Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates and the main city of the emirate of the same name, located in the north-eastern part of the Persian Gulf. Abu Dhabi is characterized by a large number of high-rise buildings, tourist attractions and luxurious parks. The city spreads over an area of 67.34 square miles and attracts travelers from all over the world with its combination of Eastern traditions and modern urban landscapes.
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Video: Abu Dhabi
The UAE capital is built on an island archipelago along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is connected to the mainland by several road bridges. Abu Dhabi is not only the political and cultural, but also the economic center of the state. Its contribution to the country’s economy is 56%. There is an international airport and the major seaport Zayed. A huge part of the money that this Arab country has been earning from oil for more than half a century has gone into turning the capital into a unique comfortable resort and a real park city.
Abu Dhabi is justifiably considered the safest city in the Middle East. There is practically no crime, and excellent emergency services. The city is notable for its cleanliness and convenient layout. The streets of Abu Dhabi are perfectly straight and form a grid of six main highways, and the most spectacular skyscrapers are concentrated parallel to the sea coast.
Abu Dhabi leads the world year after year, leaving behind the capitals of other countries in terms of quality of life, size of entertainment centers and finances invested in beautification. Travellers come here to see the city, which grew up in a barren desert, being built and flourishing. Many are attracted by the beautiful beaches, sporting activities, and nightlife of the metropolis.
Climate and weather
Abu Dhabi is considered one of the hottest cities in the world as it lies in a tropical desert climate zone. During the summer months the thermometer reaches up to +50 ° C and in winter stays at around +20. +22°С. The comfortable tourist season lasts from October to May.
It should be noted that the city’s public gardens and parks keep the air temperature down, making it 1-1.5 ° colder than in the surrounding desert area. Rainfall in Abu Dhabi is only about 50 mm per year, and most of the rain falls during the winter.
City Park The cannon statue in Heritage Park
History of Abu Dhabi
Based on excavations, archaeologists have concluded that a settlement on the site of modern Abu Dhabi existed in the 3rd millennium BC. The city was founded in the 60s of the 18th century, and there is a legend telling how it happened.
The Old Fort is one of the first buildings in Abu Dhabi, dating back to the 18th century
Arab hunters living in the Liwa Valley saw the tracks of a gazelle in the desert. They tracked the animal for a long time but it kept going farther and farther until it led them to the shore of the Persian Gulf. The gazelle moved to an island not far from the shore as it was fleeing the pursuit. The hunters rushed after it and found a source of pure fresh water here. It was a very valuable find, so people did not kill the gazelle in gratitude.
Abu Dhabi in 1980
The settlement that emerged on the island was named “Abu Dhabi,” which means “father of the gazelle” in Arabic. Originally it consisted of a small fort and a few fishermen’s huts built under the walls of the fortress. Since 1793, local sheikhs placed their residence here.
Until the middle of last century, life in Abu Dhabi went on without much change. Its inhabitants were engaged in fishing and fishing for pearls in the waters of the bay. In 1958, near the future capital the first oil fields were discovered and the city became the center of oil production. For three decades, from a small fishing village it has grown into a modern metropolis with spacious highways, green parks, entertainment centers and high skyscrapers. And in 1996 Abu Dhabi was awarded the status of the permanent capital of the country.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Fountains near the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche Hotel
Walking the capital’s streets
Every tourist coming to Abu Dhabi is amazed by the abundance of greenery planted here. Palm and eucalyptus trees line the city entrance and the median strips in the middle of the streets. Flowerbeds, grassy lawns, and ornamental shrubs abound in the capital.
Corniche Beach promenade in Abu Dhabi
The city’s Corniche promenade is a beautiful sight, stretching along the coast for 8 km. It is also fringed with green plants, masking the naturally arid soil. The waterfront has equipped playgrounds, separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists, and many restaurants and cozy cafes.
The Corniche has its own beach park, which has received an honorary Blue Flag for its cleanliness. Lifeguards are constantly working on the beach, and the swimming area is fenced with special buoys. This place is so popular with residents and guests of Abu Dhabi, that on weekends it is difficult to find free sun loungers and umbrellas on the beach.
Many travelers gladly use the service of renting bicycles and can explore the entire long promenade from beginning to end. Conveniently, a special rental shop offers cycling enthusiasts different machines: mountain bikes, women’s bikes and bicycle tandems. Hourly rentals start at $5 for adults and $4 for children.
Adjacent to the Corniche waterfront are several business districts of the city, where the offices of major companies and major government offices are concentrated. This, the northern part of Abu Dhabi is built up so densely, that for the abundance of skyscrapers is called the “Manhattan of the Middle East”. The most recognizable among the high-rise buildings are the twin towers of Al Bahar. Another popular attraction is the 35-storey Capital Gate, or the Falling Tower, which rises to a height of 160 m. This unusual architectural structure entered the Guinness Book of Records as the skyscraper with the largest angle of inclination in the world (18 °). Suffice it to say that the famous tower in Pisa has an angle of inclination of only 4°, i.e. 4.5 times less.
Al Bahar skyscrapers Capital Gate Tower in Abu Dhabi
To get around easily in Abu Dhabi it is worth knowing that from north to south through the neighborhoods lie Roads, and perpendicular to them are Streets. Wandering around the city, you can visit one of its old attractions – the majestic Al Husn Palace, which was built in 1761. At that time, the main task of the fort was to protect the found source of drinking water. The rebuilding of the stone fortification into a palace took place during the reign of Sheikh Shabut. This architectural monument is situated in the street of Al Nasr.
You can feel the unique atmosphere of the eastern city at the Old or Central Bazaar. Here they sell a lot of spices, sweets, jewelry, carpets, national clothes and beautiful souvenirs. And of course, as is customary in the East, buyers and sellers love to haggle.
Central Bazaar of Abu Dhabi
An interesting place to visit is the “Ethnographic Village”, a large open-air museum-park where old Arab dwellings are collected. Travelers can check out the blacksmith shop and pottery workshop, watch weavers and glassblowers at work.
Abu Dhabi Ethnographic Village
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Huge in size Muslim shrine appeared in Abu Dhabi in 2007, and for its construction was spent 600 million. The mosque building is considered the largest in the country and one of the largest in the world. The Muslim temple was named after the country’s first president and is located on Sheikh Zayed Street.
It is noteworthy that the mosque is one of the few Muslim temples in the capital, where they allow not only believers, but also tourists. Moreover, there are paid tours inside the building for all comers. And there is a lot to see there! The floor of the temple is covered with the largest carpet in the world, an area of more than 5600 square meters. Its weight is 47 tons. To make a unique carpet, 35 tons of wool and 12 tons of cotton were used. And 1200 professional weavers worked on this masterpiece.
Mosque is illuminated by seven chandeliers, decorated with leaf gold and bright Swarovski crystals. They were made by German specialists. The largest chandelier weighs 12 tons and has a diameter of 10 meters. It is considered the largest chandelier, which can be seen in the mosques of the world.
The main hall of the temple can accommodate 7000 worshippers. There are two women’s prayer rooms adjoining it, which can accommodate 1500 people at a time. The main building is surrounded by four minarets rising to a height of 107 m. The mosque is covered with many white marble domes. Its courtyard is very beautiful – it is entirely lined with patterns of colored marble.
The Great Mosque of Sheikh Zayd
The abundance of amusement parks found in Abu Dhabi has a simple explanation. Arabs are ardent followers of the cult of family and lovers of spending their free time in a fun and interesting way.
The park “Ferrari World” built in the city has the status of the largest theme park in the world. The large-sized building is covered by a roof in the form of a stylized profile of the model “Ferrari GT”. The park is designed for families, so it is interesting to spend time with both children and adults.
Here you can learn about the history of Ferrari and drive a real racing car. The park has entertaining rides, such as the world’s fastest pneumatic roller coaster. And visitors can also visit an interactive exhibition of cars and enjoy the flavors of Italian cuisine. “Ferrari World” is located in downtown Abu Dhabi on Yas Island and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Inside Ferrari World Park.
On the same artificial island in 2013 was built a modern water park “Yas Water Park”, covering an area of 15 hectares. The water amusement center is able to simultaneously take 6 thousand vacationers. For guests in the water park is open 43 attractions, many of which have no analogues in the world.
Water park “Yas Water Park”
0.5 km from Abu Dhabi stretches Saadiyat Island, which was turned into a huge cultural and entertainment center. The island has branches of the Louvre and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. There is also a center for applied arts, the Sheikh Zeid National Museum and an interesting maritime museum.
The beach at Saadiyat Island Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum The Sheikh Zeid National Museum
Abu Dhabi Nature Sanctuaries & Zoo
If the hustle and bustle of the city tires you out, you can head to a true natural paradise – the fabulous green oasis of Al Ain. Its 1200 hectares of territory are covered by date palm plantations – more than 147 thousand trees. Life inside the urban oasis is sustained by a system of water channels built in the tradition of the falajah system. It is an ancient irrigation technique. Such canals first appeared in the Arabian Peninsula 3 thousand years ago. The well-maintained natural area attracts with silence, shady coolness and birdsong. It is free to enter through any of the eight entrances.
Al Ainah Oasis National Park Eastern Mangroves Lagoon
All nature lovers love the national park located on small islands right in the Abu Dhabi city limits. The Eastern Mangroves Lagoon is home to a variety of fish, crabs, octopus and stingrays, as well as colonies of pink flamingos and black herons. To preserve the unique biodiversity of the mangrove islands, the city authorities have prohibited passage along them by scooters and motor boats. There are educational kayak tours for tourists. The national park can be accessed via Al Salam Street. The park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
Travelers with children often go to the big city zoo, spread over an area of 900 hectares. There is a large collection of animals and especially try to show the guests the species included in the Red Book. The zoo territory is green and well-groomed. For the convenience of visitors on it are created playgrounds and open cafe. Guests can feed the animals, ride camels, and visit the contact part of the zoo, which is a stylized home farm. Here you can not only feed the animals, but also pet them.
Abu Dhabi Zoo
Restaurants and Cafes
Each hotel in the city has its own restaurant, but most visitors to the capital also try to look in the cafes or restaurants on the streets of Abu Dhabi. As in any Muslim country, there is an official ban on the sale of alcohol in the UAE. In restaurants located in the city, it is impossible to order alcoholic beverages. Meeting the wishes of tourists arriving in the capital from non-Muslim countries, the authorities have allowed the sale of alcohol only in hotel restaurants, and even in the most expensive.
In Abu Dhabi there are many good restaurants serving European, Arabic, Indian, Chinese, Thai and Mexican cuisine. Almost everywhere you can order well prepared fish dishes. Particularly popular is “briquettes” – pieces of fish fried in batter. In the street eateries tourists eagerly take shawerma and flatbread with greens and cheese, which is called “manakish” here.
Abu Dhabi has its own exotics. In the restaurant of the five-star hotel “Emirates Palace” they serve coffee with gold. A thin film of gold coats the hot beverage. One eats it first and then drinks the coffee.
Rare lamb at the Hilton Snacks at Benjarong Street Food in Abu Dhabi
All roads in the UAE capital are of excellent quality, and there are parking lots in various locations. The city has an extensive bus network with modern, air-conditioned shuttles. The climate is hot, and almost all bus stops in Abu Dhabi are air-conditioned. From the central bus station you can travel to cities in the Abu Dhabi emirate and to cities in other emirates in the country. Buses start at 5:30 a.m. and end around midnight on weekdays, and depart at 2 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
Abu Dhabi Bus Stop Abu Dhabi Bus Taxi in Abu Dhabi
The capital’s cabs are painted in several colors. Private, older cabs, which will soon cease operating on the streets of Abu Dhabi, are white. Gold and silver cars make up the city’s modern taxi fleet. Pink cabs are driven by women. They take orders only from women and by rule can take boys up to 10 years old. All cars have meters with a single set rate.
Special offers on Abu Dhabi hotels
A selection of hotels from hotellook
Interesting facts about Abu Dhabi
- Electrification of the city was carried out in 1967.
- The streets are planted with 40 million date palms, and each tree has its own hose for watering.
- The city is equipped with about 90 fountains. The most beautiful – “Volcano”, “Flying Swans” and “Dallas” – can be seen on the waterfront Corniche. Their jets look especially picturesque in the evening illumination.
- The local custom is to offer food, drink or money from the left hand.
- Gambling and sexually oriented printed and video products are banned in Abu Dhabi. It is also forbidden to appear intoxicated in public places. The only exceptions are hotel bars.
- A person who throws trash in the street will have to pay a fine of 3,000 dirhams.
- Sheikh Zayd Mosque can accommodate 40 thousand worshippers.
How to get there
32 km east of Abu Dhabi there is an international airport connected with 50 countries. For Russian tourists there are direct flights here only from Moscow. From the airport of Abu Dhabi to the center of the city there are buses and cabs.
If you choose a variant with a change, it is more convenient to do it via Dubai. From here you can get to Abu Dhabi on Emirates Airlines branded buses, coaches, minivans or cabs from Bar Dubai Bus Station. Buses travel for around two hours and arrive at Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station.
Travelling in the UAE is a kaleidoscope of entertainment, where luxury seven-star hotels alternate with nomadic encampments and modernist urban landscapes with deserts and dunes. The center of this tourist splendor and diversity is Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.
For many, the United Arab Emirates is firmly associated with Dubai. Some tourists do not even know what country Abu Dhabi is or where it is located, although it has been the administrative center of the UAE since 1996. On the world map Abu Dhabi can be found on the shores of the Persian Gulf, almost 150 km south of Dubai. The border with Saudi Arabia runs 200-250 km from the center of the Emirate.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the emirate of the same name, which, in turn, is the largest in the UAE. On an area of more than 67.3 thousand square kilometers live about 2.5 million people. Almost 80% of the population of Abu Dhabi are expatriates. The rest of the citizens are the native inhabitants of the country. The official language of Abu Dhabi is Arabic. The majority of the residents of the city and the Emirate are Muslim.
Administrative Division of Abu Dhabi
Most of the city extends on an island, the rest on the mainland. Next to the center of Abu Dhabi is an artificial island called Saadiyat. It can be reached by cab or bus. A little east of Saadiyat is another artificial island in Abu Dhabi, Yas. The main entertainment complexes of the whole emirate are concentrated here.
The territory of Abu Dhabi is divided into 57 districts, the largest of which are:
- Al Nahyan;
- Khalifa City;
- Al Karama;
- Al Madina, etc.
The districts are zoned by squares and all the streets in them are numbered. Abu Dhabi City is the center of the city, so all the administrative facilities are located here.
The city is located about 3000 km from the equator. Abu Dhabi is characterized by a hot desert climate. The maximum temperature (+38 ° C) is recorded from June to September. During this time, do not go to Abu Dhabi for a holiday with children, as sandstorms often occur here.
From November to March the weather is mild and less hot. This is the best season to visit Abu Dhabi. The coldest month is January (+13°C). The maximum rainfall is in May (342 mm).
Attractions & Entertainment Abu Dhabi
The metropolis can safely be called a paradise for lovers of Oriental culture and modernist architecture. Even a sophisticated tourist will never wonder what to see in Abu Dhabi. There are a lot of interesting natural and architectural sights here.
Start your Abu Dhabi trip with the Corniche promenade. From here you have a great view of the bay. Very soon on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi will open the Guggenheim Museum, the original located in New York. According to the project, the building will be 12 times the size of the original.
Of architectural sites in Abu Dhabi should be marked the palace, which now houses the Emirates Palace Hotel. The area of its territory is 85 hectares, it is planted with a smooth lawn and lush gardens. Abu Dhabi has many towers, each of which is striking for its brevity and scale.
Fans of religious buildings will also find much of interest in the city. It is worth seeing Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which has 82 domes. It is one of the largest places of worship in the world. It is called the White Mosque in Abu Dhabi because of its snow-white finish.
Companies with children can visit a huge number of attractions. Among them is the Abu Dhabi Zoo. It is home to 4 thousand animals belonging to 180 species. Children will definitely appreciate a trip to Yas Water Park in Abu Dhabi. There are 43 attractions, some of which are unparalleled in the world.
Hotels Abu Dhabi
In the wealthiest emirate of the UAE it is not customary to save on accommodation. The best hotels of Abu Dhabi are located on the coast. There are mostly 5-star hotel complexes:
- Jumeirah at Etihad Towers;
- Rosewood Abu Dhabi;
- Shangri-La Hotel;
- The St. Regis;
- The Ritz-Carlton.
To spend the night in a hotel in Abu Dhabi with its own beach, the tourist will have to pay $152-210. In addition, you will need to leave a deposit and pay tax.
Restaurants in Abu Dhabi
Each hotel in the city has its own restaurant, but tourists should not limit themselves to one hotel food. Compared to the center of tourism of the country, the city of Dubai, Abu Dhabi does not have as many restaurants. But there are authentic Arabian establishments, cozy sidewalk cafes, respectable European and even Russian restaurants.
Holidays here or going on a trip to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, you should look for lunch or dinner at one of the following places:
- Chamas Churrascaria;
- Villa Toscana;
- Byblos Sur Mer.
Fresh fish and seafood dishes are served here. Tourists can enjoy their taste while admiring the beauty of Abu Dhabi sights. You can find establishments with European burgers and oriental sweets. Not every restaurant in Abu Dhabi offers alcohol.
For many tourists the aim of a trip to this city is shopping. Abu Dhabi offers a wide variety of shopping malls, oriental bazaars, gold markets, spice shops and other items. You can buy a huge amount of souvenirs here – from oriental sweets to handmade carpets. The markets in Abu Dhabi have a great variety of aromatic oils, jewelry and services.
Going on a shopping spree, do not buy the first thing you like. Even in the large malls of Abu Dhabi the vendors love to haggle and can knock down the price. Sometimes the cost of goods in the course of bargaining falls by 50%. The largest shopping malls in Abu Dhabi are Marina Mall, Mushrif Mall and El Raha Mall.
Transport in Abu Dhabi
The metropolis is notable for its well-developed transport network. The main gateway to Abu Dhabi is the international airport. It is located 32 km from the city. Also in Abu Dhabi there is a deep-water port Zayed. It has 21 berths.
Around Abu Dhabi itself, it is easier to travel by cab or rented car. A cab fare is a maximum of $1 plus a surcharge per kilometer. The Abu Dhabi Metro was completed in 2015.
How to get to the city?
Residents of the CIS countries can get to the capital of the UAE via Moscow or St. Petersburg. Those who fly to Abu Dhabi on their own should use the direct flights of Qatar Airways. Transfers can be made to the destination by Turkish Airlines and Etihad Airlines.
Many tourists are interested in how to get from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. You can take a shuttle ($300), subway or bus. The E101 train leaves from Ibn Battuta Metro Station 4 in Dubai every 10 minutes and arrives at your destination in 1.5 hours.
Before you go to the UAE, you should ask if you need a visa for Abu Dhabi. It is required and can be arranged at the consulate, through a travel agent, or directly at the Abu Dhabi airport.