For a sense of Middle Eastern history, visit the Qasr al-Hosn (Al Hosn Palace) - the oldest stone building in the entire city of Abu Dhabi. Originally used as a watchtower protecting the city's only freshwater well, the Qasr Al-Hosn was eventually converted into a palace. It remained the permanent residence of the region's ruling family until 1966, when it was renovated and later opened to the public. The palace is commonly known as The White Fort, though its bright white appearance is only a recent development, part of renovations in the early and mid-1980s.
There are plenty of ways to stay active in Abu Dhabi. Extreme adventurers will enjoy the region's great off-road driving, as well as some of the finest sand skiing in the world, down the massive dunes of the Liwa Oasis. For the refined sportsman or sportswoman, there's cricket and golf. Equestrians will want to visit the Abu Dhabi Equestrian club where the long-revered tradition of breeding and riding Arabian horses continues to this day.
Shopping for Bargains
The heritage and modernity of Abu Dhabi provide a uniquely rich opportunity for shopping. Visitors may score an authentic antique carpet in the famous Al Meena Souk, or more premium brand name goods in one of more than 18 ultra-modern shopping malls in the region. Don't pass on the Abu Dhabi mall, featuring over 220 stores such as Kenneth Cole, Esprit, and Bang & Olufsen.
The restaurants and cafés of Abu Dhabi reflect every taste and culture you can imagine. From upscale dining to quick-and-easy takeout, and cuisine from every nationality under the sun, visitors will have no problem finding food to satisfy their tastes. A nice way to enjoy a meal in the city is by visiting one of the many al fresco cafés serving simple regional Mediterranean dishes in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Abu Dhabi's currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED). When dining, most restaurant bills will include an additional 10% service charge and another 10% municipality tax. If a price is 'net,' this means that all taxes and service charges have been included. Also, when taking a taxi, it is customary to round the fare up to the nearest dirham.