WellnessAbu Dhabi: An oasis of wellness

A deep dive into Abu Dhabi's fantastic wellness scene

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The last few years have seen the rise of wellness in travel, with jet setters across the globe swapping the unhealthy and unsustainable for the feel-good and active. While South and Southeast Asia are popular wellness destinations, Abu Dhabi might surprise you with all it has to offer. From its white-sand beaches and serene deserts, to its oases and ancient therapeutic practices, the emirate has become one of the world’s current wellness capitals. Here’s what to expect from a wellness break in Abu Dhabi.

Jumeirah Al Wathba Talise Spa wet area

 

Spas and Treatments

The Arabian Gulf has a long history of therapeutics, with an emphasis on full-body steam rituals and scented oils made from ingredients found on the millennia-old Indo-European trade routes. The most famous ritual of the Gulf is the hammam ritual, named after the specially-built Turkish bath-houses known as hammams. Here, the body is coated in fine oils, usually flavoured with local flowers, or exfoliated with Moroccan soaps or local spice blends, before basking in the rejuvenating steamy air of the hammam chamber.

In addition to hammam rituals, spas in Abu Dhabi combine the local aesthetics and ritual practices of traditional with ultra-modern wellness facilities. One such example is state-of-the-art cryotherapy, where guests are exposed to short blasts of incredibly cold temperatures (well below minus 100 degrees) to prevent ageing and boost energy.

Jumeirah at Ethida Towers Talise Spa

 

Staying Active

Being active in Abu Dhabi is easier than you might think. With over 400 kilometres of coastline, the Emirate is a haven for watersports. But it isn’t all jet-skis and speedboats. About 25 minutes from central Abu Dhabi lies the pristine beach of Saadiyat island, with mangroves and undisturbed beaches providing the perfect habitat for humpback dolphins and hawksbill turtles. Renting a paddle-board or a kayak here is a must — with whole days free to devote to improving balance and fitness above the gentle surf, while getting up close to some of the Middle East’s most incredible marine life. If you prefer to stay on land, local yoga companies like, Bodytree Studio, offer training sessions on the beach.

 

Unpolluted Landscapes

A core part of any wellness break is stepping into the calm of nature. Alongside stunning coastline, Abu Dhabi has one of the world’s most extraordinary, unpolluted landscapes; desert. Nothing can quite capture the windswept beauty of this incredible environment — the desert’s warm dusk is as rejuvenating as any spa treatment.

Lady walking on a dune

 

Equally as rejuvenating is the UAE’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, the Al Ain Oasis. The largest of Abu Dhabi’s oases, the site is home to almost 150,000 date palms, all maintained by traditional falaj irrigation systems. Walking down its shaded, historic paths is the epitome of relaxation — far away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.