ABU DHABI

Capital of the United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, sits off the mainland on an island in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. Its focus on oil exports and commerce is reflected by the skyline’s modern towers and shopping megacenters such as Abu Dhabi and Marina malls. Beneath white-marble domes, the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features an immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers and capacity for 41,000 worshipers.

On either end of the Corniche, a promenade running along the main beachfront, are Emirates Palace, a landmark luxury resort built in high Arabian style, and Dhow Harbor, anchorage for the namesake boats. The Carpet and Iranian souks provide an old-fashioned bazaar experience, while the World Trade Center Souk offers an updated take. Heritage Village is a mock traditional oasis encampment where workshop stalls sell Arabian crafts and other wares. On Yas Island, the race-car-themed Ferrari World theme park features the 240km/h Formula Rossa roller coaster.

 
 
 

Most visitors arrive Oct–Apr when the weather is warm and dry. With a desert climate, temperatures soar in the summer (Jun–Sep). Major events include the Abu Dhabi Festival (Mar) and Abu Dhabi Film Festival (Oct). The major religious holidays are Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha (all dates vary).

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