Abu Dhabi Weekends
Abu Dhabi Weekends
The capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, is also the largest of the seven emirates with a rich and vibrant lifestyle. Though it is now dotted with futuristic skyscrapers, international luxury hotels, numerous shopping malls, leisure and entertainment facilities – yet, there are remains of an older and more cultural society in this Mecca of oil reserves. Cradling the modern with the traditional, Abu Dhabi is the perfect destination for your career move in today’s changing times.
So, if you move to Abu Dhabi, what are you and your family likely to be doing over weekends and short holidays? Let’s take a peek at what’s on in Abu Dhabi…
If you dig heritage and culture, then there’s no dearth of that in Abu Dhabi. Projected as the future hub of all arts and culture events in the UAE, Abu Dhabi is abuzz with cultural activities. A walk in the Heritage Village for example, is one of the first things you’re likely to want to do… if you really wish to get an idea of how life must have been before the oil discovery, this is the place to visit. Situated near the Marina Mall, the Heritage Village gives you a sense of traditional Bedouin lifestyle. See what their primitive yet effective irrigation system looked like, see what a goat’s hair tent is like, and experience a desert campsite with camel, courtyard houses and workshops where artisans display their crafts. You can even pick exotic spices and authentic pottery form the many souvenir shops here. It is open on Saturday and Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 1 p.m., and on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.
Music & Movies
If movies and music is what you fancy, then get your fix of great music and performances at the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation that features some of the world’s top classical performers and opera singers. The upcoming Performing Arts Centre being designed by famous architect Zaha Hadid on Saadiyat Island is another place that will offer many great shows. It is planned to be a 62 metre high building and will house five theatres, which will include an opera house, a drama theatre, a concert hall, a music hall and a flexible theatre.
The combined capacity of all these five theatres is estimated to be 6,300. Pretty huge we must say! So much for music – and if you have a passion for movies, then there are several movie halls to satiate that hunger and the Middle East International film Festival held in October at the Emirates Palace Hotel too is a treat for movie lovers.
Gardens & Parks
If you wish to take your family out for a day of just plain fun and frolic, then head to the Khalifa Park. And if you thought it’s just a park like any other, you are mistaken… for this park located in Al Matar and behind the old airport has a central plaza, a maritime museum, an amphitheatre, a children’s garden and much more. You can tour this park via a train or on foot. Then, there’s also the Old Airport Garden, which is located at the edge of the Abu Dhabi Island. This lovely place has a play area for children and also has the largest flagpole in the world. If you just want a good relaxed time, you can take in the amazing views by the sea from this lovely garden. The Corniche too is picture perfect – a coastal boulevard dotted with fountains, gardens, modern buildings, etc. This is the perfect place to relax with your family as it also has play areas, shady trees, a new beach with ‘softer’ sand and you can even rent a bicycle if you simply want to peddle away along the lovely promenade. It’s also the perfect place for birdwatching and fishing.
The Holy Bow
Well, if you’ve had enough of the gardens, the art, the movies and are in a pious mood, head to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Not just a holy shrine, but this mosque is known for its grandeur too. One the largest and the newest mosques in the world this mosque is sure to dazzle you with its Swarovski crystal chandeliers, 24 carat gold and precious stonework and the stunning marble columns and domes.
Also known as the Grand Mosque, this holy shrine has the largest hand woven Persian carpet that exists today. The third largest mosque in the world, it is named after Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and the first President of the UAE, who is also buried here.
Take an ancient cruise
Tired of the hustle bustle and high octane activities? Head to the Mina port to go dhow cruising in the lovely Gulf waters and experience the way life was before oil was discovered here. These sailing vessels, with ancient designs, are traditional wooden boats that were once used by the merchants ages ago. You can enjoy the panoramic view of the skyline while sailing in these traditional vessels. Then, there’s also the Shuja Yacht and the Al Dhafra Dhow, which are two most well known boats for a cruise on the Arabian Gulf. You can cruise along up and down the coast in any of these and get a view of the Emirates Palace from different angles. Especially, if you are cruising along at sunset, the view is simply breathtaking. An hour and a half of cruising will probably cost you about 150 Dhs (40 USD).
Luxury at its best
Now, this is something you must experience if you are in Abu Dhabi. After all, the country is known for its opulence. Clearly, Abu Dhabi’s most popular landmark, the seven star lavish and luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel, with its impeccable lawns, fountains and palm tress is a favourite of many celebrities and stars. It is also the venue for the some of the city’s cultural activities and interesting exhibitions. So, visit this famous hotel for a high tea on a leisurely evening out.
Go on a date
We mean the Liwa Date Festival, which is an annual affair in Abu Dhabi. It is held in Al-Gharbia, which is in the western region of the country and his held from 16th July to 26th July. Here, you get to witness the ancient tradition of date production and there’s also a competition for the participating farmers for the best dates (a beauty competition for dates, you could say!). From huge cash prizes to vehicles there’s a lot that the participants vie for.
Besides, there are also special educational sessions for children, cultural celebrations and poetry evenings and also lectures on agriculture. Moreover, if you can’t get enough of adventure from the numerous adventure activities available in the country, you can get your fill here. For, there are camel and horse races and even falcon races that are organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage
Call of the Desert
If you are in Abu Dhabi, then naturally, the desert beckons one and all. A desert safari is a must and you can hit the dunes and get an adrenaline rush in that four-wheel dune bashing drive. Or, if you don’t like to play it rough, go for a calm and quiet camel trek. A tour usually includes dinner at a Bedouin campsite, a henna artist and the exotic belly dancing. You can even opt for sandboarding if you so wish.
Race of the Camels
And while we are on deserts, how can the camels be far? Experience the thrill of watching the ship of the desert race at up to 65 km/hr at the Al Watba Camel Racetrack. This traditional Middle Eastern sport is absolutely free of cost. You can watch this exciting race on early Thursday and Friday mornings.
Also, the Camel Market is a huge draw where you can see and experience the trading of camels.
Falconry… the royal sport
Now this you cannot miss; true, we talk of a sport, but a different kind altogether – Falconry. When in Abu Dhabi, a glimpse of this age-old tradition is a must. The Falcon, is the national bird of the UAE. Falcons are famous for their great hunting skills and instinct and also the speed with which they pounce on their prey. This bird played a very important role in the nomadic lives of the tribes as a provider of food but today these birds are kept and trained for sport. And, if you wish to know more about this majestic bird, a trip to the Abu Dhabi Falcon hospital will give you more insight on falconry.
Adventures & Sports
If you don’t want to be a mere spectator and instead want to be a participant, you can satiate your love for adventure by going scuba-diving… throughout the year. And what’s more… you also have many dive options… night diving, wrecks, reefs, you can pick any. You can also go snorkelling if diving is not your sport. And there’s more… if you are a water baby, Bani Yas Island cannot be missed. Go snorkelling, kayaking, mountain biking through ancient structures. Indulge yourself in nature and adventure!
There’s more for the adventure junkie; if you like speed then head to the Yas Marina Circuit that offers more than the world famous F1 track that has hosted F1 races. The circuit also offers other activities such as karting, drag racing nights, and driving experiences in a range of racing cars. You have several options as well… an Aston Martin GT4, a single seater Yas 3000 or a Supersport SSt. You can even take the passenger seat in a 2 seater F1 equivalent car if you so wish. It’s on daily for about half a day, but you need to book ahead. A drive in an Aston Martin would cost you about 950 Dhs (258 USD) and 7,500 Dhs (2,041 USD) for a
G Force of a F1 2 seater. You can team this ride with the Ferrari World Theme Park, which is the world’s largest indoor theme park. It boasts of 20 exciting rides and the world’s fastest roller coaster ride is a part of this. It also has the largest Ferrari logo, which is a huge draw among people. With speeds of 240 km/hr in 4.9 seconds and an elevation of 170 feet, you need to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes. It’s on from Tuesday to Sunday from 12 noon to 10pm. It costs approximately Dhs 225 (61 USD) for those above 1.5 m and Dhs 165 (44 USD) for those below 1.5 m.
Islands in the stream
Whew! So much for adventure! Now back to some quiet family time. Well a mention of islands might remind one of the hit yesteryear Bees Gee’s track, but here we’re talking of islands that you can simply enjoy a lazy weekend on. The ‘Island of Happiness’, the Saadiyat Island is one such island that is yet under construction slated to be complete in 2018. It will feature the biggest Guggenheim Museum, the French Louvre museum and also a branch of the New York University. The largest island though is Sir Bani Yas Island, which is 150 miles from Abu Dhabi. It has several leisure amenities, luxurious hotels and malls for visitors to browse through.
The Shawarmas of Abu Dhabi
And moving on… finally… the Shawarma, the country’s most famous street food. You simply must sample this dish if you are in Abu Dhabi. Shawarmas are a soft, round flat bread filled with pieces of marinated chicken or lamb, which have been roasted on a spit. This is further dressed with pickles, mayonnaise sauce, French fries, tomatoes and rolled up into what’s known as the shawarma. The price range for this Arabian sandwich is approximately 5 – 8 Dhs (1-2 USD) a piece. Filling, tasty and economical – exactly what street food should be!
Well, Abu Dhabi has enough to keep you entertained and busy and there are numerous more recreational and entertainment activities that we have not been able to cover here. Apart from the various touristy attractions, who can forget the shopping for spices, handicrafts, traditional perfumes and even couture if you love designer wear! Not to mention the gold! There are souvenirs galore too; you can get some as gifts to give to your loved ones.
There’s a lot to explore in this magical land of traditions and culture beautifully blended with modernity. So, do make that move without further delay and enjoy the splendour that is Abu Dhabi.
After a period of sluggishness, the job market in Dubai is looking up again. The first to benefit from this will be people who had stayed put at their – often unsatisfactory – jobs out of fear of the ‘Last in, First out’ risk of starting a new job during a recession. But things have changed and today, as a top recruitment industry expert puts it, several candidates whose careers had stagnated are looking for opportunities to move out of their current positions. Obviously, this translates into pressure for employers, 85% of whom are now worried about losing their ‘A’ teams.
If you are among those looking for growth or a better package, or simply, an exciting new job in a sector of your choice, then this is the right time for you too.
In a recent survey, a prominent UAE job portal found that as many as 66% of companies in the UAE are looking to hire within the next year. On an average day, this website lists 11,000 new jobs – a big jump from last year’s figures.
Confirming the trend, last September, the Monster job portal saw its ‘Employment Index Middle East’ jump by 10% year-on-year. However, before you rush to revamp your resume, take a moment and heed these words of advice:
- Do your research: Study prospective employers and be sure of their prospects before you agree to a position with any company.
- Work with the best: Select a recruitment agency/ firm and see whether they have the right knowledge about your sector to do the best for you.
Sectors set to grow
With 80% of all UAE companies looking to hire* within the next six months, it is worthwhile to figure out your options – and prospects – in various industries.
To start with, those in banking and finance are likely to benefit the most. As many as 85% of companies will look to recruit finance professionals, either to expand their teams or just to maintain status quo by replacing employees who have been lured away by greener prospects. Only 5% companies will actually cut down on their headcounts, even as opportunities abound in both, Dubai as well as Abu Dubai.
By announcing a slew of large-scale development projects, the UAE government is doing its bit to fuel this trend. This has encouraged private companies to follow suit. Because of this, oil, gas and petrochemicals will start looking up, further spurring growth in related sectors such as banking, construction, real estate and logistics. Spill-over effects will, of course, also be seen in the FMCG and retail segments.
These trends will be reflected in recruitment figures: 34% of top hires will head out to jobs in banking & finance, 32% will find themselves working in oil, gas and petrochemicals, while 27% will be picked up by telecommunications companies.
But, even as employees rejoice, recruiters are having sleepless nights trying to locate the right talent to fill various job roles. 87% of recruiters are finding it difficult to fill jobs, especially roles in financial or management accounting. With demand being so high, there is an additional fear of losing existing talent to competition, which explains the hefty pay hikes being seen in this vertical.
Several companies are actively courting expats to fill important positions, bringing in attractive packages/ benefits to do so.
Employees and companies alike are confident about the future, with 81% employees expressing positivity regarding the country’s growth prospects and 92% regarding their own company’s future.
Smart tips to a better salary/ package
In further good news, pay hikes will be back and most employees can expect to receive a decent 5% above-inflation increment over their current salary. Since pay is influenced by consumer price inflation, this hike indicates a real, as opposed to merely notional, growth in pay.
A recent online poll revealed that 90% of people working in the UAE believe they are underpaid. For these employees, even the increments they are set to receive this year may be of little consolation; many of them are actually finding it hard to meet the escalating cost of living in this region. Salaries had stagnated over the past two years and employees are now bearing the effects of this stagnation. The way out, of course, is to ask for what you feel you truly deserve. But there is a method to doing this right:
- Know your worth: Just as you research prospective employers and compare them with their peers, now do the same for yourself. Compare your pay with what your peers in different companies are being paid, for the same type of work. To do this, you can use online job portals to research how much is being offered to people with your experience, in your sector. Or just pick up the phone and call a friend who might be willing to share his/ her salary details over a friendly chat.
- Narrow down your range: Based on your research, come up with a realistic figure/ range that you think you should be paid. At this stage, also consider any other benefits that you might be receiving, which others in the industry may not have. For instance, you could have flexi-timings, additional leave options, company-sponsored health insurance, etc. Remember, not all remuneration is monetary, so focus on the entire package and not just the money you get.
- Gear up: Put together your key findings for ready reference. Have the facts and data handy. During the discussion with your boss/ prospective employer, you will have to focus on the quality of your work, the depth of your experience, and your significant achievements. “Maintain records of your achievements, hitting of targets and endorsements for out-of-the-box things you have done that has contributed to the bottom line, improvement of work environment, or new ideas you came up with that helped the business,” advises Hasnain Qazi, Middle East Business Manager at Huxley Associates.
- Be realistic: Recognise that you won’t suddenly receive a 40% hike, even if you managed to present a strong case for it. Salary hikes top off at 18-20% so if you get close to that, you’ve done well.
- Learn to say ‘no’: If you think the amount being offered is simply not justified, then do not let yourself be swayed into saying yes. The salary that you get upon taking up a new job will be your baseline for all future increments. So it is important to start with the correct baseline.
- Keep your mind open: If your company is unable to meet your monetary expectations, perhaps they would be willing to negotiate on the benefits? See whether you can improve your overall package, even if you do not receive a fantastic monetary hike.
Peak performance comes with perks!
Across the UAE, employees are seeking certain perks to enhance their quality of life. Most people try to maintain a good work-life balance, with flexi-time jobs finding more takers than the traditional 9-to-5 workplace. Government departments and companies like Microsoft and IBM excel at doing this, by offering work-from-home and other family-friendly options.
A recent ‘employee motivation’ survey said that 75% professionals really value work-life balance and find it motivating to work for a company that offers these options.
Expats working in the UAE, meanwhile, look to their employers to provide medical insurance, a special housing allowance/ company-provided accommodation, school fees for their kids, home-and-back air tickets for self and family, as well as a sizeable annual bonus on their salary.
For most expats, the no-tax system is a key factor that propels them to pick the UAE over other destinations, shares Konstantina Sakellariou, Partner, Marketing and Operations Director, Stanton Chase International. Being valued at their workplace, training and development opportunities are additional considerations.
The top factors that come into play are:
- Work-life balance
- Training / development opportunities (54%)
- Feeling that their work has an impact (44%)
- Recognition of work and achievements
- Opportunity for career advancement (41%)
So there, just go out and grab what you deserve. 2013 is the year for you!
*Source: Executive search firm, Robert Half internationalComplimentary, International Job Market Telephone Consultation & CV/resume Appraisal
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