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Once you’ve played a round at one of Abu Dhabi‘s world-class golf courses, there’s incredible cultural attractions and breathtaking architecture to experience including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and Qasr Al Hosn. Here’s our handy guide.
The National course at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, designed by Peter Harradine, hosts the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, Rolex Series event on the men’s European Tour each year and provides one of the best golf experiences in the Middle East.
If playing in the morning: visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Wahat Al Karama in the afternoon.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
One of the world’s largest mosques and open to non-Muslims, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a breathtaking architectural marvel. It has over 1,000 jewel-encrusted columns, 82 marble domes, reflective pools, gold-plated chandeliers, an iconic prayer hall, and a courtyard featuring one of the largest marble mosaic artworks in the world. It’s a stunning place to explore and take photographs. There’s guided tours, a cafe and gift shop.
Wahat Al Karama
Directly opposite the mosque, Wahat Al Karama spans 46,000 square metres and stands as a permanent memorial commemorating the Emirati people who sacrificed their lives in service of their country. The Memorial is the centrepiece, an imposing art structure made up of 31 huge leaning tablets clad in aluminium. There’s a daily Honour Guard march at the Memorial before sunset, and beyond it lies the Pavilion of Honour, a quiet space which visitors can absorb the unique atmosphere. It’s free to enter and there’s a visitor centre and souvenir shop.
If playing in the afternoon: visit Qasr Al Watan and Emirates Palace in the evening.
Qasr Al Watan
Visitors can now enter the official Presidential Palace of Abu Dhabi. Opened in 2019, Qasr Al Watan has huge domes, plush furniture and gilded interiors and welcomes heads of state from around the world. There’s interactive exhibitions, the stunning Great Hall, the House of Knowledge, and after dark there’s a fantastic sound-and-light show that lights up the palace and narrates the story of the UAE.
Hosting opera and orchestras during the Abu Dhabi concert season, the Emirates Palace is a huge hotel that doubles as a cultural centre. It has over 100 domes, 1,000 chandeliers, 392 rooms and suites, and a private beach. It’s also a great place to enjoy traditional Emirati cuisine in an upmarket and Bedouin-tent-inspired atmosphere at Mezlai.
Ranked by All Square as the best course in the Middle East, Yas Links, on the western shores of Yas Island, is a superb Scottish-style links course where all 18 holes have views of the ocean. Designed by Kyle Phillips, it hosts the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour.
If playing in the morning: visit Qasr Al Hosn and House of Artisans in the afternoon.
Qasr Al Hosn
Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest standing structure in Abu Dhabi and today stands as a monument to Abu Dhabi’s history. Built in the 1790s, the site’s watchtower is part of the Inner Fort and makes for incredible photographs, while the rest of the site, the Outer Palace built in the 1940s, was transformed into a museum in 2018 following a decade of conservation and restoration. Today, it’s a great place to soak up the fascinating history of the city.
House of Artisans
A fascinating place for those who appreciate culture and craft, the Al Hosn site’s House of Artisans celebrates traditional Emirati crafts and offers workshops and other public events to visitors. Local artisans create beautiful artworks on-site which are available to buy.
If playing in the afternoon: visit Cultural Foundation in the evening.
The nearby Cultural Foundation is also a fantastic place to visit, especially for those with children. It’s a world-renowned venue for culture and the arts featuring workshops, classes and exhibitions. The family-friendly site offers activities for all ages, with the Children’s Library home to fake sand dunes for kids to read on, an oasis landscape with a water channel flowing with books, and a central Book Mountain.
Designed by legendary South African golfer Gary Player, this is another must-play course in Abu Dhabi and was the Arabian Gulf’s first seaside course when it opened in 2010, with several holes commanding views of the ocean.
If playing in the morning: visit Louvre Abu Dhabi in the afternoon.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Opened in 2017, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a huge art and civilization museum located in the city’s burgeoning Saadiyat Island Cultural District. The museum takes visitors on a global journey through humanity’s multi-cultural artistic achievements from the Neolithic period up to the present day. The world-class art collection is housed in several galleries and includes works from Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse, Edouard Manet, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. There are regular exhibitions, live performances, workshops and a kids’ museum. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the museum is an architectural marvel. The gallery buildings are all grouped around a central plaza which juts straight out into the Arabian Sea shaded by a huge dome, which has a geometric star design that dapples the galleries below in a ‘rain of light’ effect.
If playing in the afternoon: visit Manarat Al Saadiyat in the evening.
Manarat Al Saadiyat
Also located in the Saadiyat Cultural District, Manarat Al Saadiyat, meaning ‘place of enlightenment’, opened in 2009 and acts as a visitor centre and gateway to the district’s famous museums. It houses exhibitions, workshops, performances and the annual Abu Dhabi Art show. It has an outdoor events terrace, a cafe and brasserie, three galleries, a photography studio, and a 250-seat auditorium. There’s also comedy nights, theatre workshops, sky-gazing, yoga classes, film screenings, and workshops for children and adults in skills such as printmaking, self-portraits, figure drawing and robotics.