And so ends another INSEAD trip, my second last before graduating in Singapore in December. I arrived back in Australia tonight, but still think it is afternoon given the seven hour time difference so am resorting to writing to pass the night.
Our work in Entrepreneurial Ventures during the week provided a great opportunity to think further about development of Everyday Adventures and I thought it would be fitting to provide a recap of the adventure activities I discovered, or our group tried, during the week in Abu Dhabi.
The adventure activities in the United Arab Emirates are clearly quite different to what I’m used to given the different landscape and heat, but the good news is there is still a great variety of activities for travellers to enjoy. Here’s a taste of what I discovered in a week in the UAE.
Running, walking and biking the Corniche
The Corniche stretches for 8km along the Abu Dhabi city waterfront. It has been fitted out with fantastic walking and cycle ways, lined with gardens and in many places covered with shade clothe.
The beaches themselves are white sand with brilliant blue water that is warm enough to float in for long periods. While the sand is generally fairly hard, it still makes for a good experience. Lifeguards are positioned at regular intervals with swimming only in patrolled and netted areas (a little strange given the shallow water and lack of waves, but makes it very safe).
I enjoyed some running and walking along the route of a morning. There were also bikes available for hire from a place called Fun Ride Sports which I didn’t get to try, but would be ideal on the flat tracks.
For families in need of outdoor activities the Corniche also has one of the highest densities of playgrounds I’ve seen.
Yas Marina Circuit
There are lots of adventure activities in the Yas Marina district. An incredible spot near the airport and about 30 mins from the town centre by car. In just two years, desert was transformed into a district with five star hotels, restaurants, a state of the art formula 1 track and theme parks including Ferrari World, the largest indoor theme park in the world.
When I arrived in Abu Dhabi I went straight to Yas and took part in a circuit tour. Not the most physical of adventures, but a great way to get behind the scenes of the formula 1 track and acclimatise.
On Tuesday nights there is the opportunity to get more active on the circuit when they open it for runners and cyclists which some of our class took advantage of.
For those looking for more high octane adventures, there are an array of karting and driving instruction experiences available including the opportunity to race at north of 200km / hr in a single seat racer. Unfortunately I couldn’t fit it in with class schedules, which is probably a good thing.
While not the type of adventure I would normally report, I would be remiss not to mention Ferrari World. Situated alongside the race circuit, Ferrari World is the largest indoor theme park in the world which also boasts the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa – 0 to 240 kph in 4.9 seconds. It still makes me laugh thinking about the impact of the g-force on my stomach. That and the advanced driving simulator replicating a real F1 experience are worth the trip out alone.
Also in the area is an extensive water park which I didn’t try, but would provide an ideal activity in the Abu Dhabi heat.
I wrote earlier this week about the four wheel drive Abu Dhabi desert safari we experienced.
The desert provided an amazing playground, one that would no doubt be fabulous to explore if you stayed in the area with activities ranging from hiking, to camping and sand surfing.
I’m looking forward to learning more about the adventure opportunities in this part of the world from my colleagues in the Middle East section of my INSEAD course.
While I didn’t manage to get out on the water myself, the group made the most of being on the gulf in the warm weather and discovered a range of activities available in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai from sailing to
jet skiing to wake boarding (one of my class mates pictured below off the Dubai coast, but equally available in Abu Dhabi).
There are also kayaking opportunities in the area with companies such as Noukhada Adventures running tours which I was hoping to try but didn’t squeeze in. They offered some hiring of kayaks as well although it wasn’t clear from the contact I had what restrictions applied.
Clearly climbing isn’t likely to be big in a largely flat landscape. I looked into opportunities and there were very few in Abu Dhabi itself. Dubai offers some climbing gyms although they didn’t look worth making the trip for alone.
Putting your feet up
No everyday adventure is complete without putting your feet up afterwards. The good news is that Abu Dhabi has no end of places to relax. Sitting by the pool with a beer after a big day you felt like you could easily be on an island resort.
Thanks for a great week Abu Dhabi!