Abu Dhabi is the federal capital and administrative hub of the United Arab Emirates. It is the biggest metropolis in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and one of the world’s most modern cities.
Abu Dhabi, with a population of slightly under 1.5 million people, is home to a number of oil firms and embassies. Each of the emirate’s 420,000 people has an average net worth of $17 million (Dhs. 64M). Large gardens and parks, lush boulevards surrounding all streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, worldwide luxury hotel chains, and wealthy retail complexes characterize the city.
Long seen as a stodgy bureaucratic backwater devoid of the oomph of neighboring Dubai, things began to shift dramatically in 2004 when long-ruler Sheikh Zayed died and his son Sheikh Khalifa took control. Land sales to foreigners were permitted, and alcohol regulations were relaxed, in an effort to promote tourists and investment.
Several large-scale projects are also in the works. Yas Island is home to Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 circuit and the Ferrari World amusement park, while Saadiyat Island’s forthcoming $28 billion cultural zone and its centerpieces, the Louvre and Guggenheim museums, are set to open in 2015 and 2017, respectively (respectively). It remains to be seen how effective the plan will be, but the city is undoubtedly witnessing a development boom.
The majority of Abu Dhabi is located on a wedge-shaped island connected to the mainland by two bridges.
In Abu Dhabi, street addresses are both incredibly reasonable and utterly perplexing. Many roads have traditional names, such as “Airport Rd,” that may or may not correlate to official titles, such as “Maktoum St,” and the city is split into traditional districts, such as “Khalidiyya.” However, the city has recently been divided into numbered “zones” and “sectors,” with all roads in each sector numbered, First St, Second St, etc., and the great majority of street signs only relate to these. The primary street system is simple enough once you know that odd-numbered streets travel across the island and even-numbered streets run along it. So First Street is the Corniche, and the odd numbers extend out of town until 31st Street, near the new Khalifa Park. Airport Rd is Second St, and the even numbers continue east until 10th St, near the Abu Dhabi Mall. The numbers go from 22nd Street to 32nd Street on the west side of Airport Rd, near the new Bateem Marina. Unfortunately, confusion is generated by small streets, which are marked with green signs (major streets are marked with blue signs) and are also known as First, Second, and so on. Most locals choose to disregard the system totally, and so navigating by landmarks is the easiest method to offer directions; if taking a cab, chances are you will arrive to “behind the Hilton Baynunah” considerably quicker than “Fifth Street, Sector 2.”
Abu Dhabi is a shopper’s paradise. There are a number of malls, the most of which house the same retailers as other malls. Malls offer prominent international chain shops as well as designer businesses, in addition to enterprises oriented at locals. While local etiquette requires women to cover up in public, most shops offer short skirts and halter tops alongside the more sedate floor-length skirts and high-necked blouses.
The Abu Dhabi Mall (in Tourist Club Area, adjacent to the Beach Rotana Hotel.). a three-story retail center
Marina Mall (located near the spectacular Emirates Palace in the Water Breaker area). It also houses one of the town’s two Carrefour hypermarkets.) features a musical fountain and thundering and raining ceilings
Yas Shopping Centre. On Yas Island, it opened in 2014, near to Ferrari World. This is Abu Dhabi’s largest mall and the world’s 16th largest mall. It is home to the UAE’s first Lego shop. It’s linked to Ferrari World.
Al Wahda Mall (located in the heart of downtown, between 11th and 4th Streets). a huge, contemporary shopping center The stores are high-end, the food court is huge, and the basement’s LuLu Hypermart is possibly the biggest supermarket and dry goods shop in, well, anyplace.
Khalidiya Mall The Khalidiya mall is a pleasant location to visit. The monotonous fashion boutiques may captivate you for a few seconds, but the evident lack of things to do sets in. The food court, which includes New York Fries, Chili’s, and a Dunkin’ Donuts + Baskin Robbins, is popular.
Downstairs, there is an exorbitant Krispy Kreme and Starbucks, as well as what seems to be an Indian/Arabian cuisine restaurant, which appears to be decent but unpopular.
Boutik is a kind of textile (on Reem Island). A mall with many unfilled areas, although it already contains a grocery, café, restaurant, and a playground, among other things.
There are also numerous tiny, independent shops scattered across the city. A person may buy exquisite chocolates, computer components, antiques, and apparel on the lowest level of one building. Carpets, paintings, local jewelry, and antiques are best bought at independent or souk-like stores than than malls since the prices are cheaper and the proprietors are more eager to bargain.
Bargaining is an important element of buying in the Emirates, but be cautious. Do not haggle at Marks & Spencer or Hang Ten. Save your discounted abilities for independent stores that sell antiques and similar items.
Most stores make it difficult to shop because employees follow you throughout the store. This is related in part to their perception of what constitutes excellent service, and in part to a shoplifting issue. Most staff will not be invasive, but others may be excessively aggressive and overly obedient. If you smile and thank them often, you’ll be more likely to be left alone after a while.
THINGS TO DO
Abu Dhabi has few historical or cultural attractions, but it is not short in attractions, many of which are free.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque The world’s eighth biggest mosque. On Fridays, it is closed to the general public and only available to worshipers. You may take a public bus there (bus 54). Make sure to ask the bus driver to notify you when you arrive. The public bus stop is 100 meters before the mosque, and there are no further stops for the following 5 kilometers. Every day, the Mosque Centre gives many free tours of the mosque. The times change on a daily basis, so be sure to check the site. Dress conservatively since it is a place of worship. Women, in particular, must cover their heads and, if wearing sandals, their ankles. The mosque provides appropriate black attire. Wear sturdy shoes, a long dress or long trousers, and a scarf to cover your head/hair to prevent having to line for clothes. Clothing is also available for males, although it is probable that it will be superfluous. Women who are inadequately clothed will be confronted by security even while snapping pictures outside the mosque.
Qasr al-Hosn This modest fort, Abu Dhabi’s oldest stone edifice, was built in 1761 and functioned as the royal residence from the late 18th century until 1966. The location is presently encircled by boards, and the building is not accessible to the general public.
Corniche. The magnificent Abu Dhabi beachfront spans for kilometers from the Breakwater near Marina Shopping Mall nearly all the way up to the Mina Zayed port. It has a promenade that runs the full length of it, and certain portions have sandy beaches. There are also various activities available, such as go-kart racing, playgrounds, and even performance stages. All of this against the background of downtown Abu Dhabi’s stunning structures. When you arrive in the evening, it seems as if the whole city of Abu Dhabi has descended upon you for an evening stroll.
Flagpole. This is one of the world’s highest flagpoles, standing at 123 meters, and you won’t miss the big UAE flag flying from it. Marina Island, just across from Marina Mall.
Abu Dhabi boasts numerous vast green spaces, many of which include play areas and playground equipment for children, and the city is dotted with beautiful fountains, swaths of neon light, and the odd sculpture.
Khalifa Park (near the Grand Mosque, off Al Salam St). By far the finest park, created at a cost of $50 million. It has an aquarium, a museum, a railway, play areas, and formal gardens.
The Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre has become a landmark in the UAE, hosting cultural events and courses all year. It has a well-stocked library, children’s programs, art exhibits, benefits, and other cultural events that each city should have. It’s definitely worth a look.