The United Arab Emirates is probably best know for the sliver of excess known as Dubai that lounges on the western coast 100 kilometres north of its hyper-wealthy neighbour Abu Dhabi. Forget about billion dollar hotels and dazzling grand prix circuits, the UAE is virtually all desert and Abu Dhabi monitors the Empty Quarter from a tiny offshore archipelago held together by the unimaginable wealth and a cheap labour force. The Rub al Khali, to give it its proper name, is the largest sand desert on earth, 1000 miles of dune big enough to lose France in. The ride, Harley's are a favourite over there, will take you on a triangular circuit from the oasis town of Al Ain down to Abu Dhabi and then Liwa. The drive, on virtually unused high-quality black-top, snakes through 300 metre high dunes and vast, mesmerizingly beautiful desert plains. Set off early and the air is cold and still, alone in this ocean of sand and you'll feel like you're flying. This is what motorcycling would feel like if you were the last person on Earth.
Basically, just a good, friendly pub, usually with live music which can vary from excellent to dreadful and OK food. Gets quite lively at weekends, and has a nightclub next to it which is one of the few of its kind in the city where a group of women would feel comfortable.
Location: Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road, Al Khubeirah, Abu Dhabi
Tel: 02 681 1900
This is a fairly standard hotel bar six days a week, but there is live jazz here on Fridays, and while fairly mainstream, it's about as good as you will find in the UAE, where all too often, "jazz" is understood to mean some flat voiced woman singing "Strangers in the night" backed by a cheesy pre-programmed keyboard. There is a core of four regular musicians and when they are all there, the music can be very good indeed, and it is also a very friendly atmosphere.
Location: Novotel Centre Hotel Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Street
Tel: 02 633 3555
Depending on where you have to travel to in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, then the time through AUH into town, or to "new" Dubai is much quicker than travelling to DXB airport. The time taken from touchdown to exiting the airport is much quicker.
Abu Dhabi International Airport, opposite Al Raha Beach (which happens to have a fine hotel, the AL Raha Beach Hotel)
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