Written by DLX Contributor Andrea Thompson.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi has been encouraging Western visitors for years and is upping the ante again this fall when it opens a version of France’s Louvre museum on November 11. Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum of its kind in the Arab world and opens with more than 600 works of art. The opening exhibit also includes 300 works on loan from 13 leading French institutions.
Born from an agreement between the governments of Abu Dhabi and France back in 2007, the new museum includes the loan of the name of Louvre for 30 years, 6 months as well as artworks from French institutions for 10 years and the programming of temporary exhibitions for 15 years. Françoise Nyssen, the French Minister of Culture says, “The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the world. With the expertise of its cultural institutions and loans from its national collections, France is particularly proud to play a significant role in the completion and the life of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.” The museum was designed by Pritzker Prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and Tourism Development & Investment Company, adds, “The museum represents the latest innovation in a long-standing tradition of cultural preservation nurtured by the founding leaders of the UAE. Investment in a vibrant cultural ecosystem supports the UAE’s economic diversification and development as a modern, dynamic society. Louvre Abu Dhabi will inspire a new generation of cultural leaders and creative thinkers to contribute to our rapidly-changing and tolerant nation.” The Louvre joins the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (slated to open in the near future) in an expanding portfolio of internationally known and branded museums in the country.
Come to see the Louvre and stay to enjoy the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2017, set to begin on November 24th. It’s the last Grand Prix of the year and one of the most anticipated Formula One races on the Grand Prix circuit. Formally called The Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the race takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit over what is considered one of the most glamorous weekends, and a big international event, in the UAE. Over 60,000 people attend. From super yachts and super models, to celebrity-studded after-parties, the Grand Prix Abu Dhabi is just one of several high-profile events, activities and places that are driving travelers to the UAE.
Abu Dhabi has seen a record 7% rise in the number of hotel guest arrivals over the first four months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, with 1,601,145 guests checking into the Emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments.
They’re staying in hotels like the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan. This new 400-bed, 5-star, Marriott is located within Khalifa City at the heart of the Al Forsan International Sports Center. The center’s facilities include a waterski and wakeboard lake, an equestrian center, paddock and polo field. Hotel facilities include six restaurants, bars and lounges and the Saray Spa, complete with marble hammam, 50-meter lap pool and leisure club.
The 5-star Saadiyat Rotana Resort on Saadiyat Island opens towards the end of 2017 and will feature 327 upscale rooms and suites and 13 beach villas on a private stretch of beach.
And what to do in Abu Dhabi? How about learning desert survival skills? Arabian Nights Village has teamed up with Global View Commando to teach desert survival skills among the rolling dunes of the Empty Quarter. Run by four former Royal Marine Commandos, Global View’s desert courses can last from a few hours to a few days, and incorporates proven techniques used for years by the British armed forces. Skills taught include planning for an expedition, navigating in the desert, how best to collect water and how to build a shelter.
In 2011, UNESCO gave the Cultural Sites of Al Ain World Heritage status. They were the first sites to ever receive UNESCO World Heritage status in the UAE. Al Ain Oasis is spread over almost 3000 acres and is filled with palm plantations, many of which are still working farms. Visitors will find cool, shady walkways and can tap into an app with a stylized map that allows them to navigate the many trails that crisscross the interior of the oasis. They should also visit the Al Ain Palace and Al Ain National Museums.
Qasr Al Hosn – also known as the White Fort – was built in 1761 to defend the only fresh-water well on Abu Dhabi Island. Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest stone building in the city and has become a symbol of Emirati heritage, culture and tradition. Following years of restoration, the iconic fort will open to the public in 2018, showcasing a range of historical artifacts, photographs and memorabilia. Before the official opening, a new exhibition outside the fort’s walls will tell the story of the Emirati people and of the origins and growth of Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is #2 on the list of world’s best cities according to the Ipsos City Index. It comes in second only to New York, beating out London and Paris and moving up two places since the last Ipsos City Index. More than 18,000 people, between 16-64, in 26 countries were interviewed for the Index.
Curious about Abu Dhabi? You can learn more at the TCAAbuDhabi website here.