Abu Dhabi


Sometimes called the 'Manhattan of the Middle East', Abu Dhabi City is essentially a modern and sleek city, filled with skyscrapers. The United Arab Emirates' capital, located on an island connected to the mainland by two bridges, is often accused of being a rather soulless place, but it does have its attractions: the Petroleum Exhibition and the Heritage Village, the beautiful Corniche (beach), the Al Hisn Fort, the old souk (market), the Breakwater Island and Sheikh Zayed's palace.


The most picturesque place is undeniably the Batin, the oldest part of the town, where the small harbours receive the daily catch brought by the fishing dhows.

A predominantly modern city, Abu Dhabi nevertheless retains some of its ancient past. The Diwan Amiri (White Fort) was built in 1793 and still survives. There are many mosques, from the massive blue mosque on the corner of the Corniche to the tiny one in the centre of Khalifa Street Roundabout, surrounded by trees.

There is also a museum. The oldest part of the town is the Batin area, served daily by the fishing dhows bringing their catch of Gulf prawns and other fish to the small harbours. The old building yards demonstrate craftspeople’s skills that have remained unchanged for centuries. The city has ancient burial mounds at Um al Nar. Al Ain, 100km (60 miles) from Abu Dhabi, is an oasis and former caravan stop, built on a huge fertile plain.

There is spectacular scenery along the journey from Abu Dhabi. The resort includes a camel market, zoo and museum containing old and new artefacts and Mesopotamian pottery. There is also a water spring at Ain Faidha, 14km (9 miles) from Al Ain. There are important archaeological digs at Hili, 10km (6 miles) from Al Ain.

The stone tombs, including the famous Great Sepulchre, date back 5000 years. South of Al Ain is the Hafit Mountain, containing ancient tombs, pottery and swords. There are more ancient sites worth visiting at Um Al Nar and Badi’i Bent Saud. A fun park is situated at Al-Hir and majestic sand seas are to be seen at Liwa.