There’s a whole world of nature for the intrepid visitor to explore in the United Arab Emirates, whether kayaking among mangroves or popping into the largest falcon hospital in the world, writes Sara D’Souza
Spot flocks of flamingos
Just a half-hour drive south-east of central Abu Dhabi lies the peaceful Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, a former salt flat that’s home to more than 260 species of birds. Wander around its saline and freshwater lakes, sand dunes, scrubs and hillocks, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a flamingo – there were 4,000 of them at the last count. Egyptian spiny-tailed lizards, red foxes, greater spotted eagles and beautiful varieties of dragonflies and damselflies are among the reserve’s other draws. It’s open year-round and is free to enter (Thursdays to Saturdays, 8am to 4pm).
Futuristic designs are transforming the UAE capital’s skyline, in the shape of Aldar HQ, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the leaning tower of Capital Gate. David Clack is dazzled by the structures
With world-class architects lining up to make their mark on the city, Abu Dhabi’s skyline is transforming into one of the most exciting on Earth. Ancient tradition means it’s big on eclecticism, too – where else would you find a giant marble mosque sat cheek-by-jowl with a wonky skyscraper? Here’s where to make a beeline for in the UAE capital.
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Given the calibre of the art within, Louvre Abu Dhabi could just as easily have been a grey, featureless box and still draw the crowds. Instead, the intricate, perforated dome designed by Jean Nouvel (Barcelona’s Torre Glòries’ architect) comes very close to upstaging the staggering selection of paintings and objects beneath it. Stunning as it is from afar, it’s not until you step inside that you get to witness the building’s neatest trick: the spectacular light show cast across the museum’s hallways as the criss-crossing canopy meets the near-constant Arabian sun.
Don’t miss Da Vinci’s record-obliterating Salvator Mundi is heading to the museum. Expect Mona Lisa-level hysteria.