Time Out, I need advice. My family is coming to visit me for a couple of days.
So you’re looking for something uniquely Abu Dhabi that’s a tourist hotspot?
Exactly! They’ve got fine-dining restaurants back home, so I want to take them somewhere more cultural.
In that case, look no further than the Heritage Village on the breakwater near Marina Mall.
What’s so special about it?
Run by the Emirates Heritage Club, this reconstruction of a traditional oasis village provides an interesting glimpse into the emirate’s past. The Abu Dhabi Heritage Village is set in elegant gardens and features a mock souk, traditional mosque, a recreated Bedouin encampment and a barasti house. There is also an open museum that displays traditional aspects of the desert way of life, including a campfire with coffee pots, a goat’s hair tent and a falaj irrigation system.
That’s a great way to see how far Abu Dhabi has come.
Yep. In fact, the museum has photos on display of Abu Dhabi from before the oil boom. It’s astonishing to see how the capital has changed from a sleepy pearl diving village to the bustling city of today in such a short amount of time.
Nice! The family will love that.
Absolutely. There are also workshops where craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills, such as metal work and pottery, while women sit weaving and spinning. The craftsmen are happy to share their skills and might occasionally give you the chance to try them out.
My mum will want to buy souvenirs for all her friends.
Then she’s in luck. She can do exactly that at the small traditional souk where she can practise her bargaining skills for some Abu Dhabi souvenirs such as handmade soap, silver jewellery and traditional clothing.
How much is this all going to set me back?
Nothing! The Heritage Village is educational, fun and completely free (apart from the trinkets).
Sat-Thu 9am-5pm, Fri 3.30pm-9pm. www.visitabudhabi.ae.
Only at Heritage Village
Many years ago, before the UAE’s busy highways, traffic and taxis came along, the main mode of transport was by camel. So it’s no surprise the Heritage Village has its very own camel for guests to interact with.
But that’s not all. The young ones can take turns to enjoy camel rides around the premises. If that’s not an authentic Emirati experience, we don’t know what is.