Abu Dhabi or Dubai? Both are heavyweights when it comes to a luxury holiday showdown. Both are stand-out competitors in the UAE’s glimmering offering of top travel destinations. And both offer an array of things to see, do and experience.
So, how do the two square up? Dubai is known for packing a powerful punch of glamour, innovation and world-recognisable hotels, where if it’s not big or shiny, it probably won’t fit in. However, the super malls, shimmering souks and piercing sky scrapers are just half of the story. A future-thinking city that cut its teeth in the desert, Dubai also has a whole other world out in the dunes, where you can take a thrilling desert safari ride, learn about falconry or watch the sunset over the humped backs of roaming camels.
Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, is known for having a more leisurely pace. Perhaps edging ahead of Dubai in terms of a cultural offering, there is plenty of graciously domed architecture, humbling mosques and fascinating galleries to marvel at. While its name means ‘Land of the Gazelle’, after the tale of the young antelope that led a wandering tribe to fresh water, Abu Dhabi isn’t necessarily as traditional in character as you might suspect; it can still rev up the excitement at Yas Marina Circuit, home to the Formula 1 Grand Prix and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi!
With so much to offer, whether you choose Abu Dhabi or Dubai for a holiday is a hard choice to make. However, with just a one-hour transfer time between the two, it is a decision you may not actually need to make – they make an ideal twin-centre option or even a day excursion. See our comparison of Abu Dhabi and Dubai holidays to help you come to your conclusion.
Abu Dhabi vs Dubai: How do they weigh up?
Dubai is often dismissed when it comes to culture, being considered too flash to be able to offer up any serious art or history. Despite this, the city opened its two-thousand-seat performing arts centre, Dubai Opera, in 2016. Welcoming an array of high-end ballet, opera and theatre performances, along with music acts and family entertainment, it is set to widen Dubai’s appeal even further.
Abu Dhabi, though, wins when it comes to culture. Louvre Abu Dhabi opens on the 11th November 2017, combining French design and Arabic culture to an outstanding effect; the intricately constructed, 7,500-tonne, domed roof features 7,850 stars that cast a ‘rain of light’ across the interiors, making for an inspiring effect before you have even reached the art. Abu Dhabi also, of course, has Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is one of the largest and most spectacular of its kind in the world.
Winner: Abu Dhabi
Dubai sweeps up when it comes to families. There is an endless list of attractions for younger visitors, including 2017’s new theme park, Dubai Parks and Resorts, where you will find movie-themed rides and attractions. There are also the existing family pleasers of Wild Wadi Water Park, Kidzania and Ski Dubai, offering plenty to keep energetic children busy during their time away. Atlantis, The Palm is fantastic for families, and features the underwater worlds of the Lost Chambers Aquarium and Aquaventure Waterpark.
That’s not to say, however, that families will be lost in Abu Dhabi. Yas Waterpark boasts some seriously scary waterslides, while Ferrari World Abu Dhabi can lay claim to the highest rollercoaster loop in the world. For the less adrenaline-inclined, Al Ain Zoo and Arabian Wildlife Park also make great days out in Abu Dhabi for families.
This maybe an unfair challenge for Dubai, as it never really asks visitors to go there to relax – there is too much to do! Nevertheless, the range of sumptuous spas are not to be missed when you get the chance for some downtime, and the beaches are great. Of course, you will always have your hotel’s luxurious pool to take a lazy dip in if you please!
Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, offers a chance to really get away from it all at Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. Set in the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world, plush accommodation is enveloped by an evocative landscape, where you can unwind in the decadent spa in total tranquillity. Saadiyat Island also boasts one of the best beaches in the Middle East, with dedicated service, sun loungers and plenty of watersports.
Winner: Abu Dhabi
Dubai is tough competition when it comes to golf. It is home to three of the world’s top 100 golf courses and hosts a number of high-profile professional tournaments throughout winter. Out of the array of options, Emirates Golf Club is one of the finest. The first all-grass course in the Middle East, it dates back to 1988 and boasts the claim of having the only course in the region that offers golf at night.
Abu Dhabi is still a very worthy contender when it comes to the battle for the golf green, though. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is simply stunning, while Yas Links Golf Club and Abu Dhabi Golf Club offer world-class facilities.
When it comes to deciding between an Abu Dhabi or Dubai holiday, the choice is clear – do both! With just an hour transfer time, it’s easy to enjoy the best of both regions. Wherever you decide to base yourself, it’s the best of both worlds.
To discuss your luxury holiday to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, to make a booking or for further information, please call our expert Travel Consultants.