Friday, July 11, 2014

35 Random Things about Abu Dhabi

Last month, I spent close to a week at Abu Dhabi. During this time, I got to explore a lot of the Abu Dhabi city, its islands and its oasis city of Al Ain and get a good feel of the local way of life. Based on this experience of mine, I have put together 35 very interesting things about this Emirate that you would have not known. I hope they make for an interesting read.

Beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi
1) The emirate of Abu Dhabi occupies more than 80% of the land mass of the United Arab Emirates.

2) All of Abu Dhabi’s roads have date palms and other trees by their side. This is to prevent sand dunes from forming on the roads.

3) 50 years ago, Abu Dhabi was a proper desert where nomadic tribes used to live.

4) Abu Dhabi is the richest emirate of UAE. It owns a good chunk of the world’s oil and natural gas reserves.

5) One can find more than 100 varieties of dates from across the Middle East at Abu Dhabi’s date market.

At a cafe inside Abu Dhabi's Central Souk
6) Even though all the 7 emirates are governed by the rules of the country, each emirates can offer different perks to its citizens. For example, Emiratis of Abu Dhabi can own 3 cars per person, but Emiratis of Dubai can only own 2 cars per person. Overall, the people of Abu Dhabi get better perks.

7) Abu Dhabi is the most expensive of all the 7 emirates of UAE. Standard of living and cost of living are both very high when compared to other emirates.

8) Expats are not allowed to own property in Abu Dhabi.

9) Immigrants can become UAE citizens only after spending 30 years in that country and that too under very special conditions.

10) Abu Dhabi is home to more than 200 islands.

11) The largest mosque of UAE is located in Abu Dhabi. It is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Grand Chandelier inside Sheikh Zayed Grand Modque, Abu Dhabi
12) Since Abu Dhabi is the largest Emirate, the head Sheikh of UAE will always be from Abu Dhabi.

13) The visionary Sheikh Zayed who transformed Abu Dhabi and the UAE hails from the oasis city of Al Ain. This oasis city is located in the Abu Dhabi emirate.

14) Abu Dhabi is the greenest of all the seven emirates.

15) The fastest theme park ride in the world runs at Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari world.

16) The only Formula one Grand Prix circuit in the UAE is at Abu Dhabi. It is the Yas Marina circuit.

17) Abu Dhabi drives on the right side of the road and overtakes from the left.

Holding a Falcon at the Falcon Hospital in Abu Dhabi
18) Abu Dhabi is home to the only five star hotel in the world that straddles a Formula 1 track. In fact, the race track passes from under the hotel. This is the Yas Viceroy hotel.

19) The expat population in Abu Dhabi is significant. People from South Asia make up most of the labor force.

20) Abu Dhabi is aiming to become the future cultural capital of the world.

21) Even though, Abu Dhabi has a lot of skyscrapers, construction and infrastructure development can be seen in full swing at many of its areas.

22) The speed limits on Abu Dhabi’s roads is 120 kmph.

23) Abu Dhabi, like Dubai is obsessed with being the best. It holds many tags like ‘world’s largest’,’world’s biggest’, ‘world’s richest’, etc. Examples would be the super rich Emirates palace, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, its shopping malls, unique buildings and much more.

Painting of Sheikh Zayed at the Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, Al Ain
24) Abu Dhabi is planning to build the world’s largest shopping mall.

25) The Sheikhs of Abu Dhabi use falcons as their hunting partner, take good care of them and even buy them a separate seat on the air plane when flying.

26) The world’s first and largest falcon hospital exists in Abu Dhabi.

27) The famous empty quarter of the Middle East passes through Abu Dhabi.

28) Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi is more traditional and hold importance to their culture.

29) Fuel prices are kept high in the United Arab Emirates even though they can opt to price it much lower as they have more supply.

The Holy Quran inside Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi
30) Abu Dhabi wants to position it as a top quality international destination. Hence, it has opened up its economy (very much like Dubai) to foreign investors and is encouraging companies to come and set up their businesses here.

31) The citizens of Abu Dhabi, like the other emirates, get free education, free land and money to build a house on that. They also get many other perks from their government.

32) Abu Dhabi is home to some very interesting buildings. Some of them look like a pineapple, a coin, wings, golf ball on the roof and much more.

33) Commute within Abu Dhabi is mainly by road. There is a bit of water based commute.

34) Public transportation infrastructure is minimal in Abu Dhabi. Most of the commute is either private cars or cars on hire.

35) Distances in Abu Dhabi are huge due to its big land mass. But, when commuting no one talks of distances. Instead, they refer by commute time.

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