I've spent a
great deal of my adult life in a place called Abu Dhabi. Many people
I've met don't have a clue where Abu Dhabi is, let alone what it's
like to live there. Some people think it's in Wales! So for those
of you who are interested, this is my personal view of it.
is in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in the part of the world known
as the Middle East, just to the right of the top bit of Africa.
Abu Dhabi is one of the United Arab Emirates, and my guess is that
most people have heard of Dubai, which is another one. The term
Emirate is derived from Emir which is the name for the ruler. Interestingly,
localities in neighbouring Oman are known as Waliyats and they're
ruled by a leader known as a Wali.
Abu Dhabi, there are six other emirates. In Geographical order from
south to north, starting from Abu Dhabi, there is Dubai, Sharjah,
Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah. The borders
of some of the emirates are not continuous, such that you'll find
a small part of Sharjah (Kawr Fakkhan) on the east coast within
the outer borders of Fujairah. There are also small parts of Oman
within the emirates, and some roads, such as that between Dubai
and Hatta which cross Omani territory.
Abu Dhabi is
an oil-rich state which has undergone massive development over the
last 30 years or so. Literally going from a desert oasis to a modern
city with all mod cons. Don't expect to find much of antiquity,
but do expect eight lane highways, high-rise apartment blocks, shopping
malls, and international hotels.
The name Abu
Dhabi is a bit confusing, because it's not only the name of the
Emirate, but also the name of the capital city, which is situated
on a small island connected to the mainland by a couple of bridges.
Abu Dhabi means father of the Dhabi, a sort of antelope which once
lived wild here, and the term is said to refer to the well, found
here in ancient times, and probably where the antelope got their
Abu Dhabi is
in the tropics, about 24 degrees north of the equator, and as such
has a hot climate befitting such a location. Summer temperature
can exceed 50 degrees centigrade, but it isn't the temperature that
is the problem but the humidity. Being next to the sea we get very
high humidity in the summer months, and it's difficult to walk too
far in the open, day or night without becoming bathed in sweat.
Fortunately, all buildings, offices, and accommodation are air-conditioned.
So in the summer you swiftly transfer from building to air-conditioned
car and then reverse the exercise at the end of your journey. Even
the sea can be hot, so little or no respite there. Some hotel swimming
pools actually have a chilling system rather than heating found
in most countries.
The UAE borders
with Oman to the north and north-east, Saudi Arabia to the south
and east, and Qatar to the south-west. There's a long coastline
to the west on the Arabian Gulf, sometimes known as the Persian
Gulf. There is also a much shorter eastern coastline with the Gulf
of Oman which turns into the Indian Ocean if you were to swim out
far enough. On the other side of the Arabian Gulf is Iran, and to
the north we have Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq.
Abu Dhabi, is quite pleasant really. You don't have to travel too
far between the facilities because everything is concentrated on
quite a small island. We want for nothing, you can buy almost anything
here, and the variety of food available in supermarkets and restaurants,
reflects the diversity of cultures represented. You can feel secure
wandering the streets, even at night, and you would be very unlikely
to be attacked or mugged.
The city is
more geared towards the private car and the taxi than the pedestrian.
Walking across town needs a lot of concentration. There are plenty
of road works and construction sites to negotiate, and crossing
the road requires a fair bit of nerve and good timing; far better
to take a taxi for longer trips and reserve walking for shopping
and exploring within a small area. You notice I didn't suggest driving
yourself. Driving a car in Abu Dhabi is quite easy, once you are
used to the traffic, but finding a place to park once you reach
your destination is becoming more and more difficult. When I first
arrived here in 1979, there was very little traffic, and jams were
hardly a problem, but now gridlock is never far away, and nearly
all parking spaces are occupied. There is plenty of greenery in
the city, despite the harsh climate. The central reservation of
main roads and all roundabouts have grass, and flowers on them and
some have fountains. There are some rather nice parks scattered
around town, but I wish there were more small ones to break up the
jungle of concrete and glass buildings.
To be continued......
© Roy L Richards 2012
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