Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 May 2020

Abu Dhabi’s Khalidiya area guide: where to eat, shop and stay in the vibrant neighbourhood

Colour, culture and cuisine all merge together to make Khalidiya an exciting location

Al Khalidiya Park is one of the many parks in the area. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Al Khalidiya Park is one of the many parks in the area. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Khalidiya is not so much a destination but an experience. Nestled in the heart of Abu Dhabi, it’s a colourful and bustling series of neighbourhoods encompassing the modern, the historic, the glitzy and the gritty. If you’re a fan of street snacks, this is your ideal location, and with the Corniche about a 20-minute walk away, it’s a good area to call home.


So many places, not enough stomach space. This is the conundrum faced when sampling the food in Khalidiya. The restaurants reflect the area’s true cosmopolitanism, with varied cuisines – from the Levant to Asia and North Africa – available at various price points. You need to start with the basics and for that you should visit The House of Tea. Don’t let its small size fool you, as this hole-in-the-wall cafe does a roaring trade, thanks to its paratha wraps (toppings include fried egg, chicken tikka or Nutella) and sweet karak tea. The nearby Game of Toast is inspired by Game of Thrones and looks like it’s straight out of the ritzy part of the Free City of Braavos. If you’re looking for authentic Turkish food, check out Al Afiya, with its expansive menu – the Iskender meat or chicken kebabs are amazing.


Options are available for both the intrepid or stress-free shopper. If you’re the latter, its best to visit Khalidiyah Mall (4), which has three floors full of medium-range fashion brands, a large LuLu Hypermarket and cinema (Cine Royal). If you’re looking for a bargain, wear some good shoes and stroll down Darat Al Miyah (5), a district home to hundreds of small shops selling everything from mobile phones and perfumes to Sudanese-style kanduras and Pashtun-inspired sandals. Best of all, the salespeople at these stores are a fountain of knowledge for all things Abu Dhabi.


Khalidiya was viewed as one of Abu Dhabi’s underrated culture hubs, but this changed with the refurbishment of Qasr Al Hosn. Built more than 250 years ago, the former fort now hosts various heritage events and exhibitions. Technically it’s in Al Hosn, but it’s worth wandering over. Also, pay a visit to the Etihad Modern Art Gallery, which has a vibrant programme full of exhibitions by local and international artists. Make sure to check out its Art Souq, held each Ramadan, where you can score evocative works being sold at a decent price.


Many of the city’s cheaper hotels are in Khalidiya. If you are here for business, Downtown Sheraton Khalidiya Hotel is a solid choice and has free parking. Another good option is Oryx Hotel, as it’s a five-minute walk from the beach, with plenty of restaurants nearby. For a family holiday, check out the Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana. The five-star resort has a large pool that overlooks the Arabian Gulf.


Plus … Khalidiya is also home to many cheap launderettes. They can be easily found in residential neighbourhoods, where you can get your clothes dry-cleaned at a great price. Zubaidah Laundry at Darat Al Miyah is highly recommended.

Updated: January 5, 2020 03:42 PM



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