Yas Island has become rightly renowned for being the best in motor-sport entertainment. As Yas has constantly pushed the limits in motor-shows when the tables are turned for you to have a go at the sport the expectations are high but the delivery slightly lower. Paying an unforgivable 100DHS for 15 minutes on the track is the initial setback in your racing experience, but after belting it round the track the few times i found, through experience and regret, that the company can wirelessly limit your engine if they think your driving is too fast or dangerous, a ludicrous safety measure as there is no warning or indication that how you're driving is considered 'inproper' yet your engine is suffocated all the same.
Overall the track is nice, the registration is smooth, but for 50DHS less you can visit a nicer track in Jebel Ali so once again Yas dominates not by competition but by default.
There is only one word to describe Ferrari World: You will constantly be repeating that one key word to yourself throughout your visit to the first Ferrari themed amusement park in the world. The speed of the rides will make you say "wow", the spectacular display of vintage cars will make you echo "wow'' and the stunning 4D rides that will engross you into the seemingly authentic surroundings will make you speculate whether or not "wow" completely sums up the experience.
The initial impact, and the only drawback, is the lengthy drive from either Abu Dhabi or the surrounding Mohammed Bin Zayed area. Although this is only a small point it is worth mentioning, but it is completely overlooked once you actually arrive. Before you actually mount any rides or attractions you are greeted by the staff who are friendly, attentive and concerned that you will enjoy yourself. It is often the personality of a staff that will determine your enjoyment of a day at an amusement park and the cashiers, ride operators and even the people greeting you at the entrance to every ride are friendly and attentive.
The rides are fantastic. The Formula Rossa stands out as one of the most adrenaline-pumping and terrifying experiences, but the thrill is completely worth it. Other smaller rides such as the 'vertigo drop' are good by their own standard but seem minute compared to the scale of the Rossa. There are rides aimed at every age with helpful guides posted on signs advising age, for the children there are spectacular 4D adventures, such as travelling in a Ferrari GT or chasing after an illusive character while 3D environments open up to you.
The history of Ferrari is present in ever corner of the park, amazing old models are coupled with explanations of the designs and modifications as a personal collection of cars and trinkets are easily viewed. and the park makes a fantastic day out during Ramadan.
The Al Safeer Centre has everything many malls has = a small food court, a large Lulu and a small clothing shop. Al Safeer is the jack of all trades but master of none. Being a white male I often feel intimidated by the stares I receive from the workmen. The Lulu is well priced and their takeaway is very well valued, but you have to plan your time of visits, mid-afternoon on the weekend is awful and there isn't any elbow room down the aisles, but mid-day on a weekday is often easier.
The parking has a lot to be desired and there are not toilet facilities. Less preferable over Mazyad Mall, but slightly easier if you want something smaller.
Located on the second floor of the Mazyad Mall (also present in the Abu Dhabi mall), the Azela Saloon offers one of the best hair cuts I have ever had.
After having my hair cut (in the first time in years) at the Abu Dhabi Mall, the only burden I faced was the half-hour drive to get to my favourite saloon, until I was told they would be opening in Mazyad Mall too!
I was worried the quality in the Mazyad wouldn't be as high quality as that in the Abu Dhabi Mall, but I was amazed that the hairdressers understood what you described in your hair cut, it was quick but also done with great care. A wash is available after for no extra cost and service always comes with a smile.
The magazines are up to date, (no issues from 2007 lurking) and if not too busy the staff will always offer you a coffee.
Overall the attention to detail and care involved in this saloon is next to none and I would recommend it to all.
Before even arriving at Khalifa park your experience is dampened by the lack of parking facilities - the back entrance was filled with worker's vans and the front by cars parked to go and visit the surrounding shops (prestige motors, etc.)
The park is currently undergoing renovations so much of the attractions and swing sets are not acceptable, essentially leaving you with a large open green space. There aren't many staff roaming the park, so if you need to ask where the nearest bin are (which are few and far between). Of course, when entering the park they are quick to inform you of the 1 AED price to get in.
The park itself is of average standard, offering little breeze and with the towering city being omnipresent in all of your surroundings, it often feels like you're in some sort of holding room for de-pressurising before entering a submarine or something.
A day at Khalifa Park is not a day out, it's a way to kill a day as you look for things to do in the park. It's like a truck rest stop before moving on to Khalidiya Mall.
I'll admit that I am not easily impressed by food and I generally eat for the energy rather than the taste, but after a hard day of fasting my mouth was dry and my tongue bored and the Aloft impressed me.
Along with my family I opted in for the buffet rather than the menu. Amazingly priced at 150 (after taxes and tourism charge) the buffet really shines as a reward after the fast of the day.
With easy parking a close toilets, the Aloft really gives the impression that they have thought of everything, the staff are attentive, friendly and happy to serve you. I noticed that they make you feel individual and remember your face as you return to the buffet to ask how your last plate was, it was a nice change.
The food quality was superb; a mix of salads and pastas for starters, curries, steaks and stews for main course and the most tempting, delicious and taxing (on your stomach - you'll want to eat so much!) dessert table imaginable.
The staff are attentive, throughout the night we had plates cleared, cutlery replaced and drinks replaced with complimentary ice cream and coffee served to us after we were bloated in our seats.
The atmosphere was incredible and the room looked amazing, a mix of modern Western designs and classic Arabian flavour the place felt exciting to be in.
If you do decide to venture to the Aloft it's best to turn up just after the sun goes down and the fast ends, it isn't too busy (and you also get the freshest cut of the meat).
There was a chance of the Aloft serving alcohol, but we didn't really ask, due to us eating a holy meal around Muslims. There was no visible smoking area, so you may have to visit the car park for a quick cigarette.
Overall I was amazed!
The giant in fast food, McDonalds dominates the field due to its incomparably low prices and quality of food.
The only complaint I ever hear arise from McDonalds is that their food isn't of eligible subsistence and can often play tricks on your diet or weight. This criticism is often to the customer's digression, as I personally believe that when ordering fast food you shouldn't be expecting a healthy meal.
The Khalidiya McDonalds, although small, still feels open with its clean, reflective floors and spacious seating make the place feel larger than it actually is.
The menu is incredibly friendly to your wallet and is fairly diverse, offering even salads to those ho might not want a large burger.
Another downside to McDonalds, which many other fast food places offer, is a lack of delivery service, meaning that when Iftar begins you cannot order food in from your home, requiring you to drive to the nearest McDonalds which can often be quite far away, at the nearest mall or gas station which is a pain.
But overall McDonalds has consistent and low prices, good service and good value for money in terms of taste (if you're going to be spending $2 on a burger it's going to taste like a $2 burger)
Although a particularly humbling site at any time of the year, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (perhaps better known to the expats as the 'Grand Mosque') really begins to shine during Ramadan. The true power of Islam is really demonstrated with its generosity and dedication to their religion.
The mosque has been built with a message that is said to 'unite the world' as its architecture ranges from classical Arabian, Persian and Morocco with crystals from Italy and various other European paired with beautiful gold and fantastic lighting. This idea of world partnership is furthered by several amazing guest reciters of the Quran leading the taraweeh night prayers.
The Sheikh Zayed mosque isn't only an accomplishment in its architecture, with the large marble stature rising around the horizon with the crescent moons completing the piercing the sky, but it is also a spiritual centre where and expected 40,960 can be housed in holy prayer.
If being visited by non-Muslims who are not used to Islamic dress codes you have to cover your shoulders and legs in both gender, but women have to wear a scarf which can either be your own or be provided by the mosque itself.
Overall the mosque has a fantastic spirit of Ramadan, but for non-Muslims it's best to be cautious when visiting, especially during prayer hours.
Not often credited as a great Arabian centre for buying any Ramadan related items, Carrefour offer both a mix of classic Ramadan good and the items that we most crave and depend upon under one roof.
Carrefour isn't leading an innovative or exciting market in terms of date sales, it still offers an array of different date products ranging from biscuits to tobacco even down to the solitary fruit itself, Carrefour offers it all.
Although Carrefour doesn't offer quite a rustic charm as many other date stores do, its convenient location and consistent quality often draw people in. That's not to say that Carrefour hasn't attempted to be festive, banners and streamers make the place feel lively and small sales are easily noticed around the hypermarket.
The main reason it is favourable to shop at Carrefour for your dates isn't the sales or the banners or even that the dates are of better quality than another shop or market, it is simply that it is convenient. Unless you want to go out of your way while doing your weekly or monthly grocery hoard to go to a smaller more pricey date shop, then Carrefour is often the most accessible and reasonably priced place. Not to say the date quality isn't less or subservient to any other place, the Carrefour dates taste just as fine as any other.
But overall if you want dates of supreme quality mixed with nuts or chocolate then Carrefour isn't your place, but if you want to pick up a few dates while you're also picking up your cheese then Carrefour is an exceptionally well priced and quick shopping experience for your dates but is little more than that.
Although being vastly over-shadowed by Marina and Abu Dhabi mall, Dalma mall is quickly gaining momentum and is rising as one of the biggest and most well stocked malls.
Tucked away behind the Mussaffah police station and Emirates Driving School, Dalma may be hidden from most shopper whose bounds are limited to the city and its direct surroundings. Although distant and a 20 minute commune from the centre of the capital, Dalma Mall is well worth the trip.
Although not completed in its entirety, Dalma still wets our lips with the luxuries that many other malls seem to fall short at. A large multi-story car park offers quick and easy access to every floor with ground parking also available. Maps are located at every entrance and toilets on every floor making the atmosphere comfortable and easy to navigate.
The sheer size of Dalma Mall is impressive, every corridor and isle seems to repeat further than they eye can see, but due to it being mostly empty at the moment the task of travelling from the top floor, if you're visiting their multi-screen cinema complex, down to the newly open and vastly stocked Carrefour only a floor below.
Dalma Mall almost feels unconventional, a Carrefour located on the first floor often makes the task of wheeling a shopping trolley down a floor seem impossible, and although there are toilets on every floor the men and women's are often located at opposite sides making travelling as a large group or family awkward and inefficient.
Of course, Dalma Mall is expected to be completed within the next year or two, so this review can be considered to be premature, but due to the rate of construction, the installation of shops and the overall rate of improvement; it isn't a stretch to say that the Dalma Mall could rival Marina, and perhaps even Dubai Mall, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on (and perhaps visiting before it gets too busy!).