If there’s one thing that makes Abu Dhabi an exceptional destination, it’s the Grand Mosque imagined by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan in the 80s. This visionary sheikh imagined the building to be a synthesis of different architectural styles – with a firm and convincing desire to revive the golden age the Islamic world, when the region’s art, ideas, and knowledge illuminated the entire world. Finished in 2007, the mosque is a grandiose undertaking composed with exquisite taste – its minarets were conceived like marvels in their own right. In a white marble of a rare purity, this mosque in the capital of the U.A.E. is also touched up with refined Italian frescos; as if straight out of the Arabian Nights, where the best of humanity comes together to satisfy those of us on Earth. Born in the mind of this visionary sheikh, the minarets are clearly tied to a verse of the Koran that preaches tolerance, love, and a meeting of cultures. If you only have one hour to visit Abu Dhabi, it should without a doubt be dedicated to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Now, Etihad Airways is launching a challenge to make Abu Dhabi more than just a layover. “The launch of Etihad Airways’ layover program highlights what residents of the city have known for a long time – that Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan, dynamic, and exciting destination that includes opportunities for every visitor, whether they’re looking for adventure, culture, or simply a relaxing moment at the beach,” explains Peter Baumgartner, the company’s CEO. The city’s main attractions can all be found within a short video for the “48 Hour Challenge” campaign that features Ricky Wilson, frontman for the British band Kaiser Chiefs, as he steps up to the challenge!
With humor in tow, Ricky Wilson explores the diverse aspects of Abu Dhabi with a stopwatch in hand. “For me, a layover means sitting in an airport with at best a visit to the duty free, but it can be so much more!” the singer comments. It seems he’s spot on. In two days, he got catapulted into the air in a slingshot, zoomed around in a race car, boarded a super-yacht, sipped a tea at 300 meters above ground in the Jumeirah Hotel in the Etihad Towers, snowboarded in the desert sands, kayaked through the mangroves, and learned how to bellydance before falling asleep under the stars. And this is just a brief summary of his two wild days! From April 28th until the end of 2017, the idea is to offer 2-in-1 packages for lodging and activities to passengers flying with Etihad Airways on layover in Abu Dhabi. Those who book a two-night stay in one of 60 participating hotels will get the second night for free. Flyers in business class will also get a free night with no strings attached, while first class will get two nights free. On your mark, get set, go!