The swanky Al Maryah island, home to the high-end Galleria Mall and two luxury five-star hotels, is one of the city’s classiest hangouts.
Whether you’re looking to fill your suitcases with designer gear or wine and dine in some of Abu Dhabi’s finest bars and restaurants, Al Maryah Island is the place for you.
In this article, we take you through what you’ll find on Al Maryah Island, from shops to restaurants to family-friendly experiences. You’ll see that Al Maryah has it all for a luxury vacation in Abu Dhabi.
Things to do on Al Maryah Island
Most activity on Al Maryah Island revolves around the swanky Galleria Mall, extended in 2019 to cover over 33,000 m2 of retail space, making it one of the most extensive shopping and social hubs in the city.
Originally known as a place to buy designer goods, the Galleria Mall’s recent extension now hosts high-street brands from around the world and designer boutiques. No fewer than 400 shops make the Galleria a veritable shoppers’ paradise. So whether you’re looking for H & M or Dolce and Gabbana, the Galleria is where you’ll find it.
There are also loads for foodies with dining establishments to suit every budget. The Central Kitchens and Food Court contain a number of fast food outlets, whereas the ground floor hosts mid-range eateries like Paul and The Cheesecake Factory.
The waterfront promenade brings with it higher-profile dining opportunities, including Bentley Kitchen and Eat Greek, as well as award-winning ultra-high-end dining destinations like Coya. The selection of high-end establishments also includes the bars and restaurants affiliated with the two five-star hotels that flank either end of the mall, which also include luxurious spa facilities.
As well as shopping and dining opportunities, you’ll find a whole host of family-friendly entertainment on Al Maryah, including play centres, VR experiences, and state-of-the-art sports and leisure facilities. Keep reading to find out more!
Family Things to Do at Galleria Mall
If you’re looking for somewhere to spend the day indoors with the kids in Abu Dhabi (trust us, the summer days are long and hot!), you’ve found your premier spot in the city! The Galleria is bursting with fun kids’ activities, so why not try:
- Droplets By Caboodle
- Mirage Amusement
- National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
- Pop in & Play
- Vox Cinemas
- Xtreme Zone
- Zero Latency
- Game Over
You can find out more about each of these destinations below…
National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
A great concept store and play centre with rides and simulated experiences will surely make your little explorers happy. Highlights include the river rapids VR experience and Canopy Climbers – a great jungle-themed climbing adventure for younger guests.
This is a great place for the whole family to spend a few hours. Children under ten must be accompanied by an adult.
Adrenaline-pumping fun at the Galleria Mall can be found at the Xtreme Zone. Offering a whole host of interactive activities, including a trampoline park and climbing walls, Xtreme Zone is a great place for the whole family to have fun, but particularly appeals to the tween age group who’ve moved beyond soft plays for active indoor entertainment.
This cosy play centre is a great place for your under 5’s. It’s bright and colourful with beautifully designed imaginative play spaces, a soft play area, and spaces for quiet time. There’s also a kid’s salon affiliated with the play centre.
The small cafe has a range of drinks and snacks and is the perfect place for a coffee while the kids run off some steam. Parents can also utilise the drop and shop service, which provides supervised childcare while you shop.
Babies and younger toddlers might also enjoy a visit to Droplets by Caboodle, a water-inspired play space designed to build confidence and develop independence.
To find out more about Caboodle, click here (NB temporarily relocated during renovations in 2023 to a smaller venue)
Offering shoppers a little time out, Mirage Amusements has several small attractions for entertaining your little ones, including ride-on animals and the very popular diggers. You’ll find them on the food court level 2 of the Galleria.
Pop in & Play
The perfect drop-and-shop venue for little LEGO lovers! Have the kids enjoy supervised LEGO-based playtime while you finish your essential tasks at the mall. It’s open to kids of all ages, though under 4 years old, you need an adult with them.
Special rates apply off-peak (Monday to Thursday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM). Peak hours are 4:00 PM to close and all day Friday to Sunday.
Mission Play! By Mattel.. Coming Soon
This exciting new play centre is due to open at the end of 2023 and will include role-play areas and active games designed for younger children. More to come once this new attraction finally opens!
A VR experience like no other, Zero Latency offers you the chance to escape the real world for a while and delve into an alternative universe. The current program involves running around a 225-square-meter space and shooting zombies.
Given the mature themes, players must be over 12 to enjoy Zero Latency.
The 21-screen Vox Cinema is the largest cinema complex in Abu Dhabi. As well as the capital’s only IMAX experience, the Galleria also offers the THEATRE experience, where you can enjoy a three-course gourmet meal in fully reclining seats.
Game Over Escape Room
Great for older kids and young adults, as well as families, these escape rooms offer a range of experiences. So whether you want to find the Lost City of Atlantis, get lost with Alice, or enter the world of Arabian Nights, check out Game Over’s full range of adventures here.
Shopping on Al Maryah Island
The Galleria Mall, Al Maryah’s large shopping centre is split into two sections, with the Luxury Collection occupying the older part of the mall. This houses 130 of the world’s most sought-after luxury fashion and jewellery boutiques, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Hermes and Fendi.
The newer section of the mall contains high-street brands from around the world such as Zara, Next and American Eagle as well as stores like Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch.
There are also lots of bigger stores like Decathlon (for sports and fitness products), Pottery Barn (for homeware) and department stores like Debenhams (which is still going strong in the UAE).
You will also find specialist retailers like the Virgin Megastore (tech and audio-visual, gifts, etc) and the wonderful Kinokuniya Book Store, which has the best selection of books and stationery in Abu Dhabi.
Occasionally pop-up markets can also be found in the more open areas of the mall.
Annual Events Held on Al Maryah
Al Maryah is home to many events throughout the year including:
- New Year’s Eve – There’s always lots going on to celebrate New Year’s Eve on Al Maryah, but the main draw is the Fireworks that take place at midnight.
- Winterfest – A fully festive celebration featuring live shows, games and rides, craft activities and the chance to meet Santa. See the waterfront transformed into a winter wonderland!
- Chinese New Year – Featuring a variety of traditional Chinese entertainment such as dragon and lion dances as well as Chinese opera.
- Spring Celebrations – You will often find Easter egg hunts and other spring-themed activities at The Galleria.
- Halloween – The Mall often nods to scary season with pumpkin hunts and other spooky spectacles.
- National Day – This is a huge celebration in the UAE. The mall will be decorated in the colours of the flag, and there may be music and dance performances as well as sales and promotions in many stores.
- Eid Celebrations – Eid is usually celebrated with sales and promotions as well as Fireworks and late opening hours.
You can find out about upcoming celebrations by checking out the Galleria website or tuning in to the Galleria’s social media channels.
Recreation on Al Maryah
Far more than just shops, you’ll also find several green spots and recreation opportunities on Al Maryah Island.
Galleria Rooftop Parks and Gardens
A few different rooftop gardens and outdoor play areas are accessed via the mall. The largest can be found at the Sports Park, which includes tennis and basketball courts, crazy golf and giant chess as well as playgrounds and is located on level two on the north side of the mall.
There’s also the Sky Park on level four on the mall’s south side. This includes a large undulating play area with tunnels as well as climbing frames and slides.
Other outdoor areas contain food and beverage outlets that are open during the cooler months and offer stunning sunset views across the city. The largest is known as the Family Park.
Train at The Galleria
As well as outdoor sporting options at the Sports Park, the Galleria is also home to Train, a state-of-the-art gym offering a variety of membership options.
Active Al Maryah Island Sports and Recreation
There are also plenty of opportunities for sports and recreation outside the mall. Active Al Maryah owns a variety of sports and leisure facilities dotted around the island. As well as basketball, tennis and padel courts, there are outdoor football pitches and an indoor sports pavilion.
The icing on the cake, however, is the ACTIVE dome, which is the only full-sized indoor football pitch in the Middle East.
Al Maryah Island Transport
Al Maryah Island is connected to Reem Island, Abu Dhabi’s main island and Saadiyat Island by a series of bridges – a new one seems to pop up every few months!
Travelling by public transport, the island is serviced by bus routes 42 and 69, and there are plenty of taxi and private car hire options. There is also a seasonal shuttle bus that operates from the Corniche and Saadiyat Island.
The nearest bus stop for The Galleria Al Maryah Island is opposite the North West entrance. The Bus stop has automated displays with the next bus time. Alternatively, you can check bus times with hospitality services in the mall so you’re not unnecessarily waiting about in the heat.
Where to Stay on Al Maryah Island
Al Maryah Island Abu Dhabi is currently home to two prestigious 5-star Hotels very worthy of inclusion in your Abu Dhabi travel plans!
The Four Seasons Abu Dhabi
This beautiful hotel offers an extensive range of dining options, well-appointed rooms, a well-equipped fitness centre, a sumptuous spa and a stunning rooftop pool.
Rooms are modern and spacious, offering the very best in comfort and privacy. Nothing is too much for the hotel’s concierge, ensuring that you have a stress-free stay.
The state-of-the-art fitness facilities include separate gyms for men and women with stunning views across the water towards the city. After a morning in the gym, indulge in one of the many treatments available at the hotel’s plush spa, which includes a variety of facials using high-end beauty brands.
Dining at the Four Seasons is a real treat. The hotel’s steak restaurant ‘Butcher and Still’ is well known in Abu Dhabi for its excellent interpretation of a 1920s Chicago steakhouse, serving perfectly cooked, high-quality steaks and a range of delicious side dishes.
Cafe Milano is a great option for anyone who enjoys pizza, pasta and fresh seafood. Then there’s Crust, the hotel’s buffet restaurant open for breakfast and Saturday Brunch – one of the best family brunches in Abu Dhabi!
After a delicious dinner, enjoy balmy evenings at the Eclipse Terrace Lounge, or skip dinner and enjoy some small plates at the Zsa Zsa bar.
As well as standard restaurant reservations, The Four Seasons offers several special culinary experiences, including private dinners in a secret dining room hidden inside the hotel, a private Arabic barbecue in the desert and specially curated beach picnics.
Rosewood Abu Dhabi
The lavish Rosewood Hotel really is the height of luxury. Many of the stylishly decorated rooms offer prime cityscape views.
As well as a fitness centre and outdoor pool, the hotel has a state-of-the-art Sensa Spa where you can rejuvenate your body and mind. Whether you want to experience a traditional Moroccan Hammam, have a relaxing massage or treat yourself to a facial, the Rosewood can provide for all of your health and beauty needs.
Currently, guests also receive a complimentary day pass to Saadiyat Beach Club, where you will find an array of facilities, including a ladies’ salon and men’s barber. (Also, look out for special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, when you can pick up some exceptionally good deals at the Rosewood.)
The Rosewood has numerous dining options, including the Cantonese Dai Pai Dong and the Mediterranean/Lebanese Em Sherif Sea Cafe.
The main restaurant, Aqua, provides buffet-style meals and is home to the Rosewood’s outstanding Saturday brunch. Magnificent afternoon teas are also served in the lobby lounge but must be booked 24 hours in advance.
For those who fancy a tipple, the speakeasy-style Dragon’s Tooth is a must-visit, as is Hidden Bar, known for its huge selection of gins. We also highly recommend the cheese and wine nights that take place at La Cava (a cosy bar reminiscent of a French wine cellar), as well as the Ladies’ nights that take over the Rosewood’s stunning rooftop bar, Glo.
Families are not forgotten here either with a great kids club, this would be your best luxury, family-friendly hotel in the city.
Where to Eat on Al Maryah Island
Al Marya is the place to go if you’re looking for a really special dining experience.
High-end Al Maryah Dining Options
In addition to the restaurants listed above, you will also find the following high-end restaurants along the Galleria’s Al Maryah Waterfront:
- Zuma – An award-winning Japanese restaurant offering Japanese grills and sushi.
- Coya – One of the world’s best restaurants, the Latin American Coya focuses on Peruvian cuisine.
- Nusr Et – A luxury steak house featuring a Turkish-inspired menu. A burger dusted with real gold will set you back a whopping AED 660!
- 99 Sushi Bar – the very best of haute Japanese cuisine, 99 Sushi Bar delivers arguably the best sushi in Abu Dhabi.
- LPM Restaurant & Bar – A French fine dining restaurant with Mediterranean touches.
The addition of family favourites such as The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s, Asha’s and Texas Roadhouse to the mall extension provides dining opportunities to suit all occasions and tastes.
Casual Dining on Al Maryah
If a casual bite is what you’re after, Central Kitchens offers diners the flavours of the world in a relaxed environment. Located in the atrium on level three, guests are invited to explore culinary flavours from restaurants such as Bombay Kitchen, Urban Wok, Spheerz Sushi, Al Areesh, Raising Cane’s, Off the Hook and Blaze Pizza.
Close to the children’s park on level two, age-old favourites like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut are joined by Bikanervala and Charley’s Philly Steaks to provide a quick and convenient meal in the comfort of The Galleria’s food court.
Sweet Treats at the Galleria
As well as sumptuous five-star dining options, the Galleria has no shortage of beautiful Instagram-worthy boutique cafes serving up delicious cakes and pastries. London-based L’ETO is very popular with locals, as is the New York-based Magnolia Bakery.
A visit to Al Maryah Island is undoubtedly one of the best ways to enjoy the modern side of Abu Dhabi, from retail therapy to some of the city’s most exclusive dining opportunities. It makes the premier luxury destination to stay in the centre of the city.
Before you go… Important things to consider when planning a trip to Abu Dhabi
- Pop into our essential planning information page; it includes everything you need to know about getting around Abu Dhabi, a handy guide on what to pack and top tips for first-timers on the dos and don’ts, laws, and customs in the UAE.
- Don’t forget to pack your travel insurance!
- Discover the best places to stay in Abu Dhabi, or bag a bargain on your accommodation here:
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