Could Abu Dhabi be the right destination for your next event? We explore the fast-growing range of options now available in this surprisingly cost-effective Emirate.
In November 2013, we were given the exciting opportunity to tour the largest and wealthiest of the UAE’s Emirates: Abu Dhabi. Nearby Dubai has captured much of the limelight over recent years but Abu Dhabi is fast developing into a world-class destination in its own right. As one of the world’s leading oil producers, the Emirate certainly has the finances to make its grand visions for the future a reality, as can already be seen in such huge infrastructure projects as Yas and Sadiyat Islands.
Basing ourselves on Yas Island at the iconic Yas Viceroy hotel, the scale of Abu Dhabi’s intent to be a world-class destination was immediately clear. The hotel is surrounded by the Yas Island Formula 1 circuit which was still only just winding down from another successful Grand Prix a few days earlier. Nearby, other similarly impressive projects have also already been realised, including the vast Ferrari World theme park, a water park, marina and a cluster of new hotels. Considering that when we last visited, the island was nothing more than a sketch on a piece of paper, the rate of progress is phenomenal.
Other similar projects are underway on nearby Sadiyat Island where work is currently underway to build the Louvre and Guggenheim museums which will add further credentials to Abu Dhabi’s portfolio of iconic sights. Possibly even more significant is the ongoing development of Masdar City which has been created as one of the most sustainable cities in the world, focusing on clean-tech and renewable energy. It is demonstrating much of this technology and innovation in the design of its infrastructure so is equally a place well worth visiting.
Away from the iconic landmarks of the city and its surrounding area, Abu Dhabi has a growing range of hotels and event venues, primarily 5-star in standard but including a number of 4-star options too. Much of the stock is very new and generally is of an excellent quality, providing a variety of options for events up to a very large scale.
Culinary options abound, although most of the restaurants are found in the hotels around the city. One high-end option is the Monte Carlo Beach Club, located on Sadiyat Island. This is generally a members-only club but dinner guests are welcome to experience its very stylish setting.
While many of the venues in Abu Dhabi are typically international in style, there are also options which provide more of a local flavour. One that we visited was the tranquil Arabian Nights village in the desert outside Abu Dhabi which combines modern facilities with traditional local style. If the peace gets too much though, you can seek thrills by riding the surrounding dunes, either by board or in a variety of high-powered vehicles!
Additional activities for your group are available around the Emirate, ranging from track experiences at the Formula 1 circuit, through to sea plane flights and yacht trips around Abu Dhabi’s turquoise waterways. There are also more unexpected options such as kayaking through the lush natural mangroves which surround parts of the city, something suitable for a team building activity perhaps.
All in all, Abu Dhabi presented a variety of surprises and challenged our preconceptions of the destination. By following a forward-thinking and considered approach to its development, it has established itself as a stand-alone destination for events and will continue to grow in stature globally as more and more of its projects are realised.
We would love to discuss Abu Dhabi as an option for your next event. To learn more, feel free to contact us for a chat, we are always happy to share our experience and insight!
Thank you to the good people at Viceroy Hotels, Etihad Airways, Gulf Dunes, Five Star Filler and the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau for making the trip possible and for being exceptional hosts.