Illustration by Assel Mukanova

How to Leave the Campus Bubble on Weekdays

Although exploring Abu Dhabi can be exciting, it can also feel daunting amid all your other obligations. Here are some suggestions of fun activities that you can fit in the middle of your work week!

Sep 26, 2022

The combination of a sometimes overwhelming workload and familiar habits can make life at NYU Abu Dhabi feel like a bubble. Changing your scenery during the week is very important and can make a crucial difference in your well-being, helping you feel connected to the community outside of campus.
Meal with a View
Mamsha Al Saadiyat
A five minute drive from campus, Mamsha Al Saadiyat is a scenic beachfront promenade lined with a range of restaurants. Black Tap and Antonia are great for a quick casual meal between classes, and if you need a break from the NYU Abu Dhabi tradition of Abd El Wahab Tuesdays, give Beirut Sur Mer a try. A healthy and vegan-friendly option is Alkalime, and if you are conscious of time between or after classes, grab a quick breakfast or coffee from Ten11 Beach or Ethr Design & Coffee.
Manarat Al Saadiyat
This art hub is located in the cultural district of Abu Dhabi, close to campus. At Manarat Al Saadiyat, you can spend some time admiring various forms of artistic expression from all around the world and even try out a range of classes, like painting and pottery, at the art studio. Additionally, its restaurant, Larte, serves delectable food from global cuisines.
Marsa Al Bateen
Located downtown, Marsa Al Bateen is a residential area that overlooks the western waterfront of Abu Dhabi. Marsa has a variety of cafés, like Arabica and Brunch & Cake, and some restaurants, such as Tasha’s and the Coffee Club, the latter of which has peaceful outdoor seating. You can go for a walk or bike ride along the waterfront, and the area is also close to Nation Towers and Corniche.
Yas Bay
Yas Bay is a three-kilometer boardwalk on the south shore of Yas Island. Although the restaurants are a bit formal and expensive, it is still incredibly beautiful and ideal for a walk at any point of the day. If you are into photography, this is the place to get night-time shots of the city skyline.
** Fun Time with Friends**
Umm Al Emarat Park
This urban park is a youth and family hotspot in Abu Dhabi. The park has a five dirham entry fee and offers a huge field for playing games, sports or laying down a mat to eat. Inside the park there is a zoo, a maze and restaurants like Parker’s, where you can try their famous Mac and Cheetos, as well as Home Bakery, best known for fresh cookies and coffee. Outside the park you will find Salt, the best burger place in Abu Dhabi, which started off as a food truck before expanding to an indoor/outdoor seating after gaining popularity. Keep a look out for events throughout the year.
This is the image of Abu Dhabi, where there are several events throughout the year, like the Mother of the Nation festival, and National Day celebrations. You can swim at the public beach, rent a bike with the Bikeshare program or enjoy the cafés and restaurants that stretch across the entire Corniche.
Art House Cafe
This study-friendly café is a low-key spot perfect for weekday activity, Art House Cafe is a place both artsy and serene. Paint a plate and enjoy a meal with friends, then look through the artwork in their mini-gallery.
Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are a fun and brain-stimulating group activity to get your mind off deadlines and work. Prison Island in Abu Dhabi Mall is problem-solving based, whereas Darkroom in Bateen and Blackout by the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station are horror themed for a scarier experience.
Kayaking is a great way to see the natural beauty of Abu Dhabi. Close to campus, you can kayak at the Louvre, or take a tour (or rent solo) with Noukhada at Yas Beach. Alternatively, you can visit the Eastern Mangroves Anantara to kayak, or rent a donut boat and then stop by the restaurants in the area with cuisines ranging from Lebanese to Italian. No matter which location you end up choosing, kayaking makes for a wonderful activity to escape the campus and connect with nature.
Other Activities
Karting at Yas Marina Circuit, or farther from campus in a bigger track at Al Forsan, is a challenging and adrenaline-inducing activity. If you are looking to decompress completely and not do anything physically intensive, try out a board game café with friends at either Dice in Sheikha Fatima Park or DNA café in Khalidiya.
Setting aside time out of the week to explore the city or have a fun afternoon with friends can make a positive difference in both your personal and academic life. Whether you choose to browse artwork between classes or go for a bike ride around Saadiyat to let go of nervous energy, these moments all add up to your unforgettable experience at NYUAD.
Liyan Mustafa is a Staff Writer. Email her at
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