Abu Dhabi City Guide
About Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the wealthy Middle-Eastern country, the United Arab Emirates. The city is located on a reclaimed t-shaped island that protrudes on to the Persian Gulf and is the political, industrial and cultural epicenter of the UAE.
The origins of Abu Dhabi can be traced to a fishing village. Once oil was discovered here in the 1950’s and the financial trading boom began, there was no looking back for Abu Dhabi. Today Abu Dhabi has metamorphosed in to a swanky, modern city that hosts the head quarters of the richest oil companies and has a cityscape that features tree line boulevards and sky touching skyscrapers.
Abu Dhabi is often perceived to be less high profile than its glamorous sibling, Dubai received much publicity recently as it was featured as a prominent location in the latest Sex and the City Movie. Savvy travelers however have always considered it as a favored vacation destination as it offers fantastic duty free shopping opportunities. It is estimated that the emirate, which follows a low duty regime has some of the lowest prices in the world for luxury goods. Shopping enthusiasts in fact tend to book vacations to Abu Dhabi during the month of March when the emirate hosts its annual Shopping Festival for there are numerous shopping bargains to be had.
Where to stay in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is an island city that juts out into the Persian Gulf for it was built on land reclaimed from the sea. The city is equipped with a seafront Corniche that runs parallel to the coast and an airport road that traverses the length of the island.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi can be found all over the city but the main concentration of hotels are in the many tourist areas of the city like Al Ras Al Akhdar on the northwest tip of the island, Breakwater located near the west Corniche, Al Meena and the Tourist’s club area on the island’s north eastern tip and the areas of Al Matar, Al Maqtaa and Al Safarat. Other areas popular with visitors are central Abu Dhabi and Corniche West and East. In fact, Abu Dhabi is not very big so no matter where you choose to stay, the city’s many attractions are always well within easy reach.
Places to see in Abu Dhabi
Ferrari World opened its doors to the public in November 2010. The park which is located on Abu Dhabi’s Yas island is the largest indoor amusement park in the world which extends over 200, 00 sq meters. Ferrari World offers various thrilling attractions like the Formula Rossa rollercoaster that stimulates the action behind the wheel of a Formula One racing car, a grand Ferrari gallery, a 4 D film and various other attractions. If you are a Formula One racing enthusiast on a vacation in Abu Dhabi, then Ferrari World is an obvious must-do on your list.
Al Hosn Palace
Al Hosn Palace is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. This edifice is commonly referred to as the White Fort and was constructed in 1793 as the official residence of the ruling family. It was renovated and restored in 1983. Today the White Fort is a prominent cultural attraction in Abu Dhabi as it has been converted into a museum and offers displays of various artifacts and old world photographs.
The Heritage Village, which is located near the Abu Dhabi cornice, is a living museum that illustrates everyday life in a typical Bedouin village . The Heritage village features typical Bedouin tents, courtyard houses that house artisans that ply their ancient crafts for the benefit of visitors.
Abu Dhabi’s history and subsequent affluence is closely linked to the discovery of oil a.k.a black gold. This permanent exhibition traces this history of development of Abu Dhabi through photographs and interactive displays.
Sand Dune Tour
A recommended sightseeing tour for Abu Dhabi is the sand dune tour. These tours are usually conducted aboard a 4X4 and involve trips to a camel racetrack, a camel farm and a Bedouin village. Many tour companies in Abu Dhabi offer these sand dune tours and is well worth reserving one on your Abu Dhabi vacation.
Best time to visit Abu Dhabi
Like many other countries in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi experiences a climate that is characterized by year round sunny weather. The city does in fact experience a ‘summer’ season during the months of July and August when temperatures are known to touch 117F(47C) and are unbearable. Luckily Abu Dhabi is an ‘air conditioned’ nation and stores, restaurants and malls are comfortably cool even in this intense heat.
It is believed that the best time to travel to Abu Dhabi is between the months of October and May when the temperatures are slightly better at 88F(31C).
Getting around in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is served by its state of the art Abu Dhabi international airport located 20 miles (32km) east of Abu Dhabi. This airport welcomes carriers from various countries and this makes getting to Abu Dhabi extremely easy. Fare Buzz regularly announces attractive flight deals for Abu Dhabi so if you have a trip to Abu Dhabi on your agenda, you should connect with Fare Buzz on various social media like Facebook and Twitter to receive advance information of these cheap air flights. Abu Dhabi’s airport is connected to the city center by taxis, limousine taxis, public buses and shuttle buses and vans.
Abu Dhabi’s public transport system largely consists of metered taxis, which are plentiful and easy to hail. Moreover they are reasonably priced and much preferred to than the public buses that make limited stops and don’t have extensive coverage. Most hotels also offer their guests free shuttle services to the main areas of the city.
Most visitors choose not to rent a car for the duration of their stay in Abu Dhabi for driving in Abu Dhabi can be quite a hair-raising experience if you are not used to the rules of the road. However if feel you can manage and want to rent a car for Abu Dhabi vacation, you would be better off arranging your car rental before you leave the US.
Fare Buzz can be of assistance at this instance for it offers a wide range of affordable car rentals for Abu Dhabi, which can be reserved at the same time that you make your other travel bookings with Fare Buzz.
If you rather not self drive on your Abu Dhabi vacation, you also have the option of renting a limousine with a local driver. This kind of car rental can be arranged by Fare Buzz if you wish as well.
Where to shop in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi offers a plethora of shopping options. High-end, low-end, mall shopping, souk shopping, supermarket shopping, this oil rich emirate abounds with shopping options.
Gold, textiles, carpets are some of the coveted items on shoppers’ lists when they visit Abu Dhabi. Prices of these items and other luxury goods are also thought to be more reasonable in Abu Dhabi than elsewhere and you can also bag even greater rebates, if you can haggle effectively.
Most shops in Abu Dhabi are open for business from 10 am until 10pm, though some shops tend to stay open even later during weekends. A few stores do down their shutters for the lunch hour between 1pm and 4pm, and still others, don’t open until 2pm after Friday prayers. Shopping hours are generally also altered during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, during this period, many shops shut during the afternoon hours and re-open only around 7pm and then stay open until midnight.
Like various other destinations in the Arab world, Abu Dhabi offers many shopping choices at traditional markets or souks. These traditional markets are where the local residents of Abu Dhabi shop for their daily needs. Souks like the Fish Souk, the Al Mina Fruit and Vegetable Souk, the Carpet Souk and the rather ramshackle Al Ain Souk (central or old souk) are well worth a visit for tourists as they provide an insight into the local Emirati way of life.
In recent times, several modern souks have been set up adjacent to some of Abu Dhabi’s modern attraction filled malls, like the Souk Al Bawadi and the Souk Al Qaws, which are attached to the Bawadi Mall and the Souk Al Zafarana, which is attached to the Al Jimi Mall. These modern souks offer the comprehensive Emirati souk shopping experience for tourists, as they serve up a wide array of souvenirs, spices, traditional garments, Arabic coffee pots and more. Also worth a visit is the Souk Qaryat at Al Beri, a modern souk which is part of the Shangri-La Hotel complex and is as opulent as they come.
Abu Dhabi is renowned as a heaven of luxury retail and the emirate’s shopping landscape is accordingly littered with expansive, luxe malls offering a whole host of international luxury fashion, watch and jewelry brands along with fine dining restaurants and outlets for entertainment. Some of Abu Dhabi’s most well-known malls include the Abu Dhabi mall, the Marina Mall, the Al Ain Mall and the Al Jini Mall.
Aside from these sumptuous, luxury-filled malls, Abu Dhabi also hosts some low priced shopping centers and bargain outlets like the Hamdan Centre and the Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society Complex, where many a bargain can be had.
Where to eat in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s dining scene is largely concentrated in and around its many luxury hotels and malls. Recent surveys indicate that the list of ‘best restaurants’ in Abu Dhabi includes eateries like Bord Eau (contemporary French restaurant in the Shangri-La hotel), Hakkasan (Chinese in the Emirate Palace hotel), Ushna (Indian standalone restaurant), Portobello (best for Italian at the Al Wahada complex), Rose Water (International cuisine at Etihad Towers), 55 and 5th (a steakhouse at the St Regis hotel) and Toki (Japanese restaurant at the Hilton hotel).
Nightlife in Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi’s nightlife scene is also largely concentrated within its many five star hotel properties. As an Arab state, Abu Dhabi has strict laws for alcohol consumption and non-Muslim residents are expected to have a permit to consume and purchase alcohol, though visa holders have no such restrictions. However, there is a zero tolerance towards drunk driving and other offenses.
Popular nightlife haunts in Abu Dhabi currently include hotspots like Etoile, Eight, Allure by Cipriani, Cinnabar, 49ers, the Yacht Club, and the Sax Club.