Abu Dhabi Travel Guide

Abu Dhabi Mosque
Abu Dhabi Travel Guide

The airport of Abu Dhabi is 35 kilometres east of central Abu Dhabi and it’s around a 40 minutes drive by taxi. If you plan travelling by taxi make sure you confirm the fare with the driver before the journey. All major and local car rental companies have offices at Abu Dhabi airport and some also provide a chauffeur service.

Tipping advice in Abu Dhabi

Any service charge on a restaurant bill in Abu Dhabi usually goes to the restaurant (the owners) rather then the waiter, therefore, even if tips aren’t expected, they are very much appreciated.

Abu Dhabi dress code

In Abu Dhabi, clothing should be conservative and smart. Females should avoid revealing clothing, especially in the rural areas of Abu Dhabi, and go for loose clothing such as loose-cut trousers and long dresses.

Local Customs in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi and the The United Arab Emirates are the most liberal part of the Persian Gulf, however Arabs are still very conservative by Western standards. This means that great offence would be shown by wearing revealing clothing or in any way showing disrespect in Mosques or other public places.

Location of Cities near Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is located 32km east of the city and it takes around 40 minutes from the Abu Dhabi airport. Buses and taxis are available at the airport. Facilities at Abu Dhabi airport include duty-free shop, 24-hour banking, bar, snack bar, money exchange, post offices and car hire desk’s.

Dubai is located 5km southeast of the city (travel time – 10 minutes). Taxis are available at the airport. Airport facilities include duty-free shop, bank, post office, shops, car hire, restaurant, snack bar and bar. The airport consists of two terminals and a new concourse.

Sharjah is located 10km from the city. Taxis are available at the airport. Ras Al Khaimah (RKT) is 15km (9 miles) from the city. Taxis are available at the airport. Airport facilities include a duty-free shop and restaurant/snack bar. There is also an airport at Fujairah with duty-free facilities, and one is being constructed at Al Ain.

The National Airlines

The national airlines are Emirates (EK) and Gulf Air (GF). Emirates operate international flights to and from Dubai; Gulf Air serves all United Arab Emirates airports. Emirates is expanding services to the Far East. Approximate flight times: From London to Abu Dhabi is 6 hours 35 minutes and to Dubai is 7 hours; from Frankfurt/M to Dubai is 6 hours; from Hong Kong to Dubai is 8 hours and from Nairobi to Dubai is 4 hours.

Visas for visitors to Abu Dhabi

Passport valid for a minimum of 6 months from date of arrival required by all citizen that enter Abu Dhabi. Visa is required by all except nationals of Great Britain with the endorsement ‘British Citizen’ for a maximum of 30 days. Nationals of European Union countries for a maximum of 30 days. Nationals of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Transit passengers, provided holding valid onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport.

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi refuses entry and transit to any nationals of Israel, including Israeli diplomats.

Health Risks

Malaria is not a risk in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi nor in the cities of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman or Umm al Qaiwain. There is, however, a risk of contracting the disease (predominantly the benign vivax form) in the valleys and on the lower slopes of mountainous areas of the Northern States. In these areas chloroquine or proguanil are recommended, plus protection against mosquito bites.

Tap water in Abu Dhabi is safe to drink, but in small villages around Abu Dhabi it should be filtered, or bottled water should be used. Water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised, but make sure that it is reconstituted with pure water. Avoid dairy products which are likely to have been made from unboiled milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, served hot. Salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other risks

Visceral leishmaniasis and tick-borne typhus may occur; avoid mosquito, sandfly and tick bites. Wear shoes to avoid soil-borne parasites. Take precautions against heat exhaustion, dehyrdration and sunstroke. Immunisation against Hepatitis A is recommended and Hepatitis B is endemic. Rabies is present close to the border with the Sultanate of Oman. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay. For more information, consult the Health appendix.

Greeting someone in Abu Dhabi

Greetings can be protracted affairs as an Arab may enquire after you and your family’s health. The polite reply is that all is well, thanks be to God. It is usual to use ‘Sayed’ (Mr) or ‘Sayeda’ (Mrs) followed by the first name. The name should always be prefixed with the honorific title when conducting business. The Bedouin custom of offering food and shelter in Abu Dhabi to strangers in the deserts of Abu Dhabi is preserved today by the coffee ceremony. Business often starts with a tiny cup of cardamon-flavoured coffee poured from the traditional metal pot. To indicate that you have had enough, guests must wiggle the cup from side to side.

Major Industries in Abu Dhabi
Oil and gas are Abu Dhabi’s main industries, and underpin the country’s considerable prosperity. Chemicals, aluminium and steel production are the most important of the new industries in Abu Dhabi. Other newly established industries produce consumer goods for the domestic market. There is some agriculture, mostly livestock rearing, in what is an unfavourable climate and fishing is also significant. Tourism has been booking lately in Abu Dhabi and the development of real estate properties.

Archaelogical sites

Ayn al-Faydah archaelogical site
Ayn al-Faydah is the name given to an location of fossil lakebed sediments located on the alluvial plain to the northwest of Jebel Hafit in the interior of Abu Dhabi. These sediments, c. 3.5 m thick, shows the remains of a lake which was fed by the seasonal flooding of wadis on the west of the Jebel Hafit. Freshwater snails from several layers in the lake bed deposits show that there must have been a semi-permanent or permanent lake at Ayn al-Faydah at various points in time in Abu Dhabi.

Dalma is one of the most important islands off the west coast of Abu Dhabi. The island sits some 80 km east of the Qatar peninsula, and measures 45sq km, rising to a maximum elevation of 98 m above sea-level. Dalma today has a population of around 5000 people and it is volcanic island. In the late nineteenth century Dalma was the only island on the Great Pearl Bank with a permanent population around the year. More than 20 historic archaeological sites have been found on the Dalma, ranging from the late prehistoric era to an early twentieth century mosque (Sa’id Jum’a al-Qubaysi).

Dalma’s main prehistoric site is located on the Abu Dhabi Women’s Federation enclosure, and has yielded some of Abu Dhabi’s earliest evidence of date palm cultivation, pottery. The vast majority of the Dalma’s archaeological sites dates back to the last few centuries of the Islamic era.

Jebel Hafit
Jebel Hafit is oriented almost exactly north-south, just south of Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi. A prominent feature of the landscape today, Jebel Hafit would have been just as prominent for the region’s prehistoric population. Many graves dating to around 3000 BC are dotted along the eastern slope of Jebel Hafit. These consist of massive cairns of unmasoned stone piled up around a keyhole-shaped chamber. Several graves of even larger dimensions are known at Jebel Emalah in the interior of Sharjah. Because such graves were first identified and excavated at Jebel Hafit, they have come to be known as ‘Hafit-type’ graves. Most of the historical graves at Jebel Hafit have been robbed in antiquity many years back, but those excavated by successive Arabian and European expeditions give evidence of having held more than one person, perhaps up to five or six, and thus represent the first of a long line of collective burials in Abu Dhabi.

Mantiqa al-Sirra
The Mantiqa al-Sirra archaelogical site is located in the dunes to the east of Madinat Zayed at the interior of Abu Dhabi and includes the remains of a rectangular mudbrick enclosure with a seize of around 46×80 meters and with a 12 metres square tower in the northeast corner. The walls of the building are preserved to a height of about one metre and gun ports can still been seen. Within living memory two cannons still stood at the fortress, although these have now been removed to Liwa. Late Islamic pottery can be found on the surface of the site. Although it is not certain, the Fortress at Mantiqa al-Sirra may be the one mentioned in the History of the Imams and Seyyids of Oman as the Ezh-Zhafrah Fort where, in 1633, Nasir bin Qahtan Al Hilali, an opponent of the Ya’aruba Imam of Oman, Nasr bin Murshid, joined forces with members of the Bani Yas tribe.

In the early 70’s a Shimal-type long tomb was excavated by an archaelogical team of Iraq at Qattarah which is a neighbourhood in Al Ain in Abu Dhabi. The tomb at Qattarah was one of the very first tombs of 2nd millennium BC date excavated in Abu Dhabi. The material from this excavation is stored and, to some extent, can be found in the Al Ain Museum. Among the most notable treassure is a gold ornament consisting of a double-headed, single-bodied animal. Similar finds are known from the sites of Dhayah in northern Ras al-Khaimah and Bidya in northern Fujairah. These were probably worn as a large medallion in a necklace.

Named after a district of Al Ain in the interior of Abu Dhabi, Rumeilah was the first Iron Age settlement excavated on a large scale in Abu Dhabi. Work was conducted there between 1981 and 1983 by a French team from the National Scientific Research Center of Paris. The archaelogical site consists of a series of mudbrick buildings, some of which are so well preserved that their roofs are still intact. These had been literally buried by sand. They contained large quantities of potteries, grinding stones and metal tools, as well as stamp seals, beads and several pieces of bronze weaponry. Rumeilah was occupied between ca 1000 and 300 BC and is very similar to the contemporary Iron Age archaelogical site of al-Madam, al-Thuqaibah, Qarn Bint Saud and Hili 2.

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