Three days in the sun with Quins
Bird's eye view: Reporter Stuart Amos gets up close and personal with a falcon at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
The United Arab Emirates was only born 1971 and on landing in Abu Dhabi it is not long before you realise they're making up for lost time.
Moments after an eight-hour flight from frozen Heathrow and virtually every preconception you may have of a cash-rich nation is confirmed.
Construction of high-rise office blocks, luxury hotels is of a scale you can't quite imagine.
They are even building a cultural community from scratch - complete with the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim and the Abu Dhabi Louvre - on previously deserted Saadiyat Island.
If you haven't got it...buy it and build it.
A brief reminder of the country's roots in the desert way of life, arrives with a trip to the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
The bird of prey is not the UAE's national emblem for nothing, as it was the means with which the indigenous population were able to hunt and survive in the region's harsh environment.
A guided tour from the facility's director Dr Margit Muller, brings everything vividly to life of what it was like before liquid gold was first discovered in 1958.
Ferrari World - and the world’s fastest roller-coaster - on Yas Island comes in stark contrast.
My guide losses his mobile phone, but the fact he has a Mercedes sports car he doesn't drive because he prefers his Range Rover suggests he won't miss it for long.
Quins played Wasps in the gardens of the Emirates Palace, and the visitors’ dominance turned proceedings into a bit of a non-event as they cruised to a 38-13 win.
The fact barely any of the largely ex-pat crowd were particularly bothered meant the surreal atmosphere matched its surreal surroundings.
A project worth getting off the ground? Definitely. An unqualified success? The jury is still out.
While the players headed home the following morning I headed to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - the third largest in the world - before a desert safari and some dune bashing.
While, my final day was spent in the Empty Quarter - so called because it is the largest uninterrupted stretch of sand dunes in the world - and the luxurious desert resort of Qasr Al Sarab.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority make no secret of the fact they are pitching themselves at the high-end tourism market.
And our whistle-stop tour certainly matched that ambition.
What did we do and where did we go?
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.
This is the world’s largest hospital dedicated to the highest standard of comprehensive treatment and care of falcons and other raptors with over 4,400 patients per year. www.falconhospital.com.
Ferrari World, Yas Island.
The world’s first Ferrari theme park and largest attraction of its kind, with 20 start-of-the-art attractions providing the complete Ferrari experience.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
It was initiated by the late UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and can house more than 40,000 worshippers, many of whom kneel to pray on the world’s largest hand-made carpet. See visitabudhabi.ae.
Qasr Al Sarab.
Qasr Al Sarab (Mirage Palace) Resort & Spa is inspired by the indigenous desert culture, which is an integral part of the UAE’s unique heritage, and is surrounded by rich history dating back to 9,000-year-old New Stone Age settlements.
For more information on ultimate experiential getaway visit anantara.com.
Other stops included Yas Links - the first links golf course in the Middle East - and the Yas Marina Hotel.
For details on trips to Abu Dhabi visit visitabudhabi.ae