Since the last decade, Abu Dhabi has steadily made its mark on the world tourism map. Abu Dhabi happens to be the capital of United Arab Emirates as well as that of Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The second most populous city of UAE, Abu Dhabi lies on T-shaped island jutting on to the persian Gulf from the Western Coast. As the political seat of UAE, Abu Dhabi houses the Abu Dhabi Emiri ruling family, the President hailing from this family, as well as federal government offices. Interestingly, ‘dhabi’ in Arabic means ‘gazelle’, and thus, ‘Abu Dhabi’ literally translates to ‘father of the gazelle’. It is thought that this name came about because of the abundance of Gazelles in the area. Archaeological evidence indicates that the modern city space has been inhabited at least since third millenium BCE. There is evidence of Bronze Age Hafit period civilisation around the mountain of Hafeet.
Abu Dhabi worked in the pearl business and traded with others. In the 1930s, as the pearl trade declined, interest grew in the oil possibilities of the region. The city’s present affluence is largely based on this oil boom.
The average annual mean temperature of Abu Dhabi is 27 °C . The best time to visit is between November and March.
WHAT TO SEE
PLACES TO VISIT
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque happens to be the city’s most popular tourist destination. Built out of Macedonian marble, this huge mosque embodies the harmonious convergence of Mameluk, Fatimid, and Ottoman design elements. This beautiful structure, which took 20 years for completion and was inaugurated in 2007, is adorned with glass work, mosaic tiling, and intricate carvings.
The oldest surviving building of the city, the AL-Hosn Fort serves as a museum archiving Abu Dhabi’s rich cultural past.
Liwa Oasis, located on the south of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is an expansive space noted for its sand dunes and date farming. Tourists flock this region to experience dune buggy riding, sand surfing, and camel trekking.
Cruises off the shore of Abu Dhabi are popular attractions. The island hopping tours, which include some beach and snorkeling time on various islands in the bay, and sunset cruises that lets one see the city lights flicker into action as dusk sets over the city are popular choices.
The observation deck on the 74th floor of the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel offers skyline views from the highest point in the city.
Ferrari World, which also hosts the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, offers adrenaline rush to its visitors. There's also a collection of Ferrari's cars, with models dating back to 1947, and a Ferrari factory tour and Ferrari knowledge game show for true car nerds.
The mangrove forests offer a fresh breath of air, away from the steal matrix of the urban space. There's a bundle of kayaking tours available for all levels of experience and age, and ranging from 1.5 hours to three hours of paddling. The night tours offer a one of its kind of discovering the mangroves by gliding through the waters after dark.
The Emirates Park Zoo houses a host of animals at the wildlife park, including rare white tigers, giraffes, elephants, a herd of zebras, and a Siberian bear. There is also a primate section with many different types of monkeys, and a flamingo park with a sea lion enclosure.
WHERE TO SHOP
Shopping in Abu Dhabi is mostly concentrated onshopping malls. The numerous malls feature hundreds of clothes, jewellery and electronics stores, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants. The large, long-established malls are Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall, the Al Wahda Mall, and the Yas Mall.
WHAT TO EAT
Being a global tourist destination, Abu Dhabi offers a gastronomical adventure to its visitors. Besides sundry world cuisine, the local dishes that draws attention include al jabab bread, various camel meat preparations, kabsa, maqluba, shuwaa, harees, and asida.
HOW TO REACH
The UAE International Airport is the closest airport and is located 30.6 Kms from the city centre. One may avail a bus or cab to reach the city centre after landing.
Emirates Express connects Abu Dhabi to all other emirates. There are frequent bus services between Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Masafi, Dubai and others.