Tips + Trends

#AbuDhabiWeekend: Where to Go and What to Post on Instagram

Start your Instagram-worthy weekend in Abu Dhabi at Heritage Village. (Photo: Siddharth Siva)

While traveling in Abu Dhabi, you’ll want to nourish your mind, body and soul — and your Instagram feed, of course! Thanks to its striking skyline and multi-domed Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, not to mention its snow-white sandy beaches and aquamarine sea, Abu Dhabi is one of the most photogenic cities in the Middle East. So grab your smartphone and follow our guide to the best weekend in Abu Dhabi for Instagrammers — plus tips on where you can get that perfect selfie.

(Photos: Siddharth Siva)

Friday Brunch

Kick-start your weekend with a quintessential experience: Friday brunch at one of the five-star Abu Dhabi hotels. In the UAE, where the workweek runs Sunday through Thursday, Friday is a sacred day for Muslims, who attend a special sermon at the mosque. For non-Muslims, Friday is about catching up with friends and feasting at an extravagant hotel buffet heaving with fresh seafood, carved roasts and decadent desserts. Who doesn’t like to drool over #greatfood pics?

Suggested filter: Juno brightens and enhances deep rich tones, making it ideal for still-life food shots.

Friday Afternoon

Locals love to hit the Corniche, Abu Dhabi’s waterfront esplanade, on Fridays, so amble there to capture local color: picnicking families, beach volleyball games, buzzing cafés. Continue to the end of the 5-mile promenade, where the nation’s flag is hoisted on one of the world’s tallest flagpoles. Here, photograph the stirring view over the boats of the marina to Abu Dhabi’s bold skyline.

Suggested filter: Sierra is the perfect filter for wide landscapes. The high exposure and low contrast give a dreamy effect while still allowing subjects in the landscape to pop.

undefined(Photos: Siddharth Siva)

Friday Dinner

Nearby in the Khalidiya neighborhood, nab a table at the neon-lit Lebanese Flower, the city’s oldest Lebanese restaurant and a local favorite. Start with some meze — perhaps some hummus, muttabal, falafel and fried halloumi cheese — then add a tabbouleh salad and a mixed grill (a variety of barbecued meats). Before you tuck into the #mouthwatering spread, don’t forget to snap an overhead shot so your friends can savor virtually.

Suggested filter: Vesper adds a faint yellow tint for a gentle vintage effect that will complement any photo, including snaps of your dinner spread.

Saturday Morning

If the majestic wooden doors of the whitewashed Qasr al Hosn are closed, use the tiny door spiked with iron nails to enter this handsome fort — the emirate’s first permanent structure, dating to the 1760s. This was the palace home of the Al Nahyan family, which ruled Abu Dhabi until 1966. Photograph the pretty Portuguese tiles and courtyard gardens before seeing the historical exhibition inside.

Suggested filter: Hefe will enhance already vibrant color with high contrast and saturation — and add a subtle vignette (darkness around the edges) effect to frame your detail shot.

(Photos: Siddharth Siva)

Saturday lunch

Old traditions — at risk of being lost to modernization — can be immortalized on your feed at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village. In the palm-shaded grounds, there’s a souk, a mosque, and a Bedouin camp as well as traditional mud-brick and palm-frond houses. Artisans weave on old looms, beat brass trays and blow glass. A small museum exhibits antique daggers, costumes, coffee pots and baskets. Lunch on traditional Emirati dishes at the café, which overlooks the sandy beach and azure sea.

Suggested filter: Willow, the softest black-and-white filter, is very pretty for outdoor scenes and beach shots.

Saturday Afternoon/Evening

Head out on a late-afternoon desert safari to Arabian Nights Village. Dune drives, camel rides, henna painting, belly dancing and an Arabic feast offer exotic photo-ops. Locals recommend protecting your phone in plastic wrap before snapping a sandboarding selfie. Do put your device down, though, to sit and enjoy the sound of silence and a star-filled sky. #Sublime.

Suggested filter: Earlybird adds a warm sepia tint for an antique vibe. Bonus: It’s also one of the more flattering filters for selfies, as it slightly blurs and softens harsh shadows.

(Photos: Siddharth Siva)

Sunday Morning

Colossal Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an Instagrammer’s heaven. You may want to snap the white exterior and some of the 82 domes, or maybe the 180,000-square-foot courtyard inlaid with the world’s largest marble mosaic, or perhaps one of the seven massive chandeliers bedecked with millions of Swarovski crystals. Just remember that this is a place of worship, so be respectful: Rihanna was booted by security for taking photos deemed disrespectful.

Suggested filter: For your indoor shots at the mosque, try a filter that brightens, like Valencia.

Sunday Afternoon

Hold onto your phone for a #selfie on the Formula Rossa at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi amusement park: You’ll experience up to 1.7 Gs of force as the world’s fastest roller coaster accelerates from zero to 150 miles an hour in five seconds! A spin around the Formula 1 Yas Marina Circuit in a Ferrari provides more fantastic high-speed photo ops to cap off your weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Suggested filter: For a flattering selfie, a light-diffusing filter like Rise will add brightness and a soft, warm glow.