Walking Tour in Abu Dhabi

Author: , January 25th, 2016

Alain Abu Dhabi

I had my own walking tour in Abu Dhabi. I figured it out using Google Map. My Lonely Planet Guidebook didn’t even have one–which I understand because Abu Dhabi is not a walkable destination. You’ve got to have a car to go places of interests. While they have public bus transport, good luck seeing all the things you plan to see in one day. On a backpacking budget? Sigh. Good luck with that! 🙂

I told my brother to drop me off at the gate of the Presidential Palace early morning on his way to work. No, not that early, really. At 9. Though it’s late November, the sun could still be a bit hot–I’m Asian, remember? We use skin whitener! Hahahahaha… At 21C, I thought it was tolerable.

I started at the gate of the Presidential Palace. No visitors are allowed inside, so, I just stood there and took a photo. As I left and turned my back away from the Presidential Palace, the luxurious 5-star hotel, Emirates Palace is on the left. You can actually go inside but make sure you’re properly dressed–no shorts and sandals. They’ll allow visitors starting at 10 in the morning.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

From Athens to Singapore 8 of 12: Abu Dhabi

Author: , September 15th, 2010

by Mike Shaughnessy, Traveler

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Purple Roofs is happy to welcome back an old friend. Last time, Mike regaled us with tales of his trip through South America. This time, he brings us details from his two month trip from Greece to Singapore. Enjoy!

Abu Dhabi

Abu DhabiAfter another day at sea we called on the city of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In this case “Emirate” means like a city-state. There are seven different city-states making up the UAE and each one is ruled by a different Royal Family. In 1971, after Britain withdrew from the region, the seven city-states joined together to create the country of United Arab Emirates.

The two most famous of the UAE seven cities are Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Dubai gets most of the attention in the press but Abu Dhabi by far has much more wealth and is also the capital of the UAE. Abu Dhabi estimates that it has at least 100 years more of oil production in the ground whereas Dubai will run out of oil very soon so they are concentrating more on tourism dollars for their future.

Abu DhabiEach city of the UAE is ruled by a different Royal Family so there are seven Royal Families in the UAE. The current ruler of Abu Dhabi has 19 brothers and 2 sisters, no one knows how many wives he has but by law each UAE National man is allowed a maximum of four wives. Few men here can afford more than one however because each wife must be treated equally; for example, if he buys a Mercedes car for one wife then the other three must get an equal value new car.

Abu DhabiThe entire UAE is tax free and there are no import duties. The concept of taxes does not exist here, no income taxes, no sales taxes, no city or state taxes. This, coupled with zero import duty, means that fancy new electronics, hot cars, and all consumable goods are much less expensive to purchase as everything is duty-free and tax-free. Nothing is manufactured here; oil is pumped and exported, everything else is imported. Gasoline here is cheaper than drinking water which has to be desalinated from the sea.

I saw a Lamborghini here today. The highways are jokingly referred to as low flying zones; there is no speed limit so they do not drive, they fly those fancy cars. There is no public transportation in Abu Dhabi so everyone needs a car. I went to a little mall today and it was a bit funny because you could by your groceries, your flat screen TV and your new car (in cash) all at the same place.

Abu DhabiAbu Dhabi is a very new city created by the local discovery of oil in 1969 and the resulting wealth. In land mass Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven Emirates that make up the UAE with 87% of the countries land. The main part of Abu Dhabi city is actually built on an island much like New York City/Manhattan is an island.

Abu Dhabi is a modern city with tall skyscrapers, much different from neighboring Oman. Here in Abu Dhabi they are trying to outdo Oman and have built now an even larger mosque, holding an amazing 40,000 worshippers at one time.

Abu DhabiThis new Sheikh Zayed Mosque also contains the world’s largest chandelier, imported from Germany. From a distance the Mosque looks like a big painted white building, but there is no paint anywhere, it is all white marble and the sheer scale of the complex is impressive. The mosque has finally just recently been opened but they are still putting the finishing touches on it and still are planting all the greenery that will surround it.

In addition to being Muslim EID it is also UAE National Holiday, this is the 38th anniversary of the creation of the UAE so they are celebrating with a big parade and huge fireworks…with a full week long holiday. We went to the museum here today and even though the door was open and we went in and walked around there was not a single employee inside the museum.

Abu DhabiThey say there is no crime here and Abu Dhabi is the safest capital city of any country in the world. All that you see here has been created in just the past 38 years mostly by foreign laborers. Of the population of UAE 80% are foreigners and only 20% UAE Arab Nationals. In order for a foreigner to live in the UAE he by law MUST have a work visa and a job. If the foreigner is laid off or loses his job for any reason then the visa is immediately revoked and he must leave the UAE and go back home.

Salary is also lower for foreigners doing the same job. A UAE National is always paid higher than a foreigner for the same type of work regardless of whether he has any education, experience or abilities. This 80% foreign population are mostly all men performing the various construction and other labor type jobs in this city under development. It is hard to believe that only 40 years ago the UAE was not much more than a big desert inhabited by nomadic tribes…then liquid black ‘gold’ changed all of that.

Abu DhabiThe ruling family receives all the money from the sale of oil and gas and then it decides how much of the money they will spend on improving the city infrastructure and living conditions for its citizens. So much wealth is garnered by the ruling family that they can build this entire wonderful infrastructure to keep the people happy.

There is also provided free health care, free education and social security but all this is only for the UAE Nationals. Foreigners and ex-pats working in the country under the visa work program get none of this social security or free health care or education, they must provide for it all out of their own salary savings. Abu Dhabi is very proud that for the first time it has hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix race last month on November 1, 2009.

The major Abu Dhabi landmark is the self-proclaimed “Seven Star: hotel, the Emirates Palace Hotel. It is massive and majestic with extravagance of gold plating and at every turn Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Rooms here start at $1,000 per night and go up to $25,000 per night…each room comes with three servants. The entire top floor however is off limits, having just seven huge suites, reserved 100% of the time, one for each of the seven Royal Families of the UAE who may pop in at any moment when in town and use their suite for free.