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In addition to strolling through sprawling megamalls and working up a sweat during any number of outdoor pursuits, Abu Dhabi has a wealth of attractions worth seeking out during your stay, including Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ picks for the five best things to do and see in this modern Middle Eastern metropolis:
1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This awe-inspiring, white marble edifice is known for its hand-woven carpets – you’ll find the largest one in the world here – and dazzling chandeliers that sparkle with millions of Swarovski crystals. You’ll be mesmerized by the calligraphy- and flower-adorned walls and columns, but don’t miss the equally amazing reflecting pools on the mosque grounds, too.
2. Heritage Village. For a glimpse of what life was like for Emiratis in Abu Dhabi before the oil boom, make your way to Heritage Village, where you’ll be surrounded by palm houses, Bedouin tents and fishing villages. This is the place to go for a short camel ride, and if you’re lucky there’ll also be a falconry demonstration.
3. The Corniche. You’l enjoy views of the city skyline on one side and of the Persian Gulf on the other at the Corniche, Abu Dhabi’s well-landscaped waterfront area that has miles of paved bike paths, parks, gardens and beaches. There are even separate areas of the Corniche reserved exclusively for singles and families.
4. Manart al Saadiyat. Abu Dhabi’s premier arts and culture venue has a number of galleries and an interactive exhibition showcasing the venue’s future home on Saadiyat Island, which is a five-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi and will also be home to satellite locations of the Louvre and Guggenheim.
5. Dhow Harbor. Make your way to the harbor during the early evening, when you can watch waves of traditional boats coming back to town for the night. Evening cruises that include buffet dinners and live shows onboard dhow boats are also available nightly.