UAE: Abu Dhabi, first impressions

Abu Dhabi is certainly a very large city – Wikipedia confirms it is the second largest city in the country as well as the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – with population estimated at more than three million at end-2012. The city spreads across several islands on the coast of the Persian or Arabian Gulf. Population is divided 1:9 for home : expats, respectively. That means, only one tenth of the UAE population are native Emiratis, the remainder is expats and gastarbeiters. This mix of people gives the city a multi-culti atmosphere and on every street corner you can find restaurants cooking different cuisines, yet mostly Lebanese, Indian, Japanese, Italian, French, or fast food.

Streets of Abu Dhabi

The city is growing at an amazing speed. There are constructions sites everywhere, three new skyscrapers (familiarly called high-rise) are being built in the vicinity of my hotel. My colleagues said it goes fast and I believe them. According to historical documents, Abu Dhabi was just a small port some fifty years ago, with around 25 thousand people living there, mostly occupied by pearl trade. And then they discovered oil… But that’s not where I wanted to get to. The construction sites are all around the city. Everything is relatively new and modern – villas, skyscrapers, neighbourhoods, roads. But it seems the landscape engineers forgot about pedestrian sidewalks, but they may not have thought about it on purpose. Everyone drives a car or takes a taxi. I even noticed some modern busses on the roads. Who in its sane mind would in this weather and distance walk on foot? Except myself…

Streets of Abu Dhabi

Due to the city size and the weather, I have not visited many monuments and sights yet. Or it was because I am not sure what to visit. Tourist guide suggests Grande Mosque, Qasr al Hosn fort and heritage village. That’s it. In addition to this, others enjoy mall and hotel lobby tourism. I will check everything mentioned, as soon as the weather becomes better. For the moment, it is just ok to take the taxi to and from work and spend the weekends on the beach.

A view on a seafood restaurant and Khalidiya Palace hotel


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