Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the largest of the seven emirates federation.
Year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, spectacular sand dunes and pulsating cosmopolitan lifestyle await every guest in Abu Dhabi. This emirate known around the world for its massive oil reserves and majestic mosques with towering minarets. These, combined with the distinct Arabic hospitality and mystique - and world-class infrastructure - make Abu Dhabi an excellent destination both for the experienced and novice traveller.
Abu Dhabi city bursts with dazzling business-cum-leisure facilities ranging from state-of-the-art convention centre, luxurious hotels, spas, designer golf courses, theatres and very soon, some of the world’s most famous museums. The palace-like shopping malls and indigenous souqs in Abu Dhabi make for a great shopping expedition. Gastronomic treats further abound from cool and sophisticated cafes, clubs and restaurants. For the fitness conscious, jogging and cycling are a welcome treat in along the city’s charming Corniche or beachfront, merely minutes away from the bustling city centre.
Abu Dhabi emirate is in the Arabian Gulf region. It adjoins the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman. Occupying almost 87% of the country’s total area, Abu Dhabi emirate covers around 67, 340km², which comprises mostly desert, including part of the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali) and salt flats/sabkha. Abu Dhabi’s coastline extends over 400 Km.
The emirate is divided for administrative purposes into three regions. The first encompasses Abu Dhabi city, which is both the emirate’s capital and the federal seat of government. The island city of Abu Dhabi is just 250 metres from the mainland, which has many other suburbs. The main bridges, Maqta, Mussafah and Sheikh Zayed Bridge, connect Abu Dhabi city to the mainland, with others currently being constructed. There are around 200 natural islands in the emirate including the Saadiyat, Yas, Lulu and Sir Bani Yas islands.
Parts of Abu Dhabi were settled as far back as the 3rd millennium BC, and its early history fits the region’s nomadic, herding and fishing patterns.
The Arabian Gazelle is known locally as ‘Dhabi’, and gave its name to the country's capital, Abu Dhabi (Father of the Gazelle) by the early Bani Yas tribe hunters who discovered the island when tracking a gazelle and found a rare freshwater spring.
Until the mid-20th century, camel herding, agriculture, fishing and pearl diving were the major occupations within the emirate. Everything changed in 1958 when oil was discovered and the development of modern Abu Dhabi commenced.
Sunshine and blue skies can be expected almost every day in Abu Dhabi. The city experiences a really hot and humid climate in the months of April to September when the maximum temperatures average above 40 °C (104 °F). During this period, unpredictable sandstorms also occur in the city and sometimes visibility gets down to a few meters. Normally, air-conditioning systems can be found in all buildings in the city. The period of October to March is comparatively cool. Dense fog can be also seen on some days. January and February are the coolest months of the year.
Abu Dhabi Meaning 'Father of the Gazelle' in Arabic, Abu Dhabi was founded when a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water, on an island with no more than 300 palm ('barasti') huts, a few coral buildings and the Ruler's fort. This simple island settlement has since been transformed into the modern, cosmopolitan city of Abu Dhabi and the high-rise capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Find out more about Abu Dhabi’s religion and traditions with a visit to one of the world's most impressive landmarks, the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This architectural marvel, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers, features 80 domes, over 1,000 columns, gold plated chandeliers and the world's largest hand woven carpet.
Head to our landmark Corniche and enjoy an impressive eight kilometres of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the Corniche Beach - a lifeguarded beach park. Beachgoers should also spend some time on the stunning Saadiyat and Yas public beaches or for a spot of luxury they can book a day in the uber-luxurious Monte Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat.
While in Abu Dhabi, don’t forget to get on the water! From wake-boarding to surfing and parasailing, from cruising in a traditional pearling boat to kayaking through our natural mangrove forests, from zooming to the pace of a speedboat tour to diving, cruising, snorkelling or swimming, the emirate’s waters are yours to discover.
For a 360˚ entertainment experience, head to Yas Island where you can burn rubber at Yas Marina Circuit – home to the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, have a coffee or stay at the iconic Yas Viceroy - the world’s only hotel to straddle an F1 race track - ride the world’s fastest roller coaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, have a giant splash at Yas Waterworld, play Arabia’s only links course and relax on a white sandy beach.
Shopping is something of a national pastime in Abu Dhabi, perhaps because it’s so diverse and tax-free: everything from luxurious and ultra-modern malls with the latest brands, to small, souk-like shops where you can buy traditional perfumes, handicrafts, spices and carpets.
To explore our lifestyle, head to The Collection at The St Regis, Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi and enjoy high-end shops, restaurants and cafés - all within a Mediterranean-style ‘village’ complete with terraces, courtyards and piazzas. Alternatively, visit the Eastern Mangroves Promenade for a mix of restaurants, health & beauty and leisure venues, with an arch-fronted open pedestrian zone and stunning mangroves-view terraces. For a more-community orientated experience, take the family to Al Raha Beach Plazas and shop, dine or relax on the promenade with stunning Arabian Gulf views.
If you’re interested in culture and heritage, catch a cab to the Heritage Village on the Corniche Breakwater and step back in time to a traditional desert lifestyle. Bargain with souvenir sellers and watch craftsmen at work producing pottery, weaving and metal work.
Diversity of experiences characterise Abu Dhabi’s great golf offering – whether it’s championship-ready parkland, ocean or Links facilities, a gentle urban centre course, the sheer uniqueness of a world-class ‘sand’ course or a country course in our heritage heartland of Al Ain.