Life’s A Beach

22 Oct

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The weather here in Abu Dhabi is steadily getting a little cooler and a little less humid, most days at least. After sticking largely to air- conditioned comfort for weeks we’re looking forward to spending more time outside and our sights are set on the beaches. They are worth a look, too. Coming from the UK and being more familiar with European beaches, it’s difficult at first, however, to get your head round having to pay for the privilege.

In Greece even Onassis couldn’t own the sea around his private island. If you wanted to drop an anchor right next to his beach you could. Mind you, you would also have to put up with the close scrutiny of the gun-touting security guards watching your every move. Growing up in Britain, of course, if you can reach the coast, from Land’s End to John O’Groats the seashore is your playground. Balmedi to Blackpool, Bridlington to Brighton and over the water to Ballycastle, beaches galore for everyone.

But this is Abu Dhabi where commerce is king, and the seafront is prime real estate in an ever growing city. Some villas and apartments have their own patch of sand exclusively for their residents and many hotels reserve one for their guests, perhaps the best belonging to the Emirates Palace. Some, for a fee, will allow day members to use their pools and access the salty stuff.

As the more tourist-orientated islands of Yas and Saadiyat develop, the phenomenon of the Beach Club has sprung up. After giving your wallet a hefty whacking you can wallow in the sheer luxury of a sun bed by an infinity pool, thick towels and waiters serving you drinks or spraying a cooling mist should you be so uncultured as to perspire but also, for a little extra, your own private cabana. We’ve yet to try this. Instead we headed for the Corniche. This is on the main island, in spitting distance of Downtown and has a rare public beach along part of its 8km length where you can simply plonk your own towel on the sand and enjoy.

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We decided to go a little more exclusive though. What? Oh, yes! For Dhs10 (about £1.70) to enter and a further Dhs25 each for a sun bed sheltered by a good sized shade you can spend a very pleasurable few hours, all day if you wish, for the grand total of about 12 quid per couple. For this you get to lie above the golden sand with the turquoise sea a few steps away, along with clean if limited shower, changing room and toilet facilities. The sea is warm, flat calm and gently shelving. You can’t swim out very far, floating fences and an observant life guard ensure you stay within 40 meters and away from the ubiquitous jet skis. It’s a bargain so get there early.

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