Unholies in UAE – Saadiyat Island and Monte Carlo Beach Club

Hope you’ve been enjoying the Unholies in UAE posts so far! KL took the girls out to Saadiyat Island for a little girly-time and R&R. When people hear ‘Abu Dhabi’, they tend to think of it as nothing more than a desert region and forget that beyond endless sand dunes, it’s actually home to other terrain, like mangroves and a collection of over 200 islands!

Saadiyat Island is one of the main destinations in Abu Dhabi set for intensive tourism development and slated to be its cultural centre – some future projects include a Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim museum as well as the Louvre. Thus, you’re greeted with lots of ongoing construction as you enter the island, a short 5-min drive from downtown Abu Dhabi and less than half an hour from the airport.

First we stopped by the Manarat Al Saadiyat, the Saadiyat Island visitor’s centre, to have brunch at Fanr Restaurant. It was a weekday so the place was pretty empty all around, food was so-so, nothing to shout about. I had a Thai green curry that was more like soup than curry, but still decent tasting. Lots of space outside, so quite family friendly.

I kept reading it as ‘Flo Fanr’, only later I realized that the ‘Flo” was a stylized Arabic translation of the word Fanr
It’s a pretty chi-chi brunch place
This was supposed to be Thai green curry and rice. I was envisioning something less soupy


Maanarat Saadiyat is also an art gallery of sorts, where you will find various exhibitions – Here’s a pretty eye-catching one with a whole bunch of chairs and benches that you could walk into –

What my house might look like if left to my own devices

One of the main exhibitions is the Saadiyat Story – an interactive exhibition that showcases the history, culture and future plans of Saadiyat. We didn’t go into that, instead choosing to go into the free exhibit called The Island / A Game Of Life, which was actually quite a fascinating insight into what islands mean and how they’ve impacted humans throughout history, literature and the arts as a whole. We technically weren’t allowed to take pictures here, but here’s one of the more interesting installations I managed to snap:

Those things in the foreground are actually dead stuffed animals. Amazing, innit!


After that short detour, we continues along to our actual destination, the Monte Carlo Beach Club.

Grand Entrance

Right off the bat it reminded me of a modern Qasr Al Sarab, so you know this is an expensive chi-chi sort of place and not my usual sort of hangout. KL wanted to treat P and C, the to-be-marrieds, to a nice day out as her wedding gift to them which is why we ended up here. Just so you know,  a day pass here costs around 250AED (~S$80!!), so definitely not for anyone on a budget.

You do get what you pay for though – check out the changing room, it is HUGE.

Cavernous changing room with everything you need in here
Jacuzzi pool. There’s a steam room and sauna as well.


We headed out to the pool side to lounge. It was a weekday so it was deserted, save for a private party being set up on the opposite side of the pool. Even so, the fancy cabanas cost an additional 500 AED just to rent so we just opted to lounge in the deckchairs behind the cabanas. Given what you’re paying, service is of course, impeccable. Waitstaff come up to offer menus, ply you with water, shift the umbrellas as you request… this is what being rich must feel like.

Living the high life
Check out the cabanas… where nobody was lounging. Seriously this looks like a magazine picture!
Pool has a great ocean view

I took a dip in the pool, and then had a walk around the surrounding area. The main pool area is linked to the beach by a boardwalk. A lifeguard is stationed on the beach and when the green flag is up, it means it’s ok to swim – red flag of course means it’s not. KL tells us that the coastal sand dunes are protected land and that turtles often come up to lay eggs on them.

The scenery was pretty amazing – I ended up with beautiful shots just because the place is a sight to behold. Check out my lomography shots here to see some of my experiments with multiple exposures on an analogue camera. It was rather windy though, so you had to run for a towel once you emerged from the water.

Panoramic shot of the boardwalk
Dune protection zone
That’s the Abu Dhabi skyline in the distance
The Monte Carlo Be-ch Club
Deckchairs for some serious sun, sand and sea
Here’s a panoramic shot as the sun was setting
The lifeguard had a canoe on standby
Fancy walking in for a dip?

And of course for good measure…

Jumpshot for posterity

The pool closes at 6pm, so make sure you get your dip early or like the girls who were too busy talking, end up not getting into the pool at all. The good news is that the facilities in the changing room are open till late, and there are even lounging chairs available in there so you can continue to laze about in there!

We had a nice time soaking in the jacuzzi and sitting in the steam room after we were done with the pool. The showers were divine and we had so much space to dress up for dinner after that. This is definitely a spot you should check out if you’re looking to spoil yourself silly. Apparently rather crowded on the weekends, but very blessedly empty on weekdays.

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4 comments to Unholies in UAE – Saadiyat Island and Monte Carlo Beach Club

    • I think it would make a great wedding spot! You should check out my other post on on the desert villa Qasr Al Sarab, now that would be an interesting and also quite spectacular wedding spot =)

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