“Father of Deer”, “Emergin Emiratis”
22nd of October, 2011
As for our final stop over from our trip, we decided to stay another 2 days in Dubai, and spend one for visiting Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Indeed a great decision also in order to split such a long flight back from South East Asia, get back to usual time and try to avoid the big jet lag. This last one did not really worked well. Coming from 7 hours difference to 3 (with respect to London) and then again back to GMT is quite hard.
We rented again a car and went to the same hotel we’ve been on the start of our tour. Relaxed the day we arrived at the hotel’s pool and enjoyed a nice dinner .
Next day we drove to Abu Dhabi. It is basically following the Sheikh Zayed Road all the way. Soon the desert will surround you, but notice how many trees have been planted in between the up/down lanes of the road. Not only here, but on the sides of the road. This is more notorious when approaching the city, where you will get to see big fields of green grass, many trees and plants. This is one of the long term ideas of the Emirates, change the harsh environment for something much easier to stand, and nicer. Vegetation brings humidity and after all, water, also reduces the temperature. It felt much nicer in here than in boiling hot Dubai.
The city itself has not much to offer to the visitor (as as 2011), but still impresses anyone to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Emirates Palace, or the shiny skyline by the Corniche. Soon you will be able to enjoy the Guggenheim or the Louvre museums among other worldwide names.
As the capital for all the Emirates, it is also the richest, with vast reserves of oil, something that neighbouring Dubai ran out some years ago. Construction seemed to just kick off, not as Dubai where everywhere you looked there was a crane. I can imagine in few years time the enormous expansion of the city will be well worth it.
What to see and do in Abu Dhabi:
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque The 6th largest mosque in the world and perhaps the most luxurious of all. You can get inside when no praying is happening. They will provide you with a white tunic to cover yourself, so don’t worry to come in your shorts and flip flops. The carpet, made in Iran, is the largest ever to be done in a single piece in the world. The enormous lamps are having thousands of Swarovsky crystals
- Corniche Abu Dhabi’s waterfront stretches for miles from the Breakwater near Marina Shopping Mall almost up to the Mina Zayed port.
- Flagpole At 123m, this is among the world’s tallest flagpoles. On Marina Island across from Marina Mall.
- Marina Mall Boasts a musical fountain and ceilings that thunder and rain. It is in the water breaker area near the Emirates Palace.
- Khalifa Park Off Al Salam Street (8th) near the Grand Mosque.
- Saadiyat Island Is being developed into a cultural haven and will host the Louvre or Guggenheim among other world museums. At the time of our visit, there was nothing worth to go there, only a construction site. Surely in few years this will become the sight number one.
- Emirates Palace Until the recent construction of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, this was the most expensive hotel construction ever made in the world. You can go inside the lobby, but not in flip flops. The fountains on the front are a nice spot for pictures with the hotel in the background.
If arriving from Dubai the bus company Emirates Express to/From Abu Dhabi operate every 40 minutes from 6.20am from both Dubai’s Al Ghubaibah bus station (opposite Carrefour) and Abu Dhabi main bus terminal on the corner of Hazza bin Zayed the First (11th) Street and East (4th) Road. 20AED from Dubai, 15AED from Abu Dhabi.
In the city you can get a bus pass for the day for Dhs. 3. But the best is to have a rental car and move freely. Public transportation is quite bad still. Those cities are created for motor and not pedestrian friendly.
We cannot recommend any hotel as we did not stay overnight here but returned to our hotel in Dubai. In any case, I would suggest you select Dubai as your base and move from there. Abu Dhabi has not even beaches to enjoy, therefore a one day visit is more than enough.