10 Reasons to Make Abu Dhabi Your Next Travel Destination | Sponsored |  Smithsonian Magazine

As 80 percent of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi city tours stretch from the Arabian Gulf coast to the heritage heartland of Al Ain and the desert landscape of Al Dhafra. A trip to the emirate will leave you with tropical islands, luxurious resorts, shifting sand dunes and cool oases. Numbeo’s Safe City Index has recently ranked Abu Dhabi as the safest city in the world, just one hour and 20 minutes away from Dubai. It’s possible to visit world-class museums one day and watch falcons hunting in the desert the next. You need to visit Abu Dhabi as soon as possible for these ten reasons.

1) Take a tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is dedicated to UAE founder Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and is a true reflection of Arabian splendor. One of the largest mosques in the world and the largest mosque in the UAE, it can accommodate an astounding 40,000 worshippers. Over 1,000 columns and 82 domes decorate the structure, which is accentuated by reflecting pools. Its main prayer hall features the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, as well as a twelve-ton chandelier that’s the largest in the world. White and gold accents in the mosque are transformed by a unique lighting system reflecting the phases of the moon. With a ranking of second in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards, it’s no wonder Sheikh Zayed Mosque is such a popular tourist attraction.

2) Abu Dhabi’s cultural district is home to the brand new Louvre Abu Dhabi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum of the Arab World, opened November 11 on Saadiyat Island. The layout, created by French architect Jean Nouvel, resembles an Arab medina, and the dome creates an enchanting ‘rain of light’ inspired by overlapping palm trees in the UAE’s oases. Cultural exchanges and diversity will be celebrated in this collection which spans ancient times to the present day.

Following the Zayed National Museum on Saadiyat Island, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be the next building to open on the island. It will tell the story of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the unification of the UAE. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will feature contemporary art and culture from 1960 to the present.

3) On a private marina, experience five-star luxury

Its opulence and 114 domes make Emirates Palace an iconic landmark of Abu Dhabi. The golden-sandy color of the hotel stands out during the day against its lush green surroundings, silvery water fountains and the blue sky above. A rainbow effect appears over the central dome when the hotel’s lights change at night. Thousands of chandeliers hang from the ceiling of the main palace building, decorated with gold, pearls, and opals. Among the most impressive are the two handmade floor carpets, each weighing a ton and depicting the palace.

4) Experience the UAE’s national bird up close

The art of falconry, which was first practiced by Bedouin tribes, remains a vital part of the UAE culture, and one of the best places to see these birds is the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. A museum and space where the birds can fly freely are also part of the world’s largest and most advanced falcon hospital. Visit the bird wards, learn about falconry and experience it for yourself in the facility’s gardens while taking part in your guided tour.Visit the bird wards, learn about falconry and experience it for yourself in the facility’s gardens while taking part in your guided tour.

5) Race Car driving is an experience you won’t forget

Drive the car of your dreams on a racetrack. Yas Racing offers a number of day track experiences at the Yas Marina Circuit , one of the world’s most advanced Formula 1® circuits. Embark on a Track Day or drive a Mercedes or Formula Yas 3000. If you choose the driver’s seat or the passenger’s seat, coaches are on hand to help you reach heart-racing speeds. Racing license courses are also available.