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As the largest of the seven regions of the United Arabs Emirates, Abu Dhabi is a sprawling mix of inspiring desert scenery and modern architecture and design. Although it is best known for its lucrative oil trade, the city has a variety of attractions and landmarks, including luxury hotels, huge gardens and parks, extravagant shopping malls and impressive high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. In a recent attempt to increase tourism and foreign investment, Abu Dhabi's laws on alcohol were alleviated and land sales to foreigners were permitted. The 21st Century Abu Dhabi is a modern and sophisticated metropolis, which still manages to maintain its cultural roots and heritage.
Abu Dhabi offers a wide selection of cultural and contemporary sight-seeing opportunities, many of which are free to view. Exciting excursions available include fantastic swimming facilities and private beaches, desert safaris or dune bashing and thrilling camel races. Helicopter tours can also be arranged to allow for an amazing birds-eye view of the city. As well as the great day trips on offer throughout Abu Dhabi, there are also many fantastic sights to see across the city:
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
As the 6th largest mosque in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is an incredible example of Middle Eastern architecture and has to be seen to be believed. The construction of the building was designed to 'unite the world' by using materials and labourers from different countries including India, Pakistan, Germany China, United Kingdom amongst many others. This magnificent structure is a must-see for tourists visiting the city, but be aware that the mosque is only open to non-Muslim visitors at certain times of the day.
Built at a cost of $50 million, Kahlifa Park is an extravagant and diverse recreational area. Alongside the park's exquisite gardens and fun-filled play areas, attractions also include a museum, an aquarium and the park's very own train. The extensive range of activities available to visitors makes this more than just your average park.
The impressive Corniche Road runs alongside Abu Dhabi's waterfront and includes attractions such as cafes, restaurants and children's play areas. The Corniche Beach also stretches out parallel to the road and has been awarded a Blue Flag status, which guarantees the safety of the water for swimming and paddling. As a public beach, entry is free and therefore thousands of holiday makers flock there every year.
Abu Dhabi boasts a selection of large, modern shopping malls including the three-story Abu Dhabi Mall, the high-end Al Wahda Mall, the Marina Mall with its musical fountains and water displays and the popular Khalidiya Mall. Aside from the more commercial department stores, the streets of Abu Dhabi are littered with smaller independent shops and markets where bargaining with the owners is an essential experience. There is no tax in the city, so prices can often be very competitive.
The variety of eating options available across Abu Dhabi is guaranteed to satisfy a wide range of tastes. Popular fast food outlets are located throughout the city, alongside smaller food retailers selling locally produced falafel and Middle Eastern cuisine. There are also many restaurants serving a variety of dishes from all over the world, including Indian, Chinese and Italian meals. Most food outlets in Abu Dhabi will deliver your meal at no extra cost, which is a great solution for getting hold of a delicious meal quickly and affordably.
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