MT business travel: Frequent flyer Janet Gaymer's guide to Abu Dhabi

HOW TO GET THERE

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I fly with Emirates because of the exceptional service. It's a seven-hour flight from Heathrow. BA also flies direct.

AIRPORT TO TOWN

Emirates is helpful in pre-arranging transport. Taxis take about 30 minutes and cost Dhs65 (£10). Buses (route 901) go from outside the arrivals hall every 30 to 45 minutes, costing Dhs3. The major car-rental firms have offices at the airport.

BEST HOTEL

I stay at the InterContinental 1 (Al Khalidya St, +971 2 666 6888, www.abu-dhabi.intercontinental.com) as it's convenient for our office. It's a standard business hotel. For something more extravagant, the Emirates Palace 2 (Abu Dhabi Corniche, 690 9000, www.emiratespalace.com) is due to open on 8 November, nearby. It's a sumptuous hotel, designed for royal visitors. Abu Dhabi's beach is typical of the Gulf - nothing to write home about but perfectly pleasant. The Beach Rotana 3 (Tourist Club Area, 644 3000, www.rotana.com) is a recently renovated beach club connected to a mall, and the Hilton International 4 (Corniche Road, 681 1900, www.hilton.com) has a good beach and sports facilities.

BEST BUSINESS RESTAURANT

As Abu Dhabi's dining clientele is likely to be travelling, the best restaurants are in hotels. These are all suitable for meetings. The Fishmarket at the InterContinental 1 is wonderful. It has a terrace with a sea view, and is just like a fish market - you choose your fish from those on display. The city has plenty of quality international cuisine. Vascos at the Hilton 4 is a fine example, and again has a lovely sea view. Prego's at Beach Rotana 3 serves great Italian food; the Maharajah at Le Meridien 5 (Tourist Club Area, 644 6666, www.abudhabi.lemeridien.com) is the best for Indian; and the Mawal at the Hilton does delicious Lebanese food and has belly dancers.

BEST BARS

These are also found in hotels. You can get alcohol from other authorised outlets, but the hotels are the most obvious source. The Jazz Bar at the Hilton 4 puts on live jazz and serves good food. The Captain's Arms at Le Meridien 5 is a slice of British life with beer and pub food, and the Millennium 6 (Sheikh Khalifa St, 626 2700, www.millenniumhotels.com) has a cigar and champagne bar, Cristal.

A FEW HOURS TO KILL?

For a welcome respite, try 4x4 'dune bashing' in the Liwa Oasis, a five-hour drive away. It's a bizarre but thrilling ride up, down and diagonally across sand dunes with an experienced driver.

The city has several state-of-the-art malls 7 8 9 with cinemas and western outlets, which cater to people's natural urge to get under the air-con.

You're only ever five minutes from the sea and distractions such as dolphin-watching and watersports 10.

BUSINESS ETIQUETTE

You're expected to follow the European business code, so wear a suit even though it's tremendously hot. The weekend falls on Thursday and Friday. Avoid Ramadan (this year, 4 Oct-2 Nov). It's not worth trying to do business then - people's minds are elsewhere and you are not communicating under normal circumstances. People do more business at night and meetings go on late. If you can pick and choose your time to go, do so.

SECRETS OF THE JET SET

I usually go after Ramadan, to get the best out of people and avoid the summer heat. Temperatures can reach 45 degs C in August, and humidity can reach 90%-100% in the evenings. In August, many people just give up and leave. Go with the flow. If you can do business in accordance with nature, that's best. Abu Dhabi is designed for the heat and everywhere has air conditioning, even the taxis, but the artificial cold can be as uncomfortable as the heat outside. My tip: take layers.

Janet Gaymer is senior partner of law firm Simmons & Simmons.

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