Abu Dhabi…it use to be such a foreign place to me before moving here almost 4 years ago. I remember when Tom mentioned the idea of moving the first thing I did was jump on Instagram and see what people were posting about it. Seeing the desert, shiny buildings and beach made it look like such an exotic destination. After living in Abu Dhabi for almost 4 years I’ve come to learn the best places to take the perfect “wanderlust beach” picture or the “exploring desert” picture. Below Below I’m sharing my top 5 Instagrammable places in Abu Dhabi that will make people want to jump on the next flight here.
5. Saadiyat Beach Club
Overall Saadiyat beach is by far my favorite beach in Abu Dhabi. I remember when I first moved to ABu Dhabi I couldn’t believe how clean and blue the beach was. People who are not familiar with the region will DM me on Instagram asking me if I swim or get in the beach and my answer is always an affirmative yes! Saadiyat Beach Club is one of my favorite places to shoot because I can either use the board walk to the beach, the pool area or the pristine beach. They have a few “Instagrammable” fruit dishes but overall the beach is always the perfect summer background.
4. Emirates Palace
Known to be the only 7 start hotel in the world the Emirates Palace offers some of my favorite backgrounds in Abu Dhabi. Either having the Emirates Palace fountains in the background or using some of the Middle Eastern inspired architecture is the perfect background for an outfit pictures. You can also walk up the driveway and have Etihad Towers (seen in the Fast and the Furious movie) as your background. When looking for a location I try to find a place where I can shoot more than one outfit and Emirates Palace is perfect for that! You can also go inside the hotel and shoot the famous gold cappuccino with gold fold flakes on top but note the inside of the building is a bit “golden” and lacks natural light.
3. Sheik Zayed Mosque
Perhaps one of the most photographed places in Abu Dhabi…the Grand Mosque. Words can’t really describe how beautiful this place is…first and foremost if you visit the mosque please know you will have to cover up or wear an abaya. It is also extremely busy all day everyday. No matter where you shoot, inside or out it will make for an incredible image. You can learn more about the dress code in the UAE here and my life in Abu Dhabi over the past few years here. I encourage you to add the mosque on your must-see places, you can either do a self guided tour or walk around and admire all the details.
2. Louvre Museum
A brand new addition to the city the Louvre is located in Saadiyat Island. I’m going to try my best to describe this…the Louvre could be described as a floating spaceship…haha I’m serious. One of the most unique characteristics besides literally being on the water it’s the web-pattern design that allows the sun to filter through making for espectacular images. You can also admire the Abu Dhabi skyline from their restaurant and rooftop deck. Make sure to check their hours of operation (their close on Monday’s) and remember no flash anywhere in the museum.
1. Abu Dhabi desert
While growing up in Venezuela my family and I would always head to the beach for a weekend vacation or fly to Aruba on holiday. In Abu Dhabi you have both, beautiful beaches and the desert. You can drive a short 30 minutes away from the city of Abu Dhabi and you will be hit the desert, camels and all. With a huge body of water surrounding Abu Dhabi and all of its new buildings I almost forget that before all of this…it was all desert. Beautiful, untouched san dunes for as far as you can see. If you visit Abu Dhabi you can take a desert safari tour which includes dune bashing, sand surfing and camel ride…all great opportunities for pictures. I personally love the Qasr al Sarab hotel in the Liwa Abu Dhabi desert. You have plenty of pictures opportunities and activities to do: camel riding, archery and a traditional middle eastern dinner under the stars, you can read more about my time in Qasr al Sarab here.
A few things to keep in mind while shooting in Abu Dhabi:
Weather: Believe it or not the the weather is extremely tricky here. A lot of the times it’s dusty or foggy. Check the weather before planning a photo shoot.
Dress code: I love this River Island romper I wore in Miami and New York a few weeks ago but I probably wouldn’t wear it in Abu Dhabi. Keep in mind your in the Middle East.
Location: Some hotels or locations ask for permits when shooting, keep this in mind. I’m usually taking pictures so early in the day no one is around to ask any questions…ha!
A few other places that come to mind are Nurai Island (more here) and a bit strange but the Abu Dhabi garage doors. The garage doors tend to have a unique and intricate design with gold touches that makes for a great background. I tend to take lifestyle travel images wherever I go and Tom always helps me with that. Whenever I go to Miami or Chicago I work with photographers to take most of my outfit pictures. After taken pictures in places like Paris, London, Chicago, Miami, New York, Dallas, Dubai and Abu Dhabi I have to admit and say that taking pictures in Abu Dhabi is the hardest. The weather conditions are absolutely brutal in the summer making it nearly impossible to take pictures. The temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit by 7am and 100% humidity. The camera lens tens to fog and you have to wait outside for the camera to defog and by that time your already sweating. Needless to say, I love this creative part of my job and I’m always on the lookout for unique backgrounds everywhere I go. If you’re ever in the UAE and have questions on where to shoot feel free to reach out, I’m happy to help!