Visit Abu Dhabi

Emirate of Abu Dhabi

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi ( أبو ظبي, in arabic : ʼAbū Ẓaby in european transliteration) is the largest of the 7 Emirates of the country : it's surface area makes up 80% of the country's surface area. Abu Dhabi also has the largest population of the 7 Emirates.

With regards to natural resources, Abu Dhabi is the only Emirate to still own abundant quantities of petrol and gas. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi alone holds 10% of worldwide petrol resources known to man, and 5% of worldwide gaz resources known to man. For more details, read Economy of the United Arab Emirates.

Its Emir, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, is also president of the federation of the United Arab Emirates.

Previously in the shadow of Dubai with regards to media coverage, the recent economic crisis, which struck Dubai harder than Abu Dhabi, pushed Abu Dhabi under the spotlight of the media.
Add to that the new Formula 1 Grand Prix venue, which has been included on the F1 calendar since 2009, and a few other attractive creations, and there you have Abu Dhabi in the European media. Investment in sporting sponsorship such as that of Etihad Airways at Manchester City Football Club has also aided in raising international awareness of the Capital of the UAE.

The city of Abu Dhabi is of course the largest in the emirate, but among the sites that are worth a mention, you will find in the same emirate the oases of Liwa and Al Ain.

Must See's and Must Do's in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi city

The city of Abu Dhabi has long shown little interest in tourism. But things are now changing. And in the United Arab Emirates, when things change, they change very fast. Abu Dhabi is expanding at an impressive rate, and the number of touristic sights & attractions is increasing. Amongst the main attractions:
  • The Emirates Palace, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world,
  • Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the seventh largest in the world (photo)
  • Saadiyat Island, the island of Culture (under construction)
  • Yas Island and the Formula 1 Grand Prix,
  • The Ferrari World theme park,
  • Al-Forsan city, an entertainment and sports complex located in Khalifa City.

Elsewhere in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Layout of the city of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi City

The city of Abu Dhabi has a similar layout to that of an american city, with a relatively logical grid pattern.

Streets parallel to the Corniche, which is the seafront road northwest of the island, are labelled with odd numbers, Corniche Street being 1st Street.

Perpendicular to the Corniche, the streets are labelled with even numbers. Second street, down the middle of the island is also known as Airport Road. North East of Airport Road are the 4, 6, 8 and 10.
On the other side (Southwest), the streets go from 24th to 32nd Street.

This numbering system is quite convenient to locate any address in the city, especially since specific addresses do not exist in Abu Dhabi (you will often have to explain your way to the taxi drivers), and the streets all have multiple names as well as having a number as explained above. Instead, P.O Boxes are used for mailing addresses.

Traffic and Parking in Abu Dhabi

Driving in the UAE is quite an experience and requires patience and self discipline. Abu Dhabi is no exception.

Most people drive poorly in Abu Dhabi. Taxis are certainly the worst. Inadvertent & last minute lane changes, failure to use the indicator, braking and unpredictable behaviour are an everyday occurrence.
However, since traffic is often congested, driving speeds are self-restricted (the speed limit is 60 km / h normally and therefore cameras flash above 80 km / h), accidents are rarely serious.

What is more dangerous, however, is the number of Indians and Pakistanis who often cross the roads at night, in no apparent hurry. With lights from opposite traffic making for poor visibility, they are very hard to see.

However, do not worry too much : the manner of driving in the UAE is mostly acceptable compared to countries like India, Lebanon and Egypt.

For more information about traffic in the UAE and travel means, read Transport and Traffic in the UAE.

Parking, previously free of charge in Abu Dhabi, is now gradually becoming an added expense depending on where one parks.
Already effective on the Corniche and the bordering side streets, Mawaqif, the local parking regulatory authority, is colour-coding all parking areas and assigning relevant billing rates.
A colour code has been implemented:
- Yellow and gray: prohibited parking, Mawaqif agents distribute fines (from 200 to 500 AED), and they are quite efficient at that.
- Blue and black: paying parking, the normal rate (2 AED per hour in 2010)
- Blue and white : paying parking, at what they call a VIP rate (3 AED per hour)
- White and gray, or gray only: Free parking (endangered species)

Parking is usually free at night (from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.) and Friday all day. But beware, these schedules are subject to change, especially during the month of Ramadan. Always refer to local information, on parking meters or on information boards. Play it safe as very few arguments stand with Mawaqif!

For more information about traffic in the UAE and the means of travel, read Transport and Traffic in the UAE.

Accomodation in Abu Dhabi

Read our detailed article on "Accommodation in Abu Dhabi" under Accommodation in the UAE.