With its awesome glass skyscrapers that reflect the bustle of daily life, magnificent buildings such as the Emirates Palace, its lively souqs, excellent international restaurants and its long stretches of white beaches lapped by the crystal clear waters of The Gulf, Abu Dhabi is a city of outstanding contrasts.
The throbbing heart of the city lies 250 metres off-shore on an island linked to the mainland by the Al Maqtaa Bridge and Mussafah Bridge. Home to the respected Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation and the Al Hosn Palace museum, along with numerous venues for the arts, the wealthy city is the cultural as well as the commercial hub of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
UAE dirham Dh = 100 fils
Abu Dhabi Week
Time Out Abu Dhabi
Opening hours: The large shopping malls tend to open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday - Thursday, and in the afternoon on Fridays, the day of prayer. Supermarkets often open earlier and smaller shops usually close for lunch for around two to three hours. The weekend in Abu Dhabi is Friday and Saturday.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority
Nation Towers Corniche, Building B
+971 2 444 0444
Abu Dhabi can trace its history way back to the Bronze Age and has a long tradition of profitable trading, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s – when oil was found – that it was transformed from its desert landscape into the fabulous city it is today. Designed in a grid-like fashion with wide open spaces and boulevards, it is the second largest city in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, after its neighbour Dubai. It is the seat of government and the capital of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Daily life centres around its main thoroughfares, including the busy Sheikh Zayed Street and the paved waterfront Corniche. Always bustling, the Corniche is where visitors can be seen admiring the stunning pink-washed Emirates Palace at the Ras Al Bateen, built as a hotel for visiting royalty, and locals can be seen jogging or cycling with much enthusiasm. Families with children and leisure walkers regularly enjoy the atmosphere.
A short walk from the waters edge are streets full of shiny new skyscrapers that house the city’s financial and banking institutions, its world famous company offices and its government buildings. At pavement-level, hotel and restaurants cater for every taste, while shopping malls are full of designer fashions. In contrast, the many souqs offer gold, spices or traditional craft items.
Abu Dhabi’s attractions are diverse – from landmark architectural triumphs to centuries-old structures and beaches. The Corniche sweeps along the waterfront from one side of the city to other, passing by the lavishly-planted Al Markaziyah Gardens, one of the many parks in the city, and Lulu Island across the water, which is delightful with its palm trees and nature reserve.
Emirates Heritage Village
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque
Qasr Al Hosn Palace
Women’s Handicraft Centre
Al Bateen Shipyard
Observation Deck at 300
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Al Maqtaa Fort
Emirati cuisine is quite cosmopolitan and you can find food from all over the world. The specific food for the United Arab Emirates is a blend of Asian and Middle Eastern cooking.
Breakfast is usually bread served with cheese or eggs while the main meals contain plenty of meat, grain and dairy. They often drink a red tea with mint after dinner, as it helps the digestion.
Etoiles Abu Dhabi
Biella Café Pizzeria
Camacho Italian Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Byblos Sur Mer
Koi Restaurant & Lounge
Cafés in Abu Dhabi tend to be sophisticated yet informal, and serve a wide choice of coffees with light snacks and pastries rather than fast food.
Vision Coffee Shop
West Side Coffee Shop
Ninar Coffee Shop
Cappuccino’s Lobby Café
Abu Dhabi has a good choice of bars and nightclubs, although almost all will be found inside hotels. Hookah lounges are popular, as are rooftop bars and establishments offering stunning views over the shining UAE capital.
La Pergola Bar
The Yacht Club
Whether you choose to haggle for a bargain in a bustling market – otherwise known as a souq – or spend time in a lavish air conditioned mall just off the Corniche, shopping in Abu Dhabi will be a memorable experience.
Traditional purchases include carpets, rugs, textiles, gold and spices, all of which can be found in dedicated souqs where lots of stalls selling the same thing are grouped together. An example is the Gold Souq, found not far from the Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum Street. Such items can be found in general souqs too, or in specialist shops.
Souqs are also good for finding antiques or craft items to take home as souvenirs. In contrast, the shopping malls tend to be full of expensive jewellery and designer fashions.
Al Mina Fish Market
Al Mina Fruit & Vegetable Souk
Al Ain Souk
Souk Al Zafarana
Abu Dhabi Mall
The Marina Mall
Abu Dhabi has been appointed the richest city in the world by CNN and Fortune magazine and luxury is present in every corner. The city has been carefully planned out and here is your chance to experience being fully pampered. Make sure to book in advance to be sure that you will get the accommodation you desire.
Hilton International Abu Dhabi
Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri
Tulip Inn Al Rahba
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Flights arrive into Abu Dhabi International Airport from around the world. The airport, the second largest in the United Arab Emirates, has a full range of facilities for travellers, from ATM’s to tourist information. It lies just over 30 kilometres from the city centre, with three major highways, the Salam Street (Highway 8), Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum Street (Highway 2) and the Khaleej Al Arabi (Highway 30) ensuring quick transfers. Abu Dhabi Airport Taxis are available outside the airport.
The green and white A1 buses connect the airport and the city, and run at 40 minute intervals. Buses depart from the lower curbside outside Terminals 1 and 3 and outside Terminal 2, the Cargo Building and the Police Complex.
Address: Abu Dhabi International Airport
The public bus system is quite well-developed in Abu Dhabi, and blue- and white-colored buses run through the city regularly. Tickets are available in the form of re-loadable "Halifat" Smartcards that may be purchased from ticket vending machines located at multiple locations throughout the city (bus stations and stops, DOT Customer Service Centers). Hold your card next to a card reader installed inside the bus for validation upon entry and exit.
Getting around Abu Dhabi is straightforward, with most visitors opting to travel in the inexpensive taxis that dart around the city constantly. It’s a simple process of flagging a taxi down, telling the driver your destination and paying the small amount required for the ride. Taxis can be booked through several companies. They have regular parking slots outside hotels and shopping malls too.
Phone: +971 2 444 5885
Phone: +971 2 555 2212
There are many post offices in Abu Dhabi, which are operated by Emirates Post. The main one, Abu Dhabi Central, is open daily 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Phone: +971 2 621 1611
Abu Dhabi has many pharmacies that open 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m., some even 24-hours. To find the nearest to you telephone the Abu Dhabi Municipality’s 24-hour hotline (Tel: +971 2 677 7929). For medical emergencies call 998.
One pharmacy can be found inside the Abu Dhabi Mall, at 10th street:
Al Manara Pharmacy
+971 2 645 2525
Open daily from 9am - 11pm.
Country code: 971
Area code: 2
220/240 volts at 50 Hz, with square three-pin sockets.