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Arabian nights: What to do in Abu Dhabi after dark

As home to some of the most epic tourist attractions in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is the go-to destination for visitors who want to enjoy a more genteel pace than its flashier neighbor, Dubai.

That aside, the UAE’s charming capital still packs a travel punch and is abuzz with activity, especially at night.

A cultural hub, shoppers’ paradise and home to everything from souks to super clubs, there’s definitely plenty of places to indulge.

Here’s our pick of seven great things to do and places to explore in the emirate at night:

Kayaking under the stars at The Louvre

Floating serenely on its own island, The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been quite rightly basking in the limelight since it opened in 2017 to the tune of $1 billion.

As one of the capital’s most exciting new cultural destinations, visitors have been flocking in their droves to marvel at the Jean Nouvel-designed masterpiece and enjoy the rotating exhibitions, and it’s even more impressive after dusk.

With opening hours stretching late into the evening, visitors can head to the rooftop bar Art Lounge for sunset cocktails and breathtaking views, while the more adventurous can opt for a thrilling kayak tour.

The 60-minute tour across the Arabian Sea (which runs at certain times throughout the year) allows design fans to learn more about the impressive architecture and experience the wonder close up under the starry sky, with special full moon tours also available.

Kayaking at Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi; +971 60056556

Bedouin experience at Shangri-La Hotel

With Abu Dhabi’s rich Bedouin past firmly ensconced in its culture, visitors can now experience a real taste of Arabia in five-star surroundings.

The city’s majestic Shangri-La Hotel is embracing its local heritage by offering guests an unforgettable experience under the Bedouin gazebo, with the culinary team offering a sumptuous tailor-made feast bursting with Arabic flavors on request.

Guests are invited to move onto an Arabian carpet by the canal for dessert and shisha where they can enjoy the beachfront ambiance, taking in spectacular views of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi; +971 25098888

Shop, dine and play at Al Maryah Island

Shopping in the Middle East is practically a national pastime and, more excitingly, Abu Dhabi is home to some of the most impressive super malls.

Step forward the shiny new kid on the block, The Galleria Al Maryah Island. This one-stop destination is a shoppers’ paradise and it’s already causing excitement in the capital with its excellent portfolio of designer boutiques and high street favorites.

There are plenty of options to refuel too with the impressive collection of high-end restaurants from all around the world including the likes of Roberto’s, Zuma and Coya.

Perfect spots for hanging out after hours include the three landscaped outdoor parks with games such as giant Jenga, the Xtreme Zone, as well as one of the largest movie theaters in the Middle East: the impressive 21-screen Vox Cinemas with IMAX, 4D technology and VIP cinema experience.

The Galleria Al Maryah Island, Al Sila Tower, Level 5, Suite 501; +971 26166999

Sunset tours at Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Renowned for its magnificent architecture and, at just 12 years old, already one of the world’s most-loved landmarks, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque is truly one of a kind.

The iconic mosque attracts millions of visitors each year and unsurprisingly, given its spectacularly ornate design, it’s also one of the most popular photography spots in the capital among tourists and celebrities alike.

There’s no better time to visit than at dusk. With the stunning white minarets and reflective pools framed against the soft pink light as the sun goes down, it’s nothing short of magical. Catch the sunset tour and make the most of the romantic “golden hour” lighting, which is perfect for Instagram shots where you’ll be able to marvel at the mosque in all its glory.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed St, Abu Dhabi; +971 24191919

Tee Time at Abu Dhabi Golf Club

Whether you’re a first-timer or golf pro, nothing beats the experience of playing a round at one of the most luxurious golf resorts in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi Golf Course is a tranquil oasis carved in the middle of the desert and alongside its pristine courses it also prides itself on offering “more than just golf.” True to its word, there are plenty of leisure activities, social events and dining options.

The best part is you can take a swing on the championship courses by day and head to the garden course at night where the powerful floodlights and 9 p.m. tee times ensure golfers can continue playing well after the sun goes down.

Party on Yas Island

With a roster of international DJs and a reputation of being one of the best clubs in Abu Dhabi, there’s no better place to dance the night away than MAD on Yas Island.

The UAE’s largest indoor nightclub doesn’t disappoint with captivating interiors and huge LED screens, lasers, themed parties and performances from world-class artists.

Renowned for hosting legendary parties, those in the know head to the island’s super club for a night to remember and with so many celebrities flying in for gigs, there’s no telling who you’ll rub shoulders with on the dance floor.

MAD on Yas Island, near Yas Tunnel, Abu Dhabi; +971 558346262

Midnight strolls on the Corniche

Abu Dhabi’s famed corniche is always a hive of activity, but it really comes alive after dark.

The manicured waterfront spread across eight kilometers is the perfect place to head for a romantic stroll along the beach, cycle around the track or people-watch from the buzzing local eateries.

Fancy panoramic views of the emirate from dizzying heights? Look no further than the magnificent Marina Eye Ferris Wheel, which dominates the city’s illuminated skyline on the Corniche Breakwater, and boasts 42 air-conditioned capsules including a VIP pod complete with leather seats.

Thrill-seekers can head to the Corniche Skate Park to join the city’s skateboarders busting a move with the BMX bikers and in-line skaters. Those who don’t fancy showing off their balance skills can watch the action from the sidelines and prepare to be impressed.

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