Abu Dhabi’s old-world hospitality emerged centuries ago when meeting travelers in the desert was a common occurrence. Today, it sets the stage for some of the most hyperlocal group experiences to be found—whether this means craftsman such as Bedouin weavers eager to show groups their trade, camel herders and falconers eager to share their sport or henna artists happy to share their traditions.
Heritage-inspired experiences anchor the city’s meetings and incentives. Al Ain (meaning “The Spring”) is the heritage heartland and a UNESCO World Heritage site that is open to groups, while Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) holds the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass—really larger than the eyes can hold. Camel riding, sand surfing and perusing an array of museums, shops and attractions, such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the only Ferrari-branded amusement park in the world with the world’s fastest roller coaster, are sure to keep groups engaged.
The Emirates’ love affair with coffee and dates is also worth mentioning—today, dates are available in numerous modern varieties, whether chocolate covered, stuffed with almonds or candied in orange peel; all of these varieties and more can be found at the Bateel, a renowned date delicatessen. This July, a date competition sits at the center of the Liwa Date Festival, which celebrates the symbolic and historic role that the date palm plays in Emirati culture.
You’ll find countless world-class venues in Abu Dhabi, but for a step back in time, check out the majlis, or tented meeting spaces, which have marked the spot for business meetings since the days of the Silk Route. It’s definitely worth adding to your trip, along with one of many five-star hotels (there are more than 40 in the Emirates), such as the grand Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Emirates Plaza or Crowne Plaza, located in the city centre. The Arabian Nights Village begins and ends with an unparalleled desert journey over towering sand dunes. Accommodations range from Bedouin tents to palm and desert houses—the point, is really to get out and experience traditional Bedouin life.
Still, the new Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi on Yas Island is stealing much of the city’s thunder these days. The themed destination, set to open in 2018, will highlight the stories and characters of some of the studio’s DC Comics Super Heroes universe. Warner Bros. World will be positioned next to Ferrari World and the Emirati-themed mega waterpark, Yas Waterworld.