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Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Often bypassed by UK visitors in favor of glitzy, glittering Dubai, Abu Dhabi has been making up for lost time in the tourism stakes and can now look its neighboring emirate straight in the eye. As capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is employing its staggering wealth to up its ante, with the recent opening of a raft of beach clubs, high-end mega-malls and a sprinkling of world-class theme parks including the awesome – and line free – Ferrari World and its adrenaline-pumping neighbor, Yas Waterworld.

Visitors can now enjoy year-round sunshine, gourmet restaurants and swanky hotels, plus the chance to explore the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, surely the most ornate – and certainly the biggest – Muslim place of worship in the world.  Rumor has it that 2016 will also finally see the opening of the long-awaited and visionary Louvre and Guggenheim outposts on manmade Saadiyat Island. Designed by Jean Nouvel and Frank Gehry respectively, they will be joining the UAE Pavilion and the galleries and theaters of Manarat Al Saadiyat, reinforcing Abu Dhabi’s self-proclaimed intention to become the cultural and heritage destination of the Middle East.