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Travel Guide Middle East United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi

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Introduction

camino de abu dhabi

camino de abu dhabi

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Abu Dhabi (أبو ظبي) is the capital of the United Arab Emirates but not the largest city, which is Dubai. Still the city has about 1 million inhabitants of which 80% are expats! Compared to the latter, it also moves at a relatively slower pace. The government seat is here and thus it is the political heart of the country. People have been living here since several thousands of years ago. Nowadays it is a lively city in the central northern part of the country, along the coast of the Persian Gulf. Many people visiting the United Arab Emirates overlook this city and favour to spend time in Dubai or other places which cater to package tourists.

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Sights and Activities

  • Corniche - The coastal road has been developed as a beautiful walkway and the Corniche of the 1990s has expanded to a grandiose level today but still remains one of the favourite spots for residents to unwind.
  • Emirates Palace Hotel is a grandiose establishment that is a must-see for visitors, if only for its vanity.
  • Futaisi Island - This island is owned by the ruling family of Abu Dhabi and visitors are allowed only by invitation. It is a lovely private island with accommodation facilities for visitors, great food, safari rides amongst the dunes and the orchards as well as with access to a pool merging with the sea. A great experience if one is lucky enough to be invited.
  • Al Ain camel market is a great local place for catching a glimpse of the vanishing Bedouin culture.
  • Abu Dhabi Ice rink is located at the Zayed Sports City and is one of the most popular hangout places for schoolgoers. A very interesting experience indeed to skate on ice in the middle of the desert.
  • Hili Fun city - a kid's and the kid in the adult's wonderland with exciting rides and games.
  • Iranian souk - While Dubai is the mall paradise of the United Arab Emirates and for those looking to spend big, Abu Dhabi's Iranian souk is the paradise for bargain hunter and the one interested in traditional souks.
  • Ferrari World is a newly opened theme park on Yas Island. It is the world's largest indoor theme park and claims the world's fastest roller-coaster ride. Naturally enough the cars on this roller-coaster are Ferraris. General admission tickets are AED 225, which is equivalent to US$61.

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Events and Festivals

Red Bull Air Race in February and the Abu Dhabi/Etihad Formula One race in November.

Abu Dhabi International Jazz Festival

Huge crowds flock to the most-populated city in the UAE for Abu Dhabi’s International Jazz Festival. This beloved May event lures thousands of music lovers, where amazing performances are given by some of the world’s leading jazz artists. The festival began as a two-day event, but now spans more than a week.

Eid

At the end of Ramadan, the cities of the UAE celebrate with parties and feasts. Both visitors and locals can share in the spoils as Dubai and Abu Dhabi throw social events for several days to mark the end of the Islamic fasting period in September.

National Day Festival

Commemorating the formation of the UAE and the independence of the region from Britain, National Day is celebrated across the country in December with performances and events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Accommodations are hard to come by at this time, so book well in advance.

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Weather

Weather in Abu Dhabi generally is warm to hot and dry. The hottest months are between June and September when temperatures can rise up to 45 °C or even more. Humidity can be high as well, although this mainly applies to the coastal areas. Still, the best times to visit are from October to April with warm and dry conditions, although some rainshowers are possible during the wintermonths.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max23.8 °C24.6 °C28.6 °C33.4 °C38.4 °C39.6 °C42 °C41.5 °C40.1 °C35.8 °C30.6 °C25.7 °C
Avg Min11.8 °C13.2 °C15.8 °C19.1 °C22.8 °C24.8 °C27.6 °C28.7 °C25.6 °C21.8 °C17.5 °C14.1 °C
Rain Days0.83.53.91.40000.1000.22.1

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Getting There

By Plane

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the gateway to the city and also the main base of the flag carrier, Etihad Airways. Etihad Airways has flights to many major cities in Europe, Asia and even further away to Sydney and New York. Low-cost carrier AirAsia X connects Abu Dhabi with Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from November 2009.
Etihad Airways provides bus coaches between Dubai and Abu Dhabi International Airport for Etihad customers. Taxis are available for transport into Abu Dhabi centre.
The current Abu Dhabi airport was built in the 70's and although unique in a quaint sort of way, it's showing it's age.
The new terminal 3 has opened in 2009 and should provide a better experience. A midfield terminal is under construction and is slated to open around 2012 and will be a world class international facility with a 22 million passenger per year capacity.

By Car

The five-laned E11 highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is the country's heaviest-traveled route, and the 130-km journey can be covered in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. While there is a national speed limit of 120km/h, it is allowed to speed up to 140km/h, yet this is often wildly exceeded by some drivers. Stay out of the leftmost lane and drive carefully, especially at night.

If you rent a car in Abu Dhabi, chances are that the car will warn you if go above 120 km/h. Depending on the vehicle, it might just be a flashing light or an accompanying, continuous, shrill beep. If you get annoyed by this, you might not want to exceed 120 km/h.

To travel directly into Abu Dhabi from Dubai on E11, keep to your left at Al Shahama and follow the E10 highway, which passes Yas Island (exit at the E12 highway) and Al Raha Beach on the way to the Sheikh Zayed Bridge into Abu Dhabi. This bridge connects directly to Salam Street (8th Street), a newly widened megahighway along the northern shore of Abu Dhabi Island. As an alternative to the Zayed Bridge, there are ramps off E10 that connect to the Maqta Bridge, which leads to both 2nd Street (Airport Road) and 4th Street (East Road or Muroor Road). During off-peak periods, these routes run fairly quickly into the city.

By Bus

You can get into Abu Dhabi from the other Emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, etc., by bus. The Emirates Express between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is operated jointly by the Abu Dhabi and Dubai municipalities. The 130km route takes around two hours. The buses operated by Dubai's RTA are luxury buses that charge Dhs. 25 for the onward journey to Abu Dhabi and Dhs. 25 for the return journey. The Abu Dhabi transport buses charge Dhs. 15 each way. The first bus departs from the Abu Dhabi main bus terminal on the corner of Hazza bin Zayed the First (11th) St and East (4th) Rd at 5:30am and the last leaves at 11:30pm; they leave at 30-minute intervals, or if the bus gets full sooner. From Dubai, the buses leave from 5:30am, and run until 11:30pm, from the Al Ghubaiba station in Bur Dubai (opposite Carrefour Shopping).

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Getting Around

By Car

Top notch intercity highways, but driving in the city is a nightmare. There are many cultures and driving styles and they all are aggressive. Picture Manhattan on steroids. Even if you get to your destination unscathed, parking is almost non-existent.

By Public Transport

The main Bus station in Abu Dhabi is on Hazaa Bin Zayed Road. You can get buses here going to the different points within the city as well as inter-city buses. The bus stand also serves as a taxi stand, for inter-emirate taxis. The inter-city buses and airport buses are easy to locate at the bus terminal, and well signposted. The route services depart from various stops in the vicinity, and not all enter the bus terminal proper. There is no directional signage or and no maps.

The fare system is simple: Dhs. 2 for a single ride, Dhs. 4 for a day pass, Dhs. 30 for a week pass, or Dhs. 40 for a one-month Ojra pass. Tickets can only be loaded on disposable or reusable smart cards. No cash is accepted by the drivers. The dark bluish green buses are air-conditioned but not wheelchair accessible. Passengers can board and alight at the designated stops along the route. These locations can be identified by the temporary Department of Transport bus stop poles. Beware: bus stops that do not have the DoT bus stop sign may not be served as not all bus stops along the route are used.

Ojra smart cards can be purchased from ticket machines which can be found at the main bus station and in the Abu Dhabi Mall area. Machines are unremarkable and hard to spot, thus ask locals.

By Foot

The city is compact and pedestrian-friendly, but in the summermonths the heat and humidity will have you hailing an airconditioned cab within minutes.

By Bike

There is a separated cycleway that runs almost the entire length of the Corniche, as well as around Yas Island, and other parts.

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Eat

Abu Dhabi is home to scrumptious Arabic food. One can find small cafes and Lebanese eateries all over the city, where you can try out delicious kebabs with freshly baked Arabic bread called khaboos. One can enjoy a tasty snack of shawarma (shredded chicken pieces with a melange of sauces in a khaboos roll) and a fresh juice for less than Dhs.10. For vegetarians there's an option of filafill sandwiches (deep fried chick pea cutlets). One can enjoy a variety of international fast foods at malls or at the various outlets all over the city.

Indian food is relatively cheap, and there are a few Chinese chain restaurants with reasonable prices. Hotel restaurants are usually the most expensive. The city is home to all manner of fast food like McDonald's and Hardees, but there is little call for most people to eat at those places.

The fun thing about Abu Dhabi is that most places, from tiny falafel shacks to cushy hotel restaurants to Burger King, delivers anywhere in the city. Delivery is quick and reliable, and usually doesn't cost extra. All food is certified halal.

Vegetarians will find the city's selection of meals very satisfying. Vegetable and bean-heavy native dishes, the array of splendid pure vegetarian Indian cuisine, and the ready availability of fresh salads make eating in Abu Dhabi a stress-free experience. Strict vegans may have a little difficulty communicating their precise demands, but most places offer vegan dishes and are always willing to accommodate a paying customer. The best choice for pure vegans is one of many Indian vegetarian restaurants like Evergreen, Sangeetha in the Tourist Club area.

Visitors should always check the Islamic calendar to determine whether they will be visiting during the month of Ramadan. Since Muslims fast during daylight hours, restaurants are, by law, closed during the day. It is also against the law to eat or drink anything, even water, in public. Tourists (and non-Muslim residents) have been arrested and given fines for violating this law. Large hotels generally have one restaurant open during the day to serve meals to non-Muslims. During the evening, however, it's quite a different story, as the festive atmosphere of iftar (breaking the fast) begins and residents gather for lavish, Thanksgiving-like meals. As long as you don't mind tiding yourself over in private, the evening meals are magnificent.

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Drink

Only restaurants located in hotels are allowed to serve alcohol. Therefore, all nightlife is associated with hotels. The drinking age is 21, but most places don't care. Unlike some other Middle Eastern nations, the bars in Abu Dhabi will be able to accommodate most drink orders.

Technically, you are supposed to purchase a permit to buy alcohol for private storage, although Spinney's and other liquor stores usually take proof that you aren't a local Muslim

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Sleep

Hotels in Abu Dhabi used to be half price compared to Dubai but no longer, with many hotels charging above Dhs. 500 per night. However, all are well-tended and host to first class restaurants, pools and other high-end hotel facilities.

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Al Diar Dana HotelP.O. Box 47300 Tourist Club Areahotel-
Al Diar Mina HotelP.O. Box 44421Hotel-
Al Diar Palm HotelP.O. Box 2406Hotel-
Al Manzel Hotel ApartmentsZayed the 1st StreetApartment-
Kingsgate HotelTourist Club AreaApartment-
Vision Hotel ApartmentsTourist Club Area Old Mazda RoadApartment-
Ramee Guestline Hotel Apartments 1Hamdan Street Behind Al Salama Hospital Tourist Club AreaApartment-
Howard Johnson Diplomat HotelShk. Khalifa StreetHotel-
Ramee Hotel Apartments Abu DhabiMurror Street Next to Abu Dhabi Bus TerminalApartment-
Ramee Royal Hotel ApartmentsMuroor Road Opposite Mamoura (Mubadala)Apartment-
Euro Hotel ApartmentsMuroor Road Abu DhabiApartment-
Ramee Garden Hotel ApartmentsAirport Road Abu DhabiApartment-
Oaks Liwa Executive SuitesMeena Street Tourist ClubArea Abu DhabiHotel-
Mirfa HotelAl Marfa City, Western RegionHotel-
Liwa HotelLiwa St, Liwa OasisHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are fairly common in the larger cities, and web censorship is at times odd, but rarely obtrusive. Free wifi is rolled out over the country, starting with Abu Dhabi en Dubai in 2014 and 2015, and many places like hotels, restaurants, bars and coffee places have free wifi as well.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code is 971. Emergency numbers include 999 (police), 998 (ambulance) and 997 (fire), though the general 112 number can be used as well.

The mobile phone network uses the GSM technology and use is widespread. The format for dialing is: +971-#-### ####, where the first "#" designates the area code. Key area codes include Dubai (4), Sharjah (6) and Abu Dhabi (2). Calls to mobile phones use the operator's area codes: (50/56) for Etisalat and (55) for Du.

If you bring your own cellphone, be sure to switch off roaming to avoid high costs, or otherwise purchase a local SIM card from Du or Etisalat. You need your passport with valid visa to purchase the SIM card.

Post

Emirates Post provides services in the country. It's fairly affordable and reliable and many post offices keep long hours from Saturday to Thursday, usually from around 7:30am to 8:00pm or even a little later. Most are closed on Fridays, though some are open for a few hours. If you want to send packages internationally, you might want to use companies like DHL, TNT, FedEx or UPS, as they are fast, reliable and competitively priced. A good alternative is the country's own Empost UAE.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 24.476431
  • Longitude: 54.370510

Accommodation in Abu Dhabi

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Abu Dhabi searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Abu Dhabi and areas nearby.

Contributors

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Abu Dhabi Travel Helpers

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