5 Ways to Spend a Weekend in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the type of place where there is always something new for you to do and explore. Even if you have lived here for years, there is no excuse for you to feel bored. However, if you do need some help thinking of new ideas for weekend activities, or are visiting the city for the first time, this article can help you.

Where is Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi is the 67th most expensive city in the world and the second-most in the United Arab Emirates. Interestingly, Abu Dhabi is located on a T-shaped island that projects into the Persian Gulf from the westernmost part of the country.

Significant federal and political institutions and offices are located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the country. In addition, it houses the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family, which also consists of the president of the United Arab Emirates. Similar to how the city is currently a significant political, cultural, economic, and commercial center of the country, Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s top oil-producing regions. It also has tourist hotspots that draw tens of thousands of visitors each year. Additionally, it is among the richest cities in the world.

From seeing the best concerts in Abu Dhabi to exploring the culinary offerings of the emirate, read on for five ways to spend a weekend in Abu Dhabi.

1. Take a desert tour

Take a desert tour

Whether you are a tourist or a local, there is no better way to spend a weekend in Abu Dhabi than by taking a desert tour. In fact, for many Abu Dhabi visitors, a desert tour is one of the highlights of their trip.

In the western part of Abu Dhabi is the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter), the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world. Here you can find plenty of options for exploring the Arabian desert, from a traditional camel trek to a wild dune-bashing excursion to a romantic balloon tour. Whatever style of desert tour you choose, Abu Dhabi is the ideal location for these types of adventure-filled weekend trips.

Not only will a desert tour provide you with a unique experience of Emirati culture, but you can also choose an itinerary that best fits your interests. You can include fun activities such as camel riding, quad-bike riding, and falconry.

Additionally, if you opt for an overnight desert tour, you will be able to watch exquisite belly dancing while enjoying local cuisine. For this reason, taking a desert tour is an essential Abu Dhabi weekend excursion and something that shouldn’t be missed.

2. Attend a (virtual) concert

No matter what time of year, each weekend, you are guaranteed to find a concert happening in one of the beautiful Abu Dhabi concert halls. Some of these venues include Du Arena, the largest outdoor venue in the Middle East that can host up to 40,000 people, the Forum, which is an indoor venue next to the F1 circuit, and Etihad Arena, the largest multi-purpose arena in the UAE. You also can’t overlook the offerings of smaller sites around the emirate and live performances in restaurants and related spaces.

If you are looking to go to a concert in Abu Dhabi, you want to make sure you find the best events. One of the best ways to do this is by utilizing social media as this is a fantastic way to stay up-to-date with venue schedules and learn about new events.

What’s more, as many concerts are shifting online due to the current health crisis, following venues, organizers, and musicians online will ensure that you don’t miss out on an exciting concert opportunity.

3. Stroll through the souks

In Arabic, the word souk means “marketplace,” and the souks of Abu Dhabi are well worth a visit due to their lively atmosphere and diverse assortment of goods.

Moreover, spending some time in the souks is a fantastic way to observe how those in the region traditionally did business. For example, in the early hours of the morning, you will be able to see the fishermen load their catch on to the quayside before getting ready for a full day of selling.

If you are gearing up for a shopping session in Abu Dhabi’s souks, you want to remember a couple of essential tips.

When purchasing items from the souks, it is customary to haggle before committing to a price. Start by suggesting 50 percent of the quoted price and then work from there to come to an agreement.

If, after haggling, you are still not satisfied with the vendor’s final offer, you can simply walk away. This may prompt the seller to call you back and agree to a lower price. Additionally, make sure you have cash with you, as this will help you lower the price.

4. Take advantage of outdoor adventures

Besides everything else it has to offer, Abu Dhabi is also brimming with outdoor adventures for you to take advantage of over the weekend.

Some of the options include visiting the Liwa Forts, which provide 360-degree views of the nearby date palm plantations and dunes, cycling around the track on Al Hudayriat Island, and exploring the Jebel Hafeet Tombs which are some of the oldest archaeological sites in the country.

Of course, you also want to experience a dhow cruise, the traditional vessel of merchants in the Arabian Gulf.

Due to their extended use in trading, these boats have played a significant role in the development of Abu Dhabi and the greater UAE.

When you spend an evening on a dhow cruise, you will be able to experience this traditional boat while also seeing various sights around the city. Plus, if it is a romantic weekend, you can opt for a special dhow cruise that includes entertainment and fantastic food.

5. Explore the city’s culinary offerings

Whether you are staying inside for the weekend or looking to get dressed up and splurge on an extravagant meal, you can be assured that there are plenty of culinary offerings in Abu Dhabi from which you can choose.

In fact, one of the best things about Abu Dhabi is the vast array of international cuisines that are readily available. Therefore, no matter what you are craving, you are guaranteed to find something that satisfies your palate.

You also need to try Emirati dishes such as harees (a porridge-like dish consisting of lamb and wheat), machboos (boiled red meat or chicken with spicy seasonings and lime), fattoush (a traditional salad combining vegetables, mint leaves, garlic, lemon and olive oil on top of pita bread), thereed (a slow-cooked lamb or goat stew with roasted vegetables).

Interesting Facts About Abu Dhabi

Al Reem Island building image

Abu Dhabi, which takes up the majority of a small triangular island of the same name off the Persian Gulf coast, is home to towering skyscrapers, opulent hotels, and a striking traditional center. In just four decades, a sleepy fishing village in the United Arab Emirates changed into one of the country’s most well-known emirates. Curious? Here are a few interesting facts about Abu Dhabi that might surprise you, from the city’s Leaning Tower to its air-conditioned bus stops.

Abu Dhabi was formerly well-known for its pearls

Like the majority of the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s GDP was primarily derived from the trade of pearls for centuries. To search the surface for the priceless gems, divers would dive to the ocean’s depths, frequently without breathing apparatus. But the industry fell into a tailspin until the middle of the 1930s as a result of the popularity of synthetic pearls.

While excavating a Neolithic site on Marawah Island in 2019, archaeologists stumbled upon the world’s oldest natural pearl. Known as the “Abu Dhabi Pearl,” they discovered carbon layers that date from 5,800 to 5,600 BCE. This demonstrates that the UAE’s pearling industry has existed for almost 8,000 years.

It has a structure that is leaner than the Tower of Pisa

The Capital Gate Building, also referred to as the “Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi,” is a skyscraper with 35 floors and a height of more than 160 meters (520 feet). It leans 18 degrees westward, which is 14 degrees more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

The building, which cost roughly £231 million to build and was completed in 2011, includes 30 meeting rooms, a helipad, a food court, and conference space for 1,200 people.

A Japanese architect designed Abu Dhabi

The city was designed in 1967 by Sheikh Zayad under the direction of Japanese architect Dr. Takahashi. Over 600,000 people can now fit in the structure that was initially designed to hold 40,000.

It is home to the first car-free, zero-carbon, zero-waste city in the world

One of the most ambitious urban planning experiments in the world took place in Abu Dhabi at Masdar City. The UAE first revealed its ideas for a cutting-edge city in 2008. It was planned to be the first human settlement to have zero waste, no carbon emissions, and recycled water as its source of water. The streets here, in contrast to the rest of Abu Dhabi, are designed for walking as well.

One of the safest cities in the world is Abu Dhabi

One of the safest cities on earth is Abu Dhabi. For six years running, Abu Dhabi has been named the world’s safest city by the Numbeo Safety Index. Based on user comments about cost of living, safety, pollution, and crime, the list ranks 459 global cities. With regard to crime, robbery fear, and drug use, Abu Dhabi received a “very low” ranking. It also received a “very high” rating for feeling secure while out on a solo walk.

The bus stops are air-conditioned in Abu Dhabi

The following information will make you happy if you do intend to use public transportation in Abu Dhabi. You won’t miss out on the views because the majority of bus stops are outfitted with air conditioning, seats, and floor to ceiling glass. The facilities are currently available at more than 100 bus stops, but more are planned. That’s one approach to avoiding the heat.

There are plenty of odd buildings in Abu Dhabi

This Emirati skyline features unusual architectural styles in addition to a real head for heights. Consider the Al Bahr Towers, also known as “the pineapple building” because of its unusual, energy-efficient facade that distinctly resembles a pineapple. Then there is the Burj Mohammed, the 25th tallest building in the world and the tallest building in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Aldar Headquarters, a towering coin-shaped building created by MZ Architect.


Whether you live in the area or are visiting for the first time, there is plenty to keep you occupied during a weekend in Abu Dhabi. In fact, you may need more than just a weekend to enjoy all of these exciting excursions.

Are you a resident of Abu Dhabi, or are you considering planning a trip there soon? Do you have any additional recommendations on how to spend a weekend there?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!