Located on the coast and islands of the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi attracts people from all over the world. Unlike its closest emirate of Dubai, Abu Dhabi does not depend on the tourist flow thanks to its rich oil reserves.
For a long time, Abu Dhabi, like other cities of the future UAE, was under the influence of the United Kingdom. The oil in the Gulf was discovered around the same time the British were leaving the Middle Eastern territories. Skillfully using the income from the sale of raw materials, in literally twenty years Abu Dhabi has turned from a backwater into a great metropolis with a developed transport system, and in terms of education and health indicators, it has overtaken many European states. At the time it was one of the most developed cities in the Emirates, as Dubai grew and overtook the capital sometime later. However, Abu Dhabi is not going to give up its position to its neighbor: the city government already has ambitious plans to build an underground and expand its ground transportation infrastructure to include tram lines.
Most tourists tend to visit Dubai, although Abu Dhabi also has something to look and admire. For example, since 2019, The Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace has been open to the public. Currently, the Abrahamic Family House space is being built, which will unite all Abrahamic religions and teach their representatives to peaceful dialogue. Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2022. Qasr Al Hosn is a museum of the history of Abu Dhabi and the oldest building in the city (built in 1761). In addition to skyscrapers, religious spaces and museums, the city has many beautiful park areas and public beaches where you can enjoy nature and relax.
Life is concentrated mainly on the coast of the bay, most of the emirate is occupied by the Rub El Khali desert, aka The Empty Quarter. It is not rational to build cities there and carry out an irrigation system, so the authorities of the emirate left the area without human influence … or almost left. For lovers of non-standard travel, tour operators organize desert trips, camel riding and sandboarding. You can go on a trip as part of a group or on your own. For those inexperienced in the sand, travel agencies offer desert driving courses to make you feel as comfortable as possible on the road.
In addition, there is a place in the desert called The Arabian Nights Village. The life and atmosphere of old Arabia are recreated there, where every guest can feel transported hundreds of years ago, to the origins of the Arab world. You will be offered to try on traditional clothes and spend time like real ancient Arabs: with traditional food and belly dancing. You can choose the level of immersion yourself by staying in one of four types of accommodation: Bedouin tents (Bayt al-Sha’er), palm houses (Bayt al-Bahar), houses in the desert (Beit al-Bar) and or fort tower (Al -Mancha).
Nearby is the Arabian Wildlife Park Abu Dhabi – a truly magical place for everyone who loves to take a break from the bustle of the city and retire with flora and fauna. The park is equipped with viewing platforms, which are made entirely from recycled materials and are completely environmentally friendly. They allow you to observe animals from a safe distance, including giraffes, cheetahs, gazelles and hyenas. This way the animals are not fenced or endangered. There is a hotel near the park where you can stay and explore the protected area without haste.
If you don’t like ultra-modern cities or wandering in the desert alone with wildlife, there is an intermediate option – the city of Al Ain. It is also called The Garden City, because, unlike Abu Dhabi, there are much fewer skyscrapers and more parks and gardens. The climate is milder, as the city is located inside the Arabian Peninsula, and the humidity is not as strong as on the coast. Due to this, it is easier for tourists to endure high temperatures. You can see the animals in the local Zoo, and have fun and get a small dose of adrenaline in the amusement park. Lovers of antiquity can visit The Healy Archaeological Park, which includes the beautiful park itself, The Great Healy Tomb, on which fingerprints were found about 3000 years old and other buildings of the Bronze Age. The most unexpected attraction of the city can be called the system of underground irrigation canals, which go outside in several places. It is curious that the locals have been using the same system for several millennia, but it works flawlessly.
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi includes several remote islands, one of which is called Sir Bani Yas. This is the ridge of the salt dome, the largest natural island in the emirate with its own unique ecological system, which is home to representatives of endangered animal species, such as the Arabian Oryx. This species has already become extinct in the wild, but continues to live in the island’s nature reserve. In addition, there are many local types of animals on the island: dolphins, sea turtles, gazelles and deer, and some species were brought from the mainland, among them llama, rhea, giraffe and ostrich. As the island became a haven for rare species of animals and plants, it was closed to tourists for a long time. However, today it is quite a popular travel destination. Excursion groups include activities such as safaris, kayaking, mountain biking, archery, hiking and scuba diving. Throughout the route, tourists are accompanied by guides who, on the one hand, help to learn about the world around them and answer all the questions of travelers, and on the other hand, monitor their behavior, because the preservation of the surrounding nature is much more important for them than the entertainment of people.