“See, marvel, and follow the ruling family’s great vision for 2030 – that’s Abu Dhabi!” Kai Böcking
The United Emirates have been (almost) my second home for ten years. As co-owner of a TV production in the UAE, we have accompanied some of the mega-projects in Abu Dhabi: from the construction of the Emirate Palace Hotel to the creation of Yas Island. And despite its projects which are admired around the world, Abu Dhabi was long overshadowed by its “little brother” Dubai. Yet the largest, richest and most powerful emirate of the seven Gulf States has nothing to hide.
For some time now, there have only been black vans of a German car brand that take you from the airport to your hotel. This is especially practical for travel groups and large Arab families. By the way, like everywhere in the UAE taximeters are law. While driving, read the many signs, tariff conditions and complaint options. Nobody will be ripped off here.
At the moment I write about it, probably some new ones have already opened up: The hotels are shooting up like mushrooms, and without a break. On the offshore island of Saadyat Island, where a branch of the Louvre Museum opened in November 2017, a few real luxury houses have been built in the sand. The island is still a little barren, but the hotels are worth a visit: St. Regis and Park Hyatt.
The Emirates Palace has become a classic. A few months ago, Holger Schroth (currently at the Kempinski Four Seasons Munich), the long-time General Director, handed over the sceptre to Martin Cramer. Even after ten years (I was present at the opening) the palace is still worth a visit. One should simply not have any gold allergy …
Also under German management is the Abu Dhabi flagship of Jumeirah, directly opposite. Stefan Fuchs, head of the ETIHAD Towers (photo), manages 382 rooms and suites here. Perfect for business travellers – with direct access to downtown Abu Dhabi.
As in Dubai, the international hotels are the first port of call for fine dining. My tip: The restaurant “De la Cost” at the Saadiyat Beach Club. White, stylish, romantic and delicious.
In addition, the local, Arabic scene is constantly developing. The restaurant Meylas, run by an Emirati woman, is THE tip for original Emirati dishes.
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It took just under four years to turn a sandy island into a leisure paradise. Formula One circuit, Ferrari World, golf course, hotels and a water park – that’s Yas Island. In the meantime, one of the largest shopping malls in the world has also opened.
The tip for fitness fans: Every Tuesday evening, the Formula One track is sure to turn into a huge open-air fitness centre. Jogging, biking, walking – when the heat is on, the athletes come.
And then there is another sensation: Abu Dhabi has received the first branch of the legendary Louvre Museum in Paris. The eagerly awaited art franchise has been open to visitors since November 2017. What a show! The Louvre Abu Dhabi exceeds all expectations. Like palm fronds protecting against the sun, the enormous roof – parts of which can be opened – offers an impressive display of light. The individual exhibition rooms are protected from sun, heat and dust. In a few months, the most expensive painting in the world will be exhibited here: Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”.
Kai Böcking …
was for six years co-owner and creative director of the only German film and TV production in the UAE. The fact that Yas Island became an international tourist destination in less than four years still amazes him today. Kai Böcking was one of the first to ride the fastest roller coaster in the world, the Formular Rossa (Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi).
Fotos: © iStock/extravagantni, © iStock/Marrfa, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers