Best Sight Seeings:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Abu Dhabi "federal capital of the United Arab Emirates"

Abu Dhabi is the federal capital of the United Arab Emirates and the largest city of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is one of the most modern cities in the world and the center of government in the UAE.

With a population of just under 1.5 million, Abu Dhabi is headquarters to a number of oil operating companies. Embassies are based here as well. With only 420,000 citizens in the entire emirate, each has a theoretical net worth of $17 million, and Abu Dhabi has been described by CNN as the richest city in the world. 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, restrictions on alcohol were loosened and several massive projects are under way, with the upcoming $28 billion cultural zone of Saadiyat Island and its centerpieces the Guggenheim and Louvre Museums scheduled to open in 2011. It remains to be seen how well the strategy will work, but the city is certainly experiencing a construction boom.

Liwa Oasis

Numerous local tour operators in Abu Dhabi offer trips from the city to the famed Liwa Oasis, about three hours drive away along a modern highway. This green, agricultural strip at the edge of the Rub Al Khali ('Empty Quarter') is surrounded by desolate desert with farms abutting towering sand dunes. Visitors enjoy overnight camel trips to camp in the desert. The oasis, made up of a string of small towns and villages, is resplendent with pools of fresh water and date plantations, and is the ancestral home of the Bani Yas tribe from whence sprang Abu Dhabi's ruling family.

Al Ayn

The merge of ancient and modern Arabic culture is no more evident than in the fascinating city of Al Ayn, about 100 miles (160km) east of Abu Dhabi. This historic, scenic oasis is surrounded by red sand dunes and dominated by a vast mountain range on the eastern border of the UAE. Al Ayn has existed since around 3,000 BC and visitors can explore archaeological remains and a large museum. The city is also modern, filled with luxury resort hotels and shiny shopping malls. Experiences such as the Middle East's last remaining traditional camel market vie for attention with an exciting theme park, the renowned Al Ayn Zoo, and an Olympic-sized ice rink. Al Ayn is known as the 'Garden city of the Gulf' because of its tree-lined boulevards and green public spaces.

Petroleum Exhibition
The basis of Abu Dhabi's wealth, the oil industry, is showcased in this permanent exhibition of photographs and interactive displays depicting the discovery of the 'black gold' and subsequent development of the region.Address: The Corniche, near the fire stationPhone Number: 626 9715Hours: Daily 7am to 2pm. Closed Thursdays and FridaysAdmission: Free

Al Hosn Palace (White Fort)

The oldest building in young Abu Dhabi is the Al Hosn Palace, known colloquially as the White Fort. It was constructed in 1793 as the official residence of the former ruling family, and was extensively renovated in 1983. Today it houses the Cultural Foundation, featuring a museum of traditional artifacts and historical photographs. The Palace is renowned for the magnificent tile work over its main gate.Address: Khalid bin Walid StHours: Open daily 7.30am to 1.30pm, Thursdays from 7.30am to 12.00pm. Free admision.
Heritage Village City

Designed as a living museum depicting traditional Bedouin life, the Heritage Village over the Abu Dhabi Corniche features tents, courtyard houses, an ancient irrigation system, workshops where craftsmen ply their trades, a museum and much more.Address: The BreakwaterHours: 8.30am to 5pm Admission: Free.

By plane

Abu Dhabi Airport
Abu Dhabi International Airport (IATA: AUH, ICAO: OMAA) is the UAE's second busiest airport (after Dubai) and the home base of Abu Dhabi's flag carrier Etihad. Launched only in 2003, Etihad has been expanding furiously and now flies everywhere from the United States to Australia, and its services (particularly on long-haul flights) are remarkably good in all classes.
Despite its slightly dingy appearance and the spectacularly bizarre blue-lime tiled mushroom canopy that awaits you at the gates, the airport itself is quite well-maintained, if a little overcrowded at peak hours around midnight. The airport is currently undergoing a major expansion which is proposed to be completed by 2010. Picking up luggage is also quite easy, although be forewarned that airport personnel may remove a flight's bags from the carousel and stack them in a pile next to it, as the airport has few baggage carousels. Al Ghazal taxis travel to the city at a flat rate of Dhs.75 and take around 40 mins. Public bus route 901 also heads to the city every 30-45 minutes and costs just Dhs. 3
The airport has a well stocked Duty Free.
A viable alternative is to fly to Dubai instead, and continue onward by bus or, if really in a hurry, by taxi. A metered Dubai airport taxi direct to the town center will cost about Dhs 300.
If you are flying on Etihad, complimentary shuttle buses are provided at regular intervals to the centre of Abu Dhabi and to Dubai. These depart from the main car park at the front of the airport, by the car hire offices.

By bus
You can get into Abu Dhabi from the other Emirates of Dubai Sharjah etc by bus. The Emirates Express between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is operated jointly by the Abu Dhabi and Dubai municipalities. The 150 km route takes around two hours; the first bus departs from the Abu Dhabi main bus terminal on the corner of Hazza bin Zayed the First (11th) St and East (4th) Rd at 06:30 and the last leaves at 21:30; they leave at 45 minute intervals. From Dubai, the buses leave from 06:00, and run until 21;00, from the Al Ghubaibah station. The cost per person is Dh20 one way.

By road
The five-laned highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is the country's heaviest-traveled route, and the 170-km journey can be covered in two hours. While there is a notional speed limit of 120 km/h, this is often wildly exceeded by young Emiratis and the highway sees over 20 accidents monthly. Stay out of the leftmost lane and drive carefully, especially at night.

Get around
Abu Dhabi is built for cars. As a result there are a lot of them and lots of traffic jams in the down town area.

By taxi
The best way to get around if you haven't rented a car is by taxi. Basic white-and-gold taxis with green signs on top are ubiquitous and crossing town won't cost more than Dhs5 ($1.50) or so. Basic metered fares start from AED 2.50. However, they are very basic and do not have seat belts. Slightly more luxurious silver cabs have seat belts, have white signs on top and charge a little more with a 4 Dhs starting fare and 1 Dh per Km thereafter. They are probably a safer bet in the unruly traffic. Taxis like Al Ghazal and National monopolize the hotels.
A host of silver colored taxis have now entered the local taxi business. Though the cars used are of a higher standard, have better educated and trained drivers, they charge a little more. These cabs charge the metered fare + AED 10.00 for a trip to the airport. The local white and Gold cabs, do not go to the Airport by the meter, and will usually bargain for the fare from the city. The normal being between AED 40.00 to AED 60.00, depending on your race and bargaining ability.
If you're staying at a hotel, there are normally taxis waiting outside in the parking lot. You are not expected to tip cab drivers, but gratuity will be VERY appreciated. Many taxi drivers are displaced persons, far from their home countries and families, so don't be surprised if they take out pictures of family members for you to comment on.
White and Gold taxi drivers are not patient enough at busy times for you to count your change in a leisurely way before you pay them. Be quick or you may invite their anger. It is probably best not to want a receipt, either.

By bus
The main Bus station in Abu Dhabi is on Hazaa Bin Zayed Road. You can get buses here going to the different points within the city as well as inter city buses. The bus stand also serves as a Taxi stand, for inter emirate taxis.
Abu Dhabi has recently invested considerable sums in improving its long skeletal bus network and the fleet is set to increase from 120 buses at the end of 2008 to 1360 by the end of 2010. The fare system is simple: Dhs. 1 for a single ride, Dhs. 3 for a day pass, or Dhs. 40 for a one-month Ojra pass. The dark bluish green buses are air-conditioned but not wheelchair accessible. Passengers can board and alight at the designated stops along the route. These locations can be identified by the temporary Department of Transport bus stop poles. Beware: bus stops which do not have the DoT bus stop sign may not be serviced as not all bus stops along the route are used.
The four main lines are:
Route 5: Al Meena to Marina Mall via Abu Dhabi Mall and Hamden Street,
Every 10 minutes 6:30AM-11:30PM.
Route 7: Abu Dhabi Mall to Marina Mall via Zayed the 1st Street (also known as Electra), Every 10 minutes 6:30AM-11:30PM.
Route 32: Sports City Carrefour to Marina Mall via Airport Road, Bus Station and Zayed the 1st St, Every 20 minutes 6AM-10:40PM.
Route 54: Sports City Carrefour to Abu Dhabi Mall via East Read, Bus Station and Hamden Street, Every 20 minutes 6AM-11PM
The older bus service operated by The Abu Dhabi Municipality operates bus routes within city and to the other emirates. The routes within the city are very few. The buses are very modern and Air Conditioned. The services are as punctual as possible and operates more or less around the clock and charge Dhs.1 for travel within the Capital. The front few seats are reserved for ladies, so men should avoid occupying them.

By car
Unless they are very aggressive drivers or accustomed to reckless road behaviour, most visitors find the Emirati style of driving far too dangerous to be willing to get behind the wheel themselves. Those who do should be aware that any traffic accidents between locals and expats will ultimately mean that the expat is deemed at fault in most cases. Rented cars/visitors are not treated differently if they get into a car accident. However, it must be known that if you do get in a car accident that you should never move your car unless 1) you are asked by the police to do so over the phone, or 2) the police ask you to move it upon their arrival to the scene. It doesn't matter how you feel about your car blocking three lanes in the middle of the rush hour while waiting for the police. If you move your car, you will be in some serious trouble. Tests for alcohol can also be administered, and even the blood-alcohol level rise from a glass of wine will be sufficient grounds for one month's incarceration.

If you do decide to take the plunge, beware that the street numbering system is unusual and it can take 30-45 days to get used to it. U-Turns are allowed at almost every intersection. When the left lane signal turns green, you simply have to swing a U-turn and come back. One tip – whatever other flaws drivers here may have, they do not run red lights. There are cameras at many intersections, fines are high (US$100-150), and residents who are not citizens can be deported for running too many red lights. When the light turns yellow, that taxi in front of you will jam on the brakes, and you should, too. But when the light turns green, expect someone behind you to honk at you immediately to get you moving.
Unfortunately, despite excellent roads, and a traffic signal system, vehicle accidents remains the largest cause of deaths in the UAE.

On foot
Navigating Abu Dhabi on foot is difficult due to the spread-out nature of the city and the oppressive summertime heat and humidity. Pedestrian crossings across the massive boulevards are few and far between.


  1. Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. Flights to Lusaka

  2. There are really lots of places to go in Abu Dhabi. Also, there are many tourist attractions that are just waiting to be seen by tourists.

    property shop abu dhabi

  3. Abu Dhabi is really a heaven for tourist all over the world. There are so many places to go to and so many events to see.

    Al Raha Gardens


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