Culture, Tradition and Innovation are three of the foundations of this city. There is more to it than that, though. To see more, then, here are five features of interest less well known in Abu Dhabi…
The United Arab Emirates’ glamorous city of Dubai is more famous, but the capital of the country is its sister Emirate, the more reserved Abu Dhabi.
The UAE is made up of seven Emirates, each with their own unique identities. Abu Dhabi is by far the largest. The city centre is home to around 1.8 million people – the majority being expats.
This was designed in 1967 by a Japanese architect, Dr Takahashi and the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, who was the UAE’s first president and affectionately considered the ‘father of the UAE’. Here you’ll find shimmering office buildings, the Emirates Palace hotel, the Presidential Palace and the city’s corniche running alongside the clear, turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.
Long before oil was discovered – camels, falconry, dates and coffee were all part of the Bedouin way of life. But another key part of the region’s heritage lies within its pearl trading past, thought to date back some 1000 years. The industry created particular wealth during the late 19th century and early 20th century when at the start of summer, pearl divers and their crews would wave farewell to family and set-sail aboard dhows for four months at a time, until they were welcomed home with cannon-fire, singing and celebratory food and drink.
The sight of this stunning white mosque, as you travel in and out of the capital city, is something to behold. Welcoming several million visitors each year, the mosque is the UAE’s largest and the eighth largest globally. Opened in 2007 to the public to accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers, it has four 107 meter minarets, 82 marble domes and showcases a mixture of international architectural styles. The opulent interior houses both the world’s largest knotted carpet and chandelier.
A state-of-the-art Formula One race track, luxury hotels, waterpark and super-mall make up the ever-evolving leisure destination of Yas Island east of the city centre – all part of a whopping $40 billion development.
Dubbed the ‘Garden City,’ Abu Dhabi’s inland, oasis city of Al Ain to the east, is only about an hour and a half’s drive through the desert. The city is famed for being the birthplace of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan and visitors go to Al Ain to see Al Jahili Fort, check out the zoo and drive up Abu
If you want to learn more on all these subjects, you can find further information via the links below.
Deborah is a freelance writer with an appetite for travel, books and blue cheese. She has worked in colleges and universities in the UK and Australia and also resided in Hong Kong and the UAE. Deborah is a flexible learning enthusiast, who achieved her arts degree majoring in Communications and Sociology through distance learning.