Only 50 years ago, the sparse cityscape of Abu Dhabi was dominated by a few rudimentary huts, coral buildings and empty desert sand. Today, city has grown to one of the world’s richest cities and premier travel destinations. The cityscape is now defined by eye-catching candy cane minarets, shining skyscrapers and picturesque white-domed mosques. Flashy, sophisticated and cosmopolitan, the new Abu Dhabi effortlessly combines Western decadence with unmistakably Middle Eastern style.
The city is one with many superlatives, including being home to the world’s most expensive mosque. It may be younger than those of Medina, Mecca or Damascus, but the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque makes up for what it lacks in history with bold style. The mosque keeps expanding nearly every year to accommodate more worshippers, but it already contains floors paved with marble from 28 different countries, the world’s largest carpet, seven crystal and gold chandeliers and one thousand exterior columns. If you think that’s impressive, check out the white marble dome. It is the world’s largest at 85 meters tall.
Adventure-seekers can catch the thrill of a lifetime in Abu Dhabi, home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster. Of course, it is located in the world’s largest indoor amusement park, Ferrari World Park. The coasters reaches white-knuckle speeds of 240 km per hour in under five seconds with a G-Force acceleration of up to 1.7Gs. If that’s not enough excitement, try driving a few laps around the international speedway at breakneck speed.
The flashy glamor continues at Abu Shabi’s restaurants and shopping districts. Indulge in delicate finger sandwiches and high tea at some of the world’s most expensive hotels, or sample the fabulous local cuisine at a swanky restaurant or lounge. Then, shop to your heart’s delight at a glitzy mall or decidedly more traditional souk. It’s practically a national past time in the UAE, and chances are you can find everything you need and more.
At the souks, or markets, individual stalls are crammed into sandy alleys, creating a labyrinthine effect. The markets are a great place to breathe in local culture or buy everything from bags of frankincense to gold necklaces. For Western-style shopping, go to any of the city’s many malls. Brands from all over the world are easily available, giving Abu Dhabi the distinction of being the Middle East’s shopping capital.
It is easy to forget the city’s humble roots when surrounded by so much glitz and glamor, but unearthing Abu Dhabi’s history is not difficult. To experience the “real” Abu Dhabi, act like a local and get up early for a hot cup of coffee before heading to the Al Bateen Shipyard. The area is one of the city’s oldest, and the ocean breezes offer cool respite from the sometimes stifling city air. There, you can learn about Abu Dhabi’s maritime history, including fishing and pearl harvesting. Next, explore the Qasr al-Hosn fort, the city’s oldest building. Constructed in 1761, the fort is known for its colorful interior tiles, palm-filled gardens and lush courtyards.
Once the sun dips beneath the rolling carpet of sand dunes, dine under the glimmering stars before enjoying a few puffs of hookhah at a sheesha cafe, dancing at opulent clubs or taking in a classical music concert put on by an international orchestra. The possibilities are endless in this city of superlatives.
Abu Dhabi Geographical Location
Abu Dhabi is an island off the northeastern coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf.
Approximately 700,000 people populate Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Language
Arabic is the official language of Abu Dhabi although Persian, English, Hindi, and Urdu are commonly spoken as well.
Abu Dhabi Predominant Religion
- 96% Muslim
- 4% Other
The overwhelming majority of the United Arab Emirates’ population is Muslim with a small percentage of Christians and Hindus accounting for the last 4%.
Abu Dhabi Currency
The Dirham is the official currency of the United Arab Emirates.
Abu Dhabi Climate
It rarely rains in Abu Dhabi but during the hottest months of the year sandstorms can be expected. A hot and arid climate is experienced year round.
Abu Dhabi Main Attractions
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque
- United Arab Emirates Heritage Village
- Emirates Palace
Other Attraction in Abu Dhabi
- Khalifa Park and Museum
- The Corniche
- Qasr al-Hosn
- Al Ain National Museum