Abu Dhabi

AbuDhabi
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Introduction

The main Islamic holidays are Ramadan (November), Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Adha (February), which marks the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Prophet's Birthday (May or June).

The UAE also observes New Year's Day, Lailat al-Mi'raj (Ascension of the Prophet) and National Day in (2 December). In Abu Dhabi, August 6th is a holiday marking the accession of Sheikh Zayed.

The UAE Desert Challenge road rally is a dusty, rollicking affair that takes place in November. The race starts and finishes in Dubai, but revs through Abu Dhabi territory as well. More in the spirit of most visitors is a shopping festival in early March.

History

In the 3rd millennium BC a culture known as Umm an-Nar (after the island where it was discovered) arose near modern Abu Dhabi. Umm an-Nar's influence extended well into the interior and down the coast of what is now Oman. Later regional influences included the Hellenic civilisations, the Kingdom of Hormuz and the Portuguese.

The rise of British naval power in the Gulf in the mid-18th century coincided with the rise of two important tribal confederations along the coast of the lower Gulf. There were the Qawasim, whose descendants now rule Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, and the Bani Yas, whose descendants are now the ruling families of modern Abu Dhabi and Dubai        More.........

How to Get There

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is on the mainland, about 30kms (18.6mile) from the centre of town. The main bus terminal is south of the centre, but intercity service is only available within the Abu Dhabi emirate. Mini buses and taxis are available to go to Dubai and Al - Ain.

Places to Visit

Cultural Foundation

This large, faceless building on Zayed the First St is more interesting inside than its outward appearance. It houses the National Archives, the National Library and the Institutions of Culture and Art. There are often interesting exhibits on local history and Islamic art, as well as modern art exhibits and musical concerts.

Al-Hosn Palace

Al-Hosn Palace, commonly known as the Old Fort or the White Fort, was built in the late 19th century, making it the oldest building in town. In fact it's one of the few buildings in Abu Dhabi that's more than 30 years old. The interior has been completely modernised and is now used by the Cultural Foundation as documents and research centre. The courtyard and the tilework over the main (northern) gate are particularly noteworthy.

Corniche

There are nearly 20 parks in the city, sprinklered by desalinated and reclaimed water. This grass-rimmed boulevard and promenade is the most picturesque, backed by commercial buildings with killer sea views.

Women's Craft Centre

This is a government-run operation where traditional crafts are made, displayed and sold. Although most of the items in the exhibition hall are for sale, some are just for display. You'll find woven bags, cushion covers, shawls and small rugs. There are also some coffeepots, trays and baskets. It's possible to visit the little round workshops in the courtyard where many of the items are made. Most of the women who work here are fully veiled and may be uncomfortable with male visitors so it's best to ask permission before entering the workshops.

Prices are fixed. The small baskets make nice, easily transportable gifts. The quality of the artisanship on display is very high, and prices reflect this. Mats and rugs are quite expensive, and many are made with artificial fibres instead of the traditional goat or camel hair or sheep's wool.

Dhow Wharf and Fish Market

At the eastern end of the Corniche, near the port, lies Abu Dhabi's fish market and small dhow (boat) wharf. It's not as exciting as Dubai's waterfront, but it does offer good local colour and an excellent view back towards the city.

Activities

Locally made crafts are available at the Women's Craft Centre off Airport Rd, south of the centre. There are a couple of good bars and cafes, including one late-nighter which overlooks the water and the city. The Abu Dhabi Golf Club is a few kilometres from the centre of town next to the racecourse.

Abu Dhabi's oil wealth has been wisely utilized to encourage a healthy trade and commerce atmosphere apart from oil industries too. The promotion of tourism and various tourism related projects will elevate Abu Dhabi to a Singaporean status in the region. Large gardens and parks, green boulevards lining all the streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, state-of-the-art communication services and transport, the presence of all the international luxury hotel chains, rich shopping malls, cultural centers and events provide tourists a one-of-a-kind experience all the year round.

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