At the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, concierge Daryl Bismanos offers advice on what to do, eat and see in this thriving city—the second-most populous in the United Arab Emirates. Here he offers expert tips for business travelers.
What should business travelers have on hand when visiting your city?
During the peak of summer season, April to September, it’s essential to stay hydrated. Always carry a bottle of water and drink plenty of it. Keep sunscreen and a scarf with you to protect your skin. During our beautiful winter, end of November to March, jackets with hoods will keep you warm. Also, make sure clothing is appropriately conservative in keeping with local customs.
What are your top restaurant recommendations for a business lunch or dinner?
Prego’s (Beach Rotana Hotel, Tourist Club Area, P.O. Box 45200; Ph: +971 2 6979011) is praised by Time Out Abu Dhabi as a great place for a business lunch. Try the seafood linguine and lasagna. Our own Frankie’s Italian Restaurant & Bar (Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Khor Al Maqta; Ph: +971 2 654 3238) is a collaboration between famed horse jockey Frankie Dettori and Michelin star Chef Marco Pierre White. It offers award-winning cuisine indoors or outdoors with two-course and three-course menus to accommodate any lunch meeting.
What’s something that surprises guests about your city or hotel?
Our sea-view rooms overlook the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque—one of the world’s largest mosques. At night, the illuminated structure is stunning.
If business travelers only have a few hours for leisure, what must they see?
A great way to see the city is on a Seawings tour. The 30-minute flight takes off from Emirates Palace Marina and gives passengers incredible views of our landmarks and attractions. If you prefer to stay on the ground, hire a driver to take you on a tour of the city. Make sure you stop at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Heritage Village, a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village. Both offer insights into the history and culture of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates.
What’s the best option for outdoor exercise?
In cooler months, take a stroll along Corniche Road, eight kilometers of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, biking and pedestrian pathways, cafés and a beach. If time permits, go surfing, white-water rafting or kayaking at Wadi Adventure in Al Ain, a 90-minute drive from Abu Dhabi.
Concierge Daryl Bismanos’ top tips for getting business right in Abu Dhabi:
Tip 1: You’ll be offered Arabic coffee as a gesture of hospitality. Always take the cup with your right hand, and shake the cup when you don’t desire a refill.
Tip 2: The UAE weekend is Friday and Saturday, so plan meetings and events accordingly.
Tip 3: Your first meeting with a local business contact probably will focus on building a relationship. Try to get to know the person before launching into a business discussion. Business casual is acceptable attire for meetings and dining out, so leave your necktie at home.