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A dreamlike weekend hopping from sand dunes to luxurious and futuristic architectures

Arabian Nights

15/04/2018

Is it so unusual to leave for a weekend in Abu Dhabi?

Well, I did embarque for this tour-de-force long weekend with great sacrifice (ha.. ha), really motivated to capture its uniqueness, away from touristic stereotypes. 


Defined as the younger sister of Dubai, Abu Dhabi remains one of the privileged locations for international travels and luxury shopping – a true paradise for fashion-addicted, personal shoppers and luxury-hotellerie lovers – it was indeed a great source of cultural and lifestyle inspiration. 


What to do when you are in Abu Dhabi is mainly a choice between past and future, between nature and technology.

Famous for its futuristic architecture, it’s like a bungee-jumping experience in the future: you lose yourself in a urban skyscrapers jungle after having been lulled by the almost surreal silence of the desert, here named  “Empty Quarter” - the largest sand desert on earth. 

Just spending a day and a night at Qsar-Al-Sarab Resort it is worth the three hours drive throught the desert highway, overlooking oil wells and you feel like a royal princess during the Islamic Golden Age .. sipping a “cosmopolitan” though.


Many of the most spectacular luxury hotels are housed in the high skyscrapers of the city center, like the most photographed Emirates Towers, or the Emirates Palace, which combines the two dimensions, tourist and representation. 


Straight to the quintessence of arabic shopping: Abu Dhabi Mall, perhaps the largest in the city. Here you can shop among more than 250 stores. For my philosophy of shopping as a local .. well I would say that this is the downside part of Abu Dhabi .. yes, luxurious boutiques and shops but only international brands and they’re way more expensive than Europe, too. An absolute lack of a real local craftsmanship. Missing the time to browse any further ...maybe anywhere out there I could have found my beloved kaftans and accomplish my shop-alcoholic side? 


Ok, let’s properly dress up to take a very worth visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It stands out as one of the world’s largest mosques, and the only one that captures unique interactions between Islam and world cultures. The very smart vision of Sheikh Zayed was to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilizations and celebrate cultural diversity by creating a haven that is truly diverse and inspirational in its foundation. The architects who planned the mosque were British, Italian and Emirati, and the design inspiration was borrowed partially from  Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt among other Islamic countries, revealing an architectural marvel with an astonishing capacity of 40,000 worshippers and visitors.  The marble of the columns and the floral facades is the one from Carrara .. And what about the biggest carpet in the world entirely handmade?  

Guess where it was my best shopping experience? At the museum book-store of Louvre Abu Dhabi: great coffee-table books and adorable gadgets!

The brand new museum – opened in November 2017- is an architectural masterpiece by designer, Jean Nouvel, and includes a growing collection of ancient archaeological finds, paintings, and both historical and contemporary installations. Hundreds of pieces represent ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, ancient Chinese dynasties, the Renaissance, the Impressionists and the Modernists. An internation hub for a cultural and religious interchance between East and West.

Loved the web-patterned ceiling which allows the sun to filter through the space, a pure joy for the eyes .

Back home with the best gift ever: the experience of living a weekend like a real Shahrazād!

 

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