The city of Abu Dhabi is geographically located on the north-eastern part of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula. It is on an island located less than two-hundred-and-fifty metres from the mainland and is joined to the mainland by the Maqta and Mussafah Bridges. A third, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, designed by Zaha Hadid, was opened in late 2010. Abu Dhabi Island is also connected to Saadiyat Island by a five-lane motorway bridge. Al-Mafraq bridge connects the city to Reem Island and was completed in early 2011. This is a multilayer interchange bridge and it has a total of twenty-seven lanes which allow roughly twenty-five thousand automobiles to move per hour. There are three major bridges of the project, the largest has eight lanes, four leaving Abu Dhabi city and four coming in.
Most of Abu Dhabi is located on the island itself, but it has many suburbs on the mainland for example: Khalifa City A,B and C, Al Raha Beach, Al Bahia City A,B and C, Al Shahama, Al Rahba, Between Two Bridges, Baniyas and Mussafah Residential.
Abu Dhabi has a hot arid climate. Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year. The months of June through September are generally hot and humid with maximum temperatures averaging above 35 °C . During this time, sandstorms also occur intermittently, in some cases reducing visibility down to a few meters.
The weather is cooler from November to March. This period also sees dense fog on some days. The oasis city of Al-Ain, about 150 km (93 mi) away, bordering Oman, regularly records the highest summer temperatures in the country; however, the dry desert air and cooler evenings make it a traditional retreat from the intense summer heat and year-round humidity of the capital city.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the hereditary ruler of Abu Dhabi (UAE). He is a son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. His half-brother, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and wields considerable influence as Chairman of Abu Dhabi's Executive Council and Deputy Supreme Commander of the armed forces of The United Arab Emirates.
The total number of members of the Executive Council has been slimmed down to 98 since the succession and it now consists largely of prominent members of the ruling family as well as a number of respected politicians.
The emirates maintain their hereditary rulers who, as a group, form the UAE’s Supreme Council of Rulers, headed by the president. Although the presidency is renewable every five years through a vote in the council, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan held the presidency from the formation of the UAE until his death in November 2004, and there is an implicit understanding that Abu Dhabi’s ruler will always be elected president.
At a federal level, laws must be ratified by the Supreme Council. The Council of Ministers forms the executive authority of the state. This 20-member cabinet is headed by the president’s chosen prime minister, a post currently held by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The cabinet also refers to the Federal National Council (FNC), a 40-member consultative body to which each emirate appoints a certain number of members. In the case of Abu Dhabi, this is eight. The procedures for appointment to the FNC have recently been amended so that each emirate must now select its representatives through an electoral body. The size of each electoral authority must be 100 times greater than the number of representatives it appoints. Half the members of each electoral body will be selected by the ruler of the emirate while the other half will be directly elected by residents of the emirate. These amendments are considered to be the first step in a wider electoral reform program which will see greater representation at a federal level.
The Abu Dhabi e-Government Gateway, abudhabi.ae, is the official website of Abu Dhabi Government providing citizens, residents, tourists and businesses comprehensive information and services around Abu Dhabi. The Gateway is a one-stop-shop for information about the ruling system, environment, sightseeing, events, labour law, jobs and contact details of over 90 departments in Abu Dhabi.
The website is designed as a service oriented portal with the objective of hosting government online services, delivering up-to-date information and providing a platform for interaction between the government and society. More than 50 interactive and transactional services are currently provided through the Abu Dhabi e-Government Gateway. The information & service gateway is also empowered by a multi-layered geographic map of Abu Dhabi, which allows the user to view the map based on his area of interest. The search and directory services on the portal cover a large diversity of information including schools, medical facilities, hotels, restaurants, events, trade names among others. Transactional services such as paying traffic fines, applying for fishing licence or requesting Property Certificates require secure authentication via Emirates ID (EIDA-card) and PIN.
The density of Abu Dhabi varies, with high employment density in the central area, high residential densities in central downtown and lower densities in the suburbs. In the dense areas, most of the concentration is achieved with medium- and high-rise buildings. Abu Dhabi's skyscrapers such as the notable Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Tower, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi headquarters, the Hilton Hotel Tower and the Etisalat headquarters are usually found in the financial districts of Abu Dhabi. Other notable modern buildings include the Emirates Palace with its design inspired by Arab heritage, and the www.visitabudhabi.com
One of the most important architectural landmarks is the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, located in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. This masterpiece is arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society - and one of the most beautiful in the world. It was initiated by the late President of the United Arab Emirates, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, fondly thought of as the father of the UAE.
Its design and construction 'unites the world', using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, Turkey, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and of course the United Arab Emirates. More than 3,000 workers and 38 renowned contracting companies took part in the construction of the Mosque! Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble, stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics. Construction began on November 5, 1996. The maximum capacity is approximately 41,000 people and the overall structure is 22,412 square metres and although still under completion, the internal prayer halls were initially opened in December 2007.
As one of the most visited buildings in the UAE, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center was established to manage the day to day operations, as a place of worship and Friday gathering and also a centre of learning and discovery through its education and visitor programs. Persons planning a visit the mosque can go to www.szgmc.ae for all the information they require.
The UAE’s large hydrocarbon wealth gives it one of the highest GDP per capita in the world and Abu Dhabi owns the majority of these resources – 95% of the oil and 6% of gas. Abu Dhabi thus holds 9% of the world’s proven oil reserves (98.2bn barrels) and almost 5% of the world’s natural gas (5.8 trillion cu metres). Oil production in the UAE was in the region of 2.3m barrels per day (bpd) in 2010, and projects are in progress to boost production to 3m bpd. In recent years the focus has turned to gas as increasing domestic consumption for power, desalination and reinjection of gas into oil fields increases demand. Gas extraction is not without its difficulties, however, as demonstrated by the sour gas project at Shah where the gas is rich in hydrogen sulphide content and is expensive to develop and process.
Recently the government has been diversifying their economic plans. Served by high oil prices, the country’s non oil and gas GDP has outstripped that attributable to the energy sector. Remarkably, non oil and gas GDP now constitutes 64% of the UAE’s total GDP. This trend is reflected in Abu Dhabi with substantial new investment in industry, real estate, tourism and retail. As Abu Dhabi is the largest oil producer of the UAE, it has reaped the most benefits from this trend. It has taken on an active diversification and liberalisation programme to reduce the UAE’s reliance on the hydrocarbon sector. This is evident in the emphasis on industrial diversification with the completion of an industrial free zone, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, and the construction of another, ICAD II, in the pipeline. There has also been a drive to promote the tourism and real estate sectors with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Tourism and Development Investment Company undertaking several large-scale development projects. These projects will be served by an improved transport infrastructure with a new port, an expanded airport and a proposed rail link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai all in the development stages.
Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest emirate of the UAE in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita income. More than $1 trillion is invested worldwide in this city alone. The GDP per capita also reached $63,000, which is far above the average income of the United Arab Emirates and which ranks third in the world after Luxembourg and Norway. Abu Dhabi is also planning many future projects sharing with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and taking 29% of all the GCC future plannings. The United Arab Emirates is a fast-growing economy: in 2006 the per capita income grew by 9%, providing a GDP per capita of $49,700 and ranking third in the world at purchasing power parity. Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), currently estimated at US$ 875 billion, is the world's wealthiest sovereign fund in terms of total asset value. Etihad Airways maintains its headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi's government is looking to expand revenue from oil and gas production to tourism and other sorts of features which would attract different types of people. This goal is seen in the amount of attention Abu Dhabi is giving to its International Airport. The airport, in 2009, experienced a 30%+ growth in passenger usage. This idea of diversification of the economy is also seen in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 planned by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. In this plan Abu Dhabi's economy will be sustainable and not be dependent on any one facet or source of revenue. More specifically the non-oil portion of income is planned to be increased from about 40% to about 60%.
The city was planned in the 1970s for an estimated maximum population of 600,000. In accordance with what was considered to be ideal urban planning at the time, the city has wide grid-pattern roads, and high-density tower blocks. On the northerly end of the island, where the population density is highest, the main streets are lined with 20- to 30-story towers. Inside this rectangle of towers is a normal grid pattern of roads with lower density buildings (2-story villas or 6-story low-rise buildings).
Abu Dhabi is a modern city with broad boulevards, tall office and apartment buildings, and busy shops. Principal thoroughfares are the Corniche, Airport Road, Sheikh Zayed Street, Hamdan Street and Khalifa Street. Abu Dhabi is known in the region for its greenery; the former desert strip today includes numerous parks and gardens. The design of the inner city roads and main roads are quite organised. Starting from the Corniche, all horizontal streets are oddly and the vertical ones evenly numbered. Thus, the Corniche is Street #1, Khalifa is Street #3, Hamdan is Street #5, and so on. Conversely, Salam Street is St #8.
Mail is generally delivered to post-office boxes only; however, there is door-to-door delivery for commercial organizations. There are many parks throughout the city. Entrance is usually free for children, however there is often an entrance fee for adults. The Corniche, the city's seaside promenade, is about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) in length, with gardens, playgrounds, and a BMX/skateboard ring.
In 2007 the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) was established, which is the agency responsible for the future of Abu Dhabi’s urban environments and the expert authority behind the visionary Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan that was published in September 2007. The UPC is also working on similar plans for the regions of Al-Ain and Al-Gharbia.
Because of the rapid development of Abu Dhabi, a number of challenges to the city's urban organization have developed, among them:
Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the city's main aviation hub and the second busiest airport in the UAE, serving 9.02 million passengers in 2008, up 30.2% on 2007. Its terminal spaces are dominated by Etihad Airways which is the UAE's national carrier and the country's second largest airline. A new terminal opened in 2009 with total capacity reaching 12 million passengers per annum by 2011. Development work has also started on a new passenger terminal, to be situated between the two runways and known as the Midfield Terminal. The new mega-midfield terminal complex will be capable of handling an additional 20 million passengers a year initially and then later, as Abu Dhabi develops as a major Middle East transport hub, up to 50 million passengers a year, thus providing a major competition to Dubai International Airport. The 5.9-million-square-metre (1,500 acres) terminal will initially include 42 gates, rising to more than 90 gates on completion of the airport.
Public transport systems in Abu Dhabi include the Abu Dhabi public buses, taxis, ferries, and airplanes. White-and-mustard metered taxis traverse most of the city in UAE. Currently newer silver-colored taxis are coming in, while the old mustard-colored ones are being phased out. Abu Dhabi has about 8,000 old bronze/yellow/gold & white taxis, which will be phased out from 2008 to 2010.
The first town bus entered service in about 1969 but this was all part of a very informal service. On 30 June 2008 the Department of Transport began public bus service in Abu Dhabi with four routes. In an attempt to entice people to use the bus system, all routes were zero-fare until the end of 2008. The four routes, which operate between 6 am and midnight every day, run at a frequency of 10 to 20 minutes. Within the first week of service, the bus network had seen high ridership. Some of the buses, which have a maximum capacity of 45 passengers, only had room for standing left. Some bus drivers reported as many as 100 passengers on a bus at one time. Although the new, zero-fare bus service has been a success, many taxi drivers are losing business. Taxi drivers have seen a considerable decrease in the demand for taxis while lines were forming for the buses. The service steadily expanded and by the end of 2008, 230 buses were in service. In 2009, the Department of Transport plans to have 21 bus routes in the city, operated by 820 buses. A total of 1,360 buses are expected to be in operation by 2010.
A massive expansion of public transport is anticipated within the framework of the government's Surface Transport Master Plan 2030. The expansion is expected to see 130 km (81 mi) of metro and 340 km (210 mi) of tramways and/or bus rapid transit (BRT) routes.
Abu Dhabi has a diverse and multicultural society. The city's cultural imprint as a small, ethnically homogenous pearling community was changed with the arrival of other ethnic groups and nationals — first by the Iranians in the early 1900s, and later by Indians and Pakistanis in the 1960s. Abu Dhabi has been criticized for perpetuating a class-based society, where migrant workers are in the lower classes. Despite the diversity of the population, only minor and infrequent episodes of ethnic tensions, primarily between expatriates, have been reported in the city. Major holidays in Abu Dhabi include Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-Adha which marks the end of Hajj, and National Day (2 December), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates.
This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that Abu Dhabi is generally more tolerant than its neighbours. While Islam is the main religion, Emaritis have been known for their tolerance; Christian churches, Hindu temples, and Sikh gurdwaras can be found alongside mosques. The country is home to several communities that have faced persecution elsewhere. The cosmopolitan atmosphere is gradually growing and as a result, there are a variety of Asian and Western schools, cultural centers and themed restaurants.
Abu Dhabi is home to a number of cultural institutions including the Cultural Foundation and the National Theater. The Cultural Foundation, while closed for reconstruction as of spring 2011, is home to the UAE Public Library and Cultural Center. Various cultural societies such as the Abu Dhabi Classical Music Society have a strong and visible following in the city. The recently launched Emirates Foundation offers grants in support of the arts, as well as to advance science and technology, education, environmental protection and social development. The International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) will be based in Abu Dhabi. The city also stages hundreds of conferences and exhibitions each year in its state-of-the-art venues, including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) which is the Persian Gulf's largest exhibition center and welcomes around 1.8 million visitors every year.
The Red Bull Air Race World Series has been a spectacular sporting staple for the city for many years, bringing tens of thousands to the waterfront. Another major event is the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC).
The diversity of cuisine in Abu Dhabi is a reflection of the cosmopolitan nature of the society. Arab food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small shawarma to the upscale restaurants in the city's many hotels. Fast food and South Asian cuisine are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though not illegal, is regulated and it is sold only to non-Muslims in designated areas. Similarly, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated. A liquor permit is required to purchase alcohol; however, alcohol is available in bars and restaurants within four or five star hotels but is not sold as widely as in its liberal neighbour Dubai. Shisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Abu Dhabi.
Poetry in Abu Dhabi and the UAE is highly regarded and often is centric around the themes of satire, religion, family, chivalry and love. According to an article from an Abu Dhabi tourism page, sheikhs, teachers, sailors and princes make a large bulk of the poets within the UAE. A unique form of poetry to the UAE was formed in the 8th century by Al Khalil bin Ahmed and it was written in 16 meters. The first known poet from the UAE, Ibn Majid, was born sometime between 1432 and 1437 in Ras Al Khaimah. According to the tourism page Majid came from a family of sailors and 40 of his works have survived. Another Emeriti poet, Ibn Daher is from the 17th century. Daher is important because he used Nabati poetry (AKA Bedouin poetry), poetry written in the vernacular instead of the classical/religious Arabic. Other important poets from the UAE are Mubarak Al Oqaili (1880–1954), Salem bin Ali al Owais (1887–1959) and Ahmed bin Sulayem (1905–1976). These poets made headway in the field of Classical Arabic poetry as opposed to the Nabati poetry of the 17th century.
One of Ibn Masjid’s most prominent works is a book called, Kitab al-Fawa’id fi Usul ‘Ilm al-Bahr wa ’l-Qawa’id (Book of Useful Information on the Principles and Rules of Navigation), and it was written in 1490. This book is effectually an encyclopedia about navigation and sailing in and around the Indian Ocean. Masjid also goes into detail about the intricacies and technologies of the Arab sailing techniques. An excerpt from his book is as follows:
Today in Abu Dhabi there is a group called the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation that works to preserve the art and culture of the city. According to an article from the English Pen Atlas Al jawaher wal la'li was the first manuscript to come out of the UAE. According to another article this book was written in the 1990s and was banned in the city for some time for making accusations about the ruling family.
Abu Dhabi is home to several international and local private schools and universities, including government-sponsored United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain, Higher Colleges of Technology and New York Film Academy, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi University in Abu Dhabi. These boast several languages that make up the population of the city. A large number of schools target the expatriate population by following the same syllabi as in their native countries. For e.g.: The Abu Dhabi Indian School follows the CBSE Indian syllabus. INSEAD, the prestigious international business school, has established a campus in February 2010, offering an Executive MBA and executive education courses. New York University opened a government-sponsored satellite campus in Abu Dhabi in September 2010.
Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) maintains a comprehensive after-school program for interested and talented Jiu-Jitsu students. The Abu Dhabi Jiu-Jitsu Schools Program began in 2008 under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, who is a keen Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor. The program launched in 14 schools for pupils in grades 6 and 7, and has since expanded to 42 government schools, with 81 Brazilian coaches brought in as instructors.
The students aged from 9 to 13 years old are taught Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as part of the curriculum. The plan is for up to 500 schools to be participating in the School-Jitsu program by 2015. The project was set up by special request of HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the head coach of the Emirates Jiu-jitsu team Carlos Santos, now also the managing director of the School-Jitsu Project.
Abu Dhabi provides a free scholarship program to students through The Petroleum Institute.www.pi.ac.ae. It is considered one of the best engineering colleges in UAE. It is being launched by ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company) and offers degrees in Chemical, Mechanical, Electrical, Petroleum, Reservoir and other engineering sectors. A notable aspect of the Petroleum Institute is that after graduation, they trained their students on their petroleum rigs provided them jobs in oil companies. The Petroleum Institute is one of the few higher education Institutions to offer students such job security. Every year in the season of admissions an exhibition is launched in Abu Dhabi Exhibition Center under the supervision of the government.Universities from every corner of the world exhibit their career programs and scholarship programs for globally bright students.This seems to be a well defined platform for the students of all nationalities.Univrsity of Heriot Watt,University of Bolton,Cambridge university,Oxford university,The Petroluem institute,Khalifa University and Abu dhabi University.