — and picking up one of their special passes. Inside there’s a Free-Jump arena; Slam Dunk zone; you can play Dodgeball; find the origin of fun in the Big Bag; dare you face The Wall?; or dive into the upgraded adrenalin of the X-Park?; Just here for the gains? You can also get involved with some Bounce Fit; there are also the elevated thrills of the Zip Line, the Quick Drop and Speed Slide. Prices start at 85 for adults but there’s a premium unlimited day pass (access all areas) charged at Dhs250 for adults and Dhs180 for kids.
Bounce, Marina Mall, Sat to Wed 10am to 10pm, Thu and Fri 10am to midnight. Tel: (04) 3 211 400, @bouncemideast
The keeping young minds sharp stuff
Keep the kids learning, entertained and covered in paint this summer with Art Central’s drawing and painting, and clay sculpting workshops. Sessions packs of four are priced around Dhs950, but they’re two hours long, the materials are all included and of course, you get to take your masterwork home.
Boutik Mall, Al Reem Island. Tel: (02) 679 6795, @artcentraluae
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
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
The National Aquarium
When it’s all looking a bit scorched earthy outside, why not head to Abu Dhabi’s stunning 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’. Want to take it to the next level? You can also now dive with the sharks, and experience their gentle shrapnel-toothed beauty up close.
The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi, Al Qana, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi, general admission from Dhs105. Tel: (02) 418 6666. thenationalaquarium.ae
L’Atelier Des Arts
Part cafe, part art studio, all stunning — L’Atelier Des Arts, offers a massive collection of arts and craft courses for kids and adults. On the schedule, you’ll find actitivities like painting sunsets, dream catchers making, button art, decoupage, bear yarn (no idea what that is, but consider us in), interactive felt, mosaic making, paper quilling and a truly mind-boggling palette of other creative colours.
L’Atelier Des Arts, Mohammed Bin Khalifa Street, 9am to 10pm daily, sessions priced from Dhs105. Tel: (056) 400 2165, @latelierdesarts
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
Art House Cafe
Art on the walls, art on the plates, art in their heart. Abu Dhabi’s Art House Cafe is all about providing a passionate experience, and the dining element is at the core of that. They’ve got a massive menu but their famous shakshoka is probably our pick of the brunch. Every inch feels, and smells like a truly inspirational, creative space, surrounded by botanical greens and abstract scenes. And because its a place that celebrates the creative spark, you can go full Picasso on a plate for Dhs20, there’s the option to paint masks (Dhs30) or a miniature brick painting (Dhs10).
Al Huwelat St, Bateen Area, Opp Al Bateen Villa No 15, 10am to midnight. Tel: (02) 666 0175. @arthousecafead
The cultural stuff
Louvre Abu Dhabi
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, make and play sessions, paint and grape nights, special exhibitions (right now you can catch Bollywood Superstars) 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
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
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
Qasr Al Hosn
One of the most important cultural centres in the whole of the UAE, Qasr Al Hosn is a National Monument. Once the seat of the nation’s government, a home to the Al Nahyan family and the site of a national archive — the fort and watchtower (which dates to around 1790) now looks over its role as historian for the UAE. It’s also just opened a brand new House of Artisans component which offers guests the opportunity to learn about, and even try their hand at, traditional Emirati arts and crafts.
Al Hosn, Sat to Thu 10am to 7pm, Fri 2pm to 7pm, tickets Dhs30. Tel: (02) 697 6400, qasralhosn.platinumlist.net
This homegrown arts centre seeks to unearth and nurture local and regional talent. Warehouse421 provides a space that educates and inspires artists and art-enthusiasts, with engaging workshops and of course, essential enwisening exhibitions.
Mina Zayed, Tue to Sun 10am to 8pm (closed Monday), free. Tel: (02) 6768 803, @warehouse421
Qasr Al Watan
The grand ‘Palace of the Nation’, Qasr Al Watan lies at one end of the city’s main Corniche, caught between the unyielding blues of the Arabian Gulf and the chasm of skyscrapers that define the city’s skyline. It is by all measures a newcomer on the UAE’s heritage scene, having opened its ornate doors to the public in 2019, but it already commands a place amonst its most precious cultural gems. Entry to the attractions is just Dhs6o and contained within its white granite walls, you’ll find a blend of educational and inspirational experiences — architectural masterwork; a library with storey-high book shelves; the great hall; the seat of the UAE’s cabinet; a ‘house of knowledge’ learning hub; exhbits telling the story of the nation’s rich and nuanced history. There’s also a Palace in Motion Sound and Light show (adults Dhs25, kids Dhs12), which now takes place daily. An entertainment extravaganza that illuminates tales from the nation’s past, present and future.
Al Ras Al Akhdar, now open daily between 10am and 6.45pm Dhs60, kids Dhs30. Book on qasralwatan.ae
Manarat Al Saadiyat
The name when translated into English from Arabic means ‘a place of enlightenment’. Manarat Al Saadiyat is the hang space of choice for a cool selection of temporary and more permanent curations. The annual Abu Dhabi Art fair is held here, there’s an epic outdoor events terrace, a café and brasserie, three galleries, a photography studio, an art studio, a 250-seat auditorium (which offers themed movie nights) and a gift shop.
Saadiyat Island, daily 10am to 8pm, exhibition entrance fee Dhs30 per person. Tel: (0)2 657 5800. manaratalsaadiyat.ae
The ‘little bit different’ stuff
Become a junior marine biologist at The National Aquarium
If you’ve ever caught yourself saying “You know what these kids need? A JOB” The National Aquarium at Al Qana has the answers. Their ‘Junior Marine Biologist’ educational programme is completelt unpaid (in fact you will have to pay) but kids aged five to 15 will give them an insight into the fascinating world of marine biology (and presumably a gratifying sense of a day’s hard graft). They can literally get their hands dirty with aquatic animal feeding and cleaning. Between Monday to Friday, it runs from 2.30pm to 5.30pm and costs Dhs350 per child. Email firstname.lastname@example.org at least three days in advance to reserve a spot.
The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi, Al Qana, Al Maqta, Abu Dhabi. Tel: (02) 418 6666. thenationalaquarium.ae
Planning a bus trip
Wanderlust can be an expensive habit to have, but there are ways to feed that need for adventure that won’t break the bank. We’ve put together some of our favourite ways to explore and escape the emirate with affordable pricing, and priceless memory-making. All aboard the fun bus. We’ve compiled a list of all our favourite bus journeys available from and within Abu Dhabi right now, including Fujairah day trips, Al Ain and of course Dubai.
Check out an unusual cafe
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