As one of the world's most modern capital cities, Abu Dhabi has become a welcoming paradise for tourists and residents alike. Boasting a beautiful Corniche, innumerable first class facilities and beautiful mosques, the city's exciting blend of rich culture and modern lifestyle has become a major attraction for visitors from every corner of the world. While the official language is Arabic, English is widely spoken and used in business and day- to-day activities. Pleasant weather and cool evenings are enjoyed from the end of October through May, while the summer is a perfect chance to enjoy the city's exotic beaches.
Currency - the local currency is UAE Dirhams (AED), divided into 100 fils. One US$ = 3.67 AED
Clothing - Lightweight clothing. Business dress is formal. Beach wear is acceptable at hotel pools
Electricity - The domestic supply is 220V, 50 cycles, AC
17 Reasons to Visit Abu Dhabi
1) Eternal Sunshine
The UAE has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular. Falling mainly in winter, it amounts to a mere 13 centimeters a year. Temperatures range from a low of about 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 48 degrees Celsius. The mean daily maximum is 24 degrees in January rising to 41 degrees in July. In short, every day is a beautiful day!
2) An Arabian Business Haven
Considered one of the most modern cities in the world, Abu Dhabi is the federal capital of the United Arab Emirates and the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the country. Under the guidance of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is on its way to becoming one of the richest cities in the world — its oil wealth has made at an international hub for the trade, commerce and industry markets.
Abu Dhabi is the financial, oil and banking capital of the Middle East bordering Saudi Arabia to the west and south, Qatar to the north-west and Oman to the east. The city offers state-of-the-art conference facilities situated within an hours flight from just about anywhere in the Gulf, making it the perfect regional business centre.
3) Crystalline Waters
If you are seeking sun, sea and sandy beaches, Abu Dhabi offers miles of clean beaches and shimmering blue seas. You can also visit one of the 200 deserted islands just off of Abu Dhabi’s shoreline where you can spend the day picnicking and exploring.
4) Upscale Dining and Entertainment
Abu Dhabi’s cosmopolitan flavour is matched by the city's many upscale restaurants and entertainment spots, which provide a truly international array of choices for the visitor.
The city offers a remarkably diverse range of food and beverage outlets. Restaurants cover everything from coffee shops to fine dining and specialty outlets. The nightlife scene is equally varied, with many bars, pubs, discos and nightclubs.
Standards of international cuisine in Abu Dhabi are high. Top class European restaurants range from French to Italian, Swiss to Mediterranean, Spanish to Greek and British to German. Asia is equally well represented with many fine Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Korean restaurants. There are also several American and Mexican restaurants in the city.
5) Wadi-Bashing and Desert Safaris
If you are looking for a unique adventure, Abu Dhabi offers the thrill of dune-driving or wadi bashing. Driving on sand is not as easy at it looks, and expert instruction is essential before the novice sets out in a hired four wheel drive. A list of do’s and don’ts lessen the very real risk of becoming marooned or lost in the desert. Wadi-Bashing is the ultimate get-away-from-it-all experience, heading off the beaten track along dry creek beds (wadis) or any uncharted terrain in an off-road vehicle. The going is rough, and the motion bone-shaking, but the rewards are unforgettable. Meeting a family of Bedouin, discovering a mountain pool or waterfall, sighting a gazelle – these are the definitive experiences of the intrepid traveller in the Middle East.
Organized desert safaris are a risk free alternative and come with expert guides to point out features of interest. Tours which include an evening barbecue and camping out under the clear desert sky will remain in the memory long after leaving Abu Dhabi.
6) Boat Racing
Abu Dhabi has entered the international sporting arena by staging the UIM Formula Two Thousand Boat GP Race - the first in the Middle East.
Competitors from around the world come to Abu Dhabi for this spectacular event which takes place in May. The UIM Formula Two Thousand Boat GP Race is a major event complete with A-list international entertainment and a magnificent fireworks display.
Just as thrilling are the traditional row-boat races. The great sailing Dhows which plied the Gulf trading routes, fishing and pearling grounds live on in Abu Dhabi as a recreational craft. These beautiful Arabian seafarers are raced several times a year on Abu Dhabi’s shimmering waters. In full sail they make a magnificent spectacle attracting eager crowds. Each boat holds up to 200 oarsmen rowing to the rhythm of ancient seafaring chants.
7) Horse Racing
Abu Dhabi is the home of the Arabian horse, where horse racing has become increasingly popular. Both the Arab horse, bred for its stamina and power and its speedier descendant, the thoroughbred, are bred and raced during the winter months.
8) Sand Skiing
Who needs to deal with frostbite when you can ski down the down the slopes under the desert sun? Anything is possible in Abu Dhabi. It was recently discovered that the towering sand dunes around Liwa make excellent ski slopes – and all you need are a T-shirt, jeans, and a standard snow board. It is becoming so popular that sand skiing championships are being organized.
9) Scuba Diving & Deep Sea Fishing
The clear, tranquil Gulf waters are teeming with exotic marine life and big game fish such as sail fish and barracuda. Charter a boat and go after the big marlin, or hire scuba gear and delight in this exotic underwater world. The Gulf is peppered with old wrecks to add mystery to the adventure. Organized fishing excursions may even include a romantic evening barbecue on a deserted beach where the days catch is on the menu.
10) Racing the Camels
There is a wildly eccentric flavour to a desert camel race which makes it a most entertaining and exotic sport to watch. But camel races are not staged for the tourist; they are both a passion and a serious business in Abu Dhabi and throughout the UAE, conducted nearly every weekend during the winter months.
There are few sights as mystifying as a dozen camels lurching crazily at high speed across the sands toward the finish line. A highlight of the racing season in Abu Dhabi is a two-day event in April to which owners and enthusiasts flock from all over the Arabian Peninsula.
11) Following the Falcon
Another favourite sport of the U.A.E., falconry is the training of wild falcons which are then launched at wild prey. Once a means of obtaining fresh meat without having to slaughter valuable livestock, falconry is now part of the local heritage and Abu Dhabi offers various facilities of interest to falcon enthusiasts including the Emirates Falconers Club which protects falcons while preserving the popularity of falconry and the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital. Abu Dhabi even hosts a falcon beauty contest at the annual Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Show.
12) Miraculous Gardens
Abu Dhabi, once a sprawling desert land has been miraculously transformed into green parkland. There are over 20 lush parks in the city and its grass-rimmed boulevards and promenades are truly picturesque, backed by commercial buildings with gorgeous sea views. Today, over 120 million trees have been planted in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
13) Shopping Galore
Abu Dhabi is known worldwide for its shopping variety and bargains. The highlight is the Abu Dhabi gold market where artistic jewellery is sold. Abu Dhabi also has upscale malls featuring every luxury designer brand under the sun.
14) Abu Dhabi is safe for travelers
It is one of the world's safest travel destinations because street and hotel room crimes are practically non-existent.
15) A Golfer's Paradise
Abu Dhabi is home to 3 distinctive golf courses each with immaculate greens, clubhouses and lush fairways, making it the perfect destination for golf novices, enthusiasts and pros.
The Al Ghazal Golf Club is an 18-hole, 6,487 yard, par 71 sand golf course that recently hosted the first international golf tournament to be played on sand attracting major golf pros and spectators alike. Al Ghazal Golf Club offers PGA qualified instructors, the most advanced and innovative golf teaching technology in the world, and the first Royle Golf Visual Communication System outside of Europe, allowing swings to be assessed on monitors.
The Abu Dhabi Golf club consists of two International 18 hole courses; one challenging Championship course & one 18 hole Garden course. The back nine of the Garden course is floodlit to facilitate golf in the evening. The club features 3 floors of restaurants, executive meetings rooms, a swimming pool, tennis courts, squash and a health club.
The Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club offers a 9-hole, 6,350 yard, par 70 floodlit course set in the middle of a racetrack. The club includes a specially designed short game area, horseback riding, tennis swimming and a pro shop.
16) Al Ain
Al Ain, also known as the Garden City, is part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, yet offers a drastic change in scenery. The name of the city (‘the source’) indicates that it is blessed with substantial ground water resources, which feed into numerous artesian wells. Al Ain is a fertile region, rich in greenery with plenty of farms, public parks, and important archaeological sites.
Places of particular interest are Al Ain Zoo, Al Ain Museum, public parks at Hili and in the centre of town, Hili Fun City, Ayn al-Faydah Resort, and Jebel Hafit. Al Ain is a 90 minute drive from Abu Dhabi.
17) Neighbouring Emirates
Day trips to the rest of the emirates can give visitors a glimpse of the diverse aspects of the United Arab Emirates, from the shopping malls of Dubai to the rocky mountains and diving on the coast of Fujeirah to the cultural sites and museums of Sharjah which is recognized as “the Cultural Capital of the Arab World” by UNESCO.
Visitors may come for the sun or for business, but they find so much more in Abu Dhabi. It is an intriguing blend of ancient and modern, an appealingly urbane country overflowing with exotic Arabian mystique.