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Abu Dhabi
—  Emirate  —
Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi within the UAE
Coordinates: 23°30′N 54°30′E / 23.5°N 54.5°E / 23.5; 54.5
Country United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Seat Abu Dhabi
 - Type Constitutional monarchy[citation needed]
 - Emir Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Abu Dhabi, officially the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, (Arabic: إمارة أبو ظبيimārat abū ẓabī, literally "father of gazelle"), is one of seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is the largest emirate by area (67,340 km²), and second-largest by population (after Dubai),[1] accounting for approximately 86% of the total land area of the UAE. The seat of the President of the United Arab Emirates is located in Abu Dhabi city, which also hosts many oil companies, foreign embassies and the federal cabinet.

The emirate's main revenues are from industry, construction and financial services[2] which make up Abu Dhabi's US$187 billion economy (2008).[3] Revenues from the industry contributed 65.5% to the economy in 2008. Construction activities represent 11.5% of the economy in 2008, and commercial and financial activities make up the remaining 23.6%.[4]



The current ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Parts of Abu Dhabi were settled as far back as the 3rd millennium BC and its early history fits the nomadic herding and fishing pattern typical of the broader region. Modern Abu Dhabi traces its origins to the rise of an important tribal confederation, the Bani Yas, in the late 18th century, which also assumed control of Dubai. In the 19th century the Dubai and Abu Dhabi branches parted ways.

Into the mid-20th century, the economy of Abu Dhabi continued to be sustained mainly by camel herding, production of dates and vegetables at the inland oases of Al Ain and Liwa, and fishing and pearl diving off the coast of Abu Dhabi city, which was occupied mainly during the summer months. Most dwellings in Abu Dhabi city were, at this time, constructed of palm fronds (barasti), with the wealthier families occupying mud huts. The growth of the cultured pearl industry in the first half of the twentieth century created hardship for residents of Abu Dhabi as pearls represented the largest export and main source of cash earnings.

In 1939, Sheikh Shakhbut Bin-Sultan Al Nahyan granted petroleum concessions, and oil was first found in 1958. At first, oil money had a marginal impact. A few lowrise concrete buildings were erected, and the first paved road was completed in 1961, but Sheikh Shakbut, uncertain whether the new oil royalties would last, took a cautious approach, preferring to save the revenue rather than investing it in development. His brother, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, saw that oil wealth had the potential to transform Abu Dhabi. The ruling Al Nahyan family decided that Sheikh Zayed should replace his brother as ruler and carry out his vision of developing the country. On August 6, 1966, with the assistance of the British, Sheikh Zayed became the new ruler.[5]

With the announcement by the UK in 1968 that it would withdraw from the Persian Gulf area by 1971, Sheikh Zayed became the main driving force behind the formation of the United Arab Emirates.

After the Emirates gained independence in 1971, oil wealth continued to flow to the area and traditional mud-brick huts were rapidly replaced with banks, boutiques and modern highrises.

At present, Abu Dhabi boasts the worlds highest absolute and per-capita level of sovereign wealth funds, calculated at USD 1,000,000.00 per inhabitant.


Abu Dhabi is bordered by the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The emirate of Abu Dhabi is located in the oil-rich and strategic Persian Gulf region. It adjoins the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman. The emirate borders the emirate of Dubai and Sharjah to its north.

Towns and cities

Growing construction at Abu Dhabi as work cranes are often seen in the downtown areas.
Waterfront park in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi city is a modern city with broad boulevards, tall office and apartment buildings, and busy shops.

Other urban centers in the Abu Dhabi emirate are Al 'Ain, Baniyas and Ruwais. Al Ain is an agglomeration of several villages scattered around a valuable desert oasis; today it is the site of the national university, UAEU. Al Ain is billed as the Garden City of the UAE. Other work includes the 1st prize international competition of the Abu Dhabi Library and Cultural Center won by the Architects Collaborative, designed by Hisham N. Ashkouri of Boston, Massachusetts and New York, NY.

Postage stamps


Sunny/blue skies can be expected throughout the year. The months June through September are generally hot and humid with temperatures averaging above 40°C (110°F). During this time, sandstorms also occur intermittently, in some cases reducing visibility down to a few meters. The weather is usually pleasant from October to May. January to February is cooler and may require the use of a light jacket. This period also sees dense fog on some days. The oasis city of Al Ain, about 150 km away, bordering Oman, regularly records the highest summer temperatures in the country, however the dry desert air and cooler evenings make it a traditional retreat from the intense summer heat and year round humidity of the capital city.[6]


Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and Al Ain International Airport (AAN) serves the emirate. The local time is GMT + 4 hours. Private vehicles and taxis are the primary means of transportation in the city, although public buses, run by the Abu Dhabi Municipality, are available, but mostly used by the lower-income population. There are bus routes to nearby towns such as Baniyas, Habashan and the garden city of UAE Al Ain, among others. There is a newer service started in 2005 between Abu Dhabi and the commercial city of Dubai (about 160 km away).

Schools and universities

Schools and universities in Abu Dhabi:

Torture Controversy

Sheik Issa bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the brother of the present ruler of Abu Dhabi, was recently accused of torturing a business partner after a videotape clearly showed him participating in a 3-hour long torture session in the desert. In a strange verdict, Abu Dhabi courts cleared him and instead convicted his accusers of drug charges.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Abu Dhabi - profile of geographical entity including name variants. World Gazetteer. Retrieved April 8, 2008.
  2. ^ [
  3. ^$187_bln_in_08/Article.htm
  4. ^
  5. ^ See Al-Fahim, M, From Rags to Riches: A Story of Abu Dhabi, Chapter Six (London Centre of Arab Studies, 1995), ISBN 1-900404-00-1.
  6. ^ BBC, Average weather for Sharjah, which is 170 kilometres away from Abu Dhabi.
  7. ^ Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan#Torture allegations

External links

UAE-based newspapers


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Abu Dhabi is the largest of the United Arab Emirates.

  • Abu Dhabi — the eponymous capital
  • Al Ain — oasis in the desert and the emirate's second city


Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven Emirates and the Federal capital of the UAE. It occupies an area of 26,000 square miles. Its long coastline - the shallow waters of the Southern Gulf, extending from the base of the Qatar Peninsula in the west to the border of the emirate of Dubai on the north east, was once the world's best waters for pearling. When the pearling industry declined, oil discovery in the offshore oilfields of the Southern Gulf revived the economy of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi was also the first emirate to export oil from the Umm Shaif offshore field in 1962. On the land, it stretches south to the oases of Liwa where some of the world’s largest sand dunes can be found , and east to the ancient oasis of Al Ain. This makes Abu Dhabi the largest as well as the most populated of all the emirates.

Get in

Both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain have international airports, although Abu Dhabi's is by far the larger and better-connected of the two. Coming in via neighboring Dubai is also a viable option: it's 170 km from Dubai to Abu Dhabi city and 100 km to Al Ain.

Get around

Taxis are the preferred method of travel. They are cheap and have recently (2 years ago) been replaced with a national service. fares start from approx $1.5 and can take you from one side of the city to the other for less than $10

  • Sheshank. Passengers/visitors in Abu Dhabi can book taxi by calling 600535353  edit
  • Desert Safari trips are an exhilarating experience. You must book ahead, but this can often be done as late as the day before, by your hotel receptionist. The whole event normally starts late afternoon. You will be collected directly from your hotel. The trips vary slightly but normally you arrive back to your hotel in the evening around 10pm. Most packages include an exhilarating drive over the dunes by an experienced driver in a 4 x 4 vehicle, a short camel ride, delicious Arabic buffet and Belly Dancer. Note that the belly dancer is normally only included if there are enough of you in your party so enquire at the time of booking.


Non-Muslims are permitted to bring up to 4L of alcohol into Abu Dhabi. Alcohol is also available in hotel bars, but bringing any home requires a liquor license.

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