When I fly east, to Southeast Asia, India, Japan but not only, one of the companies I often use is Election UAE national airline based in Abu Dhabi. By flying with them, you can decide to make one long stopover in Abu Dhabi without any surcharge, but the same can obviously happen even if you can't have a short stopover. In both cases, why not take the opportunity to visit the city?
A visa is not required for Abu Dhabi!
** Update September 2021 **: before leaving, always consult the requirements of the United Arab Emirates for entry into the country on the Viaggiare Sicuri website
THEAbu Dhabi International Airport is located in the eastern part of the city, a about 30 km from the center, and once landed you will have to complete the customs procedures (it will take about 1 hour).
Spanish citizens are granted a free visa valid for 30 days; the only requirement is to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of entry into the country. If you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, this shouldn't be a problem.
To avoid wandering around with your luggage, you can leave it in the lockers or at the luggage storage found in both Arrivals hall that the Terminal 1 (Look for the Airport Service Center).
After leaving your luggage you are ready to go and discover Abu Dhabi! Obviously it depends on the hours you have of stopover and your interests. If you only have 6/7 hours my advice is to select only one attraction, while if you have at least 10 or more, you can do the complete tour that I propose in this article.
How to move in Abu Dhabi
With little time available, the most suitable means of transport is certainly the taxi. You can take one to the Louvre (about 30 'and minimum 10 euros) and then from there look for another one to take you to the Mosque, and so on, or you can bargain directly with the same taxi to do the complete tour, but it could be much more expensive. Alternatively, you can also use Uber X (especially if you don't want to withdraw in local currency).
Health Insurance is required
In Emirates our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to always take out medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!).
What to see in Abu Dhabi in a few hours
Louvre Abu Dhabi
THEAbu Dhabi Louvre inaugurated in November 2017 e is located in Saadiyat Island ("Island of Happiness") inside a spectacular building in the shape of a flying saucer designed by Jean Nouvel. It represents one of the most ambitious cultural projects in the world, and exhibits a wide selection of European and Middle Eastern art objects from both the collection of the Louvre in Paris (including Leonardo da Vinci's La Belle Ferronnière, Vincent van Gogh's Self-portrait , the bronze sculpture Apollo of the Belvedere di Primaticcio, etc.) and new purchases (let's say that the scieicchi have no shortage of money!).
I honestly imagined it would be cool, but not like that! The structure suspended over the sea is nothing short of incredible and the collections largely live up to the brand. I expected to see few pieces and of lesser quality than the sister museum in Paris, but that's not the case. The set up is really wonderful and well done, with explanatory captions in different languages. Devote a minimum of 2 hours to the visit.
The project also expects the entire Saadiyat Island to become the Cultural District of Abu Dhabi: 27 square km of surface (and an investment of 27 million dollars) which will house, among others, a new one Guggenheim Museum and Zayed National Museum respectively designed by the archistars Frank Gehry e N. I know so much that the long stopover in Abu Dhabi will become a must every time I fly east!
Buy your skip-the-line ticket for the Louvre Museum online from this link
La Sheikh Zayed Mosque
La Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the mosque of records and represents a spectacular symbol of Islamic pride. Completed in 2007, the mosque was commissioned by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultanal Nahyan, to whom it is named and who lies buried in a modest white marble mausoleum near the entrance (he was buried there before the mosque was completed in 2007). This mosque is one of the largest in the world and certainly the most expensive (it is also one of the few mosques in the United Arab Emirates open to non-Muslims). Its eighty domes and four white marble minarets are visible for miles, but the prayer hall is the true masterpiece of contemporary Islamic design. The hall welcomes the largest carpet in the world (woven in Iran by about 1200 artisans, it measures over 5000 square meters and weighs 47 tons) e the largest chandelier ever made (made in Germany with a million Swarowski crystals), however what really strikes you is the harmony of this opulence, which in the end is almost discreet. The whole complex is really huge and the visit both inside and outside requires, even here, a minimum of 1h-1h and 30 '. To enter the mosque there are separate entrances for men and women where there are metal detectors and where you are given clothes / scarves to cover your arms, legs and head (only for women of course!). If it is compatible with your flight times, try to be here before sunset to fully enjoy the magic and at the same time the solemnity of the place.
If you have more than 10 hours available, other interesting things to see in Abu Dhabi can certainly be:
Let's talk about the "waterfront" of Abu Dhabi, one 5 km long coastal road along the western edge of Abu Dhabi where some of the most famous buildings in the city are located such as the huge complex of Ethiad Towers (with an observation desk on the 74th floor), theADNOC building and the complex Nations Towers.
Qasr al Hosn
This "Palace-fortress" it is located almost in the exact center of Abu Dhabi and it is the oldest building in the city (dates back to 1761). Built as a single tower to defend Abu Dhabi's only freshwater well, it was later expanded to become the residence of the ruling Al Nahyan family and served this function until 1966. In December 2018, after a long renovation, it will open to host a museum on the historical and cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi.
Il 421 Warehouse It's a big one cultural center in two former industrial warehouses, which opened in 2015 in the port district of Mina Zayed to support and encourage interaction between local artists, designers, musicians and performers. The spaces are very beautiful and visitors can participate in dozens of debates, workshops, concerts, screenings and temporary exhibitions.