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ABU DHABI 2014 – Nightsky's trip to the capital of UAE

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Sheikh Zayed Mosque, UAE:s largest mosque and a big tourist attraction, in Southeast Abu Dhabi. More of this will be presented later.

ABOUT Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and the second largest city. Abu Dhabi is also the largest of the seven emirates. It is situated on several islands right next to the Persian Gulf, with a shoreline along Corniche Lake. It is a very glamorous city, with shiny new supertall skyscrapers, wide boulevards, large highways, luxury hotels, malls, beautiful parks with palms and a very nice and long beach right in downtown with a beautiful beach walk called Corniche. Since the royal family lives in Abu Dhabi, that also is the political power of UAE, you find numerous huge royal palaces, some of them only temporary residences and one under construction that will be the largest residential building in the world. Just like Dubai, Abu Dhabi is a city where you find very futuristic and innovative architecture, many world records and some of the buildings are among the tallest in the Middle East. You can also find the largest and most beautiful mosque in the UAE, the only one open for tourists. Many more projects and skyscrapers are under construction or planned for the future!

Abu Dhabi, that means "father of gazells", is a very new city, and one of the world's fastest growing, about 70 years ago it was only a small fishing village! Before the discovery of oil in 1958, pearl trade was the main business. Large parts of the city is situated on islands, and it is a very spread out city with urban sprawl and long distances between the attractions. In 2007, Abu Dhabi was stated the richest city in the world!


We visited Abu Dhabi as a half daytrip with a guided tour from Dubai.

I found Abu Dhabi more beautiful, wealthier and greener then its big brother Dubai. Abu Dhabi is actually a richer emirate then Dubai, and Sheikh Khalifa, that is also the president of the UAE (and has named Dubai's Burj Khalifa), has spent a lot of effot on making the city green. There were even artificial woods outside the city, in the desert! So I wish we could spend more time there, but the tour was very short. Just like or even more then Dubai, you get an artificial feeling when visiting the city, almost like a computer made charmless but very good looking utopia, especially since the city is also very clean and the crime rate is very low.

We were caught up at our hotel in Dubai by a white minivan of older model on a Monday morning. The guide was really nice and experienced. He had roots from India and the driver had roots from Pakistan. He actually compared Dubai with Mumbai. We were only six persons in the van together with an older Finish couple.

We visited the impressive Sheikh Zayed Mosque, that must be one of the world's most beautiful newer buildings, Mirage design center (a design arts center for very expensive arts that the salesman wanted us to buy), had lunch (pizza) in the Marina Mall, that looked like any other exclusive mall in the world, the historic Heritage Village (situated at the seashore, where we learned about the history of A.D.) and a short visit to the ultramodern theme park Ferrari World on Yas Island in the Eastern outskirts. We also made a short stop at the beautiful beach road Corniche, the guide van drew us fastly through Downtown, while I tried to make very fast snapshots of the skyscrapers and streetscenes, not a very easy task. Originally it was planned that we should go inside the so called "7 star" Emirates Palace Hotel, but that was cancelled because members of the royal family was there!

Read the whole article about my experience of Abu Dhabi, with many interesting facts on the bottom of this page:
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Abu Dhabi's downtown is very modern with supertall skyscrapers, palaces, luxury hotels, malls and restaurant. Corniche Road is a long and beautiful road parallel to downtown situated along the shoreline of Corniche Lake. Our small tour bus from Dubai drew fastly through Cornjche Road without stopping, so I tried to make as many snapshots as possible to capture streets and architecture, but without really doing downtown justice.

Corniche Park, The Landmark (324m, 2013), WTC (background), Baynunah Hilton Tower (165m, tallest 1994-2002), seen from Corniche Road.

Capital Plaza from 2011 is a mixed use complex with offices, hotel (Sofitel) and residences. The postmodern/art deco architecture of the tallest tower resembles Empire State Building in New York.

ADNOC Headquarters (342m, u/c, expected completion in 2014) Etihad Towers (five towers from 2011 up to 305m)

Etihad Towers, five glass towers from 2011 with hotels and offices. The tallest one is Tower2, 305m tall with 77 floors and an observation deck on the 75th floor. Tower 1 has a Jumeirah hotel. The bronze glass highrise to the right is Bab Al Qasr Hotel, under construction.

Nation Towers has the world's highest pedestrian bridge, even higher then the one at Petronas Towers, our guide told us. There is also a helicopter platform on the top of one of the towers. To the right is Hilton hotel, today one of the oldest modern buildings in Abu Dhabi.

You can read more and watch tons of pics from Downtown Abu Dhabi on the link below:
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During our half day Abu Dhabi tour, the guide made a brief stop to Heritage Village, in the Marina area, opposite Downtown and just next to Lake Corniche. Just like Dubai's Heritage Village, this is a tourist attraction explaining the early life of the UAE and Abu Dhabi, before the discovery of oil in 1958. Only 50 years ago, Abu Dhabi was a small pearl fishing village with just a few houses. Heritage Village contians small museums, ships, shops, sculptures, photography and other stuff telling histories inside small clay houses in old Middle Eastern style. There is a nice beach just next to Hertiage Village, opposite Downtown.

Abu Dhabi in the 2960s, just a small village with small simple houses and almost no roads. Today the city has about 1 million inhabitants, wide highways, large malls and supertall skyscrapers.

An honour to Sheikh Zayed

Traditional Arabian architecture in Abu Dhabi's Heritage Village, that is actually smaller then Dubai's village, but more well visited.

There are many palms and tourists in Abu Dhabi's Heritage Village, one of the few places with historical connection and old buildings in the city.

Ship and beach of Heritage Village in front of the luxury "7 star" hotel Emirates Palace.
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Thanks! More will come soon!
nice...I really like those sleek highrises.....great architecture.


Corniche Road shoreline and Capital Plaza in the middle

The skyline of Downtown Abu Dhabi seen from Heritage Village, from the left: Capital Plaza (complex in the distance), ADIA Tower (185m, tallest 2006, The Landmark (324m, 2013), World Trade Center Residences (381m, 2014), Baynunah Hilton Tower (165m, tallest 1994), WTC Trust Tower (278m, 2013). To the far right is Al Ain Tower (49 floors, 2011). In the front is Corniche Road and the beachfront.
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This mosque is the biggest attraction in Abu Dhabi. It is the biggest and by far most impressive mosque in the United Arab Emirates, even Dubai is promoting itself with this building. This beautiful building might look like an ancient palace, a bit like Taj Mahal, but the buildings was completed as late as in 2008. It is located in the Southeast outskirts of Abu Dhabi. It is one of very few mosques that can be visited by tourists in the UAE. The building was constructed from materials from around the world to "unite the world", for example China, Italy and New Zealand. There is also information on different languages. The world's 3rd largest chandelier is located inside, as well as the world's largest carpet.

The 3rd largest chandelier in the world, and the largest inside a mosque, was imported from Germany and has Swarovski crystals.

Blueish and black cloud shadows at the cupolas on top. At night projections of clouds reflect the phase of the moon, thanks to an advanced lighting system.
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Thanks! More to come....:)

This part is about the North and East outskirts of Abu Dhabi, that we approached when arriving on the highway from Dubai. From the window of the tour van we saw the leaning tower Capital Gate, some Royal palaces, the skyline, some mosques and the popular futuristic tourist destination Yas Island.

Yas Island, a man-made island in the oustkirts of Abu Dhabi that has become a popular holiday destination. The curvy white structure is the Yas Hotel. This is where you find the famous race track, builtaround the complex. You can also see some yachts, the water is not visible from this angle though. This is also where you find the famous indoor theme park Ferrari World.

Hyatt Capital Gate is the world's most leaning tower (even more then the one in Pisa!). This deconstructivist mixed use skyscraper, built at the Abu Dhabi Natioal Exhibition Center, was built in 2010 and is 160m tall. It has a diagrid design, diagonal triangular structures.

Aldar HQ Bldg, the "Coin building", was completed in 2010. With its circular, flat shape this glass office building resembles a coin. It is 110m tall. It is the first circular building in the Middle East and has been voted "best futuristic design".

Branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums are planned to be built here

The only oil refinery we saw!

Al Maktoum Bridge

Several mosques in the outskirts

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A building belonging to the Royal family

The desert highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

The roads are perfect, almost utopian, in the area where many of the Royal complexes and embassies are situated, close to downtown.
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Ferrari World on Yas Island is the world's largest indoor theme park. It was opened in November 2010. Our guide drove us there so we could stop and take some pictures. Unfortunately we weren't able to take a ride in the world's fastest rollercoaster, designed like Ferrari cars! There is also other attractions, and a museum of rare Ferrari cars inside. It covers an area of 200 000 m².

Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster, designed like Ferrari supercars!
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Wow...simply breathtaking. Would love to visit the UAE one day.
^^Thanks! :lol:


Ferrari World on Yas Island is the world's largest indoor theme park. It was opened in November 2010. Our guide drove us there so we could stop and take some pictures. Unfortunately we weren't able to take a ride in the world's fastest rollercoaster, designed like Ferrari cars! There is also other attractions, and a museum of rare Ferrari cars inside. It covers an area of 200 000 m².

The flagpole is the second tallest in the world (world's tallest before a pole in Baku was completed in 2007). It is 122m tall and was rised to mark the nation's 30th national day in 2001.

The Presidential Palace, under construction during our visit in 2014, is planned to be the largest and most expensive residential building in the world. It is expected to cost $490 000 000! It will be located at the sea, right next to the Emirates Palace. The complex consist of a main palace, smaller palaces, villas and other buildings.

The Emirates Palace Hotel. A visit to this "7 star" (officially 5 star) hotel was planned initially, but had to be cancelled because the Royal family was visiting the hotel during our stay in Abu Dhabi! The hotel opened in 2005.

A theater in Middle Eastern style, is situated at the edge of the peninsula next to Heritage Village.

The world's highest skybridge at Nation Towers

Our tour van, parked at Corniche Road.
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Truly amazing. I can't wait to visit, Insha'alla.

Corniche Road at Al Marina, Marina Mall and Marina Mall Tower

Marina Mall with its over 400 stores and the 100m tall Marina Mall Tower.

Marina Mall

Etihad Towers and Bab Al Qasr Hotel
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this is one nice city with an array of sleek iconic crapers.
A Youtube clip from my visit! More to come!

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wow!nice and extensive coverage of the city.
I can imagine the weather is as hot as in Riyadh where I worked for 4 years a long ago.
BTW, Nightly, are you originally from the Middle East?
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