Friday, June 23 2017

About UAE

Abu Dhabi occupies the pre-eminent position in the United Arab Emirates as the largest and wealthiest of the seven emirates that constitute the Federation. It has the second largest oil reserve in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi has the third highest per capita GDP in the world after Luxembourg and Norway. A popular legend goes that an early nomadic tribe discovered the place as they pursued a gazelle and came up on a fresh water source, and they called it Abu Dhabi, which in Arabic meant the Father of the Gazelle. Abu Dhabi emirate has two major cities, namely Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and several smaller townships such as Baniyas, Ruwais  and Madinat Zayed.

Abu Dhabi City  is the capital city of the emirate as well as the country, and houses the Federal government. Most of the city is located on an island, linked by the Maqta and Mussafah bridges,  but many of the suburbs have now expanded on to the mainland. It is a fast growing metropolis, ranked as the richest city in the world, and truly cosmopolitan with its huge expatriate population from the world over. Backed by a resourceful oil-based economy, Abu Dhabi is an excellent example of modern urban planning and development  with a clear focus on environmental friendliness. Acres of green space co-exist with glass and steel high rises and the city remains uncluttered in spite of its fast growing population. Behind its impressive modernity however, Abu Dhabi still retains its distinctive cultural identity.

Occupying  a land area of over 67,000 sq kms, Abu Dhabi emirate accounts for about 86% of the total area of the UAE. Most of the land area is dominated by desert, and south and west of the emirate vast rolling sand dunes merge into the oil-rich desert Rub’ Al Khali (Empty Quarters) extending to Saudi Arabia. The desert areas  include the Al Liwa and Al Buraimi oases with underground fresh water for permanent settlements and cultivation.  The emirate of Dubai shares the border with Abu Dhabi in the North.

Abu Dhabi has an arid climate throughout the year and the skies are clear blue. April to September is relatively hot months and summer peaks in July and August. Rains are infrequent and sporadic. The ideal time to visit is November to March when the weather is pleasant.  Winter is mild and doesn’t call for much warm attire.

Visas & Procedures
For residents of GCC countries and citizens of UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and most Western European countries, 3-month visa is issued on arrival. All others will need to obtain visa from their embassies before arrival. Visa rules are subject to change and it is advisable to be well informed about the regulations before commencing the journey.

Business Hours
Regular hours of business are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday to Thursday with Friday & Saturday as weekend holidays. Most shopping outlets are open late into the night till 11 pm through the week, except Friday mornings.  Working hours change during the Holy Month of Ramadan when working hours extend well after sunset.

Visitors Safety
UAE is acknowledged as one of the safest countries for visitors. Crime rate is low and Abu Dhabi Police is ever vigilant to ensure law and order round the clock, and are easily accessible.

Health Tips
Abu Dhabi is clean and does not pose major health risks. Visitors are however requested to be cautious in their own interest, especially in hot summer months with protective clothing and sunscreen lotion, and to avoid dehydration  by consuming enough quantity of liquids throughout the day.

Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) is the official currency.  A dirham is made up of 100 fils and notes are available in the denominations  5, 10, 20, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 and coins in 25 and 50 fils. The dirham is pegged to the US dollar at around 3.68 to a dollar. Credit cards are accepted in most places and moneychangers and ATMS are available across the emirate.

Inland Travel
Abu Dhabi is air-linked to most major cities in the world, and the emirate has its own carrier, Etihad Airways serving several destinations in the East and West. Wide, multi-lane dual carriageways connect Abu Dhabi with other cities in the region and traffic within the city is easy and uncongested. Taxis and rent-a-car facilities are freely available and there are also inter-city and inter-emirate  public bus services.

Abu Dhabi has many five and four star hotels run by international chains. Topping them all is the 7-star luxury hotel Emirates Palace, and there are also budget hotels and furnished apartments for travelers on a budget.

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