Abu Dhabi City Guide
Only 50 years ago Abu Dhabi was a provincial fishing village with a sturdy fort and a sweeping desert landscape. Today, it has grown into a metropolitan oasis with a modern sensibility and attractive public spaces. It's the largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates, and the city of Abu Dhabi is its federal capital. You'll find many of the world's biggest oil companies headquartered here, along with a thriving expat community drawn to the booming business opportunities. ¶ Any Abu Dhabi city guide mentions its sophisticated urban planning. Stroll down its grand boulevards and admire the abundant fountains, green spaces, and sophisticated shopping arcades. Yas Island is a top attraction, with its Ferrari theme park and Formula 1 race track. The streets are studded with international luxury brands and chic restaurants, along with shopping centres like the Marina Mall. Beyond lies the desert, as mysterious and alluring as ever.
Things to do in Abu Dhabi
One of the most enticing things to do in Abu Dhabi is visit its waterfront, or Corniche. This stretches for several miles taking you from the Breakwater all the way to the Mina Zayed port. Walk slowly down this promenade, stopping off at a sandy beach or go-kart track for a taste of outdoor adventure. Another attraction that you won't want to miss is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. This gleaming white mosque is the 6th largest in the world, capable of accommodating up to 40,000 worshippers under its marble accents. To catch a glimpse of Abu Dhabi's wealth, pay a visit to the Emirates Palace Hotel, accented throughout with marble, gold, and crystal along with an over-the-top ATM that dispenses bars of solid gold.
Things to see in Abu Dhabi
One of Abu Dhabi's primary charms is its peaceful atmosphere, and you can enjoy this in Khalifa Park. In addition to vast green spaces you'll find gardens illuminated with enchanting flowers in bloom, play parks for children, and an aquarium teeming with tropical fish. Falcons hold a special status in local culture, and you can learn more about this at the Falcon Hospital, one of the most unique things to see in Abu Dhabi. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even get up close and personal with a bird of prey on your arm. Balance this with a trip to the Women's Handicraft Centre, where you can learn more about traditional textile weaving, silver threading, and other elaborate folk art traditions handed down for generations.
Abu Dhabi Transport
Abu Dhabi International Airport serves the city, and is the home base of its national Etihad airlines. A secondary option for international travellers is to fly into Dubai International Airport and take a bus or taxi into town. The two cities are 130km apart, or a two-hour ride. Abu Dhabi transport is primarily car-based. Renting a car is one way to get around, or taxis are easily accessible from all hotels and tourist spots. The public bus system is centred at the station on Hazaa Bin Zayed Road. You can use these buses to get around locally or further afield.
Abu Dhabi Events
The ancient Qasr Al Hosn Fort has helped protect Abu Dhabi throughout the centuries, and we pay tribute to it during the Qasr Al Hosn Festival in February. Visitors can take in interactive art workshops and learn more about the city's heritage. Classical arts fans from far and wide arrive for the Abu Dhabi Festival, a celebration of high culture in all its forms. Further Abu Dhabi events include the Jazz Festival, which enlivens the city with musical artists from far and wide, and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival is a regular event bringing stars out to the red carpet.
Restaurants in Abu Dhabi
Don't miss your opportunity to sample the subtle spice blends of Emirati and Gulf cuisine, which features a rainbow of flavours due to the UAE's history as a centre of trade. Dishes are enhanced with sweet cinnamon, complex saffron, and bright turmeric notes along with splashes of lime juice and sultry dried fruits. ¶If you're in the mood for freshly caught seafood, walk down to the Corniche and snag a seat at one of its many classy cafes. Many restaurants in Abu Dhabi feature outdoor terraces where you can gaze out at the azure sea as you enjoy your meal.