Heritage Village#10 in Best Things To Do in Abu Dhabi
Although Abu Dhabi is constantly evolving, remnants of the UAE's heritage are easy to find. If you're interested in learning more about Abu Dhabi's roots, consider a visit to Heritage Village. Set across the Dhow Harbour from the Corniche, Heritage Village is a representation of the original fishing village that once stood here. While touring this living museum, you'll stroll past Bedouin tents and wooden huts housing workshops where you can watch weaving and metal-working demonstrations. The facility also features a restaurant and several shops where you can pick up local crafts and spices.
Travelers agree that Heritage Village offers an interesting peek at Abu Dhabi's history and appreciate that the attraction doesn't charge admission. "You can […] get an idea of how life used to be in the Emirates," one TripAdvisor user said, adding that the visit offered "interesting insight to what life used to be like before the skyscrapers and Bentleys." However, many recent visitors lament the site's small size, noting that a visit won't require more than an hour or two.
You'll find Heritage Village sitting on the Breakwater near the Marina Mall. The site is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and from 3:30 to 9 p.m. on Fridays. Admission to Heritage Village is free. For more information, visit the Abu Dhabi tourism board website.
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#1 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Constructed between 1996 and 2007 at the request of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is by far the most popular of Abu Dhabi's sights, and it's easy to see why. One of the largest mosques in the world, this house of worship features 82 domes, more than 1,000 columns and a white and gold facade. What's more, this is one of only two mosques in the UAE open to non-Muslim tourists. That means that visitors from all around the globe can walk across the world's largest hand-woven rug, gaze up at one of the world's largest chandeliers and admire the fusion of Fatimid, Mamluk and Ottoman architectural styles, representing three different Islamic dynasties.
Although it's not Abu Dhabi's oldest attraction, those who have visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque say that a stop here is a must for those who want a better understanding of the city's religious identity. The site is one of the world's most significant examples of contemporary Islamic architecture. You are welcome to explore the mosque on your own, but many travelers recommend tagging along on one of the free guided tours; tours take between 45 minutes and an hour and can be reserved in advance, or you can simply show up and wait for the next scheduled English tour. "Our guide was outstanding; no religion, just amazing facts and with his commentary we understood the incredible engineering, art [and] workmanship that make this so very special," according to one TripAdvisor user. Previous visitors highly recommend touring the mosque in the evening when the sunset reflects off the marble courtyard.
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