The Richest Emirate: Abu Dhabi As An Alternative To Dubai

Richest Emirate - Abu Dhabi As An Alternative To Dubai -  WebNewsOrbit

Abu Dhabi is 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 malls such as Marina malls, Al Wahda mall and World Trade Center Mall. Beneath white-marble domes, the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features an immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers and capacity for 41,000 worshipers.

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All the money is here

Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Actually, 87% of the territory of the UAE is Abu Dhabi. Moreover, Abu Dhabi is the richest part of the country, because it is here that 95% of the national oil reserves are concentrated. However, despite its almost unlimited financial capabilities, Abu Dhabi gave all the world tourist fame to its northern neighbor. And while Dubai was wowing the world with artificial islands, skyscrapers and parties, Abu Dhabi was spending billions on landscaping. Millions of trees have been planted to transform Abu Dhabi into a garden city with a wealth of parks, greenery along broad-lane highways and even nature reserves.

One of these is called Eastern Mangroves Lagoon. Six years ago, two million mangrove trees were planted in the bay along the E10 highway. This is the first of five such parks that the city authorities intend to create as part of the Abu Dhabi 2030 program.

By the way, they even say that due to the huge amount of greenery, the average temperature in Abu Dhabi is one and a half degrees lower than in the neighboring desert.

Abu Dhabi is the most pedestrian-friendly city -  WebNewsOrbit

The capital of the UAE can also be recognized as the most pedestrian-friendly city. The next phrase will sound a little surprising, but in Abu Dhabi there really is where to take a walk. Those who have been to other cities in the Emirates know that since the Bedouins moved from camels to Ferraris, their megacities were built with the expectation of motorists only. But Abu Dhabi is an exception.

The most popular street for walking is the 8-kilometer Corniche. On the one hand, the beach of the same name (by the way, the owner of the "Blue Flag"), on the other - skyscrapers, which houses offices, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, banks and shopping centers. Corniche Beach is one of the most popular in Abu Dhabi. This is a public beach, it is divided into five zones, some of which are paid, and only women and children are allowed somewhere. There are also cafes, restaurants, water rides, and bicycle rentals on the embankment itself.

Corniche Beach - Abu Dhabi -  WebNewsOrbit

The Corniche promenade rests on the Downtown area, famous for its skyscrapers. One of them is the highest observation deck Observation Deck at 300, located on the 74th floor of the Conrad Hotel in the Etihad Tower. The price of the entrance ticket is 95 dirhams ($25, but 55 dirhams ($300) can be spent right there in the cafe.

Happy islands

Abu Dhabi is spread over dozens of islands. One of the most popular is Saadiyat.

“First of all, tourists choose Abu Dhabi because of the wonderful 9-kilometer beach on Saadiyat Island,” says Artur Muradyan, CEO of Space Travel tour operator. “This is one of the pearls of the Emirates, the most beautiful place with the finest white sand and turquoise sea.”

Saadiyat Island can be translated from Arabic as the island of happiness. Because of the white sand, Saadiyat Beach is also called the "Arab Maldives". Five five-star hotels were built along it - St. Regis, Rotana, Rixos, Park Hyatt and Jumeirah.

“Moreover, it is in Abu Dhabi that the five-star hotel stock is one of the newest,” Artur Muradyan assures. “And now, in the midst of a pandemic, an equivalent tourist product in Abu Dhabi is somewhere in 30 or even 50% cheaper than in Dubai.”

Usually people come to Saadiyat for a relaxing holiday, because it is also an island-reserve. Bissa sea turtles come here to nest, which is why absolutely all water activities are prohibited here, and during the turtle nesting season (May-July), all hotels dim the lights, remove all beach furniture and eliminate any sources of noise. This is necessary so that nothing prevents the born baby turtles from finding their way to the sea.

A billion dollars - and we have the Louvre

The building of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum with the dome Rain of Light -  WebNewsOrbit

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the most famous museum in the Middle East, is also located on Saadiyat. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a branch of the Louvre in Paris. It got its name only because the capital of the UAE really has a lot of money and the authorities of the emirate paid France almost $ 1 billion, renting the name for 30 years - until 2037.

The collection of the Arab Louvre has about 300 exhibits - from Ancient Egypt, China and other civilizations, as well as paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Matisse, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Renoir, etc. The exhibits are not scattered geographically, but according to the time of creation, therefore, in one hall, sculptures of Egyptian pharaohs coexist with figures from Ancient China. As conceived by the curators, the exposition organized in this way makes it possible to see how civilizations developed at the same time in different parts of the world.

However, Louvre Abu Dhabi is interesting not so much for its collection as for its building. It was designed by the French architect Jean Nouvel. The most original feature of the museum is the dome. This eight-layer structure reaches 180 m in diameter and weighs almost 7,500 tons. The rays of the sun penetrating the layers of the dome cast shadows, and for the sake of this light, Instagrammers flock to the museum every day to take their best photos.

Louvre Abu Dhabi -  WebNewsOrbit

“Our Louvre is small: 1.5 hours is enough to see the entire collection. Art lovers need two hours, walkers need half an hour, Instagram lovers need an hour,”
says Anastasia Raevskaya, Louvre Abu Dhabi sales manager. In general, I won’t be surprised if someday a special ticket is introduced for Instagrammers.

The museum is only the first such project on Saadiyat Island. The authorities of Abu Dhabi have relied on cultural tourism, so the island of Happiness will soon be turned into a museum island (or island of education). Already now every November there is an exhibition of contemporary art Abu Dhabi Art Fair. More than 40 galleries and guest curators from all over the world participate in it.

By 2025, the Guggenheim Museum (the largest of all five Guggenheim museums) will appear next to the Louvre, as well as the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, dedicated to the founder of the modern Arab Emirates. Now the Maritime Museum and the Center for the Performing Arts are being built here, designed by the Zaha Hadid Bureau.

Fun Islands

In Abu Dhabi, they think big - they give away entire islands for projects. And unlike Dubai, the city authorities do not need to spend money on creating artificial archipelagos: Abu Dhabi has about 200 natural islands. And since there is an island with a calm rest (Saadiyat) in the city, then there must be an island of party-goers.

The W Hotel, Yas Marina Harbor and Speedway on Yas Island -  WebNewsOrbit

It's called Yas. By the way, Yas was once a peninsula, but due to a large-scale project - the construction of the Yas Marina track for the Formula 1 racing stage - it was separated from the mainland by a canal, turning it into an island. We can say that this is the only major human intervention in changing the natural landscape of the city.

Ferrari World is home to Formula Rossa, the fastest rollercoaster in the world -  WebNewsOrbit

Yas is an island of entertainment. It is here that almost all international competitions are held - from Formula 1 races to UFC fighting tournaments. Three of the most famous amusement parks in the Middle East are also located here - Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and the Warner Bros Film Studio Park.

These parks have long become one of the symbols of the capital of the UAE, and in terms of speed, steepness, size and level of adrenaline rush, they surpassed the complexes in Dubai. For example, Ferrari World is home to Formula Rossa, the fastest rollercoaster in the world: from a standstill, the car accelerates to 240 km per hour in 4.9 seconds. And when the gondola takes off to a height of 52 m, passengers experience overloads of 4.8G (for comparison: passengers on a take-off aircraft experience an overload of 1.5G, and a skydiver at the time of opening the parachute - 4G).

Another slide is Turbo Track, where a racing car takes off through the roof to a height of 62 m perpendicular to the ground at a speed of more than 100 km/h and rushes down in free fall. The third attraction - Flying Aces - is famous for its steepest initial descent in the world and the highest loop.

Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi holds the Guinness World Record for the world's largest indoor theme park, while the region's largest water park, Yas Waterworld, won the 2021 Global Brand Awards as the best water park in the world.

UAE largest water park - Yas Waterworld in Abu Dhabi -  WebNewsOrbit

In addition, the world's widest wind tunnel, CLYMB Abu Dhabi, is located on Yasa. It is 10 m high and 32 m wide. It also has the highest (42 m) indoor climbing wall on the planet. Both objects are included in the Guinness Book of Records.

The unique feature of Yas is that it is like a state within a state - you can live here for weeks and you will have no reason to leave the island. Yas has everything you need to relax - the largest shopping center in the city (Yas Mall), a chic beach (Yas Beach), a golf club, many hotels, parks and restaurants. Moreover, guests do not even have to spend money to visit all these locations - free Yas Express shuttles run around the island.

Golf on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi -  WebNewsOrbit

Some hotels provide their guests with tickets to amusement parks for free. And this is a very significant budget savings: for example, a ticket to all three parks for three days costs 545 dirhams ($150), that is, a family of three will have to pay $8,900.

When you want something new

Arthur Muradyan from Space Travel believes that Abu Dhabi is by and large in no way inferior to Dubai. “Mostly families go to this emirate because of the all inclusive system. Middle-aged tourists also love Abu Dhabi, and those who have already seen Dubai more than once - they want to see something new, ” he explains.

The development of Abu Dhabi did not stop for a minute during the pandemic. It seems that it is generally impossible to take a photo here without a construction crane getting into the frame. The latest large-scale project implemented is the National Aquarium in Al Qana, which has become the largest in the Middle East (hello Dubai). There are more than 46 thousand species of marine fauna, including 200 sharks and rays. In addition, it is the only marine zoo in the UAE that houses toothed hammerhead sharks and bull sharks. And the 55-meter underwater tunnel of the Aquarium is now the longest in the world.

Jeep safari in the desert - abu dhabi -  WebNewsOrbit

“Abu Dhabi will be interesting for any tourists,”
Olga Ivanova assures. “Families with children and young people will enjoy spending time in amusement parks, they will be able to drive jeep safari through the dunes, fly in a wind tunnel, shoppers will be delighted with huge shopping centers, museums will impress those who are interested in history and art. While relaxing in Abu Dhabi, you can go to El Ain, a very beautiful and cozy city, where there are no skyscrapers, but ancient forts have been preserved. Nearby is Mount Jabal Hafeet, the highest mountain in the UAE.”

Serpentine on Mount Jabal Hafeet -  WebNewsOrbit

In fairness, it should be noted that Dubai also does not stand still and is actively updating its tourism infrastructure, habitually striking the world with another megaproject. For example, during the two pandemic years, a panoramic observation deck The View at The Palm with a 360-degree view of the Palm Jumeirah Island, the highest Ferris wheel in the world Ain Dubai (height 250 m), the world's deepest diving pool Deep Dive appeared in Dubai Dubai (depth 60 m), as well as a branch of the Madame Tussauds wax museum.

And while the two cities are arguing among themselves for a tourist, this is only to our advantage. After all, the distance between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is only 140 km, and if you wish, you can change one city to another within an hour.

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