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Abu Dhabi

4.3 /5 43 votes


Best Time: Late October - April Read More

Ideal duration: 3 days

Nearest Airport: Abu Dhabi International Airport Check Flights

"Abu Dhabi: The sophisticated Emirati capital"

Abu Dhabi Tourism

Abu Dhabi is a luxurious metropolis that is a stylish blend of beautiful cultural monuments and stark 21st century megastructures. It is the largest of the seven Emirates and it has everything from massive and beautiful mosques, one of the best theme parks in the world and endless deserts.

One of the richest cities of the world, Abu Dhabi is a perfect example of a modern Gulf oil-city that has evolved from being a fishing village to a megacity in just a few decades. With its rich past tracing back to 3000 B.C., Abu Dhabi, unlike Dubai has preserved its distinct Arabian culture amidst its glitz and glamour. The desert city is also home to some of the most beautiful and rustic old towns displaying its rich desert-trader past. Jump from the gorgeous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, ride the fastest roller coaster in the world, witness past Arab royalty at the Emirates Palace and more.

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Currency in Abu Dhabi

Various types of credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted in Abu Dhabi including Visa, MasterCard, Global Access, Cirrus and Plus System. The exchange rate for international cards is generally quite high. One can get foreign currency and traveller's cheque exchanged at authorized exchange offices, banks and hotels by showing one's passport. Personal cheques, although accepted generally, can be a little troublesome as many places do not accept them. If you are planning to shop in the souks or markets, cash is the perfect option.

History of Abu Dhabi

50 years ago, Abu Dhabi was a modest village in a desert housing stone huts and hundreds of palm trees. The new shining city of Abu Dhabi started evolving just about 30 years ago, resulting in an assortment of shiny skyscrapers, pristine beaches along the Arabian Gulf, and many well preserved historic buildings. However, with all these advancements and modernity, the emirate has been able to retain its culture and heritage. The major development began with the discovery of oil during the 1950s, which happened to be the 10 per cent of the world's oil reserve.

Language of Abu Dhabi

Arabic is the official language whereas English is also widely spoken. One will find road signs, menus and shop signs both in Arabic and English, however, as you move out of town Arabic becomes more commonly used both in written and speaking form. Commonly used phrases, which can be useful while travelling in the UAE, are:
  • Hi: Salam
  • Good Morning: Sabah el kheer
  • Welcome: Marhaba
  • Thank you: shukran
  • Good night: Tosbeho ala khair
  • Goodbye: Ma salama

Shopping in Abu Dhabi

Shopping in Abu Dhabi is a luxurious experience with its many premium malls and ancient souks. You can purchase authentic Arabic like carpets, perfumes, spices, handicrafts etc. There are a myriad of luxury malls here such as The Galleria on Al Marayah Island and Avenue at Etihad Towers offering 130 of the most exclusive brand outlets in the world along with VIP treatment. On the plus side, all the malls in Abu Dhabi are air-conditioned, making it the perfect place for locals to beat the Arabian heat.

During the many festivals in Abu Dhabi, these malls also act as a venue for various festivities and cultural programmes like dances and various musical events. Marina Mall, Khalidiyah Mall, Abu Dhabi Mall, World Trade Centre Souk and Mall, Dalma Mall and Liwa Centre are just a few to be named. Abu Dhabi is a place that caters to the tastes of all. It offers small local souqs such as the Fish Souq, Carpet Souk, Al Mina Fruit and Vegetable Souk etc., being some of the traditional small markets in the emirate. One can spend thousands of dollars while shopping in Abu Dhabi or can buy so much in just a hundred dollars. If your bargaining skills are perfect, one can break a good deal for textile, carpets and gold. Most shops in the city are open from 10:00 to 22:00.

Nightlife in Abu Dhabi

The nightlife of Abu Dhabi is equally active and jazzy as it is during the daytime with its many fantastic options for bars and clubs. One can enjoy live music, themed bars and some very luxurious clubs in Abu Dhabi. Although there are strict rules to follow while purchasing alcohol, serving alcohol is not an issue at these various bars and clubs. However, those on a visitor's visa are hardly asked for the license even when purchasing alcohol.

For men, there is a strict dress code in bars. They cannot enter if they're wearing sandals, flip-flops or shorts. Alcohol served may be a bit costly with the standards of western countries. There are special Ladies' nights at various bars and clubs where free drinks are served to women.

Exchanging Money in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is dotted with offices and banks where currency can be exchanged. Other than banks, one can also find licensed 'Bureau de Change' offices at almost all major malls and shopping districts. The rate offered by these exchange offices is at times better than banks. Saturday to Thursday is the usual working days, from 8:00 - 13:00 and 16:30 to 20:30 and on Fridays. Traveller's cheques and money can also be exchanged at many hotels at standard (non-competitive) rates. One can easily locate ATMs in all shopping complexes, most of the petrol pumps, major supermarkets and the airport.

Religion of Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi Customs

Arabs are very particular about their dress code, which is followed almost similarly throughout the United Arab Emirates. Men usually wear dishdasha or Kandura, a white full-length shirtdress, which is worn with a white or red checked headdress, known as a ghutrah. An agal, a black cord is used to secure ghutrah. For women, there is black abaya, a loose long robe to cover their usual clothes along with a headscarf known as Sheyla. Some women also cover their faces with a thin black veil.

As a tourist, one is expected to respect the general culture and etiquettes. Foreigners are free to practice their religion and dress in a liberal manner as long as it is modest and does not reveal too much skin. Public display of affection is not accepted anywhere in U.A.E, although the presence of people from various ethnic groups has to lead the acceptation of other social customs such as a man and a woman holding hands. However, it is advised to avoid any such practices just to be cautious. Photography of tourist places are allowed but be polite to ask permission to photograph local people. Tipping is also widely practised in Abu Dhabi but it is not obligatory in any form.

Restaurants and Local Food in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi being a cosmopolitan city offers food and cuisines of various ethnicities. Delicious food served at fine-dine restaurants and hotel restaurants displays an impressive fusion of international flavours and great culinary skills, but prices are a bit high. There are several small eateries and street-side cafes all across Abu Dhabi that serves mouth-watering food. Al Harees (a dish of slow-cooked meat and wheat in a clay pot or oven served with ghee), Al Majboos (a dish made by boiling meat in water with addition of distinct fusion of spices and dried lime), and Al Madrooba ( a salted fish dish mixed with spices and thick sauce served with saffron rice) are the major local delicacies in Abu Dhabi. End the delicious meal with a round of renowned Arabic dessert, Baklava and delicious Arabic coffee.
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Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Abu Dhabi International Airport and drive to one of the city's glamorous hotels. Visit the Etihad Tower's and Get a magnificent birds-eye view of Abu Dhabi at the Tower's Observation Deck. Then head to Marina Mall or the WTC Souk for an evening of Shopping. End the day by taking a Dhow cruise and experience Arab culture at its best. 

Day 2: Take a city tour where you will see some of Abu Dhabi's most iconic cultural sites like The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al Muwaiji, Galleria and Rosewood, Louvre Museum, the Corniche, Heritage Village and more. 

Day 3: Spend the day at the Yas Islands, which comprises of the Yas Waterworld Theme Park, the famous Ferrari World theme park and the Emirates Palace hotel.

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A glamorous destination for family travellers. The vast untouched deserts and historical monuments make it ideal for history buffs and adventure seekers. 

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Abu Dhabi Reviews

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Anam Shaikh 1 year ago
The world's largest hand-loomed carpet, the fastest rollercoaster, the highest high tea, the tower with the greatest lean, the largest cluster of cultural buildings of the 21st century – UAE capital Abu Dhabi isn't afraid to challenge world records. Due to hot and arid climate throughout the year, try visiting during winter. Abu Dhabi is a compulsive shopper's dream; shop at Abu-Dhabi Mall and Marina Mall. You also absolutely have to go to Ferrari World. Wear comfortable clothes and stay within the dress codes of the country.
Abdullah Haider 1 year ago
Arguably the best part of my UAE trip. The infamous rollercoaster is the world's fastest and the main attraction. You get to see the history of Ferrari and the rides are all free once you've purchased the ticket. Sit on the rollercoaster as many times as you want with no extra fee! The queue may be a bit long. Do see exotic cars like Ferrari Enzo!
Abdullah Haider 1 year ago
One of the most beautiful mosques I've been to. It's very peaceful and calming, especially in the month of Ramzaan. Try visiting it at night to feel its true beauty as the marble reflects the moonlight. The mosque is named after Sheikh Zayed, one of the founding fathers of modern UAE. The mosque has intricate carvings and jewels in its walls.
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