Abu Dhabi made it to the top of a list of the world's most cultural cities – but was pipped at the post for the No 1 spot by an Italian metropolis.
In an online list compiled by Skycanner, Abu Dhabi was named as the second-most-cultural city in the world, behind only Florence, the capital of Italy's Tuscany region.
But, given that Florence is the home of Michelangelo's David, the Duomo, Botticelli's The Birth of Venus and Leonardo da Vinci's Annunciation, we're happy to be a gracious runner-up.
The list identified its top five destinations for expanding any travellers’ horizons with an arts and culture-filled holiday.
Abu Dhabi beat out several other cultural gems from around the globe for the honour: Mexico City, Mexico, which came in at No 3; Austin, the capital of Texas in the United States and the self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world", coming in at No 4, and Kyoto, Japan, rounding out the top five.
In a short summary of why the UAE capital was chosen, Skyscanner paid tribute to its many new cultural offerings, its food scene and its many nightlife options.
"The capital of the United Arab Emirates is one of the Middle East's most exciting cultural centres, home to the National Theatre and the enormous, white-marble Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque," the article said. It went on to single out Louvre Abu Dhabi, saying it's well worth a visit, and kayaking around the museum and its "striking island setting" is an "experience to remember".
The website then urged people to seek out Abu Dhabi's diverse dining scene – "as diverse as its multicultural population" – and made special mention of Emirati cuisine.
"Budget diners can taste the creamiest hummus ...at Zahrat Lebnan, or the most mouthwatering shawarma at Shish Shawerma," it said.
The listing ends with a shout-out to the region's electronica fans and a nod to the capital's nightlife options. It suggests visitors stay at the waterfront Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, a solid five-star choice in downtown Abu Dhabi near the Corniche.
"For Abu Dhabi to have been named as one of the most cultural cities in the world reflects positively on the work the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has done to position the emirate at the very forefront of people's minds when they consider their next great cultural adventure," said Saif Ghobash, Undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
“This recognition also reinforces our resolve to continue to strive for excellence in our efforts to promote our emirate as a destination like no other. Year on year, we are seeing record numbers come to visit the UAE capital, coming to experience everything from Qasr Al Hosn, to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and the heritage sites in Al Ain. Making it on to this shortlist from such a reputable website shows that our ceaseless efforts are having the desired effect.”