The UAE flag on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi draws a lot of visitors.

46 Favorite Places in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is turning 46!

To celebrate, we asked NYU Abu Dhabi community members to share some of their favorite spots around the UAE, from world famous sites, to little known souks, and all the interesting places in between.

(in no particular order)


1. The Fish Market at Mina Zayed Port Abu Dhabi. They will spice and grill seafood on the spot for you! For a more polished experience, visit one of the port restaurants for a delicious, sit-down version of the same freshness.

2. Hiking in the beautiful mountains of Ras Al Khaimah (Jebel Jais).

3. The Louvre in Abu Dhabi is one of my new favorite places!

4. Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi and surrounding area. This is a must-see for any race car and fitness enthusiast, not to mention the whole range of entertainment and good restaurants nearby.

5. Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain — one of the UAE’s most historic buildings.

6. Al Wathba Camel Racetrack. The camels are not very graceful, but they sure are fun to watch!

The UAE is known for its camel culture.
The UAE is known for its camel culture.

7. Bastakiya and Al Fahidi Historical District in Dubai. It's like going back in time a few decades.

8. Qanat Al Qasbah, Sharjah — at dusk. The perfect place for a stroll with plenty of restaurants in case you get hungry.

9. The Kalba and Fujairah coastline. The drive down the coastline is beautiful but what it makes it truly special is that you can easily hop out of your car and walk just a few feet to get to the sea, something that's no longer possible in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

10. The plant souks in Mina Abu Dhabi. So many random and amazing things from trinkets to furniture, and of course all kinds of plants. Some interesting views of the Corniche through the fishing boats, oil rigs, and old dhows,

11. Qasr Al Sarab, an amazing oasis in the desert and one of the most unexpected and luxurious places in the UAE.

12. Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Palm. These man-made wonders are an amazing showcase of what people are capable of if they set their minds to something.

13. Saadiyat Beach in Abu Dhabi.

Saadiyat Beach, Abu Dhabi.
Saadiyat Beach, Abu Dhabi.

14. The fruit and vegetable market in Mina Zayed Port at night when the fruit sellers have their produce lined up under spotlights in the parking lot.

15. Global Village in Dubai.

16. Kayaking the Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi during the winter to see the white flamingos.

17. The rugged coastline of Fujairah along one of my favorite oceans in the world — the Indian Ocean.

18. The Last Exit food truck park on Sheikh Zayed Road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

19. Renting a bike or just walking along the Corniche in Abu Dhabi at sunset.

The Corniche walkway in Abu Dhabi runs more than 10 kilometers along the beachfront.
The Corniche walkway in Abu Dhabi runs more than 10 kilometers along the beachfront.

20. Bateen Beach. Some great residential architecture references in the villas in nearby blocks: colonial, post modern, brutalist, victorian. From the beach itself I love seeing the bridge to Hudariyat Island. It's a gorgeous bridge and feels like a metaphor for something since it currently goes to an undeveloped island.

21. Madinat Zayed Mall for local gifts and the gold/silver souk.

22. Zayed Sports City — they have a great softball field and top of the line athletic facilities.

23. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

24. Enjoying a quiet weekend with nature at Sir Bani Yas Island in the Western Region of the UAE.

25. The dunes of Liwa. The desert sand has a different hue in nearly every Emirate but the beauty of the landscape of Liwa and the Western Region of Abu Dhabi is just something else. Stars and silence are best experienced here.

Students enjoy riding in the sand dunes.
Students enjoy riding in the sand dunes.

26. Jazirat Al Hamra village in Ras Al Khaimah — the "ghost town."

27. Dubai Garden Center on a Friday. Not only can you buy any plant under the sun, but if you go on a Friday it's also Kitty Adoption Day.

28. Zaya Nurai Island, a private resort on its own island.

29. Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah.

30. Third Place Cafe on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. You’ll often find NYUAD students there having coffee, studying, and talking.

31. Accessibility to water sports like boating and kayaking.

32. Campfires and cookouts on the beach in Fujairah near Snoopy Island.

Students camping in the desert.
Students camping in the desert.

33. Walking through the super blocks in downtown Abu Dhabi and scoring some delicious and cheap eats!

34. Moreeb Dune — the tallest dune in the UAE.

35. JBR waterfront in Dubai is the best place to chill, eat, walk, shop, and people watch.

36. The drive into Qasr Al Sarab resort about two hours east of Abu Dhabi.

37. Beach volleyball courts on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. There are lots of open games happening on the weekends.

38. Hatta Dam in Dubai.

Students ride a traditional boat in Abu Dhabi.
Students ride a traditional boat in Abu Dhabi.

39. Jebel Hafeet and Mubazarah Park in Al Ain.

40. The canal on Yas Island where I take my dogs for runs on the weekends.

41. There is a great camping site in the mountains of Fujairah. It's owned by an Emirati craftsman, Seif, who has created a comfortable yet authentic camping site (think tents to sleep in, a working bathroom, majlis, and campfires).

42. Cinema Akil: an independent cinema platform that brings quality films from across the world to audiences in the UAE.

43. Dubai Design District.

44. Wandering around the spice market and gold souk in Old Dubai, and getting there on rickety dhows across Dubai Creek

45. The 5-6 hour drive through the UAE mountains on the way to Oman. The landscapes are so unique.

46. Al Ain Oasis — it has more than 147,000 date trees.

The UAE is famous for its date trees.
The UAE is famous for its date trees.