Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is both a city and an Emirate and is situated on an island in the Persian Gulf. The annual rainfall for the area is less than 2 inches. The majority of the city is on the island but most of the residents live in suburban districts on the mainland. The city is connected by bridges to the rest of the country. 

The Al-Mafraq bridge is a multi-layer interchange bridge and it has 27 lanes which allow roughly 25,000 automobiles to move per hour. 

The city was planned in the late 1960’s by a Japanese architect for an expected population of 40,000 (now around 1.5 million). Abu Dhabi has a 2030 plan that seeks to build numerous skyscrapers. It has a number already built and more under construction. There are also, many other skyscrapers over 150 m either proposed or already approved for construction.

Having hopped off the plane we were aiming for our hotel. To get there using a taxi would have been 170, the Uber was 130 and the bus was 8. So the bus it was and we got delivered about 250 meters from our hotel. Upon arrival, we found out that the room that we had booked was fully sold out. So they chose to upgrade us to a suite. And what a lovely suite it was too. No more grotty backpacking for us. We were on the 16th floor of a 19 story, hotel with multiple rooms, a laundry, a kitchenette and just generally an incredibly lovely place to be.

As we drove in on the bus we drove past possibly the most colossal building that we had ever seen. This was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. So the next morning it was back on the bus to check this out properly.

The mosque was started in 1996 and more than 3,000 workers and 38 contracting companies worked over the next decade to build the mosque. It was designed to last and the materials chosen in its construction reflect this. These materials include marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals, and ceramics. Overall it covers over 2.2 hectares and can safely hold 41,000 people. It is the largest mosque in the UAE and the third largest in the world.

We have been to some pretty amazing places over the years and this one is right up there with the best of them. the manicured gardens coupled with the quality of workmanship, inlaid marble, gemstones the whole thing just reminded me of a modern day Taj Mahal, but bigger. Oh and based on the photos above, can you tell the difference between Jill’s phone and mine.

Qasr Al Wasan is the presidential palace of the United Arab Emirates. It was built in 2017 and opened to the public in 2019. It is primarily used for official purposes like hosting foreign leaders and for meetings of the country’s supreme council and federal cabinet.

Yas Island is a purely commercial enterprise here in Abu Dhabi aimed entirely at the tourism market.  It is a 25 km2 island and one of the largest tourism projects in Abu Dhabi. It is most famous for the Marina Circuit that has held the Formula One Grand Prix since 2009.

But beyond the racing, the Island hosts numerous 5 star hotels, golf course, high end residential developments a huge water park and a Warner bros theme park. Entirely manufactured Yas Island was named the world’s leading tourism project in 2009.

Ferrari World is a mostly indoors theme park based on the famous car brand. It has the world’s fastest roller coaster (Formula Rossa) and the ability (if you meet the criteria) to do fast laps in a Ferrari. 

Oh and obviously someone from Abu Dhabi had been to Las Vegas. The ground in certain areas of the city was littered with the business cards of the local hookers.

Something that I first saw in Las Vegas back in the 1990’s (and still occurs today).

Well Abu Dhabi has learned and embraced this too.

Abu Dhabi was ok. Our hotel was fantastic, and the things that we saw were good but most of the tourist things on offer (theme parks and shopping malls) were not really to our tastes. The architecture is amazing and everywhere you look when you are driving around you see fantastic buildings on monumental scales. The city has certainly come a long way from its fishing and pearl diving roots.

Leave a Reply