Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates (the most populous being Dubai), and also capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the UAE’s seven emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. The city proper had a population of 2.8 million in 2015.
“Dhabi” is the Arabic word for a particular species of native gazelle that was once common in the Arabian region. Abu Dhabi means father of the “Dhabi” (gazelle). It is thought that this name came about because of the abundance of Gazelles in the area and a folk tale involving Shakhbut bin Dhiyab al Nahyan.
It houses federal government offices, is the seat of the United Arab Emirates Government, home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family and the President of the UAE, who is from this family. Abu Dhabi’s rapid development and urbanization, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed the city into a large and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the country’s center of political and industrial activities, and a major cultural and commercial center, due to its position as the capital. Abu Dhabi accounts for about two-thirds of the roughly $400-billion United Arab Emirates economy.
While this is the official description from Google and Wikipedia about the place, I would love to tell you all how I spent a day in this wonderful city during my recent visit to UAE.
Having booked a 4-day trip to Dubai, we decided to devote one entire day to visit and explore Abu Dhabi, the neighboring emirate and capital of UAE.
Behaving like typical tourists, we booked a day-long tour with a tour operator. Who’s gonna research and plan and book stuff? It’s a vacay, afterall. 😀
Priced at AED 150 for kids and AED 200 for adults, the Abu Dhabi City Tour takes you around the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E). Travelling to Abu Dhabi is approximately 1 Hour 45 Minutes from Dubai and the tour includes pick-up and drop back to your hotel in Dubai. The tour pick-up timings are 9:00 AM and 9:30 AM and drop back at 5:30 PM and 6:00 PM. Sweet!
- Ferrari World
The first stop was at Ferrari World at Yas Island, just outside of Abu Dhabi. Spending 20 minutes at this awe-inspiring place is way too short. In fact, Ferrari World is in itself a full day excursion. Home to the 240km/h Formula Rossa roller coaster, this place is like candy land to automobile and motorsport enthusiasts.
|The entrance to Ferrari World|
|Rangoli on occasion of Diwali|
|The roller coaster|
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Next stop was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Beneath white-marble domes, the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features an immense Persian carpet [considered to be the world’s largest carpet], seven imported crystal chandeliers [the largest chandelier is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque and the third largest in the world] and capacity for 41,000 worshipers.
|Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque|
Admission is free and general visiting hours are from Saturday to Thursday (9.00 AM to 10.00 PM). The Mosque is closed for tourism activities (and open for worship) on Friday morning and opens again to the public at 4.30 PM.
While the locals are tolerant of tourists at their place of worship, it’s important to adhere to the dress code when visiting the Mosque. Long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers for men or skirts for women must be worn. All women must cover their hair with headscarf.
|My mom in the traditional attire|
- Abu Dhabi Corniche
Next up was the Abu Dhabi Corniche, a promenade running along the main beachfront. It forms a sweeping curve on the western side of the main Abu Dhabi island and is replete with cycle paths, fountains and park areas. A leisurely stroll along the Abu Dhabi Corniche is one of the best things to do when you visit Abu Dhabi. This seaside boardwalk is 4 miles long and the walkways are paved and dotted with benches, gardens and amazing views of the Arabian Gulf.
Did you know: Abu Dhabi’s pristine Corniche beachfront has been awarded the coveted Blue Flag status (what’s that?) – the internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas that guarantees clean and safe bathing water. (source)
|Abu Dhabi Corniche|
- Abu Dhabi Heritage Village
Lunch was at the Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, run by the Emirates Heritage Club and is a reconstruction of a traditional oasis village in the shape of an open museum. Traditional aspects of the desert way of life, including a campfire with coffee pots, a goats’ hair tent, and a falaj irrigation system are on display. The village has a beautiful sandy beach that overlooks the Abu Dhabi Corniche and skyline.
They have a restaurant serving buffet style lunch as well as a limited options thali which would be your best option if you are a vegetarian. An entrepreneurial chap also has a fresh fruits, fruit juice and sandwich stall outside the restaurant who is very reasonable. Tried his sandwiches and we were not disappointed at all. Quite generous with the fries too.
|The view from the beach|
- Emirates Palace Hotel
A quick drive through the Emirates Palace Hotel and we were ready to head to the final stop in this city.
While entry to the hotel is barred for outsiders, we did a round of the drive way for a sneak peek of the gorgeous property.
|Emirates Palace Hotel|
- Date Market
The Date Market, a hidden gem within the vegetable and fruit market at Port Zayed where you will get a feel of the old Abu Dhabi. There are 10 stores or so with trays full of dates outside and inside the shops and shopkeepers encourage you to sample them as you walk along.
There are some locally produced dates such as Lulu and Khlas sold at 20 AED per kg. There is also a wide choice from Saudi Arabia that are very affordable (between 25 and 40 AED per kg) such as the Sag’ai, Mabroom, Khudry, Rushodiah, except the Ajwa dates which were the most expensive in store priced at 100 AED per kg. The soft Majhool variety from Palestine is sold at 80 AED per kilo.
I never knew there were so many varieties of dates and I tried to sample them all. Some were hard to bite into while some were absolutely melt-in-mouth soft. Loved the Majhool and picked up a kg of the same.
So laden with a heavy bag of dates and lots of memories, we headed back to Dubai from this city which is a perfect amalgamation of tradition and modernization.
This review is a narrative of my experience at the event. The views expressed in this review are solely mine and others are more than welcome to agree or disagree with the same. The review is in no way influenced either personally or commercially nor has it been lifted, copied or plagiarized from any source however I have done my due diligence on the event via publicly available information on the internet.
All rights reserved.