Emirate of Abu Dhabi
Emirate of Abu Dhabi is a very interesting tourist destination in the UAE, but among Russian tourists, Abu Dhabi is inferior to the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah by popularity. In this article we will tell you all the most interesting about the emirate and the city of Abu Dhabi, tourism, pluses and minuses of rest in local hotels.
Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate in the UAE. The area is 67,300 sq. Km, which is comparable with the areas of Georgia, Ireland or Sri Lanka, which is 87% of the area of all the Arab Emirates. See the map on the right, click on the map to enlarge.
Most of these lands are occupied by the Arabian desert - uninhabited territory, unfit for economic needs. Thanks to landscaping measures, the useful part of the land for the last 50 years has increased to 5%. About 1.2% of the land is used for agriculture, part of the coast is occupied by mangroves.
Abu Dhabi owns 200 islands along the coast of the Persian Gulf, the emirate has more than 700 kilometers of coastline. In the east of the emirate are Mount Al-Hajar, the highest peak is Al-Hafeet (1,340 meters) near the town of Al-Ain.
In the south, Abu Dhabi borders with Saudi Arabia, in the east with Oman, in the northeast with the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah.
The capital of the emirate and the whole of the UAE - the city of Abu Dhabi is located on the island of Abu Dhabi, connected to the mainland by the bridges of Mact, Mussaf and Sheikh Zayd. In the city limits are several more islands. The population of the city is estimated at about 1.5 million people.
Abu Dhabi - the richest emirate in the UAE
The average state of a citizen of Abu Dhabi is 17 million US dollars. The emirate of Abu Dhabi is 9% of the world's oil reserves (98.2 billion barrels) and almost 5% of the world's natural gas reserves (5.9 trillion m3).
The GDP of the emirate of Abu Dhabi is about trilliard dirhams (367 billion US dollars), which is 3.5 times less than in Russia. The difference is that there are 146 million citizens in Russia, and only 0.5 million in Abu Dhabi. Now imagine how much revenue each citizen of Abu Dhabi has.
If we consider GDP per capita, but only citizens, Abu Dhabi is the absolute record holder: 725,000 dollars of GDP per person. If we take into account citizens and newcomers together, the figure is more modest - about 140,000 USD, which is as much as that of any country in the world.
Huge oil revenues are actively invested in other sectors of the economy. One of the key industries is tourism. On tourism we will talk first of all, because JJ-Tours.ru is a tourist site.
Tourism in Abu Dhabi
Tourism is under strict control and accountability. This is the responsibility of the ADTA (Office of Tourism Abu Dhabi), established in 2004.
In 2012, the authorities of the emirate merged the two departments ADTA and ADACH (Office of Culture and Heritage) into one government organization ADTCA (Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Office for Tourism and Culture). Now ADTCA is engaged in all matters of tourism.
ADTCA maintains detailed statistics. The tourism industry is growing. In 2015, the emirate was visited by 4.1 million tourists, in 2016 already 4.4 million, in 2017 ADTCA plans to "take the bar" to 4.9 million (note: this article was published in September 2017).
Among the guests of Abu Dhabi in 2016, Indians are leading - 323 000 tourists, in second place the United Kingdom - 238 000 tourists. The third place was taken by the Chinese - 232,000 tourists, after the visa was canceled for the citizens of the PRC, the tourist flow grew by 31%.
The number of guests from Russia and the CIS countries only falls, which is very concerned about ADTCA. In 2016, the emirate was visited only by 27,200, a figure ADTCA clearly does not like. The Russians have ADTCA on special control. As the ADTCA manager for Russia and the CIS, Eduard Grigoriev, said, "We do not have enough direct flights to Abu Dhabi."
The presence of its own airport Abu Dhabi International Airport (code: AUH) - another factor that stimulates the development of the tourism industry. In 2016, the airport accepted 207,486 flights and 25,964,178 passengers. This is the fourth busiest airport in the Middle East and the second in the UAE, second only to Dubai International Airport (about 70 million passengers).
Abu Dhabi has its own airline Etihad Airways. But this is an airline with a high level of prices, and low-cost airlines are not yet here, which acts negatively on the development of tourism.
Sharjah has Air Arabia, Dubai has Fly Dubai, and Abu Dhabi does not have an airline with low prices. Plans to create a low-cost carrier yet, but the authorities are trying to attract the company Air Arabia and Fly Dubai, while without much success.
ADTCA is very active in promoting Abu Dhabi as a tourist destination. They actively participate in international tourism exhibitions, invest in construction projects, and engage in advertising.
In the range of their media technologies there are very curious methods. For example, in September 2016 they decided to invest in the media to improve the perception of Abu Dhabi. Universal UAE in the media is ranked as "Middle East", which carries a negative connotation, given the tension in Palestine, Syria and Iraq. ADTCA began to promote the phrase "Arabian Peninsula" as more positive.
ADTCA initiates or sponsors various activities. Among them: the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the Junior Golf Championship and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the Gourmet Abu Dhabi show, the Al Ain Aerobatics Show, the Abu Dhabi Red Bull Air Race, and of course the Formula 1 Grand Prix (pictured left, click on the photo to enlarge).
Under the auspices of ADTCA is the construction of museums, including the Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi. They participate in the planning and construction of entertainment facilities, for example, the Warner Bros. Park. World Abu Dhabi.
Thanks to ADTCA, we even know exactly the number of hotels in the emirate - there are 170. These hotels are certified and accounted for. Of course, there are also guest houses, rooms and apartments for rent, but such institutions have not been able to be registered yet in any country.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi
In the city more than 100 hotels. Of these, 34 are classified as 5 stars. The most expensive and chic is the Emirates Palace, which became also the famous landmark of the city (in the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge).
Other top hotels: Zaya Nurai Island Resort, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, The St. Regis Saadiyat Island, Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi.
Hotels are many, for every taste and purse. Prices: from $ 40 per night.
Pay attention to the following parameters when choosing a tour and hotel:
- Does the hotel have its own beach? If not, then you have to go to a public beach. Does the hotel take tourists by its transport?
- Are there shops and cafes near the hotel? Prices in the hotel restaurant can be very high.
Climate and season
The climate in Abu Dhabi almost does not differ from the rest of the coast of the UAE. Read our article " Weather in the United Arab Emirates by months ".
Pros of rest in Abu Dhabi
The first important advantage is a huge number of local attractions. Even if you have a rest for two weeks, they will be enough "for the eyes", you will not have time to see everything. By the number of interesting places Abu Dhabi can only compare with the emirate of Dubai.
The second advantage is the availability of its own international airport. From the airport to the hotels of the island of Yas to go only 10 minutes, to the hotels of the city center - 25 minutes, to the hotels of the island of Saadiyat - 30 minutes.
An important point! When buying a tour to Abu Dhabi , then be sure to check the destination airport. In half of the tours in the hotels of Abu Dhabi it is planned to arrive not to the airport of Abu Dhabi, but to the airport of Dubai or even Sharjah. Tour operators save, buying low-cost tickets for low-cost airlines Air Arabia and Fly Dubai. From the airport in Dubai will have to go no longer 25 minutes, and 2-2.5 hours.
The third plus - the customs in Abu Dhabi are very liberal, there is no official dress code. On public beaches, women can swim in the usual open swimsuit. By shopping centers, tourists go to shorts and short skirts, T-shirts and even tops. Complaints from the police and security does not arise, the local are loyal (read "they do not care").
The fourth plus is the authorities' tolerance of alcohol. Of course, drinking or being drunk in a public place is prohibited by law and fraught with a big fine, but in hotels in bars you can drink. Details read in the article " Alcohol in the UAE - prices and rules ."
Almost all hotels sell alcohol in bars. Several shops in the city sell alcohol, but to buy, you need "alcohol licenses," the tourist will not be sold. Buy in Duty Free, eat at the hotel.
Another advantage is a slightly more pleasant weather. The city of Abu Dhabi is on the island, it is always blowing a nice breeze, the heat is transferred slightly better than in Dubai or Sharjah. About the wardrobe on the trip read in our article " What to take in the Arab Emirates ".
The rest in Abu Dhabi
The main disadvantage is the same as in Dubai. Rest on the coast in hotels with their own beach is expensive. This tour for two for 7 days costs from 1500 USD. It happens that you can buy a tour of the stock or with a seasonal discount for 1200 USD.
Inexpensive it is possible to have a rest only in hotels far from coast, and on a beach it is necessary to go by the bus or a taxi. Fortunately, in Abu Dhabi there are many free and well-groomed public beaches, the most famous are Corniche and Al-Batin. Russian tourists, accustomed to hotels with their own beaches in Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt, perceive the need to get to the beach very painful.
The next drawback is the very weak development of the public transport system. There is no subway, as in Dubai, the subway in Abu Dhabi is now only planned, the first station is planned to be opened only in 2020.
For tourists there are only buses and taxis. There are few buses - only 14 routes in the city. A taxi is inexpensive, but it's always expensive to drive every day. For more details about prices, please read our article " Prices for Taxi in Abu Dhabi and Dubai ".
Another drawback - this is a large area of the city and, therefore, large distances between hotels and attractions. For example, you relax in a hotel in the area of Downtown and want to go to the park Ferrari World . You have to go 1.5 hours by bus, or by taxi for 70 dirhams. The actual course of the UAE dirhams is shown in our article " What money is in the UAE ".
Prepare a significant amount for transportation and read our review " How much money to take in the UAE ." About the sights we will talk in detail in the final part of this article, and now we will tell you the most important and interesting about the emirate and the city of Abu Dhabi.
The word "dhabi" in Arabic is one of the types of gazelles. The phrase "abu dhabi" is translated literally as "the father of a gazelle". There are two main versions, why the emirate is so named.
The first version is boring, but more believable. In the vicinity there were many gazelles, hence the name of the area.
The second version is more interesting, it is more like a legend. In 1761, Sheikh bin-Diyab Al-Nahyan sent a group of men from the oasis of Liv to hunt. They tracked down the gazelle and chased after it for a long time. The gazelle led them to a source of fresh water on the island.
So the tribe of Bani Yas found a new place for settlement. They built a village near the source and the fort of Qasr Al-Husn. Subsequently, most of the tribe moved to live on the island. This legend is important for understanding the history of Abu Dhabi.
Civilization in the territory of modern Abu Dhabi was born 3 thousand years ago. This ancient culture is now called Umm An-Nar. The largest ancient settlement of this culture was found in 1959 in Abu Dhabi on the island of Umm An-Nar, hence the name. Now this excavation site is located between the refinery and the military base, tourists are not allowed here.
The people of Umm An-Nar culture built tombs of round shape made of stone. In Abu Dhabi more than 50 such tombs have been found, many artifacts have been extracted - ceramics, stone tools, human remains.
In the 1st millennium BC. the culture of Umm An-Nahr fell into decay, probably the climate in the region has changed for the worse. After the disappearance of the culture of Umm An-Nahr, fishermen and nomads lived here.
The history of modern Abu Dhabi began in the late 18th century. Union of Arab tribes Bani Yas inhabited the oasis of Lebanon, in the late 18th century Arabs Bani Yas moved to the coast and settled in the modern Abu Dhabi area in 1793. They began to engage in the extraction of pearls.
The leader of the tribes Bani Yas was Shaykh Al-Bu-Falah of the Al-Nahyan clan. Representatives of the Al-Nahyan clan rule the emirate until today.
In 1833, a part of the Bani Yas tribes moved along the coast to the east, led by Maktoum bin-Buti Al Maktoum. They took control of Dubai. The emirate of Dubai is now ruled by the Al Maktoum family.
The rulers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai from one tribe, hence their proximity and mutual assistance. Let's remember the story when Dubai had no money to complete the Burj Khalifa tower at the time of the economic crisis, Abu Dhabi came to the rescue, and the tower was renamed from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa in honor of Sheikh Khalifa (Emir Abu Dhabi).
The emirate of Abu Dhabi was part of the "Treaty Shore" since 1820, that is, it concluded a defensive treaty with the United Kingdom. At that time, the main branches of the economy were pearl fishing, camel breeding, fishing, the cultivation of dates and other fruits in the oases of Liva and Al Ain. In the city of Abu Dhabi, most of the houses were made of palm leaves, such dwellings are called "barasti", other houses were earthen or of coral stone.
In the early 20th century, the pearl industry collapsed. The market began to receive cultured pearls from Japan, the price of Persian pearls fell at times. The region found itself in a severe economic crisis.
In 1958, oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi, large oil revenues flowed into the treasury, and a new rich era began in the history of the UAE . The city began to build concrete buildings, lay new roads. The ruler then was Sheikh Shahbut bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, he preferred to save money and not invest in the development of the emirate.
His brother Sheikh Zayd bin Sultan Al Nahyan (in the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge) had a much more active position, he saw in oil money a chance to transform Abu Dhabi for the better. The Al-Nahyan family decided that Zayd should change Shahbut on the throne.
On August 6, 1966, there was a bloodless palace coup. Sheikh Shahbut was detained by the military from the Omani Scout squad, escorted to the airport and taken to London. Naturally, the coup was carried out with the consent of the British.
Shaykh Shahbut then moved to Lebanon, and in the early 70's returned to the UAE. So Sheikh Zayd - emir of Abu Dhabi, the future president of the UAE and the "father of the nation" - ascended to the throne. In his honor in Abu Dhabi built a large white mosque , where his body now rests.
In 1968, the British announced their intention to leave the Persian Gulf. Sheikh Zayd felt a chance to unite the country. He met with the emir of Dubai in February 1968 in the town of Agrub El-Sedirah, where they reached the first agreement on the creation of a union state.
On December 2, 1971, the rulers of six emirates signed a union treaty, from that moment the United Arab Emirates appeared on the world map. In this agreement participated: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman , Sharjah, Fujairah , Umm al-Quwain . The following year, Ras Al Khaimah joined them.
Sheikh Zayd became the head of the new state, and the city of Abu Dhabi the capital. Since then, the emirate is developing, its inhabitants are getting richer. About inhabitants we will talk in detail.
The population of the emirate is now estimated at 2.5 million people. The last official assessment was conducted in 2016 by SCAD (Statistics Center of Abu Dhabi). They call the figure 2,657,026 people, 506,411 of them, the rest are visiting workers. This situation is normal for the UAE, where only 10% of the population have citizenship, the rest live and work in the country temporarily, we wrote about this in the article " The Population of the UAE ."
Most of all Indians here - about 40%. You will see them everywhere: hotel staff, taxi drivers, shop assistants, cleaners and workers. In addition to the Indians, there are many Pakistanis, Egyptians, Malaysians.
Abu Dhabi is one of the world's record-holders for population growth, the average growth rate is 9.6% per year. From 1960 to 2010, the population grew 50 times.
It is very simple in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The emirate is divided into three regions: Abu Dhabi Central Capital District, Al Ain Eastern Region (Eastern Al Ain) and Al Gharbia Western Region (Western Al Gharbia).
Like the other six emirates of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is an absolute monarchy. The country's legislation is based on the norms of the Sharia. Since 2004, the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayd Al-Nahyan ruled the emirate (in the photo below, click on the photo to enlarge). He controls the work of ministries and departments, appoints regional and departmental leaders.
He is the president of the UAE. Theoretically, the UAE president is elected every five years by the Supreme Council of seven sheikhs, but traditionally they all vote for Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayd Al Nahyan. These are the features of democracy in the UAE.
There is no elected parliament in the emirate, but there are mazhlis - citizens' meetings, where everyone can speak out.
The economy of Abu Dhabi now provides 60% of the GDP of all Arab Emirates.
In the structure of the economy, the first place is occupied by oil and gas extraction - 58.5% of GDP. The annual export is about 750 million barrels of oil, the main buyers of oil and petroleum products from Abu Dhabi are Japan and the Netherlands.
In addition to oil production, other branches of the economy are developing in Abu Dhabi. Construction - about 11% of GDP, insurance and finance - about 10%, production - about 9%, tourism - about 6%.
In Abu Dhabi, the public transport system is poorly developed. There are no railways, there is no metro in the capital. There are only bus routes within the capital and to other cities of the emirate. The main means of transportation in Abu Dhabi is private vehicles and taxis.
Records, interesting facts and figures
- Next to the oasis of Līva is the world's largest solar power station Sharms 1 (from the Arabic "Sun"). The power is 100 megawatts, the area is 2.5 sq.km., 768 parabolic panels.
- The Capital Gate Tower in the city of Abu Dhabi (also called the Abu Dhabi Falling Tower, 25 floors, 160 meters in height) has a slope of 18 degrees, which is 4 times more than the Tower of Pisa in Italy .
- Masdar City in the emirate of Abu Dhabi became the first city in the world to zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free. Without carbon dioxide emissions, without waste disposal, without cars.
- Hotel Yas Viceroy on the island of Yas is decorated with 5 056 glass panels. They are cleaned by 15 professional climbers for a month.
- The Emirates Palace Hotel has 1,002 chandeliers, the largest weighs 2.5 tons.
- The most expensive dish in the world is served in the Sayyad restaurant of the Emirates Palace hotel. This is 30 grams of caviar Royal Beluga Caviar for 2000 dirhams.
- In the city of Abu Dhabi there are 150 mosques, only 2,500 mosques in the emirate.
- Homosexuality in Abu Dhabi is punishable by 12 years of imprisonment. However, non-standard sexual orientation is punishable in all seven emirates, the difference is only in punishment. Read our review " What tourists should not do in the UAE ."
The vast majority of the sights of Abu Dhabi are concentrated in three areas: the city center, the island of Yas and the island of Saadiyat.
Downtown Abu Dhabi
The great Sheikh Zayd Mosque is the most significant sight of the city center. This is the main mosque in the UAE, it was built more than 10 years (from 1996 to 2007). Sheikh Zayd Al-Nahyan is buried near the mosque.
Details in the article "The Great Mosque of Sheikh Zayd ."
The Heritage Village is the largest in the UAE reconstruction of the life of local residents in ancient times. 16 800 sq.m, five zones showing life in different climatic zones of the country, the market and craft workshops. The entrance is free.
Details in the article " Heritage Village in Abu Dhabi ".
The beach and the Corniche promenade are the main street of the city, where there are many entertainments, shops, restaurants. There are festive events and even military parades here. Cornish Beach is the largest and most developed public beach in Abu Dhabi.
Details in the article "The beach and the Corniche embankment ".
The towers of Etihad and the observation deck 300 are one of the "business cards" of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Tower 2 at an altitude of 300 meters has an observation deck on the city.
White Fort (Qasr Al-Khosn Palace) - the former residence of the emirs, is now a museum, the oldest building in the city. From 1761 to 1966 the main administrative center of the emirate. It is here that the only source of fresh water in the region is located.
This is a large-scale tourist project, which cost the emirate more than 40 billion US dollars. Once the deserted island of Yas in the east of the city center was built up by hotels and entertainment facilities. Read our great article " Yas Island ".
Park Ferrari World - the largest indoor entertainment park in the world. Here tourists are waited by the fastest in the world the American roller coaster, set of other attractions, slot machines and a museum of cars Ferrari.
Details in the articles " Ferrari World Park " and " Ferrari Museum in Abu Dhabi ".
Water Park Yas WaterWorld . This water park can not boast of records, except for financial construction costs, which amounted to almost a billion dollars. But he can offer entertainment, which in other water parks is difficult to meet - water roller coaster, pearl fishing, large-scale water battles, several pools with waves.
Details in the article " Water Park Yas WaterWorld ".
Shopping Center Yas Mall . The second in the UAE in terms of retail space, second only to Dubai Moll . More than 400 stores - from expensive fashion boutiques to electronics hypermarkets, almost a hundred restaurants, several amusement parks inside.
Details in the article " Shopping Center Yas Mall ".
The Yas Marina Circuit . It is here that the Formula 1 races are held - Grand-Prix Abu Dhabi.
Most of Saadiyat's tourist sites are not yet finished. At the time of publication of this article, the Manarat Al-Saadiyyat Arts Center has already been built, where art galleries and other exhibitions are located. It is expected to open branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim Museum.
What else to see in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
The city of Al Ain is 160 kilometers deep into the mainland. Al Ain is built on seven oases, now it is a blossoming place among the dunes of the Arabian desert. Citizens of the UAE like to come here for the weekend, and tourists for one-day excursions.
Details in the article " The City of Al Ain ."
The island Sir-Bani-Yas is located 260 kilometers to the west of the capital. It is a unique man-made reserve, which Sheikh Zayd planned to use in a large-scale greening project of the country.
Details in the article " The Island of Sir-Bani-Yas ".
Have a nice rest in Abu Dhabi, and read our interesting articles about the UAE ( links below ).
Read about the UAE on our website
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