SeaWorld to Louvre Abu Dhabi, indoor things to do when it rains in the UAE capital

Trampoline parks are perfect for adrenaline seekers, while spas and wellness centres are great for relaxation

The National Aquarium in Abu Dhabi is the largest in the Middle East. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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Despite the UAE's reputation as a sun haven, it does rain from time to time. Experts predict the frequency of rain in the country will rise by 30 per cent this century, and 2024 has already had its fair share.

So it's always good to know where to go and what to do in Abu Dhabi when the beach is off the cards. Here are some activities to consider when the sun is hiding.

Visit indoor theme parks, from SeaWorld to Ferrari World

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is the newest theme park to open on Yas Island. The attraction spans 183,000 square metres and occupies five floors. There are more than 100,000 animals and more than 15 rides and experiences on offer in the park’s eight sections.

Other theme parks that are fully or partially indoors are Ferrari World and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, which has rides for all ages, and characters from franchises such as DC and Looney Tunes.

In Reem Mall, meanwhile, you can swap the rain for snow at Snow Abu Dhabi, where you can keep cool while enjoying rides, visiting themed attractions and tucking into food at one of three dining outlets.

Get active indoors, from Bounce Abu Dhabi to Clymb

If your little ones have energy to burn, then some of the more active indoor attractions around the capital may do the trick.

Families with children and teenagers can check out KidZania in Yas Mall, with over 40 role-playing activities for little ones aged four to 16. While you're in the area, you can check out Clymb, also inside Yas Mall next to Ferrari World. It is billed to have the world's tallest indoor skydiving flight chamber.

In Marina Mall, Bounce Abu Dhabi offers an action-packed experience with more than a hundred trampolines.

Visit local museums, from Louvre Abu Dhabi to Etihad Modern Art Gallery

Another way to escape the wet weather is to plan a visit to one of the capital's various museums.

Louvre Abu Dhabi has some of the world's most valuable artworks on display. Since opening in 2017, the museum on Saadiyat Island has acquired a number of valuable items for permanent collection, including two Pablo Picasso paintings, Woman Holding a Mandoline (1911) and Portrait of a Seated Woman (1923), as well as Rococo French painter Jean-Honore Fragonard’s work Les Marionnettes (1770).

The Ancient Maltese pillars have also been recently added to its collection. The ornamental pillars, which were separated for 240 years, were reunited at Louvre Abu Dhabi on the 50th anniversary of the UAE’s diplomatic relationship with Malta.

Guests can also check out seasonal exhibitions, including the latest called From Kalila wa Dimna to La Fontaine: Travelling through Fables, a deep dive into the history of fables with more than 130 artworks including centuries-old manuscripts and contemporary pieces. Louvre Abu Dhabi also has a children’s museum and restaurant on site.

Other museums to check out include Etihad Modern Art Gallery, which showcases the work of well-established and up-and-coming Emirati and international artists; and The Art Gallery at NYUAD, which has curated exhibitions across historical and contemporary topics.

Plan a car-themed day out at Emirates National Auto Museum

Motorheads can take a trip to the Emirates National Auto Museum in Al Dhafra, which displays a vast collection of vintage and modified cars as well as military vehicles. Residents from downtown Abu Dhabi would have to drive 45 minutes to the pyramid-shaped venue, where over 200 cars owned by Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan are exhibited. The car museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm.

Tackle an escape room, from Boxed In – Think In, to Black Out

Children can stay engaged and entertained at escape rooms, with numerous options around the capital.

Boxed In – Think In at Abu Dhabi Mall, for example, has more than 80 challenges and puzzles contained within 12 boxes for curious minds to solve. Tasks will require concentration, problem-solving skills and logical thinking. There is room for 10 teams of two to five people.

For those who prefer a bit of horror, try Black Out near Al Wahda Mall, which has five rooms and eerie challenges that range from 40 minutes to 60 minutes.

Head to a VR Gaming centre such as Zero Latency

If you're keen on gaming experiences, check out Pixoul Gaming at Al Qana, which is home to several virtual reality games, classic arcade machines and other exciting e-sport activities. Also offering VR fun is Zero Latency at The Galleria Mall, which is ideal for big groups who want to enter free-roam multiplayer worlds for a bit of an escape from reality.

Visit the National Aquarium in Al Qana

Also located in Al Qana, the National Aquarium is home to 46,000 marine creatures and 300 species spread across 10 zones, making it the largest aquarium in the Middle East. In addition to the animals, the attraction also offers several interactive experiences including scuba diving, animal feedings and glass-bottom dhow tours.

De-stress in a spa or wellness centre

A gloomy day can be transformed into a relaxing break, with plenty of spa and wellness hubs across the city.

It's worth checking out the wide variety of amenities at The Bridge at Al Qana. The lifestyle hub combines a gym, spa, restaurant, juice bar and other wellness-related concepts in one building. There are 250 exercise stations on site, as well as a semi-Olympic indoor running track. Relaxation spaces are also on offer, with science-backed facilities for cryo treatment, infrared saunas and more.

Many hotels have facilities open for non-guests too, such as the Upbeat Health Club at Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, the Namm Spa at Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi and The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Emirates Palace, which blends ancient Eastern healing techniques with contemporary spa services.

Create the fun at home

When weather is extreme, it's often advised not to leave the house unless essential. In which case, you may need to find ways to keep little ones entertained at home. There are plenty of ways to improvise some at-home fun, such as hosting an indoor treasure hunt or creating a makeshift laser maze out of strings or crepe paper.

Board games are another fun option as well as picking up new skills such as knitting or cake decorating, with loads of videos available on TikTok and YouTube. If you don't mind some extended screen time, organise a movie marathon, throwing in classics or new titles, made easier by streaming services such as Netflix and OSN, for more regional programming.

Updated: April 16, 2024, 7:01 AM