In an effort to boost tourism in its home town of Abu Dhabi, government-controlled Etihad Airways announced a set of freebies and packages for passengers transiting through the Gulf city.

The biggest freebies are for first class passengers. They will get two free nights at any of the 60 hotels with which the airline has tied up under the deal. Those who are travelling by luxury class will be put up at the Emirates Palace hotel, the company said.

Business Class guests will receive one night’s stay free.

All other passengers have to book for one night at the hotel to get another night free.

The airline will adjust the transit period to 48 hours within Abu Dhabi for those who are interested in the offer.

Travellers from all eleven cities – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Kozhikode, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram – who have stop-overs at Abu Dhabi can take advantage of the offer, the airline said.

The company, along with the local tourism authorities has drawn up a list of “carefully curated programmes” that can occupy the travellers for two whole days, it said.

These include super car racing, cycling on a Formula 1 track, entertainments at Yas Waterworld, boarding a super yacht, desert skiing, camel riding, dinner in the desert, flying a falcon and so on.

The city is home to high-end shopping malls such as the stylish Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall, and The Galleria – one of the world’s most luxurious shopping centres.

The whole program is being promoted as a ‘holiday within a holiday’ for transit travellers. Even UAE residents can enjoy it as a ‘staycation’, it said.

The decline of oil prices has hit Gulf countries hard, with some like Saudi Arabia taking a harder knock. Abu Dhabi, which used to depend heavily on oil revenues, is attempting to diversify its income sources.

Neighbouring Dubai, which doesn’t have much by the way of oil, has been the most successful in creating alternate sources of revenue, such as tourism, trade and business.

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