Plan Your Experience

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About Abu Dhabi


What does ”Abu Dhabi” means?

In 1761, a hunting party was sent from Liwa by the leader of the Bani Yas tribal alliance. According to tradition, the party followed the track of a gazelle who led the party to a place where water was found at a shallow depth – a rare find along the coastline. They called the island Abu Dhabi (Father or Homeland of a Gazelle). In 1792 the leader established a fort and settlement and Abu Dhabi became the capital.

Pre-oil survival

The people of Abu Dhabi have lived and prospered in this region for thousands of years. Long before the discovery of oil, the ancient pearling industry provided their only real income. It was a harsh life with diving commencing from about an hour after sunrise, up to an hour before sunset.

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He who does not know his past cannot make the best of his present and future, for it is from the past that we learn.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Abu Dhabi’s second hidden treasure

In 1958, oil was discovered. As ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan knew this natural treasure must be used to answer the question asked by his forefathers on improving the lives of future generations. Thus, he set about turning that dream into reality. 



Before the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was unified in 1971, it existed as a collection of independent emirates that were part of the Trucial States. When the Britain announced its intention to withdraw in 1968, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s ruler, put his vision of a united country into motion.

The first step was to meet with Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dubai’s ruler, to initiate the process of establishing a federation. They then invited the rulers of the five other Trucial States to join in the negotiations for the formation of the union. In 1971 the rulers formally agreed to unite, and the UAE was declared as an independent country on December 2 (now celebrated annually as National Day). Ras Al Khaimah joined the federation in February 1972.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was elected as the UAE’s President and Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was elected as the Vice President.


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Abu Dhabi Today

From its origins as a centre for pearl diving and fishing, Abu Dhabi has developed at a phenomenal pace to become a truly 21st century city. Among its highlights, which are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, are its first-class infrastructure, exceptional educational and healthcare institutions, as well as architectural wonders, huge shopping malls, an abundance of parks and recreational facilities along with international luxury hotels surrounded by the Arabian sea. All of these have caused Abu Dhabi to become a leading, world-class destination.

Abu Dhabi is the largest and most populated of the seven emirates, constituting over 80 % of total landmass of the UAE.

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  • Infrastructure devolopment
  • Revitalisation
  • Economic devolpment
  • human achivement
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Connectivity
  • Community enhancement
  • Environmental sustainability

Saadiyat island is a major achievement in Abu Dhabi’s vision to become a world-class destination bridging global cultures

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
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