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Jumeirah’s new Saadiyat Island resort

Words by Rob Chilton

Step among the dunes (and look out for turtles) at this new beachside haven in Abu Dhabi

With so many manmade beaches in the UAE, it’s natural to assume that the one at Jumeirah’s new Saadiyat Island resort would follow suit. “No,” smiled the staff who greeted us at the door, “Our beach is real. The turtles will arrive in April and we had dolphins 100 metres off the coast recently.”

The natural beach at the Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort

Bags swiftly deposited in our Ocean Deluxe Room, we marched straight to the shore to see for ourselves. Sure enough, we were confronted with tufts of grass peeping through gently rolling, natural sand dunes. Signs told us the dunes are protected and therefore out of bounds – we wonder if the wandering turtles would obey the command.

Panoramic Suite

Turning around to look at the hotel from the beach, we were struck by its large glass atriums and metal beams. To be frank, it looks like a small German airport. But walk inside and, instead of feeling like you’re about to catch the 8.30am flight to Dusseldorf, you might feel like a patient at a Swiss detox clinic.

The main building seen from the pool

Every curved surface is white and gleaming, with dazzling sunlight flooding every corner. All this natural light brings a sense of calm and space to the resort, making it the perfect weekend getaway for stressed city folk.


A pat on the back to the F&B department of Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort because the food is first rate. Tean is a Levantine restaurant with a live station churning out saj breads and an open charcoal pit that grills huge kebabs. Food here is beautifully presented with pomegranate seeds, swooshes of olive oil and decorative mint leaves.


A short walk away, adjacent to the adult lap pool, is Mare Mare, an Italian restaurant that is completely outdoors where superb pizzas with crispy crusts are the thing to order.

Mare Mare

For breakfast and dinner, The White Restaurant serves an excellent buffet under Arabic lanterns that doesn’t overwhelm – the live station serving up masala dosa is a particularly delicious way to start your day whereas the extensive ice cream and sorbet selection provides a refreshing finish to your day’s munching. Then upstairs on the fifth floor is The Lounge, a bar that puts out an admirable tapas buffet with a solid drinks menu.

The White Restaurant

Only an hour from Dubai Marina, Saadiyat Island is tantalisingly close for a spontaneous weekend away after a hectic week at work. Spread your toes in the natural beach (keep an eye out for those turtles) and enjoy the peace.

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