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5 of Abu Dhabi’s most iconic landmarks

18 March 2019

Any trip to the UAE is likely to be unforgettable, and part of what makes the country live long in the memory is Abu Dhabi’s intriguing blend of the old and the new, as international influences merge with a strong commitment to local heritage and remarkable landmarks. If you’re considering the Emirati capital for your next adventure, here’s a look at some of the city’s iconic landmarks that help to cement it as one of the Middle East’s most remarkable holiday destinations.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

One of the largest places of worship in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was designed with the aim of capturing unique interactions between Islam and world cultures. As a result, it incorporates architectural styles from different Muslim civilizations and celebrates cultural diversity by creating an assorted and inspirational haven.

The architects behind the mosque were British, Italian and Emirati, with design inspiration being pulled in from Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt amongst other countries, to achieve a glistening architectural marvel capable of housing 40,000 worshippers and visitors.

Marvel at the spectacular onion-top domes, etched with verses from the Quran and painted with gold leaves in An-Naskh lettering. Be awed by the world’s biggest chandelier and carpet, both meticulously handmade, as well as the reflective pools that engulf the courtyard and the iconic prayer hall.  

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Opened in 2017 as part of a 30-year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government, the Louvre Abu Dhabi justifies its prestigious name by offering 9,200 square metres of galleries populated by art loaned from notable French museums including Musee du Louvre, Musee d'Orsay and Centre Pompidou.

Just like its French namesake, the building that contains the Louvre Abu Dhabi is itself a work of art, designed by Jean Nouvel - the architect behind Barcelona’s Torre Glòries and Qatar’s illuminated Doha Tower.

It stands as the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula, with a final construction cost of around €600 million, and a further €658 million going on art loans and special exhibitions.

“Abu Dhabi is a great destination for anyone keen to try something different. It’s such great value for money with fabulous hotels such as Yas Viceroy, Emirates Palace, St Regis Abu Dhabi and the Shangri La all offering something different.”

Sonia, Travel Counsellor

Read more: Our pick of Abu Dhabi’s amazing cultural experiences

Qasr Al Hosn

Qasr Al Hosn stands as Abu Dhabi’s oldest building, dating back to 1761 when it housed the city’s watchtower - a commanding structure that overlooks the coastal trade routes and the island’s growing settlement.

Over the centuries, Qasr Al Hosn itself has been home to the ruling family, the seat of government, a consultative council and a national archive. In 2018, it opened as a museum after 11 years of intensive conservation and restoration work and now tells the city’s journey from a settlement reliant on fishing and pearling in the 18th century to the modern, global metropolis it is today, with displays of artefacts and archival materials dating back as far as 6,000 BC.

Emirates Palace

Found in the heart of Abu Dhabi, the lavish Emirates Palace is renowned for its Arab-esque essence, award-winning hospitality and authentic local experiences.

With construction costs of around $3 billion, it is currently the third most expensive hotel ever built, behind The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas ($3.9 billion) and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands ($5.5 billion).

Visually, the hotel’s design is a glorious mix of cherished Islamic architectural elements such as balance, geometry, proportions, rhythm and hierarchical emphasis, while a grand dome meticulously crafted with gold, mother of pearl and crystals adorns the top of the palace.

More than 100 smaller domes are spread throughout the iconic hotel, which sits beside a pristine 1.3 kilometre-long private beach and marina overlooking a natural bay. Inside, the 394-residency Emirates Places contains more than 1,000 chandeliers, the largest of which tips the scales at 2.5 tonnes.

“For anyone wanting to venture out and about in Abu Dhabi, there is Yas Waterworld, the Yas Marina Race circuit and Ferrari World theme park, as well as the opportunity to do a city tour, a desert safari trip or hammer the credit card at the Marina Mall, Yas Mall or Galleria. Why not visit the Observation Deck 300 at the Jumeirah Etihad Towers for amazing views of Abu Dhabi, or a trip to the Emirates Palace hotel, Abu Dhabi’s equivalent of the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai?”

Emma, Travel Counsellor

Why Dubai and Abu Dhabi are our favourite Middle East stopovers

Etihad Towers

This five-tower complex was created as a reflection of everything that represents Abu Dhabi: modern, sophisticated and luxurious.

Three of the five Etihad Towers currently rank in Abu Dhabi’s top 10 tallest buildings, with the 305-metre Etihad Tower 2 standing taller than any other building in the city upon completion in 2011.

Today, it serves as a dramatic architectural statement and a benchmark for luxury experiences, inviting residents and visitors to live, work, stay, shop and dine in one destination with panoramic views of the city and Arabian Gulf.

For affluent visitors, The Avenue at Etihad Towers is one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive collections of boutique shops, with many having luxurious private rooms for VIP shopping.



Experience these iconic Abu Dhabi landmarks for yourself by contacting your Travel Counsellor and taking advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.

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