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Basic information

  • Area: 972.45 km2 (375.47 sq mi)
  • Calling Code: +971
  • Currency: UAE dirham (AED)
  • Population (EST): 921,002
  • Official language: Arabic, English
  • Time Zone: UTC+4

10 Reasons to Visit Abu Dhabi

1.Stunning Beauty

Perhaps the best reason to visit Abu Dhabi is that it’s simply gorgeous. Most visitors are surprised when they first arrive at the city by how extremely beautiful it is. The soaring skyline is comprised of shiny towers reflecting the shimmering sea. Sitting majestically on the ocean, Abu Dhabi is, in fact, an island. The waters that surround the city are crystal clear, and vivid aquamarine in colour. The beaches are made of the finest white sand lined with exquisite date palm trees. The Corniche is the very best seaside promenade, and runs the whole length of the city.

2. The Corniche

The Corniche is considered to be one of the best parts of Abu Dhabi. In the cooler months, this is one of the most popular points in the city, and is even quite popular during the sweltering months. It is here that you can find locals and travelers alike jogging, picnicking, strolling, taking photos, and relaxing with the family. It’s fun to visit the Corniche for an amazing view of the Abu Dhabi skyline, while enjoying the beautiful lapping waves. There are plenty of places along the promenade to get a cool drink or delicious snack, and it’s pleasant to visit The Corniche either day or night.

3. Laid-back Environment

What many people don’t realize about Abu Dhabi is that it’s incredibly laid back. The easygoing lifestyle comes from the sun-drenched environment that has a low-key attitude. You’ll find a number of expats in Abu Dhabi, as well as many tourists, so there’s a very diverse group of people that inhabit the city. It’s not uncommon for people to go to Dubai first and become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle, and then come to Abu Dhabi for some peace and quiet. In fact, compared to Dubai, Abu Dhabi has a small town feel. There are far less tourist attractions here, but there are endless opportunities to soak up some rays, swim in the ocean, picnic and BBQ by the shore, and drive out to the desert.

4. Amazing Design

Abu Dhabi is an incredibly well planned city with extra wide streets and traffic that flows nicely. It’s easy to get around the city, and a private tour makes it even easier to breeze around the city in no time. The city itself was built with growth in mind, and features a grid-like design that was based off of Manhattan, making it incredibly easy to navigate and always know where you are. The elegant design of Abu Dhabi is just another element that helps visitors relax and enjoy themselves.

5. Local Traditions!!There are some amazing traditions that are at the heart of life in Abu Dhabi, and these traditions are still alive today. The locals of the city are deeply devoted to a traditional way of life, and it’s something that visitors love to see and experience. The local customs come from their rich Bedouin heritage and Islamic religion. The great tradition of Arab hospitality is alive and thriving here, and you’ll see other cultural elements such as traditional dress. Men wear their crisp white dishdashas, while women wear their traditional black abayas. It’s possible during religious holidays to travel out to the suburban neighborhoods and see the Emiratis sing traditional songs and perform dances.

6. Saadiyat Cultural District

Saadiyat Island is being lauded as the top destination for art and culture in the Middle East. There are all kinds of museums and galleries to be found here, including what is considered to be the world’s second Louvre, and the third Guggenheim designed by Frank Gehry. These are built to be just as impressive as their predecessors, and are surely not to be missed when visiting Abu Dhabi. You can also visit the partially submerged Maritime Museum and the Zayed National Museum. The Manarat Al Saadiyat means “The Place of Enlightenment”, and features an art and exhibition centre with temporary shows in each of its three galleries.

7. Art

With Norman Foster’s UAE Pavilion on Saadiyat Island you’ll be able to see some of the best of Middle Eastern contemporary art. Looking like a space age sand dune, the structure is inspired by the UAE desert landscape, also known as the Rub al Khali. There are triangular steel panels in various shades that represent the colours of the desert while reflecting the sun. There are just about 50 exhibiting galleries within featuring some of the world’s best artists, as well as native talent like UAE-born Hassan Sharif.

8. The Cultural Foundation

The Cultural Foundation is considered to be Abu Dhabi’s centre for artistic, intellectual, and cultural heritage for the past three decades. The building is quite imposing in the centre of the city, and is surrounded by peaceful, shady parkland. The Foundation is home to the national library, exhibition space, art workshops, as well as an enormous auditorium that has a number of nightly programmes of theatre, classical music, traditional dance and song, ballet, and poetry performances.

9. Heritage Village

Resting on a white sandy beach overlooking the perfect azure sea, the fantastic Heritage Village gives visitors a glimpse into life before the discovery of oil in Abu Dhabi. See replicas of a barasti, or palm frond house, small souq, and traditional mosque. It’s possible to ride a camel here in the Bedouin encampment, while watching craftsmen beating brass trays, blowing glass, and weaving their traditional looms. Be sure to visit the fascinating museum where you can find black and white photos and exhibits of Bedouin costumes, jewellery, baskets, cooking utensils, and bronze coffee pots.

10. Qasr al-Hosn

While visiting the lush grounds of the Cultural Foundation, be sure to visit the palm-filled courtyard gardens of Qasr al-Hosn. This is a beautiful place to take a stroll both day and night, and the beautifully decorated entrance features pretty Portuguese tiles that make for a great photo opportunity. This is the former palace-residence of the ruling Al Nahayan family who governed Abu Dhabi from the 18th century until 1966. This is the oldest city building, and within the fort there is a maze of rooms decorated with painted reliefs of flowers, peacocks, and Islamic calligraphy. Here you’ll find the national archives as well.

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