Business trip: Abu Dhabi
To celebrate a deal, reserve a table on the water at Pearls & Caviar at the Shangri-La hotel on the eastern edge of downtown. Stylish and eclectic, the menu includes Mediterranean-inspired dishes such as grilled sea bass served with sweet potatoes, Sicilian figs and wild mushrooms. When you have finished eating, head upstairs to the all-white Pearls Bar which has a live DJ on weekend nights.
For a casually chic business lunch, check out popular Nahaam, situated poolside at the chic Jumeirah At Etihad Towers hotel. The diverse international menu ranges from pizza and salads to sushi, grilled seafood or burgers. Consider packing your bathing suit as you will likely be tempted to indulge in a post-prandial dip in the pool.
Off the clock
After a day of meetings or a long flight, join locals during the cooler evening hours on a stroll along the Corniche, which stretches for 8km along the western edge of the city. Sometimes it seems as though every resident and visitor has come out of the nearby hotels and residential towers to take in the sunset, cycle on the dedicated bike paths, splash in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf (know locally as the Arabian Gulf) and enjoy the lush gardens. It is especially popular among locals on Thursdays and Fridays, which are weekend nights in Abu Dhabi.
When travelling in the UAE, it is difficult to miss the richly fragrant aroma of oud, an expensive resin harvested from the agarwood tree that is burned as incense or worn as perfume or cologne. You can purchase oud as blocks or chips along with a special burner, or buy the distilled oil, which is popular as a distinctive, long lasting fragrance. Ask for it at local perfume stores such as YAS perfumes (multiple locations) or Arabian Oud in the Marina Mall.
Don’t do this
In Abu Dhabi you will likely find more traditional adherence to Islamic customs around dress, gender roles and alcohol consumption than in Dubai, its flashy neighbour to the north. While Abu Dhabi sees itself as the protector of traditional Muslim values, Western ways are making inroads in the capital. It is best to rely on experienced colleagues or hotel concierge staff for help with cultural nuances around alcohol consumption and dress codes.