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Sand and the City: A Long Weekend in Abu Dhabi
28 Mar 2019

Abu Dhabi has it all: pristine, white beaches perfect for either white-knuckle water-sports or serene sunbathing, glorious desert landscapes that soothe the soul with their natural beauty, and the city of Abu Dhabi itself, rising preeminently like an urban star from the stunning Gulf coast.Abu Dhabi is the ideal getaway for a long weekend: spend a day on a massage bed overlooking champagne dunes, relaxing on the beach drinking in the cool atmosphere, and the next in the city enjoying a decadent day and night fit for a celebrity. 


Start the weekend at the recently opened, Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s glittering desert. Decorated in the style of a traditional desert hamlet, Al Wathba provides guests with a soothing tranquility that leaves you feeling truly at peace. Designed to coexist with its beautiful habitat, many of Al Wathba’s facilities look directly out towards the windswept dunes, while the huge pool flanked by rows of flourishing palms could be mistaken for an oasis.

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It’s not until you spend time in the desert that you understand the power and beauty of nature. The colours, the light and the silence are glorious. Despite the rugged tranquility there is much to do: Spend some time learning the ancient art of falconry, so beloved of the Emirati. Hire a car and a driver and go ‘dune bashing’ reaching out into the heart of the desert cresting the towering waves of sand in a powerful 4x4. Or simply take dinner in a desert Bedouin camp as the sun’s dying rays paint the desert a rich gold, before the twinkling lights of the Milky Way emerge.

Set deep within the mesmerizing desert landscape lies Talise Spa, the luxurious wellness retreat at Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort & Spa. Nestled within an exclusive natural environment and picturesque garden area, it includes 10 treatment rooms and two couples’ rooms, the perfect environment for couples and groups of friends to escape the city.


Moving across the sands, an hour’s drive from the desert, lies the unspoilt Saadiyat Island. Unlike some of Abu Dhabi’s other beaches, Saadiyat is an undeveloped nature sanctuary, with its white sands home to nesting turtles and its offshore mangroves the playpens of the rare humpback dolphin. Its natural tranquility makes it a perfect place to relax under the shade of a cabana, or to wet your toes in the crystalline waters of the Gulf coast.

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On the waterfront, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is a love letter to Abu Dhabi’s azure coast. It looks over 400 metres of white-sand beaches, while its bright interiors and three stunning pools echo the outside palette stunningly. This is the perfect place to spend a day unwinding after the excitement of the desert, have a massage or doze gently in the shade.


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There can be no bigger contrast to the quietude of the desert or the tranquility of the beach than to immerse oneself in the bright lights, big city atmosphere of Abu Dhabi, the Emirates’ capital city. From the quiet sophistication of the Louvre and the contemplative Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, to the high-octane roar of Ferrari World and the hydrodynamic Yas Waterworld. Then there is shopping, oh so much shopping, from the Galleria to the Avenue at Etihad Towers. And then there are the chic cocktail bars and the world-class restaurants to indulge in. All from the comfort of an elegantly, air-conditioned suite at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.

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