On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi. During the Foreign Minister’s historic visit to the United Arab Emirates, Local Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Ben-Zayed and Foreign Minister Lapid signed an agreement for economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.
A few days earlier, Eitan Naa, Israel’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, met with members of the delegation of manufacturers who visited the emirates, headed by the president of the Manufacturers’ Association, Dr. Ron Tomer. The delegation held a series of meetings with the heads of the economy in Abu Dhabi in order to create collaborations between the Israeli manufacturers and manufacturers and businessmen from the Emirates.
Quite a few Israeli businessmen will surely find themselves flying to the Emirates in the near future. Since Dubai has already become mainstream among Israelis, it is time to get to know Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates and its largest emirate – the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
We went out there to see what options are available to business people who will come and want to combine business and pleasure and maybe even attach the daughter or spouse and children.
Pampering and luxury
After only 2:45 hours of flight on the direct route of Etihad Airways, which began its flights to Israel last April, you will arrive at Abu Dhabi Airport. After you do a corona check at the airport, you will be allowed to go outside and start getting acquainted with the place.
This will open – in the summer months at least – in the first encounter with temperatures that only Eilat among us are used to (44 – 48 degrees). Despite the initial market, one eventually learns to get along with the heat as well.
In which hotel do you sleep? You can of course stay in one of the luxurious hotels in the city itself, but there is another option as well. A 15-minute drive from Abu Dhabi Airport you will find the 25-square-meter tourist island of Yas Island, featuring luxury hotels and a variety of award-winning attractions.
Even the dog is welcome
The Amsalem Tours Group currently has a unique collaboration with Yas Island, for the purpose of marketing the island. “We are excited to officially launch our attractive vacation packages to Lias Island Abu Dhabi, which is emerging as the next hot destination among Israelis,” says Yaakov Amsalem, owner and CEO of the Amsalem Tours Group.
“There is a resurgence of holiday bookings in July-August and the Tishrei holidays, and we estimate that demand will skyrocket in the winter months as well, due to being a particularly warm and comfortable destination. The hospitality experience includes luxurious hotels, spectacular beaches and countless unique family attractions.”
There are eight hotels in the island. W Abu Dhabi is one of the most prominent of them (5 stars, Marriott chain), and its uniqueness is its location above a racetrack and above the marina where wealthy yachts moor.
The hotel, which has an area of 3,500 square meters, has 499 special rooms as well as luxurious suites. The size of a standard room is the size of an average two-room apartment, and it is equipped with everything you can imagine.
From the window of the room there is a racetrack, which we will reach later. WOW, the luxury suite, is 409 m2 in size and is spread over two floors and features a private pool.
At the hotel you will find an impressive pool, restaurants and bars, and its design combines many elements from the sea and fishing areas, the occupation of the locals, before they discovered the oil. The hotel also allows dogs to be brought on holiday, and in case you want to rest from them for a while – there will be someone to take care of them.
Because we live in a time when the corona is still present, adherence to procedures is evident everywhere. All employees and guests at the hotel wear, without exception, masks, every corner has disinfection stations, seating on sofas in the lobby is limited to two people and also in the hotel’s famous restaurant – Garage – make sure no more than four diners sit around one table.
Another prominent and luxurious hotel on the island is the Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, located on the waterfront. In addition to them there are six hotels at different accommodation levels, belonging to the Yas Plaza Hotels chain.
From green countries only
The mix of tourists who come to the island is diverse and consists of residents from the UAE and guests from around the world. On weekdays they come from England, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, India, Ireland and more.
In the corona era the situation is slightly different as entry to Abu Dhabi is only allowed for tourists from green countries. Residents of the Emirates visiting Abu Dhabi must present a pcr test done in the 24 hours prior to their arrival, even if they are vaccinated.
I arrived in Abu Dhabi on days when the Israeli Ministry of Health issued a stern travel warning to the United Arab Emirates, but the strict adherence to the procedures there gave me confidence. Hotel workers, I was told, are vaccinated with two doses of the Chinese vaccine, and also undergo a pcr test once a week in Corona.
In hotels, and almost everywhere else, you will have a hard time finding local workers. The services are performed by migrant workers from countries such as India, Egypt and Sri Lanka.
Although before the flight I was explicitly instructed to wear modest clothes, no miniskirt and no T-shirts, but in the hotels I visited I saw everything from everything: Muslim women dressed in black hijab and men in white galabiyas, accompanied by tourism in miniskirts, sleeveless shirts and flip flops.
However, in the internal division between the Emirates, Abu Dhabi is considered more conservative in relation to Dubai, for example, but this does not have too much of an impact on tourists from the West.
The peak months of tourism in Abu Dhabi are October-April, when temperatures are relatively comfortable compared to the summer months. The most sought after and expensive month this year at the W Hotel is December, when Formula 1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events will be held on the island, and hotel guests will be able to watch part of the route from the balcony of their room.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a car race that has been held as part of the Formula 1 Championship since 2009, is attracting a lot of interest on the island, and also includes performances by international artists.
The price of a package for Formula One days, including a direct flight to Abu Dhabi, transfers and four nights at Hotel W between December 8-12, on a breakfast basis, starts at $ 5,100 per person in a standard double room (according to Amsalem Tours prices).
Even before Formula 1
Until the start of the Grand Prix, car and extreme enthusiasts who come to Yas Island can have fun in various types of luxury cars, and the route also revolves around Hotel W. These cars can be rented at Yas Marina Circuit – which serves as the focus of the sports and entertainment world in the UAE.
In the marina is located the DRIVE YAS complex, with luxury cars. For a 20-minute drive in Aston Martin, for example, you will have to part with 1,800 dirhams (about 1,600 shekels). A 15-minute drive in a Ferrari 458 GT will cost 4,200 dirhams (about NIS 3,730). “Everything has been invited for a few good days ahead.
You can not find a vacant car now, “smiles the place manager. But do not worry, if these prices exceed your budget, you can always take comfort in the karting complex in the place, where car prices are much more accessible.
Something to wear
Yas Mall, the largest mall in Abu Dhabi, offers a variety of more than 400 international brands, including many premium brands as well as complexes of cinemas, restaurants and cafes. The stores in the mall are carefully designed, and you can find everything from everything: fashion, cosmetics, children’s products and more.
Prices in most stores are not cheap, to say the least. The mall is meticulously designed, brilliant in its cleanliness, full of security and maintenance personnel who constantly patrol and take care to maintain the level, in all respects.
Everyone who enters the place, as well as places with more visitors, is photographed, and order prevails. Regarding wearing masks there is an iron discipline. On a few hours tour of the mall we did not encounter a single person who was without a mask or partially wearing it. Also, every corner of the mall has countless hand sanitizers, and the restroom staff cleans every cell as soon as someone leaves.
We returned to Yas Mall 48 hours before the flight to Israel. This time not for the purpose of shopping, but to perform a corona examination at the clinic located there. As long as the guidelines have not been changed, it is impossible to fly back to the country without presenting a negative corona test.
In order to be able to spend time in Abu Dhabi even during the summer days when the temperature is rampant, indoor and air-conditioned attraction complexes have been set up in Bias Island, suitable for the whole family.
One of them is the Ferrari World – an award-winning Ferrari-inspired indoor amusement park that includes Formula Rosa, the world’s fastest roller coaster at 240 km / h. In addition, there are countless attractions for different ages, even for small children.
You can sit in one of the on-site restaurants or enter the Ferrari branded product stores. For an additional fee it is possible to drive a real Ferrari alongside a professional driver or sit next to the driver.
The price depends on the car model, and ranges from 895 dirhams (about 794 shekels) to 1,135 dirhams (about 1,007 shekels) for a 20-minute drive with the driver sitting next to you. A 20-minute drive with the driver ranges from 595 dirhams (about NIS 527) to 837 dirhams (about NIS 742).
Just before you get on the Ferrari, they will make sure to book you next to the car. At the end of the trip you will receive a souvenir of two photos and a CD describing the trip itself (included in the price).
Another attraction on the island, which attracts many visitors, is Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi – an amusement park that brings to life superheroes like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, alongside animated characters like Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Scooby Doo. The place has dozens of diverse attractions for the whole family, many restaurants and shopping complexes. So that you do not put too much effort, some of the attractions in the complex have employees whose job it is to press the disinfectant pump in your place.
Love to climb or hover? CLYMB Abu Dhabi is an indoor adventure center that offers a skydiving experience for children and adults as well as climbing walls at various levels, including those that can be used by children aged 3 and up. If you feel like a professional, you can try the 42-meter-high climbing wall.
In October, another indoor attraction is expected to open on the island – Disney on Ice.
One of the most sought after attractions on the island is Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. A huge water park that has won many prizes, and has countless slides and attractions such as a 300-meter-long water train.
About 20 minutes from Myas Island is Saadiyat Island, home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi – Museum of Art and Culture. The Louvre Abu Dhabi has a unique architectural design and has many galleries displaying works from around the world, with an emphasis on works that bridge the gap between Eastern and Western art.
The museum was inaugurated in November 2017, after its establishment was approved by the French parliament in 2007 and a cooperation agreement was signed between the French government and the city of Abu Dhabi.
If you decide to travel to Abu Dhabi itself (35 minutes from Myas Island), it is recommended to visit the impressive Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is considered one of the ten largest and most magnificent mosques in the world.
To enter the mosque, and even just to photograph it from the outside, one must be careful about modest dress: long dresses for women and long pants for men. In addition, it is advisable to visit the Palace of the Nation (Qasr-Al-Watan), and do not miss a glimpse of the luxurious Emirates Palace, which can not be left indifferent to its appearance.
The check, please
And now for the prices. “As part of the product we are offering these days, children up to the age of 12 (one child per adult) will be able to stay at the hotel and at the award-winning attractions on the island free of charge (apart from paying for the flight ticket price) until September 30, 2021,” says Liam Findley. To Experience Hub Abu Dhabi.
Sample prices of the Amsalem Tours Group for August:
One person in a standard double room at the W Hotel: starting at $ 969 (including a direct flight to Abu Dhabi, 4 nights on a breakfast basis, transfers and entry to three parks). The same package, on a half-board basis, will start at $ 1,145 per person.
At Hilton Yas Island, the price per person in a double room starts at $ 799 (including a direct flight to Abu Dhabi, 4 nights on a breakfast basis, transfers and entry to three parks). The same package, on a half-board basis, starts at $ 870 per person
The author was a guest of Experience Hub Abu Dhabi and the Amsalem Tours Group