Travel Guide
Abu Dhabi Travel Guide
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Culture of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a land with a perfect blend of culture and modern skyscrapers. It’s no mean feat to find a cosmopolitan with its cultural heritage so beautifully intact. Although Islamic culture is deeply rooted in the city, it welcomes expats and their beliefs with open arms, provided, they also respect the Islamic laws and regulations prevalent in the city. Observing Ramadan regulations, and respecting the Arabic cultural laws are a must.

Ensuring an intriguing mix of new and old, Abu Dhabi being the capital city of UAE has a blend of cosmopolitan and conventional culture. With a culture that is firmly rooted in the Islamic religious regulations, the everyday local life of Abu Dhabi is governed by these rules such as what to eat, what to wear, the language and the day to day Islamic routine. Extremely tolerant and very hospitable to its visitors, Abu Dhabi’s culture is deep rooted and inculcates treating guests with respect.

Expats living in the city are free to practice their native religion and the dress code for them is liberal. Women do not need a male escort to be able to drive or walk around. The values of courtesy and hospitality are regarded in the highest esteem, and it is visible in the genuine warmth of the locals in the city. In spite of the rapid speed of economic growth over the last 3 decades, Abu Dhabi is actively promoting traditional, cultural, and home sporting events including camel race, falconry, and dhow sailing. This also has been successfully presenting Abu Dhabi as an international cultural destination

Currency and Economy in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi uses the Emirati currency called Dirhams (Dhs). Being a capital city of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is the industrial and commercial hub of the country but still works smoothly at a relaxed pace. Rated as one of the best cities to live in, its per capita income is on a higher side. With a population of just over 1.5 million, the city welcomes millions of tourists every year. The wealthy economy of the capital city is largely based on the revenue created from natural resources of the country. While natural gas and Petroleum plays a significant role, there are various other sectors emerging to support the emirate’s economy.

The city of Abu Dhabi enjoys a fast growing economy with a high per capita and GDP income. It is not only the richest emirate of the UAE but also succeeds in becoming one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It is a known fact that the hydrocarbon resources of UAE have contributed in obtaining one of the highest per capita income growth in the world and the majority portion of the credit goes to Abu Dhabi that owns 92% of the gas and 95% of the oil, thereby making itself the 9% holder of the world’s proven oil reserves.

As a part of the strategy to boost tourism industry in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a range of great hotels and establishment of various entertainment facilities have been made. The Saadiyat island, a part of Abu Dhabi has been converted in to a tourist friendly luxury resort to allow the break from the routine monotony.

History of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s history, according to the latest findings go back to late 2500BC. The historical heritage of Abu Dhabi is majorly in the restoration of the architectural marvels built in the late 17th and 18th century. The mosques and forts built during that period, are well preserved by the government of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi entered in its first ever exclusive treaty that linked it with the Great Britain in 1892. Since the location of Abu Dhabi was strategic to its connection with India and the eastern countries, the emirate was established as the Trucial coast. Just the time when the wealth of Abu Dhabi was beginning to accumulate, it was badly hit by the intervention of Japan’s pearl industry along with the global recession of the 1930s. Moreover, the passing away of the ruler Sheik Zayed Bin Khalifa added more uncertainty to Abu Dhabi’s prosperity.

But Abu Dhabi fought back. In 1939 Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan granted petroleum concession to the Trucial Coast Development Oil Company, (further renamed as the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company, ADPC, in 1962) in order to search for large oil reserves. In the year 1958, huge offshore oil reserves were discovered and just a year later again, onshore reserves were found. When the oil exports began in 1962, it lead Abu Dhabi on the roads of development and unbelievable wealth.

Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was crowned as the new ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and in two years he formed the federation of the United Arab Emirates. This move was done in response to the Britishers threatening to extract from the region by 1971. It wasn’t unknown that the connection to the British was important to sustain a strong hold in the oil industry.

There are some facts about Abu Dhabi that are enough to bewilder you and encourage you to visit the city as soon as possible, for example, Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate in terms of the total area. It is over 6 times the area combined of all the other emirates. Abu Dhabi is not only the capital of the United Arab Emirates but also the most populous city of the country. The emirate has the world’s largest concentrated solar power station at the Shams solar power station.

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque boasts of the world’s largest hand loomed carpet. The courtyard of the mosque can accommodate 40000 worshippers at a time.
  • It boasts of the Ferrari World theme park. It is the world’s largest indoor theme park and the only Ferrari brand park across the globe.
  • Abu Dhabi streets are known to be the first streets for the world’s best cars to hit, much before they can be seen anywhere in the world.
  • By 2030, Abu Dhabi will have an impeccable and unbeatable public transport with specially built heavy and light rail roads.
  • The Capital Gate tower of Abu Dhabi is the world’s furthest leaning tower with 18 degrees lean. This 35 storey tower is 160 meters tall and is four time more lean than the leaning tower of Pisa.
  • The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque boasts of the world’s biggest chandelier. Weighing more than nine tons, the chandelier is one of a kind in the world.
  • The estimated population by the end of 2030 is supposed to be somewhere quadruple of 1.6 million (the present population approximately) and the city is gearing up for it.
Summer in Abu Dhabi:

Very similar to Dubai, Abu Dhabi too is hot most part of the year. The fact that it is not as congested as Dubai, makes it more open and therefore, a bit calmer than its neighboring city. The winter season is pleasant and loved by tourists. Still, the temperatures range from 30 to 45 degrees during summer months.

Rains in Abu Dhabi:

The Abu Dhabi weather is overall on a cooler side during the months of February. With an average rainfall of 20mm on an average of every year, it is wettest month of the year. The average temperature is around between 35 to 30 degrees and tourist love the pleasant environment during that time. However, if swimming in the sea is on yours to do list, August is the best month to be in Abu Dhabi when the sea is calmer and the temperature is around 30 degrees.

Winters in Abu Dhabi:

Abu Dhabi is an excellent place to visit in winters. The sun is forgiving and the evenings are pleasant. Starting November, the emirate becomes cooler and January is on an average the coldest month of the year with an average temperature of 18 degrees. If you are looking for the best time to visit the city, it is winters, hands down.

Abu Dhabi is well connected by air from all major airports of the world. It can also be reached by road from Dubai, Sharjah and other emirates of the UAE. The city being the capital of UAE has regular and frequent flights operating from all parts of the world.

The easiest way to reach Abu Dhabi from any part of the world is by Air. The famous airline carrier of Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airlines operates from almost all parts of the world. Visitors can also land at Dubai airport and take a cab till Abu Dhabi.

The city of Abu Dhabi has an organized transport system with economical bus transportation and easy on pocket taxi rides. The city has a specially managed transport management system and it operates around 650 busses across more than 95 road routes. Over 50 million passengers travel through the roads of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. For the tourists, there are various special options such as helicopter rides over the emirate for an incredible view and taxi services that offer perfect way of transportation from one place to another. Morning and evening are peak hours of traffic so in case you want to reach somewhere on time, it’s better to plan ahead.

The Abu Dhabi metro rail system is also in progress and intends to serve a substantial proportion of passenger trips and relieve traffic congestions on the highway network. It is also expected to become a crucial connection between Saadiyat, Yas Islands and Al Raha Beach. Abu Dhabi transport authority also offers ferry trips from Delma Island through Jabal Al Dhanna (Mugharaq Port) and Delma Island Port.

Abu Dhabi is a loved getaway from the maddening routine for tourists from all over the world. The city grows on you and makes you fall in love with it. Rayna arranges hassle-free visa processing at competitive rates for all its guests. We ensure that you complete all formalities including filling up your document in perfect manner to expedite the visa approval process.

Entering Abu Dhabi becomes extremely easy if the applicant is from any of the following 32 countries of the world. The nationals of these countries can anytime enter and leave Abu Dhabi. The cities are Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA, and Vatican City. These countries do NOT need any prior visa approval.

For countries, which are a part of the list of no prior visa arrangements necessary to visit UAE, those countries get their Visa at the UAE airports immigration counter. All you have to do is simply carry your passport and show it to the authorities at the time of immigration. The authorities will grant you a 30-day Visa free of charge. In case you want to extend your stay, pay an additional charge and you can extend your Visa for another 30 days.

Abu Dhabi visa policies for tourists is subjected to frequent changes. It is always better to check the latest guidelines before planning the trip.

Around Abu Dhabi

Around: Abu Dhabi is surrounded by some of the most picturesque emirates of UAE. While most of them are in an hour’s distance from the city, some might take a bit longer. Ras Al Khaimah that can be called as a resort capital of the country is also within a distance of a few hours. All you need to do is to take some time when you travel to Abu Dhabi and you can easily visit these other iconic emirates and come back in a day too. There are various different one day tour packages that can show you the best of UAE attractions through Abu Dhabi.

Al Ain (145kms)- Popularly known as the garden city of UAE, Al Ain is full of greenery, unspoiled historical landscapes and simpler Arabian lifestyle as compared to its cosmopolitan counterparts.

Dubai (156kms)- One of the most popular cities in the world, Dubai is a tourism hub. With one of the world’s best manmade wonders of the world, it is visited by millions of tourists every year.

Sharjah (183kms): Known as the cultural capital of the UAE by the UNESCO, Sharjah all about the Islamic culture, Arabian history, and traditions of UAE. The city is full of museums and cultural architecture to give you some great tourism options.

Eating and Drinking in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi being a cosmopolitan city and the capital of UAE experiences many expats coming to the city and therefore, there are way too many good food options available across all pocket range. From the delicious street food to the fine dining; enjoy great food options in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi has innumerable dining options and tourists love the diversity and choices of cuisine available. Thanks to the cosmopolitan nature of the city, there are cuisines from around the world blending perfectly with the taste palate of the people of Abu Dhabi. Restaurants here offer a vibrant and diverse mix of international savors and some really impressive culinary benchmarks.

There are many hotel outlets that serve alcohol. Mostly high end, these places serve all the best varieties of Alcohol but since the emirate follows Islamic laws and culture, it is difficult to obtain it easily and drinking in public is strictly prohibited. For Non-Muslims the consumption of pork is allowed in certain restaurants but even there, any dish using pork pieces is prepared separately from the rest of the menu and are clearly marked on the listings of the menu.

Abu Dhabi scores high on hospitality and generosity when it comes to dealing with guests, and the same reflects on its dining as well. The emirate offers various out of the box dining options for the visitors including Bedouin style desert camp dining, fine dine at some of the most picturesque restaurant locations, high tea at the world’s highest restaurant, and of course, the local street food joints. No matter where you eat, most likely you’re going to enjoy the hospitality as much as the food here.

Events in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi keeps organizing various music and cultural events across the city. Home to some of the best events of UAE after Dubai, Abu Dhabi plays host to major music and art festivals of UAE. The city has full packed calendar of various events happening across all areas. From bars, nightclubs, to shopping extravaganzas, Abu Dhabi has an abundance of all bit still the city maintains a relaxed pace of lifestyle. New year and Christmas are the global events celebrated in full valor and style and people from various emirates and countries come together to witness the grandeur. The major places hold special nights for the tourists and arrange buffet dinners as well. During the festivities of ‘Eid’ etc the glitz and glamour is beyond compare.

While you’re there, Rayna travels will help you stay informed on every happening event in the city, and if you want, we’ll help you be a part of it too. The restaurants too, serve you special celebratory menus and almost the entire city offers the best of deals and discounts. If you ever have the chance of going to Dubai around the New year, don’t miss it.

Abu Dhabi keeps organizing various music and cultural events across the city. Home to some of the best events of UAE after Dubai, Abu Dhabi plays host to major music and art festivals of UAE. The city has full packed calendar of various events happening across all areas. From bars, nightclubs, to shopping extravaganzas, Abu Dhabi has an abundance of all bit still the city maintains a relaxed pace of lifestyle. New year and Christmas are the global events celebrated in full valor and style and people from various emirates and countries come together to witness the grandeur. The major places hold special nights for the tourists and arrange buffet dinners as well. During the festivities of ‘Eid’ etc the glitz and glamour is beyond compare.

While you’re there, Rayna travels will help you stay informed on every happening event in the city, and if you want, we’ll help you be a part of it too. The restaurants too, serve you special celebratory menus and almost the entire city offers the best of deals and discounts. If you ever have the chance of going to Dubai around the New year, don’t miss it.

Night life of Abu Dhabi

However, Abu Dhabi does not have a very exciting night life, the various pubs and parties make up for it and add to the vibrancy of the city. Various artists come to the city and perform, thereby, uplifting the nightlife quotient of the city. There are areas in the city that does invite quite a crowd for their night outs but again, the number of such good places are lesser than the neighboring city of Dubai. Thanks to the Yas Island, Abu Dhabi’s nightlife scene has improved quite a lot. The Saadiyat beach club, MAD on the Yas island, Amber bar and café, and Ratskey that is mainly popular for its Filipino live band performances and great service.

Go towards the international airport of Abu Dhabi and you can find many smoking lounges around that are open till late night. Finding an equally sizzling bar in Abu Dhabi as you get in the sister emirate of Dubai is an impractical expectation, considering the fact that Abu Dhabi is more relaxed and slow paced than its counterpart. But if your expectation is having a good mix of booze with cool music and great views, then yes, Abu Dhabi won’t disappoint you. Yacht Club inside the Intercontinental hotel keeps your heart pumping with good commercial music, a beautiful view of the yacht marina through its floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and an outdoor terrace that adds an oomph factor to the overall ambiance.

However, to enter into any club of Abu Dhabi, you must be at least 21 years of age and should have a valid ID to prove that. The valid ID includes your passport or an Emirati ID in case you’re a local.

Shopping in Abu Dhabi

The city of Abu Dhabi has plethora of malls, souks, and other shopping avenues for the delight of shoppers. Some prominent malls are Galleria, Bawabat Al Sharq mall, Yas Mall, and the Abu Dhabi mall. There are various traditional souks in the city as well. The capital city of UAE offers many traditional choices for souvenir shopping. Go to the local markets and you can get fine Arabian specialties like carpets, stoles, crockeries, spices and condiments etc. Many antique artifacts are also available to woo you with their intricate Arabian designs and finish.

Not only the tourists, the locals too prefer shopping in their own city, for the fact that it has a diverse range from a bejeweled designer watch worth thousands of dollars and also a wooden souvenir that might not cost you much but is beautiful enough to be treasured forever. The sheer variety of malls, souks, boutique shops and complexes makes Abu Dhabi a shopper’s delight. Although the city offers on sale almost everything under the sun, its textiles, carpets, perfumes and gold are the most famous across the world. There are bargain outlets that allow you to haggle and buy your favorite stuff at mutually agreed prices.

Stores like Jashanmal, Madinat Zayed Shopping & Gold Centre, Paris Avenue, Abu Dhabi Pottery establishment, various art galleries, the special Saturday market on the Yas island, an all exclusive carpet souq that offer some of the most beautiful carpet designs in the world, and so much more an bring out the best of a shopper in you. One of the newest mall of the city is the World Trade Centre mall and Yas mall. The Yas mall has the high-end stores with possibly every well-known international brand of the world and eateries, but if you don’t want to have the regular mall experience and look for something more authentic, head to the Iranian souq and Folklore gallery.

Things to See in Abu Dhabi

  • Ferrari World theme park- the world’s largest indoor theme park, it is the world’s only Ferrari brand theme park with the world’s fastest ride, Formula Rossa.
  • Emirates Palace- enjoy an open space of over 85 hectares of landscaped gardens and the beautiful views of the marina. Whether or not you plan to stay at the 5- star property, it is a must visit for its sheer beauty.
  • Sheikh Zayed Mosque- it is considered to be one of the most important sites of worship in UAE and the grandeur of the place is every bit worth your time. It also houses the world’s biggest chandelier and largest handloom carpet.
  • Yas Island- this manmade island is an emerging destination of the city and a major tourist attraction. It has the best of malls, theme parks, and entertainment options.

Enjoy the best of the gleaming city of Abu Dhabi in the best way only with Rayna tours. we have exclusive short and long duration tours that include the best attractions of the city. Whether it is the desert safari tours or the night tours, package tours of days or only one-day sightseeing; Rayna gives you the best of travel options for Abu Dhabi.

The best time to visit Abu Dhabi is between April and May or from September to October. The heat in the afternoon is bearable and the evenings are pleasant and towards the cooler side.

Best Selling Abu Dhabi Tours

  • Desert Safari Abu Dhabi
  • Dhow Cruise Abu Dhabi
  • Abu Dhabi Airport Transfers
  • Abu Dhabi Sightseeing Tour

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