New Year is just around the corner, and as much fun as it sounds, it is also quite worrisome for a family man like me. I want to look for a place where everyone can enjoy themselves but also something that helps bring the family closer. My wife has a list of suggestions from her friends, the kids and my parents have their own demands and then there is the internet, spoiling us, with all the choices. This makes zeroing in on a place quite a task.
I had been looking at various options for over a week when an office colleague shared his New Year's experience in Abu Dhabi last year. The city is just four hours from Delhi, and seemed like a great destination to welcome 2020. I logged on to the website – VisitAbuDhabi – to find out more about the capital and was pleasantly surprised to find a number of attractions for all members of the family.
Bruno Mars Live
I was a huge music lover in my younger days, and would not miss out on any major concert, even if it was happening in a different city. In fact, my wife and I bonded over our musical taste during our college years. She is a huge fan of Bruno Mars. So, when I found out that Bruno Mars would be performing live on New Year's Eve in Abu Dhabi, I stopped looking for any other destination. Mr. Mars will be playing at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi. Buy your tickets here.
We are planning to welcome the New Year with a blast. The New Year's Eve fireworks display at Yas Marina has to be the highlight of our extravagant sojourn in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina also has musical fountains and a play area for kids, where they can have some fun. There is more than one way to welcome the New Year here, be it fine dining in a plush restaurant or a year-end party. And not to forget the musical extravaganzas and the celebrations in shopping malls. Learn more about it here.
Sir Bani Yas Island
Visiting a wildlife park is not just entertaining, but equally educational. And while my kids would enjoy taking a safari, observing the Arabian oryx, cheetahs, hyenas and giraffes at Sir Bani Yas Island, I am glad that I would be able to give my kids the same experiential learning that my parents provided me. An interesting thing here is the purpose-built viewing platform, made from recycled materials that get tourists up close to the giraffes. The island has over 10,000 free-roaming animals, along with a stunning beach. The best part is that if mom and dad get tired, there is a luxury hotel on the island too, where they can relax or enjoy a spa treatment. Book a stay here.
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
While wildlife and archaeology may educate the kids, the infinite energy in them seeks a vent. Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is the right place for them to challenge themselves and indulge in some action. Also known as ‘Water’s Greatest Playground’, the fun park hosts exhilarating rides and slides such as the Amwaj Wave Pool, Sebag, a six-lane racer slide, and Dawwama, the largest six-person tornado water coaster. Safety is not a concern because there are lifeguards on site and life jackets are provided. Learn more.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
What could be more exciting for the kids than the fastest roller coaster in the world?! Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is an indoor park with not only the fastest roller coaster, but also the highest roller coaster loop in the world. It offers some great adventures for kids in the form of Ferrari-inspired rides, with the highest safety norms. So, as a parent, I'm not worried sick. The park also boasts some great dining options. Book your visit.
Eastern Mangroves Promenade
All things said, a man cannot ignore his lady love, and Eastern Mangroves Promenade offers something to amuse my wife. It is the retail and lifestyle hub at the Eastern Mangroves Complex, where one can indulge in not just some retail therapy, but also enjoy the best health and beauty outlets. Of late, my wife has been complaining about not getting the time to care for herself, and some time at its upmarket nail spa and hair salon would do wonders for her spirits. Learn more.
Yas Mall is one of the most opulent shopping destinations in Abu Dhabi and a must-visit, if you are looking to purchase international brands, including gadgets, clothes and ornaments. Come back home with not just great memories but also mementos. Learn more.
Al Ain Rotana
For the last leg of our holiday, we decided to swap Abu Dhabi’s central city experience for a garden city escape in Al Ain, also part of the emirate. If you’re looking for a lush getaway here, Al Ain Rotana - situated an hour-and-a-half away from Abu Dhabi city in the city of Al Ain - impressed me with its laid-back luxury. The family-friendly hotel is equipped with world-class facilities and some very fancy restaurants. The hotel's proximity to major tourist attractions assured me that my parents wouldn't get tired of the long hours, and we would actually get more time to spend at surrounding sights. Book your stay here.
Al Ain Oasis
Both my parents are nature lovers and always look forward to visiting green spaces. Not many people know, but Abu Dhabi has a sprawling 3000-acre oasis, covered with lush vegetation and more than a lakh trees. The Al Ain Oasis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has on display the exhibits of many farms that give an insight into the traditional irrigation methods of the inhabitants – something my parents would love to see. The highlight is the 3,000-year-old falaj irrigation system – a grid of waterways for channelling fresh, clean water from the mountains into the oasis. There are buggy rides, and you can cycle along the paths too. The Al Ain Oasis Plaza also has restaurants and shops. Learn more.
The surprise doesn't end at Al Ain Oasis. White water rafting is something that I would never have associated with Abu Dhabi. But the adventure seeker in me shrieked with delight on learning that Abu Dhabi also offers the Middle East's first man-made white water rafting at Wadi Adventure. I might be in my late 40s, but I have never shied away from sports and adventure, so this visit is a little something just for me. My kids will also be coming, however, and there is kayaking, wakeboarding, surfing, swimming in the wave pool, climbing obstacle courses and zip-lining for them. These activities are open to people of all ages. Book your adventure here.
Every place is defined by its history. Jebel Hafit is home to a variety of archaeological and historical remains dating back to 5,000 BC which tell the tale of the rich history of Abu Dhabi. It is another place that my mom and dad would love to visit, and I would like my kids to see. Jebel Hafit also offers a variety of experiences, such as hikes and four-wheel-drive tours. Learn more.
As you would have already guessed, my family was elated to hear about the kind of amusement awaiting them in Abu Dhabi. Our trip to Abu Dhabi for the year-end is booked, and you should book yours too!