THE HEART OF THE UAE
Abu Dhabi translates literally as “Father of the Gazelle”, which is fitting as this is the largest of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates, which is probably the fastest growing region on the planet.
The emirate of Abu Dhabi is massive, compared to the other emirates, making up just over 80% of the UAE’s total area. A relatively sort time ago this was a vast empty desert inhabited by nomadic tribes and a smattering of villages around fertile oasis areas. The economy then was based on pearl diving, fishing and the cultivation of dates. The discovery of oil in the late 1950’s brought about radical changes to the area and the huge revenues made from oil and gas have been invested wisely and have aided in a complete turnaround for the emirate. Today this simple island settlement has been transformed into a modern, smart, vibrant city and the heart of the UAE. Whilst maybe not as cosmopolitan or as sophisticated as Dubai, Abu Dhabi also lacks traffic jams and an overall frenetic way of life that it’s neighbour is known for, making it a much more likeable city if you don’t crave endless partying. After eyeing over Dubai’s growth, Abu Dhabi has chosen its development projects wisely, and while the laid-back feel might eventually change, the local Emirati flavour of the UAE capital appears certain to remain.
The emirate is made up of over 200 natural islands dotted across the Persian Gulf and 250 miles of coastline surrounded by warm, clean waters that are inhabited by a wonderful array of marine life. This then gives way to a desert interior that has fertile oases, spectacular wadi’s and huge sand dunes, where you can discover ancient forts and traditional Bedouin villages, which were once important caravan stops on the ancient trading routes across Arabia.
The city of Abu Dhabi blends modernity and traditional Arabian culture. Huge skyscrapers of glass and steel intertwine with mosques, cultural centres, landscaped parks and gardens and wide avenues lined with palm trees. Luxury hotels are a plenty as are a wealth of museums and heritage sites that are complemented by many modern attractions including Ferrari World, the World’s Furthest Leaning Man-Made Tower (which leans more than 4 times that of Pisa’s famous leaning tower), YAS Waterworld and the Corniche, which now has over 5 miles of manicured waterfront area with cafes, restaurants and themed beaches.
The majority of the 200 islands are flat and uninhabited although Futaisi Island, Saadiyat Island and Yas Island all now house luxury hotels and resorts and a range of exciting features and attractions.
Al Ain sits in the shadow of the dramatic Jebel Hafeet heights and is known as the Oasis city as it is surrounded by seven oases fed by natural springs. This is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited settlements and has archaeological ruins that pre-date the Pyramids of Cheops. It is an area rich in ancient heritage and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers a number of interesting attractions including Al Jahili Fort, Wadi Adventure, Hili Fun City and the Al Ain Wildlife Park, which is home to over 4,000 animals. Al Ain also offers a range of accommodation options, restaurants, outdoor cafes and coffee shops.
Al Gharbia occupies the vast western region of Abu Dhabi and has some of the world’s largest sand dunes and a largely unspoilt coastline that is dotted with picturesque fishing villages. A number of luxury resorts have now opened in the region for those seeking adventure with activities including kayaking, mountian biking, snorkelling and diving, fishing and game drives and nature walks at Sir Bani Yas Island nature Reserve.
Sporting options are plentiful with a whole range of land based and water based activities on offer. Golfers can choose from 6 courses that have been carved out of the desert and along spectacular coastlines. Whether you are seeking a championship parkland, ocean or links course, a gentle urban centre course or a world-class ‘sand’ course Abu Dhabi can satisfy your needs.
Abu Dhabi will appeal to all types of travellers from adventure seekers to sun worshippers and offers a whole host of activities and attractions for families.
Abu Dhabi enjoys almost year-round sunshine with blue skies and only a little amount of rainfall in the winter months (November to March). The heat and humidity can get very high in the summer months (July to September) with temperatures reaching 40°C. In the winter you can enjoy temperatures of around 25°C.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
The winter months between November to April are the best time to go to enjoy pleasant daytime temperatures around 25°C. If you can stand the head and humidity then there are excellent deals to be had in the summer months between July and September. Note that during the holy month of Ramadan that the sale of alcohol is prohibited until after dusk.
Health & Vaccinations
We recommend that you are up to date with all of the usual vaccinations – Typhoid, Polio, Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus and Rabies. Please contact your local GP for full advice at least 3-4 weeks before travel.
Passport & Visa
British passport holders must be in possession of a full 10-year passport and must have at least 6 months validity beyond the date of the return journey back from the UAE. British passport holders do not need a visa to enter into the UAE.
WHERE TO STAY