Abu Dhabi - The Green Capital behind the Desert Dunes
A city built on the sand of the islands at the edge of the world's greatest desert - its position alone makes Abu Dhabi an extraordinary destination. In a minimum of time the small fishing town developed into one of the most modern metropolises on earth and it does not grow tired of starting impressive new construction projects.
Geography - Islands, mainland and the vast desert
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and of the United Arab Emirates. The city consists of mainland on the one hand and of several artificial offshore islands on the other. The major part of the city is located on an island in the Persian Gulf, which has an area of about 70 km² and is bordered by mangroves. Several impressive bridges connect the islands to the mainland. The further development of the city has been planned ahead until the year 2030. By then, the population is expected to have risen from 621,000 to 3 million people. A major project is the construction of a green oasis under the desert as an expansion of the dense city's relaxation area. This ambitious project is called Al Fayak Park and is to be finished in 2016. The climate in the city ranges from tropical to subtropical and it is very hot. Especially in summer, temperatures commonly reach 40 °C. It is considerably more pleasant but still warm in winter.
Culture - The cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates
"Father of Deer" is the translation of the Arab place name "Abu Dhabi". The former fishermen and pearl divers in the 1960s did not expect the luxury that would descend upon the city. They had neither electricity nor a sewer system or a functioning infrastructure. But the oil finds in the 70s marked the beginning of the golden age for the Emirates. Today Abu Dhabi is one of the most modern metropolises on earth. It stands out with its great amount of green spaces, which are a valuable asset in the desert state. The proximity to the desert makes the city interesting for the film industry. The luxurious city and the adjacent desert region constitute the backdrop for the seventh part of the space saga Star Wars, for example. Sheikh Zayed Great Mosque is an impressive building and the world's third biggest mosque. Its four minarets are 107 metres high, the mosque's main dome is the greatest one on earth and the hand-knotted carpet, which has a size of 5,627 m², is also worldwide unique. The best-known hotel is the Emirates Palace but the oldest building is the fort Qasr al-Hosn, which was probably built as early as 1761. Regarding culture, Abu Dhabi is superior to its twin town Dubai. Theatres, ballet, concerts, magic shows and the museums on Saadiyat Island make Abu Dhabi a cultural centre. Travellers who want to learn about Arab traditions should visit the old Dhow Harbour. The traditional dhow ships of the pearl diving nation still depart here.
Experience - The temptations of the Orient
Abu Dhabi yields a treasure of international and traditional delicacies. Restaurants and hotels serve alcohol and pork dishes but the local dishes are much more interesting. Arab spices, cinnamon, saffron, curcuma and dried fruit are used in the preparation of delicious dishes. The traditional Harees (a meat dish with wheat) is cooked in a clay oven to develop a wonderful aroma. Madrooba is a common fish dish with rice, nuts and saffron. Not only Dubai but also Abu Dhabi offers fantastic shopping opportunities such as the facilities along the park in Corniche, Marina Mall on the Breakwater Peninsula, the Central Souq and the Abu Dhabi Mall. Typical souvenirs are woven goods, carpets, clothes, gold jewellery, Arab coffee pots, dates and chocolate made of camel's milk. Abu Dhabi's nightlife is not as spectacular as that of the sparkling neighbouring city Dubai. With elegant and opulent bars and restaurants like the Havana Club, the Rush or the Skylite, it can be described as fashionable, luxurious and tasteful.
Activities - Water parks, Ferrari World and Falcon Hospital
The promenade of Corniche Park is seven kilometres long and offers great conditions for cycling tours and relaxed picnics with its pavilions, water fountains and green spaces at the seaside. You see the sea from almost every point in town. The most beautiful beaches are located on Saadiyat Island. They are excellently suited for water sports such as windsurfing, sailing and other ecologically friendly trend sports. In and around Abu Dhabi you find several of the most exciting leisure parks in the country - if not in the whole world. Worth mentioning are the water park Yas Waterworld, which has a roller coaster with 515 metres of length, a looping water slide and the Dawwama Ride as the main attraction - a funnel with 20 metres of width which adrenaline junkies can rush down in six-person rubber dinghies. All this fun makes many people forget that the city lies at the edge of the world's greatest sandy desert, the Rub' al-Khali. A trip into the desert by Jeep or on the back of a camel shows travellers how big the sand dunes really are. As Dubai's population, the inhabitants of Abu Dhabi do not want to have to go without the exotic snow experience and treat themselves to icy cold fun in Abu Dhabi's Snowworld. Motorsport enthusiasts are in good hands in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix regularly draws tens of thousands of visitors to the modern Yas Marina Circuit and true fans should also not miss out on the theme park Ferrari World. Animal lovers can visit the unique Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi. The favourite birds of the Emiratis are nourished, cherished and prepared for their next flight here.
Fortunately, Abu Dhabi is not as overrun with tourists as its twin city Dubai. The great transport connections make it possible to visit and get to know both cities in a minimum of time (about one and a half hour of travel time). The temperatures in the city are most pleasant in the winter months. In summer, visitors can only stay in air-conditioned rooms. Before setting on their journey, travellers should make themselves familiar with the code of behaviour and customs of the Muslim country. They apply to the exchange of affection, taking photos and alcohol.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates impresses with green oases, cultural offers and varied leisure activities. Both active holidaymakers and lovers of culture get their money's worth in the desert city.