Abu Dhabi is a city of wonders. Known historically for its pearls, the city today is a reflection of 21st century modernity. Trade, commerce, industry and tourism have all become mainstays of the UAE’s capital.
Now days when people go to Abu Dhabi they go for its fabulous shopping, beautiful parks and a wide range of recreational activities. The bustling Dubai is only an hour and a half away, as is the beautiful Garden City of Al Ain, where you can explore new and old Arabia to one’s leisure. Sheikh Zayed had a vision of turning UAE into green and since 1962 the barren land and the sand dunes are completely transformed. The cities are greener than you would expect, even the 8 lane motorways between the cities are flanked by impressive rows of trees.
The city centre of Abu Dhabi is a bustling commercial hub with towering skyscrapers, tree-lined avenues, and lavish hotels and shopping malls. The city is planned to a grid system and has a beautiful corniche running alongside the island, where you can also see the manmade Lulu Island.
In Abu Dhabi you will be struck by the city’s modern beauty, entwined with old charms. From the markets and souks, to the hotels and golf courses, there is something from everybody in Abu Dhabi.
Sightseeing and Culture
For those curious about the history and roots of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, there are numerous sights to visit in the capital city. Start with Sheikh Zayed’s Mosque, the largest one in the country set up on more than 12 hectares, a beautiful and impressive structure that unites the cultural diversity of the Islamic world with the historical and modern values of architecture and art.
Then go to the White Fort, 1793, or the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, where you will find the National Library and the Institute of Culture and Art. The Heritage or Bedouin Village with mud huts, traditional mosque and souks, demonstrate Bedouin life before oil discovery. The Bateen Shipyard and the Dhow Builders Yard showcase the traditional and dwindling Arabian craft of hand-made ships.
With a history steeped in stories od sea-farers carrying cargo on wooden ships laden with spices, gold, incense and textiles, Abu Dhabi will spoil even the most seasoned shoppers. In the Bazaars and souks you can find everything from trinkets and semi-precious jewels to shopping delights such as high fashion and electronics, artefacts and food.
For a feel of Arabia’s old markets, you can visit the open-air Iranian Souk in Al Meena. ‘’Souk’ ’literally means commercial quarter or market in Arabic and bargain hunters will be in paradise trading for carpets, rugs or Arabic coffee and dry fruits. For gold head for the shops on Sheikh Handan Street, where the famous Gold and Jewellery Souk is located.
If you’re looking for branded good and luxury item, Abu Dhabi’s shopping malls are the perfect place for it. Abu Dhabi Mall is the largest shopping mall with over 345 outlets boasting some of the world’s best-known brands, restaurants and activities including locally popular food chains to the chilling rides at Snoworld. Marina Mall boasts a stunning view of the corniche and Gulf, and Al Khair Centre and the Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre are also worth looking at.
Gold and Sport
The city boasts three quality golf courses with beautiful clubhouses, manicured greens and PGA level coaching facilities. The Abu Dhabi Golf Championship constitutes a feature in the International PGA Tour.
The Al Ghazal Golf Club is an 18-hole sand golf course, very close to the Abu Dhabi airport. If you’re staying nearby or just transiting, this makes an excellent spot to hit some drives or get in a few rounds of golf. Or there’s the Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club which has the longest par five in the UAE at 630 yards. Although only a 9-hole course, it has alternate tees for the back nine.
For those wishing to get involved in other activities, there are ample opportunities to enjoy water sports and off-roading. Take a 4WD into the red sands of Al Ain, experience a desert safari, ride a camel, sandboard, camp Bedouin-style or windsurf and jet ski on Abu Dhabi’s beautiful waters.
Property Development and Islands
The Middle East has become one of the world’s most well-known hotspots for property investment and development and Abu Dhabi is leading the charge as well as its neighbour Dubai. From the most regal to the most modern, Abu Dhabi boasts properties from towering offices and apartments, to spacious villas and gleaming condominiums. The famous island properties are unique for their infrastructure, innovative design, sights, plant and animal life. There are over 200 islands in Abu Dhabi and some definitely worth visiting.
The Yas Island Abu Dhabi is one of the major tourist attractions occupying around 25,000 hectares of land is home to the world biggest indoor theme park the Ferrari world, water parks, resorts, hotels, golf courses, residential areas.
The Coconut Island is set just on the tip of Abu Dhabi. The island is rightfully named so because it has many coconut palms on the island as well as in the water lagoons. It is home to an exclusive 5 star hotel and resort and a high-end residency living.
Saadiyat Island is a beautiful island just 7 minutes drive from Abu Dhabi. It is home to developing national museums, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi. There are and yet developing universities, boutique hotels, a marina, parks, beaches and eco wetlands.
Nurai Island is the most exclusive private island of Abu Dhabi. The island is home to a green plush oasis with private beachfront mansions and water villas all which come with state of the art facilities. You can visit the island on a private yacht, helicopter, boat, chauffer driven car etc. It was built with the sole intention to provide utmost privacy to its residents.
Dalma Island is a heritage island which has kept its old Arabian spirit intact. It is a heritage sanctuary with the ancient dhow wooden boats docked on the shore, with its population of people doing pearl culture, ancient residential communities; mosques are still intact amidst the modern villas, homes, malls and infrastructure.
From hostels or guesthouse accommodations for the people with a tight budget, to resorts and 3 star hotels, to 5 star or 7 star hotels accommodation, Abu Dhabi caters for everyone.
Abu Dhabi Airport is situated 30km away from the city centre. Elegant, modern, with VIP lounges and showers available for transit passengers regardless of travelling class, the airport provides a complimentary shuttle between the 3 terminals every 15 minutes and a lavish selection of Duty-Free shops and boutiques. There is also a shuttle to the city centre every 40 minutes, 24 hours a day and the cost is approximately $1US. Travel time to the city is approximately 45 minutes, running from the three terminals and stops at all legal bus stops going into the city. It passes by the Bus Stand at Muroor and Street 11 and terminates at the Old Fish Market on Al Nasr Street (near NYU Abu Dhabi).