Adventure Abu Dhabi
Take a turn in Maserati mecca Lovers of fine cars, culture vultures or those fascinated by birds of prey will find their niche in Abu Dhabi, writes Maria Visconti Petrol heads TWENTY per cent of the world’s Maseratis are to be found in Abu Dhabi. If you want to try your hand at motor racing, head for Yas Island, only 20 minutes from the city centre. It’s the newest entertainment destination in the UAE where, among many other attractions, you’ll find Ferrari World. Here, you can ease yourself into a Red Head, fasten your seatbelt and hold on for dear life. Temporary windinduced facelift guaranteed. The fastest roller-coaster on Earth will catapult you at 240km/h. But if you want to experience the real thing, doing laps of the Yas Marina Circuit (host to the Formula One Ethihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) you can get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin GT4 or a Formula 3000 and test your driving skills. Not game? Strap yourself into the passenger seat of a specially modified F1 two-seater racing car and let the professionals show you around the fastest track in the world. Speeds of 300km/h are not uncommon. Fancy going through the pits? There is a two-hour tour, including all the noises and smells. Or have lunch at one of the good Italian restaurants there instead. See www.yasmarinacircuit.ae
Culture vultures THE Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is the most beautiful of Abu Dhabi’s modern buildings, a project that employed artisans and materials from Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, Greece and the UAE itself and more than 3000 workers to build.
OLD AND NEW: (clockwise from top) Take a peek inside and out at the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, a speedy spin around Ferrari World or visit the Falcon Hospital.
Eighty-two white domes shine against a deep blue sky. Inside, the stark whiteness of the marble courtyards, colonnades and fountains is broken by the black-clad figures of women wearing abayas, which are tailored, sleek, ankle-length overcoats teamed with a black scarf. The mosque provides abayas for female visitors to wear. There is gold, crystal and semiprecious stones and the biggest carpet in the world, woven in Iran, shipped in nine pieces and stitched back together by 1200 local women. The Grand Mosque accommodates 40,000 worshippers, making it the third largest after Mecca and Casablanca. There are free tours at 10am, 11am and at 5pm every day
except Fridays. There are exceptions during religious holidays.
procedure on a bird (such as clawfiling, under anaesthesia).
THE Falcon Hospital is a unique venue where you can see how birds of prey are cared for in Abu Dhabi. In medieval Europe, falconry might have been the sport of kings but in the East (including the Far East and the Emirates) it was one way to hunt, with falcons trained to bring down other birds from the skies. The hospital’s director, Dr Margit Muller, conducts some of the tours herself and will let a falcon perch on your arm and you can witness a minor
THE Heritage Village (near the Marina Mall) re-creates a Bedouin camp and lets you see how goat and camel herders moved from oasis to oasis, and from the interior to the coast to fish in summer. The falaj, an ancient irrigation system used by the locals, can be seen here, too, plus a traditional souk and museum. This is a great destination for families and those who love to see what’s behind the ‘‘glass palaces in the desert’’.
FOR more oil-related adrenalin rushes, take off in a 4x4 with an expert driver for some dune bashing. It usually ends with dune boarding, dinner under the stars, a visit to a camel farm and entertainment (belly dancers). Hailed as the new miracle food, camel’s milk has already cleared EU health authorities and Camelicious will soon be on the market. Here you can try it fresh, straight from the camel’s udder in camel farms or look for it in cartons in the supermarket aisles. Closer in composition to human milk, it’s rich in vitamin B and iron, has five times more vitamin C than cow’s milk and it is higher in calcium and lower in fat.