Abu Dhabi's Tourist Club Area, also known as Al Zahiyah, is one of the oldest districts in the capital and has been my home for the past four years. And, following a 10-year redevelopment, the area is finally popping again.
From breakfast to dinner: where to eat in Tourist Club Area
When it comes to food, Tourist Club Area has got a lot of great options with all sorts of small street side eateries to choose from. One that tops my list is Otantik. The Turkish restaurant, with tables set out on the pavement, is frequently packed late into the night. I recommend trying one of its most popular speciality dishes, the Ottoman chef's special beef ribs.
Another favourite of mine is Lebanese-Armenian restaurant Mayyas. Located at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, the restaurant gets extremely busy over the weekend and has a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. The one dish I always have to order is the stuffed vine leaves with yoghurt; they're to die for. If you love Italian cuisine as much I do, then you also want to try Prego's at the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi. The restaurant also has an outdoor seating area, which is lovely on cooler days. I'm a huge fan of the mushroom risotto.
The map of all our top picks:
Where to shop
Your main destination for shopping is Abu Dhabi Mall. It as been around for a long time and has all the stores you'd expect to find, covering everything from low to high-end goods. In terms of practicality for residents, the mall also has a new cinema space, a gym (Fitness First) and a supermarket (Abu Dhabi Co-op). You can even hop on the Big Bus Tour from there and explore other parts of the capital. Across from the mall is the much older Khalifa Complex B, which has a few shops, most prominently selling souvenirs.
Where to stay
Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi is my top choice, with its room rates from Dh510, excluding taxes and fees. The five-star hotel offers direct access to Abu Dhabi Mall and provides some of the best amenities around, including beach access.
Other hotels in the area include the Le Meridien Abu Dhabi and Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort.
The best things to do in Tourist Club Area
Do: Although the neighbourhood is more focused on food and shopping, if you're looking to hang out with friends and do something fun, check out 2000 Billiards Centre for a friendly – or competitive, depending on your company – game of pool.
Plus... you're in a very handy location for other Abu Dhabi hotspots
One of the really nice things about this part of downtown is that places are in relatively close proximity to each other. For residents, everything feels within walking distance. It also takes just a few minutes in the car to get to Al Maryah and Reem islands.