Dramatically situated on the Corniche Road-facing side of the Breakwater – a small protuberance of reclaimed land jutting out from its southern end – the Heritage Village offers a slice of traditional Abu Dhabi done up for the visiting coach parties who flock here for whistle-stop visits, although it’s the spectacular views over the water to the Corniche that are perhaps the main attraction (best appreciated over a coffee or juice at the slightly moth-eaten Al Asalah Restaurant right on the waterfront at the back of the complex). The “village” itself consists of a string of picturesque barasti huts including a number of workshops where local artisans – carpenters, potters, brass-makers and so on – can sometimes be seen at work. The so-called “traditional market”, however, is basically just a few ladies flogging cheap handicrafts out of a further huddle of huts.
Immediately beyond the Heritage Village you can’t fail to notice the enormous flagpole, visible for miles around. At 123m, this was formerly claimed to be the tallest in the world, until topped in 2003 by one in Jordan (made, ironically, in Dubai). The quaint little octagonal building right next to the flagpole is the Abu Dhabi Theatre, its secular function belying its decidedly mosque-like appearance, complete with hemispherical dome and colourful Islamic tiling.