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An Interview with H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh


An Interview with Marco Pierre White Dine around Abu Dhabi






| EDITION 2 2018


Published by Phoenix Media & Publications FZ LLC BL425 Managing Director & Editor in Chief Jane Barraclough Group Editor Elizabeth Totton Digital Marketing Manager Aila Lopez Art Director Monica Nucera Modesign FZE Contributor Nazia Zafar, @AbuDhabiInsider For all advertising and marketing queries & further information, please contact yalla@yallauae.ae +971 2 491 9760 Printed by Origin Printing & Advertising FZE Address Building 5, Two Four54, Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE

@yallaseeitallabudhabi www.yallauae.ae All content and images may not be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form without prior consent. Please note that Yalla accepts no liability for errors, omissions or damage resulting from the use of this guide or any of the advertisements in it. Readers must make their own enquiries to establish the credentials of each entry. Information is correct at the time of going to press. © 2019-2020 Phoenix Media & Publications FZ LLC. All rights reserved.


On the cover

Welcome Welcome to paradise, also known as Abu Dhabi in the wintertime. Whether you are just laying over or looking to stay, Yalla is thrilled to welcome you here. In this issue and in this Year of Tolerance, we discuss with H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh about how Abu Dhabi is a beacon for the world with regard to tolerance. Then to illustrate just how the Emirate offers something for every kind of traveller. We zoom into the Liwa Desert and the Al Dhafra region. Winter is the season to explore the Rub Al Khali desert. Though it’s also known as the Empty Quarter, we can assure you that this swathe of sand is anything but lifeless. You’ve no doubt noticed that Abu Dhabi is so much more than funin-the-sun! In the capital city, culture is king. Music, dance, theatre, and art museums are among the city’s cultural offerings, alongside architectural icons like the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Qasr Al Hosn. Though this is our Desert issue, you might also consider it our chef issue. It’s been hot in the city’s restaurant kitchens with a slew of celebrity chefs in town, and Yalla’s been chatting with all of them. In this issue, we caught up with Michelin-star chefs Marco Pierre White and Richard Sandoval in addition to a few local and up and coming chefs. One thing is for sure, there’s no shortage of megawatt culinary talent in this town. So, what are you waiting for? If you’ve never been to Abu Dhabi, what’s stopping you?! If you’ve been before or you already live here, channel your inner Lawrence of Arabia and explore Abu Dhabi while the weather is fine!

The Yalla Team The Fossil Dunes photographed by Manish Chauhan @manishoot


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Highlights THE DESERT How & when best to venture into the Empty Quarter’s vastness. 08 BEYOND NATIONAL INTEREST H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh explains how the UAE is approaching Cultural 18 Diplomacy in interesting ways


INTRODUCTION TO THE UAE To understand Abu Dhabi, you must first understand the UAE 05 ABU DHABI AT A GLANCE An insight into what this vibrant and diverse city has to offer


EMIRATI EXPERIENCES How to meet a local and have an authentic Emirati experience


ROOTED IN TRADITION Artist Badr Abbas explains how his paintings reflect modernity while being rooted in UAE tradition 24 ART Abu Dhabi’s art calendar is so full, it’s practically bursting at the seams. We share where to find it 25 ENTERTAINMENT Theme-parks, beaches, water sports and sight-seeing tours. Abu Dhabi has it all 30 DINING Abu Dhabi is a food-lover’s paradise, and so is our Dining section. 40 Learn what to eat and where

63 SHOPPING Where to find designer to high street favourites, what to take home, and where to get it


WELLNESS Learn about Abu Dhabi's most splurge-worthy indulgences


HOSPITALITY It’s a big year for the hospitality sector in Abu Dhabi. Learn more about old 66 favourites and new hotspots

See It All online

60 #AbuDhabiCurious ? yallauae.ae


| EDITION 5 2019





Understanding the UAE is impossible without understanding the life of Sheikh Zayed and his deep religious faith, vision, determination and hard work. Emiratis are very proud of their present as well as their past, and their Founding Father Sheikh Zayed was quoted saying: “He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.”

The United Arab Emirates Before you begin exploring Abu Dhabi, we thought we would provide a quick overview of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Situated along the Arabian Gulf, the UAE has it all. With year-round sunshine, sandy beaches, great shopping, rich heritage, theme parks, major events and dining to suit every taste, there is something for everyone here. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan took office in 2004, following the death of his father, the UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed who founded the UAE in 1971. Abu Dhabi was named capital of the other six emirates: Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah.


During your visit, it won’t take you long to experience the warmth and welcoming nature of the Emirati people, and the friendly outlook of the expats who have settled here. Emiratis adore family life, so the lifestyle here is very much focused on maintaining a family-orientated society. This guide is about Abu Dhabi, because Yalla believes that no trip to the UAE is complete without a visit to the capital. As you read through the guide, you’ll discover more about Abu Dhabi, and, hopefully, this will help you decide which attractions and sights you will want to see.



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The city of Abu Dhabi is unlike anywhere you

have ever visited. Just under a half century old, the city is young, yet steeped in a rich history with so much to see, do and experience. Downtown, the vibrant city centre boasts an impressive skyline of soaring towers, an 8km stretch of coastline known as the Corniche,

Abu Dhabi at a glance where traditional dhow boats can be found huddled within the old Mina Port and luxury yachts are seen glistening on the water. The luxurious 5-star Emirates Palace and the strikingly beautiful Presidential Palace both sit in prime positions at the end of the Corniche. Across the city, if you’re looking for a relaxing break, you’ll find countless pristine public beaches, exclusive beach clubs and swimming


pools within hotels. If you seek adventure during your stay, most beaches offer an extensive range of water-sports, both relaxing and exhilarating. Prefer exploring? Abu Dhabi offers a range of culture and heritage sites, attractions, shopping malls, restaurants, live entertainment as well as options for sightseeing by road, sea or air. As the capital of the UAE, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is also home to neighbouring Al Ain city (with six UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and Al Dhafra, which makes up around two thirds of Abu Dhabi, with its vast desert area including the Liwa oasis and hundreds of kilometres of coastline. Today, the capital is home to around 1.1 million people, with residents comprising over 200 different nationalities. Due to the discovery of oil, Abu Dhabi has changed rapidly over the last century. It has developed into a diverse, fascinating and lively city and region. So, what are you waiting for? Yalla, as they say in Arabic, meaning ‘Let’s go!’

Inside this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know for your stay— what to see, where to eat, how to get around, and who you should call in an emergency. Also, don’t forget to visit our new website Yallauae.ae. It’s handy to have on your phone when you are out exploring the emirate. It’s divided into sections so you will be able to find your way around easily. Enjoy!

Journey into the

Empty Quarter

Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter, the largest and least-explored sand desert on Earth, is a passage between old Arabia and the modern UAE and well worth a long weekend. Yalla fills you in on how best to venture into its vastness


he Rub ‘Al Khali desert, which so intrigued the likes of Lawrence of Arabia and the explorer Wilfred Thesiger, stretches across vast swathes of Arabia, including the south western corner of Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. In its centre, a vast ocean of dunes blankets the landscape providing one of the most forbidding tracts of wilderness in the world. Though camping under the stars provides the ultimate desert experience, there are also myriad ways to


enjoy the Empty Quarter for those less inclined to rough it. A visit to the Abu Dhabi western region provides intrepid visitors the opportunity to visit this vast sand desert for even a day—it’s that close to the city, but Yalla suggests that you spend a bit more time exploring the world's largest sand desert. From camping to glamping, festivals to tours and 5-stars to a sky full of stars, here are Yalla's top tips for exploring the Empty Quarter like a pro.

The desert is an ocean in which no oar is dipped. - T.E. LAWRENCE


places on Earth to watch the stars as it's completely free of light pollution. If you’d like to trade five-stars for five million stars, a night of camping should be your choice. Fortunately, there are numerous providers scattered throughout the UAE who provide the service, but Yalla highly recommends that you ride with the Desert Diva, if you can catch her. Marina Bruce is a legend in the UAE. Though a Scot by birth, Marina’s got a Bedouin sensibility, and, ask any local, she knows how to get around the Empty Quarter as well as her male counterparts or just about any Emirati guides. She can assist you in arranging anything from a desert outing to a desert evening to a full-on exploration of the Empty Quarter if you’ve caught the Lawrence of Arabia bug. Learn more by contacting the foremost desert tour company Xpedition Arabia at Thedesertdiva.com

When to go

The best time to travel is from October through to April when the temperature ranges from warm to cool. Temperatures during the summer months can be exceptionally high.

Live like a nomad

Journeying into the Empty Quarter is a way to experience the nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin people, traditional roamers who travelled with their homes across Arabia. You'll travel from morning to night with everything you need being carried with you. The Bedouin are more settled nowadays but your guide may have Bedouin heritage and can tell you more about their traditional culture.

How do I get to the UAE's Empty Quarter?

Getting to the UAE’s Empty Quarter is easy! You can get there by car. Visitors can drive southeast on modern thoroughfares which rapidly become bumpy, unkempt roads that eventually give way to sand. You know you've arrived in the Empty Quarter proper when the roads have disappeared and there's nothing but enormous sand dunes in all directions. A four-wheel vehicle is highly recommended, if not a requisite depending upon how far you care to venture.

Transport in the Empty Quarter is either by 4x4 or camel. You can travel further and see more by four-wheel drive and driving through the dunes is exhilarating. Riding a camel, on the other hand, takes you back through history, travelling as ancient explorers once would have. Whichever you choose, a separate 4x4 vehicle will travel ahead with your camping gear, while your guide accompanies you.

Glamp It Up in the Desert

The UAE has a few options for those who prefer their explorations on the more opulent side. Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa is located just 50 kilometres away from the city, but the resort offers guests a full desert immersion in the lap of luxury. For those who seek a glimpse into Bedouin life, don’t miss out on spending an evening at the Al Mabeet Desert Camp at Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa, which surprisingly one can do without being a resort guest. On the other hand, Qasr Al Sarab is a few hours away from the city. While it also gives visitors a luxurious desert experience, its seclusion is worth the effort it takes to reach it. Perched atop rolling dunes on the edge of the Empty Quarter, this resort is as much fortified village as palace. Powdery dunes roll with the desert winds, like waves and gently lap the hotel’s sand-coloured walls like a sea.

Camp under the stars

Camel Queens If you like all things weird and wonderful, head straight to the Al Dhafra Camel Festival this 9-24 December to be treated to a range of cultural activities and get a window into the UAE. More than 30,000 beautiful camels and their owners from all over the Gulf region will converge upon Al Dhafra, a remote desert town on the edge of the Empty Quarter in the western region of Abu Dhabi to compete for 55 million dirhams in prize money, luxury cars, fame and family pride.

Visit www.aldhafrafestival.ae for timings and a calendar or events or phone 800 555.

In clear weather, the Empty Quarter is one of the best

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Getting Around

Climb Every Dune

Big piles of sand may not immediately seem reason enough to drive hours across the UAE, but the sands of Liwa are different. Dunes can top 300m with Tel Moreeb its apex Tel Moreeb dune isn’t more than 30 seconds from a road. It’s 300 m high and with a 50° angle, the dune is host to the annual Moreeb Dune Championship. The highlight of the festival is the adventurous race to the top of one of the world’s highest sand hills–the Moreeb Dune, which means ‘Terrifying Mountain’. If you happen to be here from 31 December 2019 to 8 January 2020 and you love to watch a good scramble, a visit here is a must! The seven-day festival attracts all manner of quads, bikes, and 4x4 vehicles clambering to get to the top. The record from bottom to top stands at 12 seconds, but most drivers of regular 4x4s are unlikely to even make it halfway. If that sounds intimidating, a more sedate way to enjoy Tel Moreeb is by a camel or horse trek, which can be organised by the nearby hotels or tour firms at dawn and dusk.

Getting there From Abu Dhabi, head south on Abu Dhabi-Al Ain truck road until you reach route 11. Head towards Jebel Dhana for almost 80km, turning off just past a petrol station, and following signs to Madinat Zayed. After around 63km you’ll come in to Liwa. Turn right for the Liwa hotel, Qatuf and Moreeb Hill.

See the Empty Quarter If you’d like to see the desert through the eyes of an experienced guide, look no further than the Desert Diva, Marina Bruce. Allow her to reveal the Empty Quarter’s vastness Whatever the temperature, the campfire is always the focal point of our evening when we gather to eat and exchange stories under an inky black sky, studded with stars, just as the Bedu have for hundreds of years before us,” says Marina Bruce, aka the Desert Diva, and owner of Xpedition Arabia. The Al Dhaf ra Region of Abu Dhabi covers a staggering 71% of the Emirate’s total land area; bordered to the north by the coast on the Arabian Gulf, most of the inland area is covered by gorgeous sand dunes which are perfect for weekend exploring! In the south, beyond the historic Liwa Oasis, lies the magnificent Rub Al Khali, also known as The Empty Quarter; this is the start of the world’s largest continuous sand desert, which stretches for hundreds of kilometres southwards. It’s possible to observe some of the huge dune massifs from the roadside, but to truly explore the Al Dhafra deserts you are best to join an organised expedition to experience them from a 4x4. Marina works with carefully chosen local partners to deliver amazing off-road and camping adventures. Most of their trips, limited to a maximum of 10 guest cars, start near the main city of Madinat Zayed, around 1.5 hour’s drive from Abu Dhabi, and involve 50-100kms of smooth off-roading through the most beautiful of dunescapes. Al Dhafra may be on the edge of the Empty Quarter but there is a surprising amount of life in the desert, such as gazelles, which often can be seen darting across distant dunes as well as foxes, desert hares, lizards, and locusts. There are many camel farms in this area of the desert and since it’s winter, if you are lucky, you may see a newborn camel! Marina’s off-road adventures are not only about driving, and they stop at some interesting way points including the Tropic of Cancer and a date palm plantation some 30kms from the road. There are also at least one truck or pickup wreck to see along the way. Xpedition Arabia’s drives start with a safety brief and introduction to off-roading, then the convoy sets off, over some very easy dunes. As the drive goes on, the difficulty increases but the focus is still on smooth driving with no crazy adrenaline-inducing manoeuvres. Around one hour before sunset, the group stops to make camp. While the Xpedition Arabia team prepares the campfire and BBQ, their guests often climb to the tallest dune nearby to watch the sun slip away for the night and the first stars appear. The next day the group breaks camp and continues driving until they reach the road, normally around lunchtime. Over the journey their guests will have discovered, amongst many other things, the singing sands of Liwa; why desert plantations made life possible hundreds of years ago; why camels are still important to the Bedu! Learn more about Marina and her tours at Xpeditionarabia.com or contact her directly at followus@xpeditionarabia.com

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DIY Desert Offroading in the Liwa and Madinat Zayed areas of Al Dhafra is arguably the best desert driving available in the UAE. Here Marina shares invaluable tips before you make the trek. Hundreds of kilometres of dunes varying from medium to large in size, many in complex formations, with very few people out enjoying them! Many are a long way from the road in case of problems and anyone undertaking a drive with friends here should ensure they have a minimum 3 cars, be fully equipped with recovery equipment, and carry at least 12 hours extra water and food. Al Dhafra has four hotels situated near the desert, two in Madinat Zayed one in Ghayathi and one in Hameem. The


Liwa Hotel in Liwa City is currently closed for renovation. During peak times they all fill up quickly but do not worry, Liwa is a great area to camp in. You will need a 4x4 to access most spots apart from the Moreeb area, which can get busy and noisy. For 4x4 owners, there are a number of tracks winding their way into farms in the desert and camping near one of these is often possible, with the added bonus of someone likely to come past to assist if you encounter problems overnight. You will find details of some of The Desert Diva’s favourite spots, along with a downloadable gpx track on her blog The Desert Diva and search for the page titled '10 great spots in Liwa to Pitch Your Tent'.

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A 5-Starry Night Stillness pervades the Empty Quarter; the sort of quiet for which you might find yourself longing upon return from the enchanted Qasr Al Sarab, Desert Resort by Anantara


he name Qasr Al Sarab means “palace of mirage.” After our long car ride in the seemingly endless stretch that is the Liwa Desert highway, it was indeed a mirage that seemed to appear in the middle of the golden sands.

The rosy fingers of sunset poured like a watercolour over the Liwa desert sky as we made our arrival through the resort’s gates. Triangular signs warned an animal crossing as a trio of baby gazelles cinematically hopped across the road before us. A turn in the road then revealed a colourful expanse of massive flame-coloured dunes— perhaps the most saturated orange that I’d ever seen in my life. Eyes agape, we cruised the 10-minute slice of road from highway to resort attempting to fully take in the colours, the vastness, and the incalculable silence and true emptiness of the Empty Quarter. The massive dunes that dominate the stunning landscape of Rub’ al Khali or the Empty Quarter and—like a desert mirage—then seem to part as you enter into the gates of the fortress-like palace resort. You

immediately see that Qasr Al Sarab, Desert Resort by Anantara is an oasis of luxury in the midst of tranquility. Located over 200 kilometres and 90 minutes from Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Sarab, Desert Resort by Anantara feels like it is a million miles from anywhere.


As we were led to our rooms, what’s left of the purple twilight reveals the silhouette backdrop of dunes lit by a crescent moon and the brightest of stars begin to drill their way down out of the sky, reminding us quietly that it is in quiet and deserted places just like this where people have sought solace and all manners of spirituality are contemplated. Hidden amongst the sea of rolling, flame orange dunes of the Empty Quarter, Anantara Qasr Al Sarab is one of the UAE’s best-loved, traditional Arabian escapes, and Yalla thinks that you should check this resort off your bucket list as soon as you can!

Learn more at Qasralsarab.anantara.com, 02 895 8700

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Evening in the Desert


If you are keen to experience the life of a Bedouin nomad in a truly authentic way, an evening at the Al Mabeet Desert Camp is the best way to experience the UAE


contemporary homage to Bedouin way of life and an unparalleled space to unwind and dine amongst the rolling landscape of the desert dunes with the backdrop of a fiery desert sunset or under the vast sea of stars. Al Mabeet is designed as a desert camp offering Pan Arabic cuisine with an influence of Emirati culture and live interactive entertainment like fire dances, live band with Qanoon, Oud as well as an Emirati singer all set in an Al fresco dining experience under stars. The camp is a living homage to the Bedouin spirit of the nation and the heart and soul of the Desert Resort, anchoring the essence of Jumeirah’s desert experience. The desert experience is intended to be intrinsic to the the guests’ stay, as opposed to the typical desert safaris that some feel overstep the line between nature stewardship and entertainment as well as offer entertainment that is not truly representative of the nation. The design of the Desert Camp reflects an open-air structure organically shaped and whitewashed, that resembles the dunes of the desert where it sits. The outer space of the structure hosts small shops, while the inner space features small private nooks with sofas for dinner on the floor, as well as higher seating in the center. A few big windows open to spacious and modern live kitchens and marble bars filled with hot mezze and traditional Arabic dishes. Two center bars are used for live shawarma grilling and fresh salads, while meat roasting happens right in the fire pit. To access the restaurant, guests follow a trail of torches on a set path down from the lobby.


Outside guests are welcome at Al Mabeet Desert Camp and for the camp's daily complimentary falcon shows that take place every evening at 5pm, the overnight experience is truly special. Watching the sunrise over breakfast is an unforgettable experience if you can wake up early enough to see the morning spectacle.

To make your reservation, email JAWrestaurants@Jumeirah.com, Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa, 7 pm – 11 pm


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Falcon Facts Falcons are impressive animals by any measure. Here are a few key falcon facts for those who want to know more

Falcons are fast.

Falcons have been clocked at reaching speeds of 242 miles per hour while nosediving for prey, making them the fastest recorded animal ever. These birds’ aerodynamic torsos and pointed wings allow them to reach such mind-blowing speeds.

Humans have used falcons for hunting for thousands of years.

The art of training and using falcons to hunt small animals and birds dates back 3,500 years to ancient Mesopotamia and Mongolia. Falconry is still practiced around the world today.

Falcons mate for life.

Like penguins, falcons devote themselves to one partner for their reproductive years. Falcons only come together to mate, and otherwise spend their lives as solitary hunters.

Falcons have excellent vision.

Scientists estimate that falcon vision is eight times better than a human’s, which enables them to spot small prey from over three miles away, and then nosedive with precision to catch it.

Falcons have natural sun protection.

Falcons have an extra eyelid, called a Nictitating membrane, which helps protect the eye and keep it moist. They also have a ridge over their eyes to shade them from the sun.

Falcons have stamina.

Falcons are also durable. They're thought to migrate as much as 15,500 miles a year, travelling between continents to mate or find food. Now that's dedication.

Falcons use their beaks as weapons. Unlike other birds that only use sharp talons on their feet to kill prey, falcons also have a sharp tooth at the end of their beaks, called a Tomial tooth, that they can use to quickly sever necks. Watch out!


A Raptor Rhapsody

Falconry is an integral part of UAE traditional culture. Peter Bergh has made the raptors his passion and modernised the tradition to make the birds more accessible to those interested in learning about them


he hunting collaboration between humans and falcons is thought to have existed for over 3,500 years. Humans have long sought out the birds for their hunting prowess, and that remains the same to this day. Peter Bergh discovered the bird of prey when he was new to the UAE and working at a resort in Dubai, and the birds have grown into a bit of a passion for Peter. He studies and carefully breeds the birds and has taught them to return to their falconer even from the air in a hot air balloon. He’s even invented a machine to help falcons become even more effective hunters. Yalla learns what activities Peter offers the raptor-curious.

How did you first come to work with falcons? I grew up on a sugarcane farm in South Africa, so I spent pretty much every day riding horses. When I came to Dubai, I got a job overseeing the horseback riding activities at a resort in the desert. I quickly tired of watching tourists falling off the horses every five seconds, so I branched out and did some dune driving, camel riding, and a falcon flying, and that’s when I discovered how amazing the birds are.

Why are falcons so revered in the region?

Follow Peter Bergh on Instagram: @peterhenrybergh, his tour groups Royal Shaheen @royalshaheen, and Berghwing @berghwingmkii.

Falcons Inflight

You can see these amazing birds in action at Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa provided by Royal Shaheen. Experience first-hand the mesmerizing world of Falconry with this one hour interactive show. Guests can fly two falcons and one hawk, and experience these majestic raptors flying directly to you, landing on your hand with incredible speed and precision.

The Public Falcon shows takes place daily at 5pm and are complimentary for all the in-guests on the resort. Private Falcon shows occur every morning and last 60 minutes. They cost AED 150 for adults and AED 50 for kids 6yrs & above. Book your falcon adventure, by emailing JAWrestaurants@Jumeirah.com, Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa


It just came down to a protein source. The desert’s not an easy place to find food, and the Arabs quickly learned that it was easier with the help of birds. Falcons are fully grown in 8-10 weeks’ time, thanks to their high protein diet, After spring when the food stocks run low, a mass migration happens where falcons cross from Europe and Asia to Africa where there’s lots of food for them. The Arabian Peninsula

is the shortest land mass for them to cross. Along their migration in the winter months, the Arabs would catch the birds, use them for hunting, then release them back onto their migration. They sort of borrowed the bird temporarily to find food then let them back on their path; it’s a beautiful system.


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Beyond National Interest The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs established its Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy last year under the leadership of Minister of State, His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh, who took some time to share his insights with Yalla


he art of cultural diplomacy is not new. It has been practised for centuries, but it is only relatively recently that the term itself has started to feature in governments’ national and international communication strategies.

What is Cultural Diplomacy? I describe it as the practice of communicating and sharing a country’s values, customs and beliefs with other peoples and nations to support political, economic and human cooperation. It is something that came naturally to Sheikh Zayed – and not only on the international stage. From an early age, he spent a great deal of time with leaders in the desert, immersing himself in their way of life and exchanging ideas and aspirations. This resulted in deep personal relationships rooted in mutual understanding of, and respect for, shared values and customs. Ultimately, it forged the strongest of diplomatic partnerships. Of course, cultural diplomacy is a discipline with a long history across the world. Many other great leaders have successfully leveraged its power to enhance local and multinational relations and support diplomatic priorities. But it is only relatively recently that it has been introduced into the lexicon as a specialised and important diplomatic function.

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So, why do we need Cultural Diplomacy in the UAE? People living here come from more than 200 different nationalities. Naturally, this incredibly diverse set of communities have brought their own rich cultural traditions with them and are encouraged to do so. Cultural difference in the UAE is not seen as a barrier. Rather it is viewed as a common, connecting thread, and part of what makes the Emirates such an enriching place to live. The UAE has been open to cultural diversity since the beginning. Sheikh Zayed himself saw it as a bridge to his extraordinary vision for the future of the country. I remember an interview from 1968, the first television interview I had with him, where he told me two things. Firstly, he said that we needed to open up to the rest of the world to bring the best of modern thinking into our country – particularly in public service areas such as health and education. And secondly, he said we needed to maintain our cultural identity and our national soul. He was always passionate about ensuring these two strategies should go hand in hand; that while the UAE should connect broadly and deeply with the rest of the world, it should never forget the richness of its own unique cultural heritage. This is why from early on, he instigated the establishment of The National Museum Al Ain, to showcase the significance of the country’s past. He wanted people to remember, for example, that some 4000 years ago there were communities in this region that traded with the people of the Indus Valley and the Mesopotamians; that its story did not start when it became wealthy, and that the journey its people have been taking over the centuries will continue to evolve. Much of the rest of the world sees us as a prosperous, modern, cosmopolitan nation. We are this, but we also have a much more ancient narrative. If we can share our story in full, it will help to enhance cross-cultural awareness, inspire intercultural dialogue and build deeper social and political understanding. Sometimes there is an impression abroad that because there is oil here, and there is money, then it is almost inevitable that there is the kind of remarkable development that we see around us. Of course, this is not true. There are many other countries around the world that were also blessed with abundant natural resources, and they were dissipated. From the outset, the Emirati government has set out to deploy the country’s resources in an expansive and globally inclusive manner, building an infrastructure that is truly open to the world, whilst retaining its national identity. I think this is an important message for us in cultural diplomacy.

How do you define ‘culture’?


Culture is essentially the ecosystem and way in which a group of people lives. A culture is characterised by shared values, beliefs and customs, and manifests itself through language, religion, literature, food, sport, music, design, artistic expression and so forth.


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The breadth of the definition means we have a lot of content to work with when it comes to sharing our own unique Emirati culture – both past and present. For example, I will be travelling to Cambridge University in England where we have organised a cultural dinner at Queen’s College. The idea is based on the book, Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi, by Hanan Sayed Worrell. The book was published here in the UAE in 2018 and uses personal stories and recipes from Abu Dhabi’s local and expatriate communities, to showcase how urban culinary culture has evolved in the city since the 1960s. The book is so much more than a cookbook. It has a cultural depth that gives readers a real insight into the diversity, evolution and connectedness of our blended society.

What else do you do in your Office? Another important focus for us is the training of diplomats. We believe that culture is an essential tool of diplomatic discourse. You cannot be a successful diplomat abroad if you do not respond to the culture of the country in which you are based, and, if you are not able to articulate a message of what makes your culture meaningful and relevant. We are working with the Emirates Diplomatic Academy to create special cultural diplomacy courses for our ambassadors and diplomats. A masters course in the subject is also under development.

What are your upcoming plans for your Office?

The French government created the Alliance Française in the nineteenth century as part of its cultural toolbox. The British Government has the British Council while The Goethe Institute spreads the German language. Some of these organisations are government led, others are public authorities. We will soon build our own using our cultural attachés as part of our broad international investment plan designed to expand our cultural and educational assets abroad, supporting our young people as they face the challenges of the 21st century.

How much of a focus does your office place on the Arts? The Arts form a central focus for us, as evidenced in many initiatives from our recent restoration and inauguration of the historic Imperial Theatre at The Château de Fontainebleau in Paris, to our programmes to nurture young Emirati artists. We are supporting local talent by acquiring their art and displaying it internationally in our embassies. We also offer art residencies with local artists and are collaborating with the Dubai Expo 2020 to couple it with the Tokyo Olympics.

What other initiatives are important to your office? The environment forms an important tenet of our work. We recently signed a diplomacy accord with the Ministry of the Environment to jointly tell our success stories. One wonderful


A significant project is the creation of a number of cultural

centres throughout the world. The first will be in Paris.

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example is the Arabian Oryx. The UAE was one of the first countries to actively reintroduce this endangered species to its natural habitat. Sheikh Zayed identified the extinction risk of this animal – such an icon of national identity – and called for the launch of a captive breeding programme in the late 1960s. Over the years, the programme has released significant numbers of oryx back into the wild both inside and outside the UAE.

How does Expo 2020 work into this plan? Expo 2020 comes at a time when the world is witnessing the unfortunate spread of sectarianism, extremism and violent ideology. Instead of bringing down walls between us, as a race we are beginning to construct them once again. Global


opportunities like Expo give us a platform for relationship building. A forum to remind us that alongside our distinct cultural identities, we have a common humanity; a collective responsibility for the planet and for each other. There are over 190 nations planning to attend. The scale of the event is impressive, and its inspirational themes and objectives have been carefully crafted to support the building of bridges between people, the discovery of mutual goals and collaborative resolutions to shared challenges. Sheikh Zayed believed we are all born as one family, that we are kinsmen, and that we must stand and work together for the good of mankind. Cultural diplomacy has a vital role to play in this context.

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque In Numbers

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring with its 82 white gleaming domes, golden colonnades, and giant marble flower inlays. It spans across 555,000 square metres and its four impressive main minarets soar 106 metres into the sky.


At Night

A little-known feature of the Mosque is its unique lighting system, which is designed to reflect the phases of the moon. There are 22 light towers which project soft clouds of a ‘bluish grey’ colour onto the exterior of the mosque and change according to the moon phase every night.

Most Visited

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque — the city's number one tourist attraction — opened in 2007. The mosque attracts over 4.5 million worshippers and visitors each year. Today, it remains the most visited and Tripadvisor's number one attraction in Abu Dhabi.

Emirati Experiences:

Fossil Dunes Tours

The very best way to learn about a new city is to mingle with the locals. Meet Afnan Al Breiki and learn about her tours of the Fossil Dunes and Al Wathba Wetlands Reserve

How did you get into this line of work? Since I was a student at the university, I was very passionate about explaining to our new faculty members about the UAE and make them feel welcomed.

What draws you to nature? I love nature. Sadly, a lot of people think that the UAE and Abu Dhabi has a poor nature and I'm always happy to challenge this idea. Every country has unique climate, terrain, fauna and flora, In Abu Dhabi, it's the sea, the desert land, and Arabian oryx, the camels, and the palm trees.

Tell us about the two tours that you offer? I often take guests to Al Wathba Wetlands Reserve and Abu Dhabi Fossil Dunes. In this experience we do a walking tour in the Reserve, explore the indigenous plants and the migrant birds. The reserve is well known fro its flamingo birds, some are migrants and others are permanently settled in the UAE. The reserve also recorded a number of flamingo births last year.

What are guests most surprised to learn? Guests usually get surprised when they see the outer parts of Abu Dhabi - the more rural areas away from the city. They also learn a lot from our friendly conversation.


To learn more about Afnan’s Nature Tours, contact her directly by email at AfnanAlBreiki@gmail.com


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Rooted in Tradition

Unlike realism, Cubism takes real life, deconstructs it, and interprets it from infinite angles through geometry and abstraction. Emirati Artist Badr Abbas distils his life through this lens, and the results are riveting


adr Abbas is a self-taught Emirati artist and a member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society. His art explores Emirati heritage in the shadow of modernity using symbols from old and new Arab traditions and cultures. He expresses himself using simplified modern cubism. Yalla caught up with Badr to discuss his art.

Describe your blending of a modern painting style and technique with historic symbols? My love for history, culture, and tradition is a main reason that I use symbols which portray the rich heritage of the UAE. My work displays Emirati folk heritage, and I use symbols from old and new Arab traditions and culture. I balance my love for heritage and culture with my forward-looking approach of the modern world. I live in a modern world, using gadgets and technology of the 21st century and, in my art, my expression can be described as modernism rooted in deep culture, just like the UAE—always looking ahead for the future and what the future holds without forgetting our roots.

If you had to pick a favourite painting of yours, which one and why? All of my art reflects my life's vision, but I love my paintings which spread a conscious message. One of my favourite series is titled “Traditional Technology,” because it is about looking back, yet moving forward. As we fuse into the future, I take cues from my Emirati heritage to mold my paintings. This collection portrays a smooth amalgamation of analogue and digital worlds. These paintings were inspired by my belief that technology complements tradition.

What painter inspired you? Yes, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, George Condo, Johannes Vermeer, Goya, and Abdul Qader Al Rais are some of my personal favourites.

Do you want to be described as an ‘Emirati artist’? PHOTOGRAPHY BY BADR ABBAS

I am truly a proud Emirati artist, but my art is for all. I would like to showcase my art, ideas and thoughts to the rest of the world. I would like to share my artwork with everyone and inspire people with my messages. As I mentioned in my previous answer, my country strongly promotes the UAE artists, however, the private sector should also play a big role in supporting the government initiatives for Emirati artists, to be known internationally and showcase their works everywhere.

Learn more about Badr's artwork at intlartmgmt.com

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Art in Abu Dhabi Bubbling below the surface of Abu Dhabi’s gleaming skyscrapers is a grassroots art scene, known to few. Yalla picks the best spots to experience art in public places, in galleries, in stores, and even in coffee shops

Louvre Abu Dhabi

A decade in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in 2017 to critical acclaim. The building itself is a work of art. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel’s geometric domed roof is spectacular, and its design allows a ‘rain of light’ to shower through. The inside also doesn’t disappoint with its expansive exhibition space, 12 galleries and a detached stage located in the sea. Each room flows clearly to the next – evidence of the journey through time and the museum itself being meticulously planned. Saadiyat Cultural District. Louvreabudhabi.ae

Manarat Al Saadiyat was recently renovated to include new art and photography studios to provide drop-in spaces where the public can work on their own projects alongside a team of artists and photographers. Specialised workshops, performances, film screenings and music are all part of their ongoing programme. Saadiyat Cultural District. Manaratalsaadiyat.ae

Warehouse 421

Housed in two repurposed warehouses in the bustling Mina Port, Warehouse 421 is a vibrant hub for creativity. Much of the work housed within focuses on the UAE or is made by Emirati artists and the artwork changes quarterly. Past exhibitions have included emerging Emirati talent, UAE contributions to the Venice Biennial, and a poignant window into Emirati family photographs from the late 20th century. Mina Port. Warehouse421.ae


Manarat Al Saadiyat

Etihad Modern Art Gallery

Located in Al Bateen, art lovers have found in Etihad Modern Art Gallery an eclectic and modern independent gallery that is worth the journey. Exhibitions tend to focus on Middle Eastern talent, but international artists are also regularly displayed Exhibitions change monthly and are free to enter. Adjacent to Al Bateen Mall. Etihadmodernart.com

NYU Abu Dhabi


Enthusiasm for the art scene on Abu Dhabi’s newest university campus radiates off Saadiyat Island. The university art gallery’s eclectic exhibitions have featured renowned UAE artist Mohammed Kazem to international art luminaries. The university’s Performing Arts Center has a pulsating events calendar. Performances range from student productions and live music to open-mic poetry, rap, EDM and spoken-word evenings put on by ‘Rooftop Rhythms’. Saadiyat Island. Nyuad.nyu.edu

Artful souvenirs

Keen to snap up artful souvenirs of your time in Abu Dhabi? If so, visit the newly renovated Andaz Hotel lobby souvenir shop to buy one-of-a-kind works by local artists. With everything from paintings to postcards to bags to wearable art and home décor, you will leave with unique artwork and support local artists whilst you shop until you drop. 165 Gallery Below


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Life’s Little Luxuries Are you curious about exactly what luxury is and just how have perceptions changed over the past 10,000 years? The Louvre Abu Dhabi contemplates the word’s very meaning in a new exhibition


0,000 Years of Luxury will for the first time in the region, explore the history of luxury. Featuring 350 extraordinary objects from the fields of fashion, jewellery, art, furniture, and design, the show will look at the various ways luxury has been interpreted by diverse cultures throughout history: from extravagant offerings for the divine, to golden furniture fit for royalty and the iconic couture of fashion houses and virtuoso objects of luxury houses, as Christian Dior, Chanel, Cartier, Balenciaga and Hermès.


The exhibition shows how different cultures have defined luxury and its impact on the evolution of society, as a way to undermine or underline the status quo. It explores the prominent role of women in defining luxury, the ebb and flow between excess and moderation as well as notions of what elevates an object to the realm of precious. Inspired by this exhibition, Louvre Abu Dhabi will work with performers and artists to create priceless experiences with the theme ‘luxuries are what money can’t buy’. Alongside the exhibition 10,000 Years of Luxury, Louvre Abu Dhabi presents the olfactory art installation; USO - The Perfumed Cloud (USO = Unidentified Scented Object) from 30 October to 1 February 2020. Continuing the museum’s mission to offer innovative experiences, this installation offers a magical sensory journey into a perfumed cloud. Mark your calendars to descend into that perfumed cloud and live a world of luxuries that money cannot buy at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Louvre Abu Dhabi, Louvreabudhabi.ae

A Mother of a Pearl Found Archaeologists have discovered what is believed to be the world's oldest natural pearl. The 8,000-year-old gemstone was unearthed on Marawah Island, which is about 170 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi city. Using carbon dating, archaeologists estimate that the pearl dates from 5,800 to 5,600BC. The Abu Dhabi Pearl will be on display during 10,000 Years of Luxury, taking place at Louvre Abu Dhabi from 30 October 2019 to 18 February 2020.

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THE ART OF CREATING! Art Studio at Manarat Al Saadiyat is a multi-disciplinary arts space designed to bring our community a hands-on arts education programme that includes art classes, drop-in sessions, and, outreach initiatives for adults, children, families and students. Art Studio offers fully equipped studios with dedicated spaces for all ages to work both collaboratively and individually, making Art Studio the perfect place for creating art. WORKSHOP FEES: 3-5 years: 50 AED 6-16 years: 75 AED 17+ years: 100 AED DROP-IN FEES: 3-16 years: 30 AED for 2 hours 17+ years: 50 AED for 2 hours ART STUDIO TIMIMGS: WEEKDAYS:9:00 am - 8:00 pm WEEKENDS: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

& SCULPTURE NEW! CERAMICS STUDIO DROP-IN The ceramics & sculpture studio Drop-In is designed for visitors aged 13+ interested in developing their making skills. Following a short induction course, participants are provided access to the ceramic & sculpture studio’s facilities and equipment. FEES: 13+ years: 50 AED for 2 hours

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Selected artists will have the unique opportunity to set up a dedicated, fully equipped studio space in a vibrant arts community hub, lead workshops and work alongside art educators. Visit our website to apply.

ABU DHABI ART 21-23 NOV, 2019 Take inspiration from work being exhibited at Abu Dhabi Art by participating in our specially themed art activities for children and masterclasses for teens and adults. Drop-In’s (3-5 years):30 AED Workshops (6-12 years): 50 AED Master Classes (13+ years): 100 AED To make a booking and to learn more about our programme visit, www.manaratalsaadiyat.ae For enquiries, please contact masartstudio@dctabudhabi.ae or call +971 2 657 5929 manaratalsaadiyat

Reject the Rectangle Guitarist Kaki King is famed for rejecting musical conventions and lauded by Rolling Stone Magazine as a “genre unto herself.” Yalla had a chat with the iconoclast and implores you not to miss her regional début this November

What are your musical influences?

I grew up listening to Brit pop, everything from Blur, Oasis, the Cure, early U2, the Clash to Fleetwood Mac, singer-songwriter Dick Drake and, going even further back, the Yardbirds and the Beatles. PJ Harvey was a huge influence when I was learning to play guitar. That’s the music that helped me disassociate from my surroundings as a teen. It was about differentiating yourself. There was never any hope of me fitting in or being average or normal, so I deliberately sought out things that were foreign and in my mind were a bit more of an oddity. I also really love pop music.

You have pop influences?

Although my work is instrumental and therefore abstract, I often follow the pop formula of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and bridge with a lot of repetition of motifs and themes. Early pop influences stayed with me, and, in my early work, I wanted to make something concise and catchy and to make memorable melodies.

Tell us about your recent work. I incorporate the audio-visual aspects and triggering sounds, literally using the guitar as a trigger has me on a new path. I am in midair in the rabbit hole, descending into musical parts unknown. Sometimes, I have no idea where we are going to end up with my music. So, the Abu Dhabi show is the product of that. It’s very high tech. I have lines, I am reciting lines, so I am sort of an extra in my own show. I am working on video work and overseeing the design of the show. There’s a lot more to what I am doing now than just playing guitar. It’s very fun, and it’s extremely challenging, like let’s just build it and see. It takes a lot more thought. I have learned one thousand things just in this year alone. It’s a new journey, but fundamentally it’s all about me and the guitar.



“There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really good. And then there's Kaki King.” – Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters & Nirvana

It’s meant to be beautiful, exciting, and lush. The music itself is deeply emotional, fast at times, gorgeously slow other times, but there’s a lot of thought behind the compositions. We’re creating visuals that reject the rectangle. Instead of your standard rectangular projection screen or scrim, I have a white tent with an arch in the middle that I use for my projection screen. The arch shape removes the rectangle and gives the images a different kind of ‘window’ to be perceived in. The tent onstage allows the images to be closer to the audience instead of a large screen that hangs behind everyone. I am trying to create something you’ve never seen before, and I want to take chances. In the guitar world, I am very comfortable with what I do, but in the multimedia world, I am still quite uncomfortable, but uncomfortable is a great place to be, because that’s where you grow, and you learn. I am happily uncomfortable.

Check out Kaki King from 13-15 November 2019 in The Black Box at The Arts Center, New York University Abu Dhabi

Explore a horizon-expanding season of music, dance, theater, film, poetry, and family events. Join a vibrant community of artists and like-minded arts lovers. Discover everything waiting for you at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi.

COME CURIOUS. LEAVE INSPIRED. Ticket and Membership Info at nyuad-artscenter.org



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Beaches for All on the Corniche

The Corniche is the main promenade that separates Abu Dhabi city and the azure Arabian Gulf. Stretching for 8km, the Corniche is Abu Dhabi’s favourite promenade for strolling, cycling, people watching and admiring the views of the city’s sweeping coastline. The Corniche beach is open to the public; entry is free or a very reasonable AED10 per person on certain beaches, so arrive early to secure your sun lounger.

An Island of One’s Own

The most highly anticipated Island, Al Hudayriat, has opened to the public. Cross the capital’s crystal-clear blue waters by bridge to find a water and fitness enthusiast’s dream with 5km and 10km cycling and walking tracks as well as a pristine 600km beach. There is a cordoned off safe-swimming area as well as facilities for kayaking, diving, and jet-skiing. Food trucks are on standby to keep beachgoers going. Follow @alhudayriatad on Instagram for updates.

Emirates Palace: Positively Royal

Emirates Palace is the most opulent hotel in Abu Dhabi, so it makes sense that it would have a beach that is equally magnificent. The Beach Club has a water sports centre where visitors may enjoy kayaking, paddle-boarding and sailing as well as some motorised water sports. The Beach Club has a children’s section with waterslides and restaurants. During your visit to the Beach Club, be sure to drop by the hotel’s Bedouin tent to partake of a traditional Arabic coffee and a camel ride along the hotel’s white sandy beach.

Fun in the Sun at Yas Beach Club

Yas Island is known as Abu Dhabi’s ‘entertainment destination’ as it’s home to the F1 race track and countless family activities, And thanks to Yas Beach, it’s also a place to relax in Abu Dhabi’s endless sunshine during the day and get your groove on by night. Visitors can enjoy sun loungers, parasols, private cabanas and access to the beach bar (fees apply) with views of the mangrove forests. On Fridays, there’s an adults-only pool party, and Yas Beach is widely considered one of the best places in Abu Dhabi to watch the sunset.

Escape to Zaya Nurai Island

A 25-minute ferry ride from Abu Dhabi city, Zaya Nurai Island is a private island resort with one of the most luxurious beaches in the UAE. The island’s 32 luxury villas offer private access to their own little plot of beach. Day passes are available for guests who want to sample life’s luxury, and you can relax under the club’s cobalt blue parasols and feel like you’re in the Maldives. Zaya Nurai also offers a fabulous Friday brunch that is popular with the locals and expats and daily beach access is included in the price.

Picture-Perfect on Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island has it all with two beaches facing out on the azure sea. The public beach has changing facilities, showers and a café with a great family atmosphere. Those who want to enjoy Saadiyat’s white sandy beach with a touch of luxury opt for the Saadiyat Beach Club, which is home to chic cabanas, an infinity pool, a stylish restaurant and a weekend DJ to set the rhythm for your perfect day. Emily Amstrong, the marine biologist at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, manages numerous conservation efforts along the beach to protect the endangered Hawksbill sea turtles. She carries out morning turtle nesting patrols for hotel guests to learn about the hotel’s valued beach dwellers.


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Set Sail!

Being a series of islands, Abu Dhabi offers a variety of ways to get out on the water. Many tours afford close proximity to remarkably diverse flora and fauna and offer dazzling views across the capital’s glimmering skyline

Paddle Away

Located within a pristine natural refuge, Seahawk Water Sports & Adventures operates daily eco-tours in the Eastern Mangroves. The park is a gateway to the diverse flora and fauna of Abu Dhabi. Whether you’re looking for recreational kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, daily cruises, or even Emirati traditional dhow boats, Sea Hawk offers a wide range of non-motorized watersports which can be booked in a guided or unguided tour. Sea-hawk.ae

Watersports Paradise Jalboot Marine and Wake up Adventure is a one-stop watersports shop located conveniently in the heart of the city. The centres are located in the best flat-water locations of Abu Dhabi, offering the perfect place for wakeboarding, wakesurfing, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, guided boat tours, and more. They offer lessons to beginners as well as training sessions for professional riders. Also available are water tours of the city, so hop on one of their boats and head out with your family and friends. For more information, visit Jalboot.ae, or phone 056 441 5072, follow @jalbootmarine on Instagram

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Skipper a Racing Yacht Skippering a yacht is so yesterday. Instead, get behind the wheel of a Volvo racing boat and take a relaxed sunset sail along the Abu Dhabi coast. Experience sailing onboard an amazing Volvo Ocean 60 Racing Yacht—the same ones used in the Volvo Ocean Around-the-World Race. Pindar Sailing makes sailing in the U.A.E. accessible for all and welcomes people of all abilities onboard to learn to sail or simply sit back and enjoy the ride and the seabreeze. Pindar Sailing, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, +971 54 493 8167

Deep Dive for Pearls

One Stop Water Shop: Captain Tony’s Can’t decide your favourite means to be on the water? Capt Tony couldn’t either because he loves them all. So, he offers boating, kayaking, abra rides, and sneaky day trips to private islands. Established in 2013, this seafaring outfit is a capital favourite when it comes to watersports. Operating from Yas Marina, Eastern Mangroves Marina, and Souk Qaryat Al Beri Marina, they offer a wide range of ways to explore the capital’s coastline on the water. From stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in the mangroves, to a traditional evening dhow ride within the Maqtaa Channel hotels to private island tours, Captain Tony’s has cornered the market on watersport fun! Captaintonys.ae


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For those who enjoy a bit of culture in their outings, Al Serdal Pearl Diving Experience pays homage to the country’s pearling history and gives visitors the opportunity to live out the traditional art of pearl diving in the Arabian Gulf when they board a traditional Emirati dhow. To book an expedition, contact booking@serdaltours.com or call +971 (0) 54 445 5515.

Awesome Awaits


From parking to queuing, families need a plan when visiting theme parks, so here are Yalla Women’s five top tips for a fun filled day at LEGOLAND® Dubai with your family


Buy a two-park ticket, which includes access to both LEGOLAND ® Dubai and the adjoining waterpark for only 295 dh! You can save the most money by booking online in advance.


Since you can bounce back and forth between the parks, we recommend starting at the theme park and going on some of the more popular rides that may have longer lines as the day goes on. You can go to the waterpark midday and then return to the theme park in the evening.


There are tons of opportunities in the park to play and build with LEGOs so be sure to take home your own little piece of LEGOLAND® Dubai to enjoy at home. Check out the BIG shop at the entrance/exit of the theme park for the largest range of Lego products in the Middle East.


Now is the time to head to the waterpark for some time to relax and cool off! Grab some loungers and secure a spot near the attractions you and your family will frequent most. We found the area in front of the wave pool the perfect spot as it's close to all the attractions and has a great view!


Okay, we’ll be honest, after lounging waterside, you may not want to get up but sadly, the waterpark closes at 6, so you really have no choice. Put on a change of clothes and head back into the main LEGOLAND® Dubai theme park which closes on 8pm. (Check the schedules online!) Finish off the rides you didn't get to earlier in the day and see the park light up at night with various themes throughout the year.


Dubai Parks & Recreation One of the many great things about LEGOLAND® Dubai is that it is part of Dubai Parks and Resorts, which also includes Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks. If you find yourself done early, meander through Riverland, which is comprised of a dozen restaurants and shops set along a ‘river’ and that takes you through various themed areas such as a quaint French Village or a vibrant street though India.

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Say Yas to Fun!


Whether you’re looking for roller coasters, water slides, live shows, a driving experience, a round of golf or a beautiful beach to relax on, the UAE is home to many world-class attractions


Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

With its glorious loops and sky-high rollercoasters, this place is not only an indulgence for thrill-seekers, but also the world’s largest sprawling area packed with exciting attractions that tell the fascinating story of Ferrari. Car enthusiasts will enjoy discovering everything about the brand Ferrari with behind the scenes experiences in makeshift settings. Lovers of all things Italian will adore the dining options that can be found throughout the park. The intrepid will take home bragging rights for riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster.

For more information visit ferrariworldabudhabi.com

Yas Waterworld

Calling all waterpark enthusiasts! With thrilling waterslides, rides, and attractions, the H2O playground offers exciting entertainment for all. There are also many shaded dining and lounging areas, ideal for hanging out all day long. There’s a range of heart-thumping rides, including Bandit Bomber, the world’s first interactive water and laser rollercoaster, and the Liwa Loop, the region’s first high intensity-looping waterslide. Airconditioned cabanas are also available for ultimate comfort and privacy.

For more information visit yaswaterworld.com

Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi brings to life fan-favorite DC Super Heroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, alongside beloved animation characters from Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera like Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones, all under one roof for the first time in the region. PHOTOGRAPHY BY YAS ISLAND, KidZania, WARNER BROS. WORLD™ ABU DHABI

For more information visit wbworldabudhabi.com


KidZania is a theme-park for kids where children aged 2-16 pretend to be adults, put out fires, save lives, obtain degrees, land their dream jobs, and in so doing get their first taste of independence. KidZania has brick-paved streets lined with buildings in the style of different historical periods, like an authentic cityscape that has evolved over centuries, with storefronts bearing the logos of familiar brands like Pizza Hut and ADNOC. Resembling the outside one but oriented to children’s size, abilities, and interests, KidZania is an enclosed and engaging world. Yas Mall, Abudhabi.kidzania.com


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5 ways to stay fit!


If you’re here for leisure but still want to make time for fitness, Zayed Sport City is a one stop shop for fitness. Yalla turned to the pros for advice on staying fit whilst on holiday


olidays are a chance to relax, enjoy, and indulge a bit. At the end of the trip, you should be refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated – and giving a little thought to your fitness and nutrition can help you get to this result. Yalla chatted with two experts in the wellness industry, both based at Zayed Sports City, to get the scoop on simple, unobtrusive ways to keep your waistline and tummy in check while travelling.

Indulge Part-Time

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach Mim Kleiberg, of THE ROOM Abu Dhabi, suggests that you let loose… just not for the entire time. “Choose one meal a day to indulge and keep the rest healthy, light and simple,” she says. Psychologically, you get a break from your regular eating plan while physically, you can return from your holiday the same size as you left. Pro Tip: Stopping by the grocery store not only means you can get fresh veggies to snack on, but you get a sense of the local food products as well.

Stay Hydrated

Keeping your fluid intake high is important in this desert climate. Not only will you avoid fatigue and headaches, but drinking plenty of water helps to curb hunger, making you less likely to overeat. Pro Tip: “Avoid taking on extra calories in drinks with added sugar,” Kleiberg notes. Instead, she suggests sticking with still or sparkling water, adding a wedge of fruit for extra flavour.

Don’t Take Shortcuts

Fitness doesn’t have to happen in a traditional gym setting, notes Michael Haddin, owner of Haddins Fitness. “Thinking outside the gym, you can take a few extra rounds of a hill or steps, or choose an active outing like kayaking,” he notes. Try to take the stairs at your hotel and if your attractions are close to each other, walk instead of taking a car. Pro Tip: Be on the lookout for parks and playgrounds. These are great places for the whole family to move around.

Take advantage of the water

Sand, water and currents make the beach and pool a great spot to sneak in exercise while fully enjoying the vacation. Walking on the beach engages more muscles than a stable surface, and treading or swimming in the pool is an easy way to get your heart rate up. Family Tip: Haddin likes swimming out with his kids and having them chase him back to shore.

Attend a Group Fitness Class


While this is definitely a more overt attempt to exercise, it can serve to improve your holiday beyond the fitness. Group fitness classes tend to be social, so you can mix with locals and learn about the community. These folks have insider information about hidden gems for food, sightseeing or entertainment. Pro Tip: Look for limited trials. Group fitness focused studios like THE ROOM Abu Dhabi and F45 offer a week of free sessions, while Haddins has an affordable 7-day pass that lets you use their functional gym floor. zsc.ae

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ZSC IS PACKED WITH SPORTS AND EVENTS! With 30+ sports and hundreds of events each year, Zayed Sports City is the UAE’s top destination for everyone, from kids to colleagues to families and friends. As you settle into Abu Dhabi, make sure you don’t settle for less than the world-class facilities and experiences at ZSC.


zsc.ae |

# ZayedSportsCity



Abu Dhabi A Food Lover’s Paradise


f you love to eat, Abu Dhabi is your town. From fine dining and Michelin stars to ethnic cuisine and eat-on-the-run goodies, this city not only has it all, but has some of the best versions. Here’s just a handful of the great food options this city has to offer.


9 Must-try Restaurants

Though Abu Dhabi is known for its art, unforgettable skyline, and abundance of shopping malls, dining out is king so make sure you plan ahead to visit any of the hottest tables in the city or top destinations

Mazi Mezze

Memorable Mosque Views Whether it’s your first time or your fiftieth, few are unimpressed with nighttime mosque views at Li Jiang. And, what better way to immerse yourself in the local culture than with dim sum in the shadow of the city’s most famous tourist attraction. The restaurant also serves memorable pan Asian offerings if dim sum’s not your jam. The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, 02 818 8888

An Elevated Tea

If you have limited time in the capital and want to combine the Afternoon Tea ritual with a bird’s eye view of the city, zip up to the Observation Deck at 300 at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers for an unforgettable afternoon’s view. Not only are the tea and cakes tops, but the views of the city from level 74 are unparalleled. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, 02 811 5666

Dine as the Locals Do

Mezlai serves delicious Emirati food, with such signature specialities as lamb madfoon and prawn biryani. It’s worth a visit if your heart is set on experiencing traditional food in the lap of luxury. Emirates Palace, 02 690 7999

A Dignified Curry House

Abu Dhabi’s massive sub-continent population means a sprawling Indian food scene that’s nothing short of a Bollywood symphony of fantastic flavours. A Yalla favourite is the Punjab Grill, which has a lovely neighbourhood feel with sidewalk tables for al fresco eating. Venetian Village, 02 449 9839

An Italian Rendezvous

Villa Toscana is Abu Dhabi’s go-to business lunch to savour the richly flavoured landscape that is Italian cuisine. Set in one of the city’s most illustrious addresses, Villa Toscana recreates the sophisticated and classy atmosphere of a Tuscany villa with high ceilings and large chandeliers, and its business lunch is one of the shockingly best deals in town! The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, 02 694 4553

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‘Oli mazi’, or ‘all together’ is an endearing Greek social principle, and Mazi Abu Dhabi is the capital’s tribute to the notion of togetherness people feel when sharing a meal. The fare is described as the reinterpretation of old-time classic recipes, but the décor and guiding philosophy is thoroughly modern so come together with friends and come hungry—very hungry! The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, 02 498 8888


Up Your BBQ Game

With its tents on the sand, this is the closest you can get to the sea without getting your feet wet. BBQ Al Qasr doles out divine grilled fare in the utmost of elegance. Few diners depart unimpressed. Emirates Palace, 02 690 7999

A Superior Brunch Staycation at Abu Dhabi’s Finest Urban Resort Soak up the sun, indulge in our Friday Brunch and stay exquisite in one of our Superior Sea View rooms. Located at the vibrant heart of Abu Dhabi with a 200 metre stretch of pristine beach, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Nation Riviera Beach Club at the finest address in the city. Live Exquisite this Weekend from AED 1450* for Two: · · · · · ·

Dine À La Française

Overnight Stay in a Superior Sea View room Friday Brunch for Two at the Terrace on the Corniche Full access to Nation Riviera Beach Club & Pool facilities Thursday Night Dinner or Saturday New York Breakfast 20% Off in hotel bar and lounges Late Check-Out until 6 pm

*All prices are in UAE Dirham and are exclusive of all applicable service charges, local fees and taxes.

Bord Eau is the spot for French gastronomy enthusiasts. The restaurant combines fine food and artistic vision, and the menu is seasonal, so expect to be treated to an elegant evening affair anytime you drop into this French eatery. Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, 02 509 8888

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers, Corniche, Abu Dhabi, UAE t. +971 02 694 4444 stregisabudhabi.com

Beachside Beats

While there are many spots in the capital that boast stunning views but the best for sea and star gazers is Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi. Nothing on this vibey terrace impedes your views of the azure waters off Saadiyat Island. So, order some tapas and sundowners for us near the sunset saxophonist—we’ll be there in 5. The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, 02 498 8888


Stay exquisite at more than 40 St. Regis hotels and resorts worldwide. @stregishotels

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NY Italian State of Mind

One thing is clear: Marco Pierre White loves New York City—Little Italy, in particular, with all its grit and glory. With Marco’s New York Italian, he aims to bring a fresh slice of the Big Apple to the capital Exactly the meal you wish. It’s not my meal; it’s yours,” exclaims Marco with an uncommon candor in today’s celebrity chefs, certainly rare among a chef who has heavily influenced the world’s great chefs and been awarded three Michelin stars. His latest venture—Marco’s New York Italian—has just opened, offering a fresh take on Italian food. Yalla asked him a few questions about his new eatery.

What do you love about New York?

I love the dirt, the grit, and the extreme beauty of it. It's very real. Though it may be not the very best food in the world, you will have the best dinner in the world as you walk down through the streets and ponder where to eat. Whether you eat from a small shop at the counter or in a fine restaurant, it's always an amazing experience to dine there.

So, you enjoy eating in mom and pop shops?

Of course! I prefer real food, made by real people with no pretense—this is New York. I like eating, but today’s world isn’t about eating as much as it’s about Instagram. But, if you truly look at the actual food past the lines of sauce and perfectly placed bits, the sauce ratio to protein is wrong, the garnish ratio to protein is wrong. Food is being manipulated and so are diners. Chefs now are creating dishes for Instagram rather than following their palettes. While it’s true we eat with our eyes first, no one wants to eat something beautiful that tastes bad.

Who’s behind this: the chefs or the diners?

A lot of chefs today want fame; the famous want more fame and the non-famous want to be famous. I crave the ordinary. Great chefs have three things in common. Firstly, they accept, and they respect that mother nature as true artist and their core. Secondly, everything that they do is an extension of themselves. Thirdly, their gift is to give diners insight into the world that inspired them.

What can you expect in a meal in Marco’s New York Italian?

Exactly the meal you wish. It’s not my meal; it’s yours. What we offer is a fun night out. We all work hard throughout the week, so why would anyone want to be dictated to on their evening out?


Simple as that?

I just want the food to be a menu that I’d want to eat. I want to give diners affordable glamour and options, not dictate to them what they must eat and how they must eat it. Simple as that. Just real food, generous portions, things which are real at a price people can afford. Sounds novel. Sounds impossible, but not for Marco Pierre White who has a long history of doing exactly what he says and a harbinger for change in the industry. Marco’s New York Italian, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, 02 654 3238

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“I prefer real food, made by real people with no pretense—this is New York.”


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Food en Fuego!

Yalla sat down with Michelin Star chef Richard Sandoval to learn about his infinitely shareable new meal concept at VaKaVa, and just why the formalities associated with fine dining might be out of fashion


rom the notoriously aggressive restaurant scenes in New York City and Dubai to the increasingly competitive one in Abu Dhabi, Richard Sandoval has been sharing his passion for Mexican cuisine for decades and making quite a success of it. The secret to his success might be in his attention to big flavours and big fun, because why shouldn’t a meal out be fun? His latest venture, VaKaVa at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, is another triumph in just how fun Mexican cuisine can be when it’s served casually and with flair. Yalla chatted with the celebrity chef about what diners might expect in an evening at VaKaVa, and why you should put an evening here on your To-Do list.

want that anymore, and I personally don’t think fine dining will ever come back. People like to share. It used to be that people ordered their starter and their main, and that was that. Here, when you go out as a party of four, you can experience 12 different dishes. Who doesn’t want that?! That kind of experience is much more exciting.

What’s new at VaKaVa?

The décor is the same, and we kept the grilling component—the grilled meat churrasco and traditional rodizio—the same because it was so popular. We lightened up the menu, and we played around a lot with the shareables.

What does VaKaVa mean?

It’s slang for “Come on/Come over” in Spanish. It means something like 'Yalla' does in Arabic. VaKaVa, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, 02 811 5666

The menu is fun and fresh. It’s pan-Latin so there’ll be some things you know, and some things you don’t, but I urge you to just try to everything to explore new flavours. That’s half the fun of eating out. The whole idea of the menu is to be infinitely shareable. We want to fill your table with small bites of many things to share so there’s something for everyone here. You can have a light meal, you can have a heavy meal, you can sit and linger over a few plates for hours with your family and friends listening to great music in a friendly atmosphere. This is what diners can expect from a meal at VaKaVa.

That sounds pretty fun!

Yes, it’s a rollercoaster of flavours, fun, and Latin flair. It’s meant to be fun and casual. We’re proving you can still have fine dining without all the stiffness and formalities. I don’t think people

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Nightowls, come hither! Beyond the food, VaKaVa comes alive at night with its Latin rhythms and percussions. Resident DJs spin Latin Fusion tunes Monday to Saturday, from 8pm onwards and a band will perform on Tuesday to Saturday, from 9pm onwards, bringing an authentic and vibrant South American vibe to the whole place. VaKaVa’s Tuesday ladies’ nights are an experience to remember, with signature beverages, delicious food and great music.



Describe a meal at VaKaVa.


Located on the 74th oor, the Observation Deck at 300 provides a 360-degree view of Abu Dhabi's splendid skyline. Stop by for some Afternoon Tea or mocktails, accompanied by lip-smacking nibbles.

+971 2 811 5666 | JADrestaurants@jumeirah.com | jumeirah.com/observationdeck300

Destination Dining


In town and desperately seeking an extraordinary dining experience? Look no further than The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi for an ideal meal whatever the occasion


emorable moments to cherish are made regularly at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi. From The St. Regis’ legendary Rituals to the resort’s many restaurants, guests will experience an unforgettable dining experience during their stay. What’s on the menu at The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi? Yalla breaks down fine dining for the famished.

All Day Dining Defined There’s always Olea. All day dining can be banal but not at the The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi. Mediterranean-influenced and with panoramic views of the ocean, Olea features cooking stations where staff await guests' every whim. With its indoor and alfresco options, it is ideal for a relaxing dining experience with family or friends.

Beach Beats


Imagine a saxophonist playing at sunset as you lounge and enjoy exceptional Buddha-Bar Beach Abu Dhabi signature creations by the beach surrounded by friends and family. You no longer have to travel to faraway lands for this experience. Now this urban al fresco experience can be had right on Saadiyat Island.

Seductive Serenity Meaning sunset in Thai, Sontaya is a seductively beautiful spot to take in the evening ritual of watching a dazzling sunset across the turquoise Arabian Gulf. Featuring enchanting ambience and flavoursome fare, the floating pavilions and terraces overlook shimmering pools and exude romance by night. A spicy night at Sontaya is all but guaranteed.

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Better Together

The dynamic duo behind MAZI, Christina Mouratoglou and Adrien Carre, are vivacious and effortlessly chic and well reflect their new Greek dining offering. Yalla discussed MAZI with them

Rituals & Reimagined Classics Every St. Regis hotel or resort crafts its own unique, locally inspired interpretation of the brand’s signature beverage. At the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, you might indulge in an Arabian Snapper or the Lady Astor Afternoon Tea originated by “The” Mrs. Astor—mother of founder of the first St. Regis in New York who was known to host intimate gatherings with her closest friends. Afternoon tea at The St. Regis is a timeless tradition. Daily from 2 – 6 pm

How was the concept for Mazi born?

Christina: The culinary tradition in Greece is all about sharing. When I go to restaurants, and I look at the menu, and I want to taste everything. I won’t be restricted to one main course and one starter. A sharing menu allows you to try a lot of food! Adrien: Also, we noticed that people interact much more at MAZI, because they’re talking about the food. When you are sharing everything, it brings you together.

This is your first debut outside of London? Adrien: Yes, this is our first international restaurant.

How did you choose Abu Dhabi, or did Abu Dhabi choose you?

Christina: Abu Dhabi chose us. Adrien: A bit of both. Yes, Abu Dhabi did choose us, but we have a very strong Middle East following in London, and many people had asked us to come to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Riyadh. So, it just feels right. The cuisine goes very well with this locale.

What’s your signature dish?

Adrien: We have three. I can’t name just one! Grilled aubergine with thyme honey, soy sauce, and aubergine chips is definitely one. Courgette cakes, cucumber and mint, and the feta tempura (shown above) with lemon marmalade and caper meringue. They are all big hitters. Mazi, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, 02 498 8888


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TEAN: A Family Kitchen

Chef Mahmoud Bayoumi comes from a large family and learned from a young age to work together in the kitchen. He oversees TEAN the way one might a family kitchen and an extraordinary casual dining experience is the result


he first thing you might notice when you visit the restaurant TEAN in the Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is the view: stark white parasols dot pristine white sandy beaches overlooking azure seas. The second thing that you’ll notice is the service—it’s like no other restaurant in the city. The servers know the menu as well as anybody and take great pride in making spot on recommendations based upon any glint of information that you might give to them regarding your likes and dislikes. While that might not seem like breaking news in a city full of fine dining, it’s a somewhat rare occurrence in the capital to find a waitstaff so well-informed, and chef de cuisine Mahmoud Bayoumi has a lot to do with it. Egyptian by birth, Mahmoud grew up in a house with 9 sisters and brothers. He learned early to share space and food and, ultimately, to cook from his father. Though he trained to become a teacher, he lasted a whopping 15 days in the profession, before he found his way into a pastry kitchen. He progressed quickly through chef roles, eventually moving from oriental pastry chef to where he is today: a chef de cuisine managing a busy seaside resort’s kitchen. Mahmoud credits his father for his drive and his generous personality, which has helped him become a mentor in the kitchen to this team. We comment on the first-rate service and, with smiling eyes and a proud smile, Mahmoud says, “my staff is like one big family. Over my past 20 years in the kitchen, so many people have progressed alongside and under me in the kitchen. Busboys have become waiters, captains, assistant managers, and so on. I like to see staff grow—happy people are key to a successful business. I also enjoy getting their input on dishes, and they help me to constantly evolve our menu.” And, the menu has evolved. Mahmoud explains that his team

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comes from all over the world, and they all have food traditions to share. He invites them to taste all the offerings on the menu, provide their honest feedback, and to make suggestions about how the food can taste even better. “Sometimes, my staff’s suggestions fundamentally change my recipes for the better, so I try to really listen to them—no matter what their function is—and to make sure they know that I value their feedback.” In this era of celebrity chefs with mammoth egos, Chef Mahmoud is refreshing, and his happy and knowledgeable staff a testament to his altruism. The food is as good as the service. Levantine-inspired but with bold fusions, the food perfectly complements the seaside retreat. The ever-changing and perfect for sharing mezze is vibrant and fresh, with recipes that change depending upon what’s in season and Chef Mahmoud’s mood. On a recent visit, the beetroot moutabel and muhammara dips were colourful standout dips. When asked about TEAN’s signature dishes, he smiles and shakes his head ‘no’ as if we’d asked him to name his favourite child. Like a wary parent, the chef quickly offers, “The salt-crusted sea bream is such a perfect fish preparation. The salt crust keeps the fish moist and the piquant chermoula/chimichurri fusion sauce between the skin and the flesh is so good. The mozza ghnam – sultana is a sweet and sour butternut dish that’s perfect for both vegetarians and vegans, and the lamb shank is also very popular, but you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu. It’s all good, and I love every recipe equally.” Like a proud parent, we believe Mahmoud truly means that. He clearly loves food, his family, his staff, and the very act of feeding people. TEAN is open for lunch and dinner, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, 02 811 4444



“Hospitality is instilled in the people of this region from when we are born. As with any guest in one’s family home, our one goal at TEAN is to make every diner happy, and we do whatever it takes to do that.”


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A Meat Maestro


Charlie Grainger is a butcher, but for the past year, he’s also been referred to as a ‘Meat Sommelier’. Learn what he does and how he will raise the steaks on your next meal at Oak Room

What drew you to this career?

Butchery for me all started by the off chance. During my time at school in the UK, every child will spend two weeks, at the age of 13, in a local business. Just by chance the only business near where my darling mother worked was a butcher’s shop. And, after just two weeks, I was hooked.

How did Chef Tom Aikens find you and bring you to Abu Dhabi? One day after work I happened to check my Instagram and, shockingly, I saw that Tom Aikens had followed me—I had been following him for 4 years—and finally he followed me back. We started texting and, after couple of Skype interviews, he put me forward for the role.

What is a ‘Meat Sommelier’?

I am a butcher; I have always wanted to be a butcher and shall always be a butcher but the opportunity of coming to work at The Abu Dhabi EDITION allowed me to grow in the way that I share my knowledge with our guests. Although the butchery aspect is still very much there, being able to cultivate guests is what differentiates a butcher from a meat sommelier.

What do you do at Oak Room?

My job at Oak Room starts in the morning. I come to work at 11am and after briefing I head to the butchery to prepare all the meats for the restaurant, fresh steaks every day. After this, I change from my chef whites into my hand made buffalo leather apron. From this point, my job is to visit every diner’s table answering any questions they may have to provide them with the best possible dining experience. I describe myself as a walking, talking encyclopedia of meat. Explore the finest steaks from around the world and benefit from Charlie’s encyclopedic knowledge at Oak Room, Abu Dhabi EDITION, 02 208 0000, Oakroomabudhabi.com

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W E E K E N D ROAST By Tom Aikens Delight in a wide selection of delectable meats, fish or veggie roast at Oak Room. Friday & Saturday 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm Beverage packages are up to 3 hours AED 250 soft package AED 388 house package AED 488 bubbles package

Al Bateen Marina, PO box 127799, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Phone +971 2 208 0000 Reservations: restaurantreservations.auh@editionhotels.com

Ask a Chef !

Shopping local farms, liquid nitrogen-prepped pesto, prowling festivals for ingredients, no frills grilled fish, steaming hotpots, and hand-pulled noodles – Yalla asks the Emirate’s best chefs' favourite local food experiences

Ricky Rimenda

Executive Sous Chef, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi “From hidden gems to fine dining experiences in luxury hotels…It’s a tough call, but my favourites are Sari Rasa Indonesian restaurant and Carluccio’s in Eastern Mangroves as my first choice. I simply love Italian food and could eat their Seafood Linguine, Diavola Pizza and Tiramisu any time of the day.”

Yousef Jalajel

Specialty Outlet Chef at Finz, Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi “Not Finz?! I am the Specialty Outlet Chef to one of the top seafood restaurants in Abu Dhabi, and you want me to choose another place?! Well, my third home would be Baladna Restaurant in Al Zahiyah Area. A small restaurant that fits a maximum of seven guests with everything cooked in a tray, home-style. It takes me back to Jordan, to our dining room with us brothers gathered around the table and the aroma of the food mesmerizing us from the kitchen, that’s how it feels!”

Chef Rohan Patil Executive Chef, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

Where do you usually go to source ingredients?

Johannes Tafel

Chef de Cuisine Sayad at Emirates Palace “I enjoy simple fresh food. Though there are many nice grocery stores, I prefer going to the Mina Fish Market to get the best catch of the day and cooking it for friends is my favourite weekend activity.”

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We always try to support local suppliers hence we source out majority of our ingredients from them. For international requirements we have trusted suppliers who source seasonal ingredients, such as truffles from Alba and French cheeses.

How do you incorporate the ‘French Touch’ into every menu?

Gastronomy is one of the pillars of Sofitel brand. In every menu I craft, I always make sure to source out local ingredients and incorporate French cooking methods to enhance authenticity and quality of the dish.

How would you describe your food / cooking style in general?

I am a huge foodie and very passionate about food. My creativity is supported by the passion I have towards cooking or food in general. I always go for comfort food with a twist of fine dining using a variety of flavors and techniques from all of my local and international travels.


Local Gems


Local Instafluencers reveal the best local gems that are off the beaten tourist track

Laura Naylor

Waleed Shah

“There's a new bar just opened recently in the city called Easy Tiger! I love the name, and I love the place! It's got a friendly, fun atmosphere, excellent food and beverages & amazing staff. This is definitely going to be my new 'Local'! It's a real hidden gem and about to get big!”

“Café Mandarina is a café that’s part of Mandara Equestrian Club just off the Bahia exit on the Abu Dhabi - Dubai Highway. There are two floors, great food, and desserts to die for. The cherry on top is that you get to watch the horses training wherever you’re sitting.”

Hunter Pelecky

Stephanie Millman

"NusrEt Abu Dhabi is more accessible compared to other locations worldwide. The atmosphere is addictive. Large portions of Sirt steak are my choice. With a party atmosphere and a memorable ‘knife and boiling butter’ show, this place is so Snapchat-able."

“Eastern Mangrove islands is our favourite hidden gem in Abu Dhabi that honestly lured us down from Dubai. @ Wakeevo and I spend nearly every day on the boat together wakeboarding/wakesurfing around the islands. We never miss a sunset.”






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Arabian Sunsets

If you enjoy your dinner served with a gleaming sunset, Yalla dares to offer some of Abu Dhabi’s best ocean-facing restaurants to catch the sun’s final rays over a meal

Mare Mare When you are visiting Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, make your way to the beach to Mare Mare. If the sea air has turned your mood to seafood, drop by Mare Mare and graze for hours al fresco on today’s freshest catch.Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, 02 811 4444

Hakkasan The dim sum and Chinese delicacies at Hakkasan are almost enough to rival its outdoor terrace, but the award-winning restaurant’s wondrous views of the city skyline are a sight to see. Based in the heart of the majestic Emirates Palace at the base of the city, Diners can sample signature dishes on the special terrace menu, as well as an expansive selection of beverages with sunset views aplenty. Emirates Palace, 02 690 7999

Boa BOA is a beautiful venue inside and out, and it happens to be a brilliant steakhouse to boot. Arrive before the sun starts to set to enjoy the restaurant’s pleasant outdoor terrace overlooking the lush Eastern Mangroves. The top-notch restaurant cooks up some of the best steaks in the city and the selection of seafood is not to be sniffed at either (though it smells very fresh, so maybe you should). Eastern Mangroves Promenade, 02 641 1500

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Though all the many outlets at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi shine, but Finz has it all. The legendary seafood restaurant sits on stilts over the water and overlooks Al Maryah Island’s evening glint. Finz is an award-winning restaurant so whatever you choose to eat or drink this is certain to be as memorable as its address. Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi,02 697 9011


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The Louvre Abu Dhabi boasts hundreds of masterpieces not to mention its iconic dome, but some day Mother Nature is the world’s greatest artist with the sky that sits just outside the museum its canvas. Once you’ve explored the museum’s collection, head straight to the Art Lounge, the museum’s rooftop bar, to enjoy stunning views looking out over the city skyline and the shimmering waters of Saadiyat Island. Then feast on the outlets inspired treats and indulge in art-you-can-eat. Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, 600 565 566

Filini Garden Everything’s coming up roses this time of year on Yas Island, but Filini Garden is positively rosy. This sophisticated two-storey Italian lounge has a lower outdoor deck complete with stunning vistas and dynamic DJs and an upper deck with a bustling bar and a vibrant crowd. The most perfect sundowner may be found here amidst the green foliage and the superb views over Yas Links and and the sea; the city in the distance feels a million miles away. Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island, 02 656 2000

The Annex Within the Abu Dhabi EDITION, The Annex is easily Abu Dhabi’s most talked about nightspot, and the capital’s night owls are known to flock here past midnight to party into the wee hours of the morning. Though lesser known for its daylight views, a memorable sunset may be had upon the rooftop terrace of the nightclub. Nosh on decadent Peruvian-inspired bites washed down with an inspired sundowner then make your way downstairs for the party if you’ve got any party left in you after sunset. The Abu Dhabi EDITION, 056 992 2305

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Louvre Abu Dhabi


Get Caught Offside Though sport players never intend to get caught illegally ahead of the ball in any given match, sports fans are clamouring to get caught Offside at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort’s newest spot The first sports lounge on Saadiyat, Offside Sports Lounge, opened this autumn, offering the residents of and visitors to Abu Dhabi a cool new spot to support their favourite teams. Offside is set to become the city’s go to venue for sports lovers, broadcasting games and tournaments across 11 screens including a giant 5x3 metre projector screen, showing the action live, from the Grand Prix and tennis, to rugby, golf and, of course, football! An extensive menu will also be on offer featuring classic bar foods from around the globe in a contemporary style. Enjoy proper English fish and chips with your choice of haddock or cod, authentic Buffalo wings – choose your heat! Beef or lamb ribs and an oxtail pie to make you feel right at home.


Offering cool and casual vibes and a place to kick back with friends, Offside is the perfect venue to catch a game, grab some food and relax either inside or on the terrace where man’s best friend can also join and enjoy some tasty treats. Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, 02 811 4342

Feed Your Hunger For Sport Competitive sport is all about epic moments. That’s what Offside is about, soaking in the greatness of sport with a repertoire of bar food and drinks that are just as epic. Bring your best friends, and yes, that includes your doggo. Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort +971 2 811 4342 | JSIrestaurants@jumeirah.com jumeirah.com/offside


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Shop Like a Local

Abu Dhabi is a bustling, beautiful beach town. But the interior of the city has a lot to offer, too. Take a break from catching rays to check out the capital’s shopping scene. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favourite spots to get you started

First Stop Shop

Abu Dhabi Mall

Located in the heart of the city, the Abu Dhabi Mall is both an Abu Dhabi legacy and a world-class shopping establishment. With every manner of shop, restaurant, and amusement, the mall offers a shopping experience for everyone with its wide selection of international brands alongside local specialities, such as perfumes, nuts, and Arabic sweets. Don’t miss the stellar top floor food court or standalone restaurants, such as Wagamama or P.F. Changs when you need some nourishment. Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Zahiyah, 02 645 4858

Best Souk

Souk Central Market

Built on the location of Abu Dhabi’s first souk, The Souk at The Mall at The World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi is a humming shopping area offering antiques, handicrafts, and mementos. The shopping mall exudes authenticity, while still managing to feel thoroughly modern with its use of features like stainedglass windows and wood lattice work. Tarbouche is a top spot to enjoy a refreshing lemon-mint drink once you’ve shopped till you’ve dropped. The Mall at The World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi, Al Marzikiyah, 02 810 7810

Best Boutique Shopping

Avenue at Etihad

If you enjoy your major fashion houses combined with smaller, top-quality boutique stores, then the best place to shop is Avenue at Etihad. This spot oozes exclusivity and opulence as well as personalised service and bespoke tailoring. Set over two floors and covering an area of 13,814 square meters, Avenue at Etihad Towers is part of the world-class, mixed-use Etihad Towers development, bringing the very latest fashion trends to both men and women, albeit with sometimes astonishingly dear price tags. Etihad Towers, Corniche Road West, 800 384 4238

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Fun Poking Around

Iranian & Plant Souk While you might not have any intention of lugging home pottery, pots, or plants, right by the harbour’s picturesque edge you’ll find the Iranian and Plant Souks, and they are well worth a look. The marketplaces boast rows of stalls where sellers hawk handmade pots, tapestries, tea sets that originate from the Middle East. Just down the walk at the Plant souk, the sellers are keen to help you, and some will even deliver and even plant them up for you too. It’s worth hitting this place up in the morning, as by midafternoon the crowds can be extremely daunting. Iranian & Plant Souks, Al Mina Port

Crafty Finds

Women’s Handicraft Centre

The Women’s Handicraft Centre is dedicated to providing visitors with sustainable crafts and to offer women an empowering space to run a small business while keeping ancient crafts alive. This center showcases textile weaving, spinning, embroidery, basketry, and traditional silverthread needlework, all of which are traditional local crafts. You will find one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs here that can’t be found anywhere else. Handicraft Centre, Al Karamah, 02 447 6645

Solid Gold, Baby

Serious Bling

The Galleria & New Galleria Extension

The Galleria and its new neighbour, the Galleria Extension, are perhaps some of the most elegant feats of architecture in the city and, within, they house some of the most sophisticated and stylish luxury brands that you can find in the world. The Galleria is alive with activity as shoppers explore the wide selection of fashion, jewelry, and watches. There are restaurants to suit every budget. Now with the Extension, the shopping is no longer strictly high end. The Galleria, Al Maryah Island, 02 616 6999

Madinat Zayed Gold Centre

Sitting at the crossroads of early trading routes, the UAE has long been known for its gold shops and pearl dealers. Madinat Zayed Gold Centre should be your first stop for all manner of gold purchases in the capital. If you are planning to make a big purchase, Yalla recommends that you come prepared knowing the day’s price of gold before you splurge as the merchants in this centre can spot a naive gold shopper from a kilometre away. Madinat Zayed Gold Centre, 02 633 3311

+971 26 677 773 | @babyspaae | www.thebabyspa.ae

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Wellness Matters

In a city full of indulgence, some seek wellness and detoxification. Yalla rounds up a selection of health-focussed and truly unusual treatments in the city


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A Mind and Body Retreat

A holistic wellness sanctuary dedicated to your overall health, both physically and mentally- enter Bodyism at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort


his is not just your typical gym, but a beautiful and functional approach dedicated to giving you a 360-degree approach to your overall wellness. Started and based in London’s Notting Hill, the first and only location in the UAE is now at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. Bodyism prides itself on its four pillars—mindset, nutrition, movement and sleep. The four components of overall health and well-being are intertwined in the practices to help guests achieve a peaceful mindset, healthy nutrition, active movement, and serene sleep. There is a boutique feel to Bodyism with classes limited to a maximum of 10 persons, personalised training sessions and a fully equipped gym to get in additional workouts. Classes range from various yoga classes, boxing to Bodyism exclusive classes, such as Bodyism Blueprint and Bodyism Warrior, which combine various methods to give you a full mind and body workout. There is also a dedicated Bodyism wellness café serving fresh and healthy post workout snacks. Using locally sourced ingredients, the café provides the proper nutrition your body needs as well as inspiration to create healthy snacks and meals at home. Bodyism offers exclusive membership packages and personalized wellness plans tailor made to your exact needs. Contact Bodyism and the SPA at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort to book a treatment or consultation today, your body and mind will thank you 02 811 4357

Wellness carries over into the SPA at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. There are a range of services that hold mindfulness and your health at the forefront. At the base of these treatments is the luxurious, high performance line straight from Australia, Subtle Energies. Blending Aromatherapy with Ayurveda practices, this line of holistic essential oils and natural skincare contains a results based complete mind, body, and soul experience. It goes beyond natural skincare to target deeper health concerns such as sleeplessness, anxiety, muscle aches and pains and even deeper ailments. Sourcing diamond grade oils and natural ingredients, the benefits of these products goes beyond beauty and skincare and will truly aid you in dealing with your everyday stresses. Book in at the SPA for one of their curated treatments using these products for a truly blissful experience that goes beyond just pampering.

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Cold Comfort

Fifty kilometres away from the city in the middle of the heat of the desert, there’s an innovative spa treatment that is positively cool and well worth the visit Tucked away within the lush gardens of Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa, Talise Spa is the perfect place to escape from the city. Though you can enjoy a range of health and beauty rituals in the Spa’s ten treatment rooms and two couple’s rooms, there’s one treatment in particular that stands out, which gives new meaning to injury-icing. There is a new therapeutic trend growing in popularity around the world, which is certain to become very popular in Abu Dhabi. It involves whole body ‘chilling’ to relieve achy joints and bones, and it’s called cryotherapy. The science behind cryotherapy is that it significantly lowers skin temperature for a brief period of 2.5-3 minutes. The dramatic cooling effect activates the immune system, prompting each organ in the body to heal and repair itself. The results can increase circulation, metabolism, detoxification, tissue repair, and immune function. During cryotherapy, the skin’s sensors send a distress signal to the brain which then draws blood to the body’s core. The blood picks up oxygen nutrients and enzymes needed to survive. When the session ends, the body sends this oxygen–rich blood out to fatigued muscles. If you are suffering from an injury or just want to see what all the hype’s about, make a date at Talise Spa. Other highlights from an extensive spa menu include the signature Al Wathba Revitalising Massage, and the Red-Carpet

Facial by Margy’s Monte Carlo. The Hammamii Desert Massage ritual meanwhile, is a journey that includes deep breathing meditation and uses nourishing local Hammamii oils as part of healing trigger-point therapy and deep tissue massage. After treatment, Spa guests are free to enjoy the relaxation areas including private male and female changing rooms, a healing crystal salt sauna, steam rooms, plunge pools, snow caves, traditional Turkish hammam, a unique cryo experience and an invigorating ice bucket shower. They also offer inspiring yoga sessions in an open-air yoga pavilion. To reserve your treatment, please phone 02 204 4553 or email jaw. spa@jumeirah.com, Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa

Vital Energy

In a sea of spa offerings, CHI, The Spa in Abu Dhabi reigns supreme in realm of renewal and rejuvenation. Book your treatment to regain your inner peace and rejuvenate your mind and body A haven of graceful tranquility, CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi draws inspiration from the origins of the Shangri-La legend – a place of personal peace, enchantment, and well-being. All massages and treatments are based on authentic natural healing methods found in traditional well-being practices shared by many Asian cultures. Indulge yourself in CHI’s ancient healing philosophies and rituals to relax and rejuvenate both your body and mind. For bookings, please call CHI, The Spa 02 509 8900 or email Chi. AbuDhabi@shangri-la.com


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A first look

W Abu Dhabi-Yas Island The W Abu Dhabi-Yas Island is the latest mark of exclusivity for the UAE capital, promising and delivering a glamorous new spot to the city’s luxury hunters to see and be seen



Music amps up every experience at the W. From tracks curated by their Music Directors to the tunes of local DJs spinning around the world, every W hotel comes to life with the sound of the destination. Music defines the W experience.

Fuel drives the appetite to nourish your body and celebrate fitness with a dynamic programming. Giving you the energy to look good, feel good, go longer, stay later. Detox. Retox. Repeat. Invigorate your routine with vibrant spaces and energetic programming.



Bold design defies expectations in iconic destinations. W design is all about taking risks and breaking boundaries. They look to the destination for inspiration and then turn it on its head. Every W throughout the world shakes up what you think you know about the iconic locales.

From emerging designers to local boutiques, W gives you front row seats to the next trends—and the stage to show it off. From tapping into emerging designers before they hit big to scouting the best local boutiques. It's easy to look good at the W.

On Location Located on the glistening shores of the Arabian Sea, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi is an ideal getaway. Yalla talked to General Manager Marwan Fadel about making a hotel into a destination for fine dining

What is the vision behind the culinary concepts at your hotel? There are successful culinary concepts internationally known in key cities that we would like to offer to our guests and visitors. Our vision is to create a restaurant destination on Saadiyat Island offering a wide variety of famous and award-winning concepts by enhancing the food and beverage experience at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi.

Tell us about MAZI. One of the key factors in deciding to bring MAZI to Abu Dhabi is because it aligns with our idea of offering a casual dining experience within a fine setting. We shared the vision of husband and wife Adrien Carré and Christina Mouratoglou, the duo behind the brand, concept and menu. MAZI is a vibrant and casual restaurant where guests can discover the refined and innovative side of Greek cuisine.

Do you envision your hotel becoming the city’s hottest dining destination? I believe we have already established ourselves as a must-visit for both tourists as well as residents in the capital. Not only are we fortunate to be situated by one of the most beautiful beaches in the UAE, but we are also home to a wide variety of food concepts set within walking distance. The St. Regis motto of exquisite living continues in the dining venues as well, enhancing the overall visit with unparalleled views and outstanding service.

Beyond dining, what other aspects of the hotel attract visitors? As clichéd as it may be, location still is at the heart of any business’ success, and we owe ours to the stunning waters of Saadiyat, the proximity to the best golfing facilities in the region, and the unmatched design of the resort that blends luxury with Middle Eastern motifs. Above all, we are part of the St. Regis family – and with this comes traditions and rituals that set us miles apart from other properties in the area.

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A Model of Sustainability Saadiyat’s newest luxury haven is far from being just another resort in this sea of hospitality; it’s also a model of sustainability. Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort is so much more than just a pretty face. As we examine the city’s hotels, we look at the sustainability initiatives in place at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is the first hotel in the UAE to completely eliminate single-use plastic bottles. Food waste is something we should all be working to reduce in the UAE, and Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island has an innovative solution. Food waste is compacted, the liquid waste is extracted, treated, and recycled to be used for landscaping around the resort. Another great initiative is the resort’s thermodynamic heat panel—imagine a solar panel, but one that runs from heat rather than sunlight. More than half of the resort’s hot water supply can be provided through this sustainable energy source! Situated on a Hawksbill turtle nesting beach, the resort is committed to keeping their beach clean and inviting for their critically endangered hard-shelled friends. Keen to learn even more? Follow the resort on Instagram @jumeirahsir to be the first to hear about beach cleans and other initiatives or take a trip to the resort to see some of these amazing initiatives first-hand!

French Elegance If you are looking to experience unique adventures in Abu Dhabi, book a staycation at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche The Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche might just be the perfect place to rest whilst discovering what the capital has to offer with its unique location in the heart of the city. Beyond your luxurious accommodation, the hotel invites guests to experience countless opportunities to make the most out of their visit to the capital. Stay for a minimum of two nights and get complimentary access to the famous Louvre Abu Dhabi or opt for another family friendly choice to enjoy the famous Yas Island attractions. A complimentary shuttle bus travels to the prime destinations and to the famous beaches for some sun soaked fun. Enter a world of culinary magic with the different restaurants and bars available in the hotel. Whichever adventure you choose, you are guaranteed to create magical moments and leave with wonderful memories. Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche. For reservations, phone 02 813 7777 or email H7507@sofitel.com.


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Ask a Concierge

At W Abu Dhabi-Yas Island, W Insider Essa Al Ansari draws on his experience growing up in the UAE to suggest what to do and where to dine when visiting the UAE’s capital city

What’s the most important thing for travellers to pack? Don’t forget to bring t-shirts and trousers, long sundresses, scarf or pashmina, flip flops or sandals, comfortable walking shoes, a camera, a waterproof sun cream, a swimsuit, and a sunhat.

What’s there to do on Yas Island? They are turning the island into a multi-purpose leisure, shopping, and entertainment centre. Things to do while visiting: Theme parks: Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World™ and Yas Water world. Lifestyle and shopping: Cascade dining and Yas Mall. Leisure activities: MAD Club, Yas beach,Yas Marina and Yas Links

What are your top restaurant recommendations on Yas Island? World-class dining options include quick bites and leisurely eateries complete with indoor and outdoor terrace seating. I often suggest people try Cipriani, Angar, Amici, Texas Roadhous, or Garage – our new outlet to open at the W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island.

What’s one thing that always surprises guests about your hotel? The structure of the hotel from the outside and how it’s the only hotel in the world built on a racetrack!

What must visitors do on Yas Island? Leisure activities: MAD Club, Yas beach, Yas Marina and Yas Links.

What’s the best option for outdoor exercise on Yas Island? Running or cycling around the Yas Marina Racetrack.

After losing 85kg of weight in four years as an Emirati, I always wanted to inspire and help others. I started “Fitness with Essa” Campaign across Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and LinkedIn to motivate others and educate them about what a healthy lifestyle is and how I lost 85kg naturally without any sort of operation or medication. I then stated motivational talks around the world with schools, corporate companies, banks and government entities. I am the face of Dubai Fitness Challenge and was one of the ambassadors for Abu Dhabi World Olympics! Follow Essa on Instagram @fitnesswithessa, or better yet stop by the W to meet him

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Tell us about your popular Instagram @fitnesswithessa.

20 OCTOBER 2020 - 10 APRIL 2021 The world’s big thinkers, foodies, fun-seekers and pioneers are invited to Expo 2020 Dubai, a destination where you can welcome the future and enjoy the amazing. See the best of the world in one place.










For more news, information and ticket updates, visit expo2020dubai.com


Feel the sand in your toes and the sea breeze in your hair, jump with the waves, fuel your soul with art, and your body with wellness and let Jumeirah’s legendary service take care of the rest.

Visit jumeirah.com/saadiyat to book your island escape T. +971 2 811 5888 | E. JSIreservations@jumeirah.com

Profile for Yalla Abu Dhabi

Yalla See It All Tourist Guide - Autumn 2019  

Get tips on how to best explore the Empty Quarter, learn about how Abu Dhabi is a beacon for the world with regard to tolerance, know what's...

Yalla See It All Tourist Guide - Autumn 2019  

Get tips on how to best explore the Empty Quarter, learn about how Abu Dhabi is a beacon for the world with regard to tolerance, know what's...