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Things to do in Abu Dhabi

Catch a robot jockey camel race

For centuries, camel jockeys in this region were small children, but today there’s a more 21st-century rider: robots. Fast, chaotic and with a futuristic nod towards an impending robot apocalypse, owners drive on the outskirts of the track, pressing buzzers to get their robots to whip. Watch old and new collide at Al Wathba Camel Race Track (tel: +971 2 583 9200), 45km (27 miles) out of the city.

Find your range on the golf course

If you have reoccurring nightmares about getting trapped in bunkers, the 18-hole golf course at Al Ghazal (tel: +971 2 505 3314; www.alghazalgolf.ae) probably isn’t for you. This unique Abu Dhabi club has browns instead of greens (golfers putt on rolled and treated sand) and a 30-bay floodlit driving range. Just don’t forget your sand wedge.

Fire up the rubber over the dunes

Quad biking is one of mankind’s more exhilarating activities and there are few better places to have people eat your dust than the sands of Abu Dhabi. Emirates Tours (tel: +971 5 5053 26837; www.eatours.ae) offer quad bike and dune buggy trips, which are best undertaken during December and January as the weather is a little more forgiving. We recommend wearing warm clothing during those months.

Get some gold from the ATM

Is it in bad taste? Almost certainly. But where else in the world are you able to visit a gold-plated ATM and withdraw a 1g, 5g, or 10g gold coin? Visit the Emirates Palace hotel (tel: +971 2 690 9000; www.emiratespalace.com) to make the rarest of holiday decisions: a pretty sound investment. Think of it as the anti-timeshare.

Slip and skid across the waves on a wakeboard

Al Forsan (tel: +971 2 556 8555; www.alforsan.com) is home to the first water park cable system to be constructed in the Middle East. Its calm waters make it ideal for wakeboarding, wake-skating, knee-boarding and water skiing. As your technique improves, hit (metaphorically not literally) the ramps and obstacles in the water pool.

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Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi

Recently renovated, this high-end hotel with 202 guest rooms and 74 luxury suites, offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wireless internet access, a fitness centre with sauna and steam room and a squash hall. Le Royal Méridien also has nine restaurants and bars and excellent facilities for business meetings and banquets.

Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort

Overlooking the Arabian Gulf the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort has 272 guest rooms and suites all luxuriously appointed and offering high-speed Internet access. The 5-star stay has excellent restaurants a business centre and state of the art banqueting and conference facilities. Ask for a room overlooking the sea for the best view.

Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri

Located 15 minutes from the city centre, the magnificent Shangri-La boasts over 200 rooms and suites, plus some of the best restaurants and bars in the city. More palace than city hotel, be sure to ask for a room with a view of the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Hilton Abu Dhabi

As well as great city centre views, the Hilton has all the hallmarks of a classy chain hotel. It has a gym, one of the city's biggest indoor swimming pools and a sauna. The restaurant serves up a combination of international cuisine and local specialities. All guest rooms have high-speed Wi-FI access too.

One to One Hotels - The Village

One of Abu Dhabi's first truly boutique hotels, The Village was built to resemble a modern local street, complete with shops and restaurants. Located in a comparatively quiet part of the city, its 127 apartment-like rooms are separated into clusters of 18, each with its own rooftop pool. Facilities include LCD TVs, Internet access and a gym.

Emirates Palace

Allegedly one of the most expensive hotels ever built, this stunning palace boasts nearly 400 magnificent rooms and suites. Facilities include 10 on-site restaurants, a spa, a swimming pool and a private beach. Even if you can’t stay the night, book an unforgettable afternoon tea at Le Vendome.