Abu Dhabi – aThrowBack

“We take photographs as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone”

Pre-2020 travelling was effortless (no mask, no PCR test, no vaccine certificate) With all these Covid-19 variants, planning a trip has become an extreme sports. We are all yearning for things to somewhat go back to some form of ‘normality’

For now, some of us, will continue to look back at old photographs, they tell stories of a moment and time once lived. They have become the only constant is this uncertain world we are living in. Thanks to google gallery #throwback, I was recently reminded of a trip we took to Abu Dhabi in 2019. Looking through the photographs brought me so much joy. Our family trips had become a highlight.

The timing of these pictures from is actually unfortunate with the recent drone attack claimed by Yemen. I do hope it does not have any negative impact for future travel to Abu Dhabi. Just recently, it was named the safest city in the world by Numbeo Safety Index 2022.

Abu Dhabi is a fantastic holiday destination, there’s so much to see and do – iconic landmarks, cultural and historical attractions, action-packed theme parks, breathtaking natural landscape dunes. You can laze on the beach, sample numerous dining options and go shopping.

What we did

Our holiday was a great blend of indoor and outdoor activities. Thanks to our family holiday planner, my sister has our holidays on lock-down, she’s just gets it right.

  1. Warner Bros (WB) World Abu Dhabi – is the world’s first ever indoor theme park for WB and its such a joyful experience. When we entered, the theme song from Bugs Bunny was playing, there’s nothing quiet like a theme song from our childhood cartoons. WB World features blockbuster rides and attractions, themed restaurants, boutiques and live entertainment.
Bugs Bunny Statue at the Entrance

The theme park combines six immersive lands:-

a. Warner Bros – which celebrates the golden age of Hollywood and acts as the portal to the rest of the park.

b. Plaza, Gotham City – this is batman’s hometown, you’ll also find The Riddler, The Joker, Catwoman, Harley Quinn and many more.

c. Metropolis – is home of Clark Kent/Superman and the Daily Planet. This land is also home to The Justice League.

d. Cartoon Junction – home to Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo and more.

e. Bedrock – The home of the Flintstones.

f. Dynamite Gulch – You will find Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner on the Fast & Furry-ous roller coaster as well as Yosemite Sam, The Jetsons and Marvin The Martian.

Riddler Revolution Ride

Fast and Furry-out Roller Coaster Ride

The joker fun house – image cred timeoutabudhabi.com

  1. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – home to the fastest roller coaster on the planet, the largest indoor theme park in the world, with over 20 rides and a hyper-realistic racing simulator. Whether you are a Ferrari fan or not, this theme park is a lot of fun. Where else can one tour a Ferrari factory, attempt an F1 tyre change challenge, do a driving experience, go karting, go on ample rides and wander through a gallery of ferrari cars.
  1. Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi – waters greatest playground.
    This water park is a combination of Valley of the Waves in Sun City, uShaka Marine World in Durban and what was once Shareworld (if you grew up in the eighties and lived in Soweto you will know what I’m talking about) but with more water activities, rides and a roller coaster.
    The water park was perfect for a lazy day, we soaked up the sun, swam and kids went on rides.
  1. IMG World of Adventure is Dubai’s first mega theme park and the worlds largest theme park. If you know anything about Dubai, they don’t do small scale stuff. On one of the days, we drove to Dubai for a day (The drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is 1h23m)

The theme park has 4 zones – Cartoon Network, MARVEL, IMG Boulevard and The Lost Valley – Dinosaur adventure zone.

The park boasts an extensive range of thrilling rides, roller coasters that are one of a kind attractions based on popular Cartoon Network characters, iconic MARVEL super heroes and dinosaurs

  1. Dune Bashing and Sandboarding
    A travel to the Abu Dhabi in not complete without a visit to the actual desert. Some of the tours have a great mixture of desert experiences.

Our tour included – a 4×4 drive on sand dunes, a visit to a camel farm, a camel ride (from the day we arrived, this was on my youngest nephew’s to do list), sandboarding, falcon experience and dinner under the stars.

Our last full day was pool day but I decided to immerse myself in a bit of culture. Spent the morning at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the afternoon at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

a. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an architectural beauty, one of the largest in Abu Dhabi, it was built to embody Islam’s foremost message of peace, tolerance and welcome people of all beliefs.

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque view from the road
Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque view from inside

It holds a Guinness World Record for the largest hand-woven carpet and also boasts one of the largest chandeliers in a mosque.

You need to see it to fully understand what a unique marvel this place is, a remarkable monument in its beauty and aura.
Conservative attire is a must, in order to gain entry and love the fact that they do provide Chador – traditional garment that covers full body and hair but open in the front.

Dressed in a Chador

b. Louvre Abu Dhabi“is a new cultural beacon, bringing different cultures together to shine fresh light on the shared stories of humanity.”

A collaboration between United Arab Emirates and France, Louvre Abu Dhabi presents a historical narrative of art that spans the entire history of civilization to the dazzling architecture that combines French design with Arabic heritage.

The uniqueness of the museum and its beautiful setting is a must see for art-lovers, collectors and the curious.

Fountain of Light – Ai Weiwei Germany, Berlin and China, Beijing
Virgin and Child, France, Normandy | Illuminated Quran, Mamluk, Sultanate, Egypt
Left Image: Portrait of a Woman called La Belle Ferronniere – Leonardo da Vinci, Italy Milan and Right Image: Virgin and Child – Giovanni Bellini Italy, Venice
Jenny Holzer’s iconic wall

Where we stayed

The story of our stay at Emirates Palace will go down as one of those believe it or not stories. When my sister was planning the trip, the hotel confirmed a rate that seemed to good not to miss. She then requested they send her a confirmation in writing.

Unfortunately for the hotel, the rate was indeed to good to be true and yes we lucked out due to that error. The hotel honoured their confirmation and we got to stay.

Hotel Exterior: Image cred: mandarinoriental.com/abu-dhabi/emirates-palace
Image cred: mandarinoriental.com/abu-dhabi/emirates-palace

Driving inside the property, we were in awe, the hotel has that palace feel you see in movies. Granted the hotel name does allude to the fact that it’s a palace, but then again, there are myriad of hotels with the word palace in the name and are far from being a palace.

The main palace building stretches over a kilometre from wing to wing, with its gardens stretching across 100 hectares. I actually managed to run 5kms inside the hotel property.

Chasing the Sun – Scenes from my morning run inside the hotel
Scenes from my morning run

The hotel interior is opulent, grand and evocative of Arabia’s rich décor – luxurious chandeliers hanging from ceilings, ornate tapestries, elaborate geometrical designs with gold dominating the theme.

Hotel Interior – The chandeliers and gold interior
Hotel Interior
Our Accommodation

This place is magical, it has a private beach, as well as a private marina overlooking the natural bay, two temperature-controlled swimming pools, a lavish spa, a fitness centre, bars, restaurants and a Kids Club.

Hotels private beach – image cred: mandarinoriental.com
Top Image: Pool, Bottom Left: Spa Entrance, Bottom Right: Gym

Staying at this distinctive landmark was a whole new level of opulence and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One cannot deny the fact that Abu Dhabi has transformed itself into a iconic and thriving 21st-century city. It offers something for everyone regardless of age and interest.

A truly splendid experience!

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