It’s sunset in the desert. The sun sinks below the sand, turning the dunes orange and red along their sinuous curves. I watch until the colors fade to purple and the sky lights up with stars, taking it all in from a carpet on the sand. It’s magical, and it’s only one of many such moments during my 3 days in Abu Dhabi.

3 Days in Abu Dhabi

3 Days in Abu Dhabi

I begin my trip in the desert, but not in the usual way. I’ve done the desert safari thing in the United Arab Emirates before. I spent a day in Dubai dune bashing, watching a falconry show, and experiencing all the other traditional activities.

Abu Dhabi Desert

This time I want to have a different Emirati experience. Instead of filling a day full of events, I want to spend a couple soaking up the desert atmosphere.

Abu Dhabi Desert

Abu Dhabi Desert

So I’m here with my boyfriend for two days in the Abu Dhabi desert enjoying an oasis in the dunes. That means long afternoons by the pool and lots of time luxuriating over a good book. But given I can’t sit still for long it also means mezze lunches and hot stone massages.

Mezze in Abu Dhabi

It means rooftop drinks in the late afternoon as the heat subsides and the colors begin to sing.

Lantern in Abu Dhabi

It means sitting on a sofa in the evenings atop a mosaic of carpets on the sand. When the sun goes down, it means the scent of fresh barbecue filling the air and the sound of a traditional music serenade.

Abu Dhabi Desert Dinner

Abu Dhabi City

And by the time my two days are over, it means saying a sad farewell to the desert. But the city beckons, and I continue my 3 days in Abu Dhabi with a night in the thick of things.

Abu Dhabi Corniche

There’s no better place to spend it than at the Emirates Palace, a hotel that’s an attraction in its own right. I could stay here for the entire duration of my time in the city, but there are other things to do and see, so I have a quick lunch at the Lebanese restaurant and head out.

Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi

No trip to Abu Dhabi would be complete without a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I start there, taking in the bright white domes and floral mosaics. The mosque lives up to the hype, and I’m thoroughly awed by its grandeur and grace.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

From the mosque I’m off to the Corniche, Abu Dhabi’s waterfront. Beaches and promenades line the shore, and the whole world is out to seek the sun.

Abu Dhabi Corniche

But I’m seeking the sunset, and I find it on the sand back at the Emirates Palace. Cocktails on the beach transition into a seafood feast under the stars, and by the time the day is over Abu Dhabi has once again worked its magic on me.

Sumset, Abu Dhabi

How about you? How would you spend 3 days in Abu Dhabi?

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3 Days in Abu Dhabi

14 comments on “Lady’s Guide to 3 Days in Abu Dhabi”

  1. There is just something about sand dunes that appeals to me on every level. Your photos are wonderful. I’d love to experience it exactly as you describe.

  2. Your pictures are so stunning! You know I never thought I would be interested in visiting this part of the world before but lately I’ve been starting to think differently. Everything looks so interesting and beautiful – especially that white mosque!

    Laura

  3. I don’t even like the desert but your photos make it look amazing! Very impressive, looks like you had a great time.

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