Abu Dhabi, one of the richest cities of the world, is the capital and the second largest city of United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.
Located on the coast of the Persian Gulf, the city covers an area of 972.45 sq kms and had a population of 921,000.
This region was an oasis where the Bani Yas Bedouins lived. One branch of these tribes called the Al Nahyan migrated to the present Abu Dhabi attracted by fresh water. This tribe today makes up the ruling family of the city. The region prospered as pearl fishing and trading flourished in the Persian Gulf. Since the 1950s, oil has been discovered in the area and great urban development has taken place.
Abu Dhabi lies on an island about 250 meters from the mainland, in the eastern part of the Persian Gulf. The island is connected to the mainland by two bridges called Maqta and Mussafah bridges. It has a coastline of 700 kms. Seventy percent of the land is actually covered by desert.
The Abu Dhabi cornice is a major landmark of the city, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city and the sea as you walk. Al Ain and Liwa are two oases located in the heart of the city and are marked by lush greenery. The Hajar Mountains are located to the east. The Jebel Hafeet on this range is the highest peak of the Emirate at 1,300 meters.
The city experiences a hot desert climate. Weather remains bright and sunny throughout the year, but June to September is very hot. Sandstorms occur sometimes. It is cooler from November to March and fog is common.
How to reach (transport)
You can travel to Abu Dhabi in the following ways:
- You can travel by air to Abu Dhabi. The city is served by the Abu Dhabi international airport, which is the second busiest airport in the Emirates after Dubai. The Etihad Airlines are the National Airlines. The city is connected to several destinations all over the world. You can also fly to Dubai airport and then travel to Abu Dhabi by land.
- Regular bus services connect the city with the other neighboring emirates like Dubai, Sharjah, etc.
When to visit
The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is from November to February. The weather is cooler during this time and you can enjoy outdoor activities. However, if you are primarily looking for a beach holiday, it is better to visit the city in October, March, or April.
Culture (Fairs and Festivals) and Traditions
Abu Dhabi is often considered somewhat staid beside the more flamboyant Dubai. It is still one of the richest cities, where designer wear is common and huge urban developments are taking place in a planned manner. Several festivals and events take place in the city:
- The Abu Dhabi Film Festival is a gala affair with celebrities visiting from different parts of the world. It builds a rapport among the film community. The prestigious Black Pearl award is offered here.
- Formula One Grand Prix is organized in November and draws a large crowd.
- A jazz festival and a festival of classical music are held during November.
- The Yasalam festival includes 50 days of free activities, events, and concerts from September to November and is held in the Abu Dhabi cornice. Motorsport, music, car parades, etc., are held as a part of the festival.
- The UAE National Day is celebrated from 28th November to 2nd December. There are huge fireworks display, a parade, and exclusive women’s activities.
- Camel racing is a major event, which takes place every Thursday and Friday in winter, mostly at the Al Wathba Camel Race Track and the Al Maqam Track near Al Ain.
- The Liwa Date Festival is celebrated in July and is aimed at promoting tourism. It serves as an exchange of folklore and tradition, and promotes the date tree as the symbol of heritage.
- The Abu Dhabi Book Fair is a huge affair with almost 800 exhibitions from 63 different countries.
Points of interest (places to visit)
There are a number of important places to visit in Abu Dhabi. These are:
- The Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque is a beautiful piece of architecture. This huge mosque has 82 domes and is surrounded by deep pools. It contains beautiful mementoes like the largest handwoven carpet of the world.
- The Abu Dhabi cornice is a lifeguarded beach park where you can enjoy spectacular views as well as several activities. Cafes and restaurants abound in this manicured waterfront.
- The classic car museum is a must see if you love automobiles.
- The Ferrari world is an exciting fun park, where you can know about the Ferrari story with the help of more than 20 rides and authentic Italian dining experiment.
You can visit the Al Ain camel market nearby or the Yas Island, where there are a number of tourist attractions like a themed water park and an Arabian wildlife park.
Being one of the richest cities, Abu Dhabi offers high-class accommodation to the visitors. Five-star hotels include Emirates Palace, Millennium, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Khalidiya Palace, Jumeirah etc. Four-star hotels are Royal International, Oryx, and Al Maha Arjaan etc. Three-star hotels are Al Ain, Al Diar Regency, and Al Diar Capital, etc. But then, this doesn’t necessarily imply that there is no room for budget travelers in Abu Dhabi. Budget hotels are also available in the city including Mercure Centre Hotel and Cristal Hotel.