Your trip to the UAE cannot be considered complete if you have not visited the capital of the country - Abu Dhabi. Today Abu Dhabi is one of the most beautiful cities in the Arab world. Translated from Arabic Abu Dhabi means «The father of gazelle». This name was not given by chance but according to the legend saying that a gazelle led the hunters to a source of fresh water where afterwards it was started a settlement called Abu Dhabi.
The rapid flourishing of Abu Dhabi started in 1958 when in the town of Ras Sadr was discovered oil. It was the development of oil fields that has brought incredible profits to the local emirs. Just within a few decades Abu Dhabi has become a modern metropolis and business center of the UAE.
There are lots of places of interest in Abu Dhabi: You can visit the oil exhibition, view the residence of the first President of the United Arab Emirates - Sheikh Zayed and take a walk along the picturesque waterfront, the ethnographic village and the old city market. But still the main attraction of Abu Dhabi is one of the largest mosques in the world - «Sheikh Zayed Mosque.» This mosque and the «Mosque of Jumeirah» in Dubai are exceptional because everyone is allowed to enter (not just Muslims). The mosque can simultaneously accommodate 40,000 worshipers. The main prayer hall is designed for 9000 worshipers. Two rooms next to the main prayer hall are designed exclusively for women and each can accommodate up to 1500 people. At the four corners of the mosque are placed four minarets that rise about 115 meters high. The outer row of the main building is covered by 57 domes. The domes are decorated outside and inside with white marble. The courtyard is paved with colored marble and covers an area of about seventeen thousand square meters. The carpet spread on such a huge area is the world's largest carpet- It was manufactured by «Carpets of Iran» based on sketches by the Iranian artist Ali Haliki. The area of the carpet is 5627 square meters; it was made by about 1,200 weavers, 20 technical reams and 30 workers. The weight of the carpet is 47 tons - 35 tons of wool and 12 tons of cotton. The structure includes 2.268 million knots. In the mosque is also hanging the largest chandelier. Seven gold-plated brass chandeliers were imported from Germany. The largest chandelier has a diameter of 10 meters and it is 15 meters high.
The history of Abu Dhabi was preserved in the old white Al Husn Fort which was built as a residence for the rulers of Abu Dhabi. The visitors of the fort are welcome by performances of plays, amateur theatre and touring ballet groups. Here are the national library and archives and the workshops preserving the secrets of the old crafts. In the fort you can view also interesting historical expositions.
Abu Dhabi is famous for its abundance of greenery. Located in the center of the city the Capital Gardens features a striking variety of manicured lawns accurately distributed around the pond in the center. The Corniche Park - a paradise for the fishermen and lovers of bird songs, this is the place where in the warm evenings the locals love to have picnic.
The city of Al Ain which is included in Abu Dhabi district is the greenest in all the Arabian Peninsula. Here is located a famous old fort built 175 years ago by the Al Nahyan family whose members later became the rulers of the country. During the winter the city hosts exhibitions and flower festivals. It is pleasure to walk along the paths of a palm grove located in the heart of the city. In addition there are a large camel farm, the famous Al Ain zoo, the City University and an amusement park.
Abu Dhabi is a great place to buy textiles, gold and handmade carpets. The largest and most famous shopping malls in Abu Dhabi are Abu Dhabi Mall, Marina Mall, Al Hana Shopping Centre and the Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre & Gold Centre. The shopping streets of Khalida and Hamdan in the Al Markaziyah area feature small shops and boutiques.
The Japanese restaurant of Yotto at Yas Marina & Yacht Club, the restaurant of Sofra Bld featuring international cuisine and the French Bord Eau at the Shangri-La Hotel, the Italian restaurant Bice at Hilton Hotel and the Finz Seafood Restaurant at the Beach Rotana Hotel. Excellent steaks can be enjoyed at the Brazilian restaurant of Chamas at the Intercontinental Hotel. Popular restaurants in the city are Al Safina (Arabic) and Al Sofon (seafood).
Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates of the UAE. The emirate consists of Abu Dhabi city and the city-oases-Al Ain (140 km. from Abu Dhabi) and Liwa (245 km).
The Al Ain zoo is considered the largest in the Middle East. There are exotic animals, not only from the lands of Arabia (including Oryx) but also from around the world. The animals can be observed in a natural setting and the fish - in a huge aquarium. The Fun City amusement park with an indoor rink and a tourist train is a great place for children's entertainment. Be sure to visit the first Ferrari theme park- Ferrari World.
Since 2009 on the track of Yas Marina located on the artificial island designed by the German architect Hermann Tilke take place the stages of Formula 1 - Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi. In 2009 it was the last part of the season and the first ever winner of the «Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi» became the German Sebastian Vettel.
From 9 to 19 December 2009 at the stadiums of «Sheikh Zayed» and «Mohammed bin Zayed» the club matches of the World Cup 2009 took place. At the end the Spanish «Barcelona» during the extra time defeated the Argentinean «Estudiantes' 2-1.
In Abu-Dhabi is based the sports club of «Al Jazeera» (football, handball, volleyball, swimming, bowling), as well as some of the best golf courses and tennis courts.