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Eternal summer in Abu Dhabi

There is no shortage of sun in Abu Dhabi. But the city offers a lot more than just beach. It is home to the world's largest carpet, the most expensive painting, the highest sand dunes and the fastest roller coaster. Get to know this KLM destination that breaks record after record.


Explore Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is both the capital of the self-named emirate and of the United Arab Emirates. Many travellers skip the city and make a beeline for Dubai, an hour’s drive away along the Persian Gulf. However, they are missing out as Abu Dhabi has lots to offer. Its modern architecture, white sandy beaches and insane amusement parks certainly measure up to its neighbour. Its many cultural attractions are world class.

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Jon Hicks
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Destination: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

KLM flight: daily non-stop from Amsterdam and vice versa

Population: 1.5 million

Location: around 120 kilometres southwest of Dubai

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Splendid mosque

For eleven years, the Sheik Zayed mosque has been the unrivalled crown jewel of Abu Dhabi. The main prayer area alone has broken two world records. The floor is covered with the world's largest carpet (composed of 2.2 billion knots) and the ceiling is decorated with the world's largest chandelier (diameter of 10 metres). The mosque can accommodate around 40,000 visitors.

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Juri Pozzi
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Maja Topcagic
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Achim Thomae

With the exception of Friday morning prayers, the mosque is also open to non-believers. This is your chance to admire the structure's sparkling marble, the Moorish archways and 81 domes(!).

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Masterful museums

From Mondriaan to Magritte and from Gauguin to Twombly. Last year's inauguration of the Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi has placed the city firmly on the map of art lovers. The collection's showpiece is a portrait of Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, acquired for 382 million euros making this the most expensive painting ever sold. However, the building itself with a dome made of 7,850 metal stars is the greatest masterpiece, at least for now until the completion of the Guggenheim branch currently under construction next door.

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Zhukov Oleg
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Crazy skyscrapers

The Louvre is not the only modern marvel in Abu Dhabi. Like the neighbouring Dubai, architects often have free reign to create the most extravagant castles in the air. Visit the headquarters of Aldar, a circular building precariously balanced on its side that is reminiscent of a crashed spaceship. Or even stranger, the tilted skyscraper of Capital Gate leaning four times more than the Tower of Pisa.

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Blistering sand dunes

Driving inland from the coast, you will soon leave Abu Dhabi behind and encounter nothing but desert. This bone dry hinterland is a fabulous playground for both residents and visitors. Ride a roaring jeep through the deep sand, cheer on the camels on the racetracks of Al Wathba and Al Maqam or careen down the sand dunes in the Liwa Oasis on skis or a sand board. These sand dunes are the highest in the world. Don’t expect anything less in Abu Dhabi.

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Ali Suliman
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Ahmed Alharthi / EyeEm


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