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Island art galleries and world-class gigs: What to see and do in Abu Dhabi this year

Abu Dhabi is a year-round destination.
Abu Dhabi is a year-round destination. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Jane Witherspoon
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The UAE's capital is rolling out world-class sporting and music events in 2023. Here’s where to go and what to see.

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Abu Dhabi is a year-round destination that rarely sees temperatures below 20°C.

The perfect combination of city and seaside, the capital of the UAE is awash with five-star hotels, pristine beaches and culture.

As part of its new ‘One Summer Isn’t Enough’ tourism campaign, the city is rolling out an impressive annual calendar of world-class music and sporting events.

Here’s why you should visit Abu Dhabi in 2023.

What events are happening in Abu Dhabi this year?

The UAE’s capital is no stranger to world-class events.

“Every November we have the F1 Grand Prix happening in Abu Dhabi,” says Abdulla Yousuf Mohammad, the Director of International Operations for the city’s Department of Culture and Tourism.

“In addition to that, we have UFC [the Ultimate Fighting Championship] and last year we had NBA for the first time,” he continues. “This summer we will have the US [men’s] national [basketball] team having their pre-World Cup preparation.”

This year, the city is ramping it up with big-name artists scheduled to perform, including Backstreet Boys and Guns N’ Roses.

Where are the best beaches in Abu Dhabi?

For those after rest and relaxation the shores of Saadiyat Island are a must.

Pristine white sandy beaches and azure waters have seen it crowned the Middle East’s Leading Beach Destination by The World Travel awards for 11 consecutive years.

This natural island is 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi and is home to a protected ecosystem. Endangered hawksbill turtles nest seasonally on the beaches, the ocean teems with bottlenose dolphins, and native Arabian gazelles roam freely across the island.

Saadiyat is a favourite among luxury travellers, who stay at top-tier hotels including Park Hyatt, Jumeirah, Rotana, St. Regis and Rixos.

Where’s the best place for culture in Abu Dhabi?

If you’re looking for a dose of culture, Saadiyat also has you covered. It’s here that you will find the Louvre Abu Dhabi art museum and Manarat Al Saadiyat arts and culture centre.

In the next few years, these will be joined by the long-awaited Guggenheim and Natural History Museums which are being built on the island.

Nearby Yas Island is great for families and adrenaline junkies. It’s home to Ferrari World, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi (the world’s largest indoor theme park) and Yas Waterworld, with its 45 rip roaring slides, rides and attractions.

Movie buffs can take a short trip into the desert, where they’ll find Liwa Oasis - the setting for multiple Hollywood hits including ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘Dune’.

With glamping retreats and desert safaris plentiful, there’s no shortage of options for visitors wanting to explore the sweeping sand dunes.

Can you visit Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the same trip?

In terms of accessibility, travel to and from Abu Dhabi is about to become easier than ever.

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The two major UAE airlines, Etihad and Emirates recently announced - at the Arabian Travel Market 2023 - an interline agreement.

This will simplify booking and travel for visitors looking to visit two of the country’s most popular destinations on one itinerary.

Starting this summer, customers of each airline can purchase a single ticket to fly into either Dubai or Abu Dhabi, with a return via the other airport.

The two cities are around 1 hour 20 minutes’ drive apart.

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