Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi is the modern capital of the United Arab Emirates. It was founded in 1761 and when the ruling Al-Nahyan family moved to the town from Liwa in 1793 it became the capital of the area. In the 19th century it became a pearling center, but after pearls started being cultivated by the Japanese in the 1930's, the industry collapsed. Fortunately oil was found in 1958 and when the crude started flowing to the west in larger quantities in the 1960's Abu Dhabi started booming. In fact, all the city's buildings, except the White Fort, where built after the 1960's. Nowadays the city occupies almost the entire island on which it is settled.

The Al-Husn Palace (White Fort or Old Fort) was originally built by the first ruler of the Al-Nahyan dynasty, but at the end of the 19th century it was replaced by the present building. It is now used as a document center. The building is completely surrounded by skyscrapers, but its white walls and beautiful tile work are striking.

The Cultural Foundation is immediately next to the fort. There is a library and historic documents are kept there for research. In the main hall downstairs there are frequently changing exhibitions on local history, Islamic art and photographs from the emirate.

About 5 km (3 miles) south of the city is the Women's Craft Center, where you can buy traditional weavings and other handicrafts.

In the northeastern part of the city you will find a small dhow wharf and fish market. They are nothing compared to those in Dubai, but they are still worth a visit. There is another fish market on the northwestern seafront.

The old souk is housed in a neglected set of buildings and plans exist to replace it by a modern market. There is not much else to see in the city other than sleek, glass and steel skyscrapers in all sorts and models. Expatriates (mostly from India) have small shops all over the city where all sorts of goods are sold.

You will find hundreds of fountains all over Abu Dhabi, each one of them completely different from the rest. Most are lit at night. The city is one of the safest in the world (if you don't count traffic accidents) and you can walk anywhere day or night without any problems. Littering is punished with huge fines. Although Abu Dhabi lies in a desert area, millions of gallons of fresh water (made out of sea water by desalination plants), are used every day to water the gardens, trees and flowers, that are neatly spread over the city.

Accommodation is widely available, but it is all very expensive. Most restaurants offer cheap meals, but the few ones serving alcohol are very expensive. A rotating restaurant that offers good views over the city is situated at the 25th floor of the 'Grand' building. Transportation is very cheap though, taxis have meters and Abu Dhabi is connected to the rest of the country by a network of buses and privately ran minibuses all leaving from the bus station in the southeast of the city. Abu Dhabi International Airport is south of the city. Cars are rented in many places in Abu Dhabi and the roads are excellent, though speed limits are widely ignored.

Alcohol is only served in some hotels and the more expensive restaurants.

The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is just after Ramadan when the city is lit with millions of lights.


Average Weather Patterns

January-24.28°C (-11.7°F)54.25 cm (21.36 in)
April2°C (35.6°F)500000 cm (196850.4 in)
July118°C (244.4°F)4 cm (1.57 in)
Octobern/a02 cm (0.79 in)

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