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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for 9 Ways to discover Abu Dhabi's ancient history - Explore the 'Land of the gazelle'
Joanna James Joanna James
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9 Ways to discover Abu Dhabi's ancient history - Explore the 'Land of the gazelle'

Cosmopolitan and modern, Abu Dhabi is almost the heartbeat of the United Arab Emirates where everything is full of activity except the herons in its mangroves. Be it coastal pleasures, a spellbinding collection of Islamic architecture or stunning attractions, Abu Dhabi has something exciting for all leisure travellers.


Traditional Emirati crafts

Being a part of the Al Hosn complex, the House of Artisans speaks volumes about the relationship between the country's natural resources and the UAE people. You will get an opportunity to marvel at eye-catching artwork, capture textured photographs and meet traditional artisans making it some of the best things to do in Abu Dhabi. Spare some time to explore the vibrant art of Sadu – a traditional form of weaving using wool from goats, camels, and sheep.


Visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is undoubtedly one of the must-see attractions in Abu Dhabi. Packed with many superlatives, this mosque clearly portrays aspects of Islamic culture. When talking about the architectural elements of the mosque, it is made of more than 15 sorts of white marble and expensive materials such as gold. Covering a diameter of 100 feet, the main dome in this mosque is known as the world's largest dome. In addition, you'll be able to witness more than 40 domes atop the mosque. An impressive element that certainly catches the attention of visitors is the German-made chandeliers inside the mosque. If you are staying at a resort or hotel such as Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel, it's a 9-minute drive to the mosque.


Melting pot of cuisines

With influences from Lebanon, Arabian Gulf and Morocco, the local cuisine of Abu Dhabi is not to be missed. As you move passing sprawling skyscrapers and stunning landscapes, don't forget to spare some time to savour the local cuisine. The traditional food of the UAE often contains spices making a unique and very rich taste. A traditional dish has fish, meat and rice as the main ingredients. Have you heard of the famous 'stuffed camel' dish? This dish was once mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the world's biggest dishes.


Indulge in authentic Arabian culture

Whether you prefer a traditional camel trek or a birds-eye balloon tour, you'll come across numerous ways to discover the hidden wonders of the Arabian desert. After an exciting drive, spend your evening in a traditional Arabic camp enjoying a BBQ dinner under the stars. If you are luckier, you will get the opportunity to try out some activities like Shisha, henna painting, Arabic sweet tasting, and belly dancing significant to Bedouin culture. Enjoy a cup of Arabian coffee and dates to ensure you grasp every aspect of Arabian culture.


Traditional clothing

Needless to say, any traveller who visits Dubai is well aware that the city and its people are linked with Islamic culture. Therefore, everyone is advised to dress modestly in public places. On the other hand, Dubai is very open-minded and relaxed in terms of clothing. A large number of tourists from all around the world visit this beautiful city each year wearing all sorts of clothes ranging from sleeveless T-shirts, and miniskirts to burqas. However, keep this fact in mind. This is an Islamic country, and you are a guest!



You are sure to spot two species of Hedgehogs in Abu Dhabi: the Brandts and Ethiopians. They are known to be having a high tolerance for insect and snake venoms. They feed mostly on the eggs of frogs, birds, scorpions and snakes, small invertebrates, and insects. They are usually hard to spot in the wild, but an ideal way to spot this incredible desert creature will be in the night exhibit at the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo.



Camels are often synonymous with the Middle East. Popularly known as 'ships of the desert, these creatures have a special ability to withstand extremely high temperatures and can travel long distances without drinking water. Take the E44 Hatta Road to spot plenty of camels. However, to minimize your chances of not seeing these desert creatures, you can guarantee your fix with The Camel Farm in Dubai which offers camel rides, and even camel hugging therapy.


Beidh Wa Tomat

Also known as 'Shakshuka' is a simple dish of scrambled eggs, pepper and tomato. There are no fancy ingredients added to this dish. Different restaurants and dining venues have another version of the same dish with poached eggs. Coriander and thyme are added to the top tomato to make it look fancier. Beidh Wa Tomat is a simple yet nutritious breakfast dish that can be prepared with a single skillet and everyday ingredients in the kitchen.



Centuries back, rice was not a part of traditional Emirati food, therefore, their main cereal was wheat. This is a very popular rice dish in traditional Abu Dhabi cuisine. The dish is prepared with lamb, fish or chicken with main flavourings such as cinnamon, cloves, saffron, lemon and cardamon. You would also call it an Emirati adoption of Indian Biriyani.