Pristine beaches, the sparkling Arabian Sea, fantastic shopping and world-class restaurants make the United Arab Emirates' capital, Abu Dhabi a dream holiday destination.
Abu Dhabi was first planned in the 1970s with a population expected to reach around 600,000. Today more than two million people call the Emirate home, and the city has grown to become a Middle Eastern hub that plays host to grand-scale sporting events and celebrations of glamour and wonderment.
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For the best Arabian barbeque in town, head to local institution Lebanese Flower. Grilled meats, pickled vegetables, savoury rice and homemade breads all come in generous serves at very reasonable prices. On top of a great range of restaurant-quality food Lebanese Flower also has a variety of quick and tasty take away options, and will deliver to your hotel. With service to match its great menu, this restaurant is a must for keen foodies. You will find Lebanese Flower on Kyaladiya Street.
Expatriates and out-of-towners agree... you simply cannot get past the prices and quality of food at The Vista at The British Club. The extensive international menu appeals to all tastes, but it is hard to resist their steak and succulent seafood. Position yourself at an outdoor table with a wine from their extensive wine list, and savour the sunshine and sweeping views of the city. An outdoor mist system will keep you cool so that you can enjoy your meal alfresco any time of year. Make your way to Mina Sadiyat for a guaranteed good night out.
For a truly opulent dining experience, head to Bord Eau at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri. Located an easy 15 minutes drive from the city centre, Bord Eau is not only one of Abu Dhabi’s finest restaurants, but it is also the city's most romantic. It's chic interiors and highly-acclaimed French cuisine never fails to impress.
For an authentic Arabian shopping experience head to one of Abu Dhabi’s Souks (markets). Watch stall holders haggle with locals over the price of spices, silk, perfume and even electronics.
The Central Market, known locally as the Grand Souk is the place to go for the region's famed gold and jewellery. Located on Sheikh Hamdan Street, you can also shop for carpets and traditional tailoring and fashion. A great place to sample traditional foods, make sure you try the Fataya – savoury pastries made with cheese, tomato, honey and chicken. Shawamas, made from spit roasted chicken or lamb served in pita bread with tabouleh salad and hummus, are also popular.
For a truly impressive number of local and international retail outlets head to the Marina Mall on Hamdan Street. With more than 400 stores you will find everything from luxury brands to popular department and grocery stores. With a thriving entertainment precinct, featuring its very own indoor ice rink, you could be forgiven for spending an entire day exploring this retail oasis.
Like all popular tourist destinations there are plenty of traditional souvenir shops on hand. While majestic wooden doors and hand carved trunks manage to make their way home with some of the city's visitors, no trip to Abu Dhabi is complete without a visit to Bateel. The up-market delicatessen specialises in dates, with an extraordinary variety available. Ranging from the soft and sweet, to the chewy and even caramel filled, these dates are a truly unique treat, and a lovely gift to take home.
In addition to the many different date varieties, Bateel also has an innovative range of date preserves, vinegar and jams. Add to the list their Belgium chocolates, pastries and preserves and you will be in foodies' heaven. With on-site cafes at several locations throughout Abu Dhabi there is no excuse for missing a sweet treat.