Travelogue – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The city of Abu Dhabi is on the northeastern part of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula. Most of Abu Dhabi city is located on the island itself, but it has many suburbs on the mainland, for example: Khalifa City, Al Raha Beach, Al Bahia City Al Shahama and Al Rahba.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s land surface measures 67.340 square kilometres, which is equivalent to about 87% of the United Arab Emirate’s total land area. Only 30% of the emirate is inhabited, with the remaining vast expanses covered mainly by desert and arid land — constituting about 93% of the total land area
Meaning ‘Father of the Gazelle’ in Arabic, Abu Dhabi was founded when a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water, on an island with no more than 300 palm (‘barasti’) huts, a few coral buildings and the Ruler’s fort. This simple island settlement has since been transformed into a modern, cosmopolitan city as well as the capital and second most popular city of the UAE with a population of about 920.000.
Abu Dhabi 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. The city has grown to be a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed Abu Dhabi to a larger and advanced metropolis. Abu Dhabi is considered to be the fourth most expensive city for expatriate employees in the Middle East region, and in 2014 was the 68th most expensive big city in the world. Fortune magazine and CNN stated in 2007 that Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world, having been between $800 billion to approximately $875 billion US-$.
Corniche Road and Beach Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Road spreads across eight kilometres of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach – a lifeguarded beach park. The beachfront, which has been awarded coveted Blue Flag status, extends along Corniche Road from near the Hilton Hotel to beyond Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, where you’ll find its main entrance. During the week you can usually find a beach umbrella, but during the weekend they may all go quickly. You can’t swim out very far; floating fences keep you within 40 metres of the beach, and there are plenty of lifeguards around. Some 30,000 to 50,000 visitors flock to the Corniche every month, enjoying three separate section for families, singles and the general public.
Abu Dhabi Downtown Emirates Palace is a seven-stars-luxury hotel built as a landmark showcasing Arabian culture with a 1,3 km long private beach. The hotel is surrounded by 85 hectars of gardens and lawns.
Etihad Towers are a complex of buildings with five towers and are located opposite the Emirates Palace hotel and feature offices, apartments and a hotel. Tower 2, which is the city’s highest building (305 m) has an observation deck in the 75th floor which is accessible from the hotel via a lower level linking podium.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque This is arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society—and one of the most opulent in the world. It was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, fondly thought of as the father of the UAE. Its design and construction reportedly ‘unites the world’, using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and of course the United Arab Emirates. More than 3.000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in the construction of the mosque. Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. Construction began on 5 November 1996. The maximum capacity is approximately 41.000 people and the overall structure is 22.412 square metres and is considered to be the third largest mosque in the world.
Yas Island An emerging entertainment destination within a 30 minute drive of the UAE capital, Yas Island is home to the state-of-the-art Yas Marina Circuit – host to the annual Formula One Grand Prix. You can get to grips with the Circuit by foot, by private driving tuition or even by bike. At the circuit’s centrepiece is Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, a five star, iconic hotel – the only one in the world to straddle an F1 race track being breathtakingly built half on land and half over water.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s first Ferrari theme park and the largest attraction of its kind, tells the Ferrari story with passion and excitement through more than 20 exhilarating and educational rides and attractions, interactive shopping and Italian dining experiences.
Yas Waterworld spans an area of around 15 football pitches, with 43 rides, slides & attractions – five of which are one-of-a-kind. Visitors to this this futuristic waterpark will be able to try the 238-metre long, world’s first, and largest hydromagnetic-powered, six-person tornado waterslide. For adrenaline seekers there are three-metre high waves on Bubble’s Barrel, which has the world’s largest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards. The Bandit Bomber, a 550–metre coaster, is the first with onboard water and laser effects. Riders can shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects, while people below can spray them with water as they pass.
Set on Yas Island’s tranquil southern shores, Yas Beach is the island’s only stretch of beach, which opens daily. The island also houses Abu Dhabi’s biggest and the UAE’s second largest shopping centre, the Yas Mall. The mall provides a vibrant getaway shopping experience for tourists, international guests and local residents.
Saadiyat Island Just a couple of minutes located from downtown Abu Dhabi and twenty minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, the 27 square kilometre island is undergoing remarkable transformation into a high class leisure, residential, business and cultural hub of global proportions, housing the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural assets. These will include the Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (completion expected in 2017) – all designed by interantional prize winners.
Set on the island’s serene natural shores, the 400-metre Saadiyat Public Beach is a great spot a day out, and to enjoy Abu Dhabi’s clean, warm turquoise waters. The original ‘guests’ of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, the Hawksbill sea turtles, continue to nest on the destination’s sweeping beachfront.
Falcon Hospital The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is located a bit outside from the city centre but is the first public institution in the UAE providing comprehensive veterinary health care services exclusively for falcons. Opened on 3rd of October, 1999, it has become the largest falcon hospital in the Middle East and in the world with a patient influx of more than 67,000 patients in the first fourteen years of existence. Tourists can take the “Falcon World Tour”, which offers a special tour all around falcons – from history to modern times.
Zayed Sports City The venue is home to four major sporting facilities that have been designed to host a wide range of sporting, leisure and entertainment events. The ATP standard International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City will seat up to 5.000 spectators for the annual World Tennis Championships currently sponsored by Mubadala, which kicks-off the tennis season every year in January with an exhibition tournament with some of the world’s best players participating in.