Explore Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Explore Abu Dhabi the federal capital and centre of government in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi is the largest city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and one of the most modern cities in the world.
With a population of just under 1.5 million, Abu Dhabi is the headquarters of numerous oil companies and embassies. With only 420,000 citizens in the entire emirate, each has an average net worth of USD17 million! The city features large gardens and parks, green boulevards lining all the streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, international luxury hotel chains and opulent shopping malls.
Long viewed as a staid bureaucratic outpost entirely lacking in neighboring Dubai‘s pizazz, things started to change radically in 2004 after long-ruler Sheikh Zayed passed away and his son Sheikh Khalifa took over. In a bid to attract tourism and investment, land sales to foreigners were allowed and restrictions on alcohol were loosened.
Several massive projects are also under way. Yas Island hosts Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 track and the new Ferrari theme park, while the upcoming USD28 billion cultural zone of Saadiyat Island and its centerpieces the Guggenheim and Louvre Museums. It remains to be seen how well the strategy will work but the city is certainly experiencing a construction boom.
The core of Abu Dhabi is a wedge-shaped island connected to the mainland by the Maqta and Musaffah bridges. The wide end of the wedge forms the city centre, with the Corniche running along the coast and a road variously known as Airport Rd or Sheikh Rasheed bin Saeed al Maktoum St running lengthwise out to the bridges.
Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate. The best time to visit the city is in the so-called “winter” from November to March which ranges from moderately hot to mild.
Abu Dhabi International Airport is the UAE‘s second busiest airport (after Dubai) and the home base of Abu Dhabi’s flag carrier Etihad. Launched in 2003, Etihad Airways has been expanding rapidly and now flies to every inhabited continent from the United Arab Emirates, and its services (particularly on long-haul flights) are remarkably good in all classes.
Abu Dhabi offers little in the way of historical or cultural sights but it certainly isn’t lacking in attractions and many of them are free.
What to see in Abu Dhabi. Best top attractions in Abu Dhabi.
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The 6th largest mosque in the world. There are guided tours of the interior several times a day. Note that there is a dress code– quite strict for women; less so for men.
- The Corniche. Abu Dhabi’s spectacular waterfront stretches for 6km from the Breakwater near Marina Shoping Mall almost up to the Mina Zayed port. It has a walkway for the entire length, and certain stretches have sandy beaches. There are also many activities like go-cart riding, playgrounds and even stages for shows. All this against a backdrop of the impressive towers of downtown Abu Dhabi. Come in the evening and you feel as if the whole of Abu Dhabi have come here for their evening walk.
- Flagpole. At 123m, this is among the world’s tallest flagpoles, and you won’t miss the massive UAE flag hanging off it. On Marina Island across from Marina Mall.
- Heritage Village. Near the Flagpole. A modest collection of dusty replica buildings, traditional wooden boats, and handicrafts stores. However, it has a pretty beach with a great view of the city!
- Khalifa Park, (off Al Salam St (8th) near the Grand Mosque). The best park by far, built at a cost of $50 million. It has its own aquarium, museum, train, play parks and formal gardens.
- Cultural Events.The Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre has become a landmark in the Emirates and holds cultural events and workshops throughout the year. It has a well-stocked library, children’s programs, art exhibitions, benefits, and other culture-related activities that are the hallmark of any city. It’s well worth a look.
- Saadiyat Islandis being developed into a cultural haven.
- Yas Island: The alpha-male motorsports den of Yas Island features a world-class motor sports racetrack which held the final Formula 1 race of the 2009 season – the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a Ferrari theme park, water park, and — of course — an enormous shopping mall.
- It is also home to the Yas Links golf club, which is a world top 100 rated links course.
- Lulu Islandsare a group of artificial islands, already built just offshore at great expense, but currently sitting there doing absolutely nothing after a tourism venture failed to even start construction.
- Reem Islandis a newer island with many developments ongoing and planned. Much of the island is unfinished.
- Nearly all hotels and private clubs in Abu Dhabi offer swimming facilities, usually in the form of private beaches. You can pay for a day’s use, or for a year’s. Another, notably cheaper, option is The Club, an organization geared towards expatriates.
- LessonsSome hotels also offer dance lessons, aerobics classes, and other physical entertainment.
- Natural Outdoors. Although at first glance the outdoors may seem dull and uninteresting and even dangerous due to the desert conditions, there are actually amazing natural destinations in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, which extends all the way south to the Empty Quarter and east to the mountains of Oman – the difficulty is in knowing where to find these beautiful spots! There are pristine waterfalls, cliffs lined with fossils, even freshwater lakes – Weekenduae is a blog that freely shares ideas, routes and plans for weekend adventures with all trip details including description, GPS track, interactive map, and photos.
- Parks. Al Safa Park is one of the oldest in Abu Dhabi. It’s a favorite for sports enthusiasts, and many visitors enjoy playing tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Children love playing games in the video arcade, or riding the Ferris wheel and bumper cars. The park even has a maze to wander through. Barbeques and picnic areas are available for those who want to make a day of it.
- Camel Races. The Camel Race Track is one of the more unusual attractions, with races being held on Thursday and Friday in the winter. Not only can you watch the races, but you’ll have the opportunity to visit the paddocks. the town of Shweihan, in the eastern part of Abu Dhabi emirate is well-known for its races, and Liwa has annual event, too.
- Desert Safarior Dune Bashing. Head out to the desert in an SUV with specialist Desert Drivers. The drivers will take you for a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes, show you the sunset from a strategic vantage point and then take you to a lavish dinner with music and dance to complete the atmosphere. You may want to stay clear of the dune-bashing if you know that you get carsick easily.
- Abu Dhabi Dhow Cruiseor Boats and Yachts. Cruising along Corniche area with 5 Star international Arabic food. Also available various Yachts and boats that is having cruising options to various parts of Abu Dhabi
- Abu Dhabi Classics Run – Beat Beethoven(Sept 29th – Oct 1st 2010; Corniche Beach, Abu Dhabi) Charity event, proceeds go to music education and diabetes prevention programs.
- Helicopter TourBoard a luxurious 6-seater Eurocopter EC130 B4 and Discover Abu Dhabi from a birds’ eye view with Falcon Aviation Services. Tours operate daily from 9AM to 5PM out of the Marina Mall Terminal. Reservations recommended (tours can be booked on an individual or private basis)
Abu Dhabi is a compulsive shopper’s dream. There are several malls, most of which have the same stores as other malls. Besides establishments aimed at locals, malls also include popular foreign chain stores, as well as designer places. Many visitors will be surprised at the female fashion dichotomy – while local custom calls for women to be covered in public, most stores sell short skirts and halter tops alongside the more sedate floor-length skirts and high-necked shirts.
General discount season – end of the year and midyear. These are the time where you can get some branded items with a very low price, maybe last season stock.
Although Abu Dhabi hosts to a wide range of palates and ethnicities, there isn’t much variety when it comes to cuisine. Indian food is relatively cheap, and there are a few Chinese chain restaurants with reasonable prices. Hotel restaurants are usually the most expensive. The city is home to all manner of fast food like McDonald’s and Hardees, but there is little call for most people to eat at those places.
The fun thing about Abu Dhabi is that everywhere, literally from tiny falafel shacks to the cushy hotel restaurants to Burger King, delivers to anywhere in the city. Delivery is quick and reliable, and usually doesn’t cost extra.
Vegetarians will find the city’s selection of meals very satisfying. Vegetable and bean-heavy native dishes, the array of splendid pure vegetarian Indian cuisine, and the ready availability of fresh salads make eating in Abu Dhabi a stress-free experience. Strict vegans may have a little difficulty communicating their precise demands, but most places offer vegan dishes and are always willing to accommodate a paying customer. The best choice for pure Vegans would be one of the many Indian veg restaurants like Evergreen, Sangeetha in Tourist Club area.
Visitors should always check the Islamic calendar to determine whether they will be visiting during the month of Ramadan. Since Muslims fast during daylight hours, restaurants are, by law, closed during the day. It is also against the law to eat or drink anything, even water, in public and tourists (and non-Muslim residents) have been arrested and given fines. Large hotels generally have one restaurant open during the day to serve meals to non-Muslims. During the evening, however, it’s quite a different story, as the festive atmosphere of iftar (breaking the fast) begins and residents gather for lavish, Thanksgiving-like meals. As long as you don’t mind tiding yourself over in private, the evening meals are magnificent.
Only restaurants located in hotels are allowed to serve alcohol. Therefore, all nightlife is associated with hotels. The drinking age is 21, but most places don’t care. Unlike some other Middle Eastern nations, the bars in Abu Dhabi will be able to accommodate most drink orders.
Feel free to explore Abu Dhabi..