Don’t be fooled by any preconceptions: the Holy Month of Ramadan, where observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, is a special and exciting time to spend in Abu Dhabi, whether you’re a first-time visitor or long-term local. Iftar, the act of sitting down as a community to break the day’s fast, makes for a particular highlight. Many of the emirate’s hotels unveil vast food tents aglow with coloured lanterns and buffet tables heaped with Emirati dishes. One of the most spectacular settings has to be the Roma Ballroom at The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal, where guests can have their fill at live cooking stations – look out for local delicacies like camel and lamb ouzie – and towering date displays. For the pre-sunrise meal of suhoor, meanwhile, the Ritz-Carlton’s illuminated palm garden makes a relaxing spot, with board games, shisha pipes and music from an oud player.
Stay at one of the best hotels in the city
With a whopping 10 restaurants plus its own waterpark and wave pool, the fourth UAE opening from Rixos hotels on Saadiyat island doesn’t scrimp on, well, anything. Abu Dhabi’s first all-inclusive concept, the 378-room beachfront resort is decked out like an Ottoman palace – all iridescent mosaics, ogee archways and arabesque patterns – while the equally palatial spa beckons with its Turkish hammam and snow room.
Try the hottest workout in the city
Why trundle away on a treadmill for hours when you can “take it out on the bag” and get killer abs into the bargain? Full-body workout meets stress-busting therapy at Abu Dhabi’s new “immersive” boxing studio, Punch. Classes (45 mins from AED 100) involve pummelling away at water-filled punch bags while curated playlists and mood lighting create a club-like vibe.
Nab a new travel staple
There’s nothing like long-haul travel to dry out your skin. So, Australian brand Aesop assembled this handy quartet to banish post-flight grime and fatigue. It contains four hair and body miniatures, including the Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser and aromatic Rind Concentrate Body Balm. Freshen up with this nifty box and you’ll be holiday-ready in no time. Available at Tryano (Yas Mall).
See a wordy art exhibition
The letters you’re reading on this page have their origin somewhere in what is now Lebanon; we have the ancient Phoenicians to thank for developing the first widely used alphabet, the antecedent of Arabic, Hebrew, Latin and more. Nomadic Traces: Journeys of Arabian Scripts (until 28 July) homes in on the most influential ancient alphabets of the Middle East – namely, Phoenician, Aramaic, Musnad, Palmyrene, Nabataean and early Arabic – and their wide-reaching impact on culture and communities. Rather than plotting a purely retrospective path, curator Huda Smitshuijzen Abifarès has commissioned nine works from contemporary creatives. The brief: to incorporate at least one of these early scripts or alphabets. There’s a stool carved in olive wood by Hamza Al Omari, textiles printed with talismanic symbols by Khalid Mezaina and Xeina Al Malki’s clay sculptures, offering not only a feast for the eyes, but “a timely reminder of how cross-border interactions have benefited cultural evolution,” according to Warehouse421 manager Faisal Al Hassan.