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Marhaba Class of 2017,
The Gazelle team would like to welcome you to the neighborhood. To help you explore the area, here are a few tips and suggestions for spots to eat, get supplies, relax and more.
Al Safa is your one-stop shop for all things dorm related. For something delicious, try the mamool cookies on the first floor, which is stocked with food and snacks. The second floor offers all things houseware, from cups and pans to shampoo and mobile phones. Apart from Fridays, it is open 24 hours a day, so a 3 a.m. run for ramen noodles or Nutella is always feasible. Don’t be surprised if you run into a professor doing the same.
If you are looking for simple, cheap clothing, or to have laugh at some amusingly translated English, stop by the Al Sadaf clothing store. When Halloween rolls around, Al Sadaf is perfect for last minute costume pieces. Check out the first floor for perfumes and hair accessories, and the second floor for fun toys to entertain you and your friends.
Abu Tariq is Sama Tower’s friendly next-door neighbor. The recently renovated general store is a miniature Al Safa with a very welcoming staff. If you need Etisalat phone credit, a bowl of instant ramen or some ice cream, Abu Tariq is open until midnight every day.
If you want to taste the Internet, the Corniche, or the Burj al Arab, Ababeel is your place to go. Confused? Don’t worry, these are just some of the exotic juices offered at Al Ababeel, a popular fast food destination. If too much studying has you craving some American-style fast food, try a chicken sandwich with fries and pair it with an avocado-mango smoothie.
Wadi Al Neel Refreshments
Refresh your palate with a treat from Wadi Al Neel Refreshments, a smoothie bar offering an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices like carrot, avocado and pomegranate. The store owner is always smiling and friendly, and you can sit down and chat with your friends outside the walls of Sama Tower. One favorite is the avocado smoothie — skeptical? Give it a try.
Nothing is better than a late-night shwarma run. Bite into this Arab burrito of delicious chicken, french fries, lettuce, tomato, garlic paste and pickles. If you are fan of spicy food, make sure to get an extra dose of their so-called Mexican spicy sauce — delicious, although likely unauthentic salsa Mexicana.
Al Sultan Bakery
Wherever you come from, steaming baked bread is irresistible. Al Sultan’s fresh-out-of-the-oven olive bread is the perfect salty afternoon snack — try it paired with some cheese from Safa. For those with a sweet tooth, try their delicious Moroccan sweets and baklava.
Madinat Zayed is the mall of the knick-knacks, fabrics and gold. If you are looking for some odd home decorations, hair decorations or just strange stuff, look no further than the many floors of this shopping mall, just minutes from Sama by foot. If you feel like spending some cash, peruse the gold souk and drop some dirhams on a necklace to bring back for mom. If you are in search of an abaya, kandora or other signature goods from the UAE — Madinat Zayed is for you.
Hidden at the back of the Homes R Us in Madinat Zayed is Daiso, a Japanese version of a dollar store. This is a great spot to pick up unique and sometimes strange school supplies — from little erasers shaped like fruit to funky folders and storage units.
Attached to Madinat Zayed is Lulu’s Hypermarket which, as the name might suggest, is a gigantic supermarket. For almost any ingredient, Lulu’s is the place to shop. Lulu’s has a wonderful nut and dried fruit section so if you want a good healthy snack, this is the place to stock up.
From Sheikh bobble-heads and salt and pepper shakers to Obama perfume and genie lamps, 7 Land is perfect for souvenirs and quirky gifts for family and friends.
If you are craving some Chinese food you can either order take-out or make your way over to this cramped but friendly restaurant. Try their deep-fried eggplant with garlic and chili sauce or their chicken with lemon sauce — a tangy NYUAD favorite.
Ma Wa Weel
Lebanese flavors meet Tuscan interior design at this odd but relaxing dinner spot. Ma Wa Weel perfect for a meeting with a professor or a meal with friends. Try their mashawi — an Arab barbecue.
Late night Lebanese food is an NYUAD tradition and Lebanese flower is always a hit. Try their falafel and shawarma sandwiches.
If your Student Interest Group is looking to literally spice up its meetings, Al Ekram is a great place to lounge and enjoy North Indian cuisine. The staff is friendly and the place is spacious and inviting. Try their chicken ginger or chicken kadai dishes.
Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant
This is dosa heaven for those vegetarians who want South Indian food close to Sama. Indulge in their Chennai thali between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and sample an assortment of curries, dal, vegetables, sauces and yogurt dips. Absolutely delicious.
If you have yet to try manakish, you are missing out. Manakish, sometimes known as Lebanese pizza, is pastry dough kneaded to create pockets that nuzzle the many toppings. Try a classic zaatar manakish, or with cheese and ground meat. For something sweet, go for the yoghurt known as labneh with honey or nutella.
Red Sea Antiques
Searching for a present to bring home to your parents? Red sea antiques has unique gifts from all across the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent. If your thought thrift stores in your hometown had some cool finds, wait until you disover what red sea antiques has to offer.
Take your abayas, kandoras, suits and dresses to get dry cleaned in this nearby laundromat. They even deliver to Sama Tower, even though they are located a mere 20 meters away — perfect for the lazy college student.
Tucked behind an NMC pharmacy building right outside of Sama is Zari spa for both men and women to treat themselves to a relaxing spa afternoon. Stressed after a big exam? Get a pedicure, manicure, massage, eyebrow threading, haircut or facial inexpensively at Zari.
Green Branch is one of the best places to get art or office supplies in Abu Dhabi. On the first floor there are pens, markers, folders, yarn and the occasional antique notebook, while upstairs there are fine art supplies — watercolors, oils, acrylics, glass and silk paint, linoleum for printing and a wide range of canvases. Warning: watch out for expired art supplies.
Abu Dhabi Post Office
For all your mailing necessities, especially picking up passports and visas, stop by the Abu Dhabi Post Office. Warning: there is no guarantee when your mail will get to its destination — it could range anywhere from a few days to a few months.
Fotouh Al Khair Centre, commonly known as Marks & Spencer
This half-mall hosts Marks & Spencer, a good spot for dorm essentials as well as expensive teas and chocolates, in addition to Mirabel, a café on the top floor with exquisite cakes. Don’t miss the Christmas tree in December that decorates the main atrium.
On your way from Sama to DTC and want a nice cup of joe? Look no further than the Etisalat building in front of Sama for an on-the-go coffee to help you in those early morning Arabic classes.
Warm up with some foul — a traditional fava bean dish at Abu Shakra. This Egyptian restaurant across from DTC provides a great lunch study break for hungry students. Take it to-go and enjoy a picnic with friends at the DTC garden.
New Souk, also known as the Central Souk or Central Market
The Abu Dhabi souk had a facelift. The chic new souk’s intricate and geometric wooden building is a sight to see in itself. If you love beautiful architecture, meandering through the central souk is a wonderful after-class break. It houses cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops, cupcake shops, date and spice stores as well at Tarbouche, a breezy café on the top floor with great shisha for an afternoon out with friends.
Once the sweltering heat of Abu Dhabi dies down in the evenings, families spill out into the family park, a ten minute walk from DTC. Take a class book to read or enjoy a Friday afternoon with friends, barbecue and a shisha. This is the best spot in town for people watching.
All Prints is a high-end stationery store where you can find all sorts of paper and notebooks. It houses an art bookstore and is a great place to get school supplies and tools to help you organize your dorm room.
Costa Coffee & Starbucks
For those craving a familiar taste of sugar-saturated coffee, Costa and Starbucks are just a few blocks away from DTC. They are good places to study in Abu Dhabi, although we recommend you check out our 5 Best Coffee Shops to Study in Abu Dhabi
article for some more local spots.