There are tonnes of interesting facts about Abu Dhabi since it is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. It is a region which has grown astronomically in the last 60 or so years since the discovery of oil and the subsequent wealth of the region.
Bedouin communities are still very much present in Abu Dhabi making it a unique location with rich history, culture and traditions alongside an incredibly modern forward-thinking city.
Despite this, there is so much history, culture, politics, fascinating architecture, a diverse population and a forward-thinking mindset.
With all of this in mind, there is no doubt you are going to enjoy these interesting and fun facts about Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Facts
1. Abu Dhabi Is Building A Carbon Neutral City
Masdar City based just outside of Abu Dhabi Airport is an innovative project aiming to be the first carbon-neutral city in the world. It is partially government-subsidised alongside the investment company Mubadala.
Everything within the city is built around sustainability. The residential buildings have a terracotta exterior and a 45-metre wind tower cooling the streets below by 15-20 degrees celsius.
With Abu Dhabi being in the desert, it is no surprise cooling puts a huge strain on energy reserves. Masdar City is paving the way with innovative energy solutions.
Within the children’s playground is a huge solar-powered canopy that generates energy as well as harvests rainwater. These are just a couple of examples related to the efforts of the city as a whole.
Masdar City has been slow in its growth due to financial constraints in the earlier phases. However, it seems things are starting to pick up with many residential apartments for sale in the city.
The buildings in Masdar City harness modern concepts with Arabic detail and design which is incredible to see.
2. Only 10% Of The Abu Dhabi Population Is Emirati
Since Abu Dhabi is the fastest-growing city in the world, it is no surprise the Emirate attracts a wealth of talent and is subsequently home to millions of ex-pats.
There are so many opportunities and salaries are tax-free which is another pulling factor for many who call the city home.
With so many expatriates in Abu Dhabi only 10% of the population is actually Emirati. The reasons behind this are multifactorial.
Traditionally, particularly in Bedouin communities, women had large families in the region.
Nowadays, there is a project known as Emirtaization which ensures companies are employing Emiratis within their workforce.
Similar to the Western world, Emirati families are not having large families since many women have successful careers. The off shot is a lower birth rate within the Emirati community.
There are incentives to keep the Emirati population growth which is important to maintain the culture and heritage in the region for years to come.
For example, the government provide attractive financial incentives in the form of child allowance. Similarly, mothers can retire at the age of 45 years old with a lucrative pension.
3. Abu Dhabi Was Inhabited In The Bronze Age
Abu Dhabi often gets a reputation for being ‘too modern’ and lacking culture and history which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Tourists sometimes need to go beyond the realms of the city to witness the history of the region.
One of the most interesting facts about Abu Dhabi has archaeological evidence of habitation dating back to the bronze age more than 5000 years ago.
In the garden city of Al Ain, there is an incredible archaeological park with more than 500 beehive tombs constructed with stones and mortar. Each tomb is thought to have the remains of between two and five individuals.
Al Ain in general is probably one of the best places to visit when it comes to the rich history and culture of Abu Dhabi with many museums and historical buildings.
Not to mention the city is known for its efforts in preserving traditions.
4. Abu Dhabi Is The Largest Of The Seven Emirates
With Abu Dhabi being the capital of the UAE, it is no surprise it’s also the largest of the seven Emirates. Neighbouring Dubai has a larger population.
However, the landmass of Abu Dhabi makes up 87% of the country and a total of 67,340 km2. More than 70% of Abu Dhabi is desert.
5. Abu Dhabi Has The Largest Uninterrupted Sand Mass In The World
The UAE has three different deserts. However, the desert in Abu Dhabi is sometimes referred to as the Empty Quater and also known by the Arabic translation ‘Rub Al Khali’ is the largest uninterrupted sand mass in the world.
It spans from UAE into neighbouring Oman and Saudi Arabia. Some say Tel Moreeb in Abu Dhabi is the largest sand dune in the world at 300 metres high. This is one of the interesting geological facts about Abu Dhabi.
The dune is based in the western Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi and attracts motoring enthusiasts attempting to take on the 50-degree incline.
6. Abu Dhabi Has More Than 200 Islands
Abu Dhabi is made up of over 200 islands, some are manmade whilst others are natural. In fact, the main city of Abu Dhabi is an island connected to the mainland by two 250-metre long bridges.
The entire city is made up of a network of man-made islands connected through a series of bridges. Yas Island is connected with Saadiyat Island which connects to the city. Reem Island connects to Al Maryah Island and so on.
Similar to Dubai, the Emirate has some other man-made islands which are home to luxury tropical resorts including Nurai Island and Al Maya Island.
Some of the notable natural islands include Sir Bin Yas Island, Delma Island and Abu Al Abyad Island.
Sir Bin Yas is a wildlife metropolis with thousands of free-roaming animals including gazelles and giraffes.
Whilst Delma Island is a small island that was inhabited thousands of years ago and has a history in pearl diving.
7. Abu Dhabi has Ancient History Of Pearling
According to the Department of Culture & Tourism, Abu Dhabi has the earliest known evidence of pearling in the world. Pearls from Abu Dhabi were one of the most sought-after accessories many years ago.
Archaeologists have found evidence of pearling in the region dating back to over 8000 years ago. It is thought oyster beds were shallow enough for free divers to harvest pearls without the need for breathing apparatus.
Pearls were the main driver of the economy until oil was discovered in the early to mid-1900s. In fact, pearls very much created a basis for the wealth of the country.
In 2019, archaeologists discovered an 8000-year-old pearl in a stone age settlement on Marawah Island. The excavation also uncovered ancient pottery and arrowheads.
8. Abu Dhabi Oil Was Discovered In 1958
Oil was first discovered in 1958 under an old pearling bed in the Persian Gulf. Pearls created wealth in the region and led to the discovery of what would catapult UAE to the third richest country in the world in current times.
Geological surveys in search of oil commenced in the early 1930s and it took 30 years before the first commercial export was underway on board a boat leaving the UAE.
The oil reserves were founded by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nayhan who later became the ruler of the region and founder of the UAE in 1971.
9. The Highest Point of Abu Dhabi is The Jebel Hafeet Mountain
As discussed Abu Dhabi has a vast landscape featuring skyscrapers, pristine beaches and of course a vast desert.
However one of the most unexpected facts about Abu Dhabi is its highest point is a rocky mountain known as Jebel Hafeet.
10. Abu Dhabi Is Home To The Fastest Rollercoaster In The World
Ferrari World is based in the entertainment district on Yas Island. The Italian car brand first opened its doors in 2010 to its one-of-a-kind theme park which is mostly indoors, allowing it to be enjoyed year-round in desert weather.
Ferrari World is home to the fastest rollercoaster in the world known as ‘Formula Rossa’. The ride reaches speeds of 240 km per hour in 4.9 seconds thanks to its hydraulic launch.
Riding the Formula Rossa lasts a stomach-churning 92 seconds. Riders are provided with goggles due to the speed and protect the eyes from sand particles.
11. WB World Is Largest Indoor Theme Park In The World
Neighbouring Warner Bros is another Guinness Book of Records title holder for the largest indoor theme park in the world. The indoor park covers 1.65 million square metres and first opened its doors in 2018.
The indoor park is a completely immersive experience in the world of Warner Bros, featuring Flintstone’s Bedrock and Gotham City to Smurfs and so much more.
In total there are 29 rides, some are suitable for small children whilst at least 6 are considered thrilling rides, perfect for those who love an adrenaline rush.
The park also has a Warner Bros-themed hotel adjacent to the entrance which is the perfect place for families visiting Abu Dhabi to stay.
12. Abu Dhabi Has The Most Slanted Building In The World
Many people believe the Leaning Tower Of Pisa is the most slanted building in the world. However, one of the architectural facts about Abu Dhabi may blow your mind. Andaz Hotel in Abu Dhabi officially holds the title.
The building leans 18 degrees westward which is four times more than the Leaning Tower Of Pisa. Standing 525 feet tall, the building is based in Capital Centre next to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Since it is not surrounded by any other tall buildings, it can be seen from many different vantage points across the city. The hotel is famed locally for its beautiful pool, fine dining experiences, amazing cocktail bar, and delicious food.
Whilst The Leaning Tower Of Pisa is more world-famous, The Andaz Hotel holds the title of the most slanted building in the world.
13. Abu Dhabi Police Force Drive Super Cars
There is no doubt Abu Dhabi is one of the most luxurious cities in the world. With that comes some luxuries which can’t be afforded or often seen in any other country in the world.
It is not uncommon to see Abu Dhabi police in supercars keeping things in check around the city. Whilst all-terrain vehicles such as Nissan Patrol are the most common within the fleet, there are also Lamborghini and the Rolls Royce Phantom.
14. Abu Dhabi Is The Safest City In The World
Crime rates in Abu Dhabi are incredibly low and as a result, the city has been voted as the safest city in the world for a few years in a row.
All reports of crime are taken seriously by the police, investigated and resolved swiftly. Some experts suggest Abu Dhabi has the highest concentration of surveillance per capita which probably helps in keeping crime rates down.
Equally, all residents must hold an Emirates ID which holds biometric information on the individual. ID is required for so many things in Abu Dhabi, hence crime is resolved quickly since individuals can be identified.
Another point is the punishment for crime is serious which will also deter individuals from committing crimes.
Not to mention, being a wealthy country theft and robbery would naturally be lower as most residents have a reasonably comfortable life.
15. Sheikh Zayed Mosque Has The Largest Hand Woven Carpet In The World
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the world’s most incredible architectural masterpieces in the world. The mosque has many interesting facts, such as being home to one of the largest chandeliers in the world.
The carpet in the main hall is the largest hand-woven carpet in the world and took over two years to make. Not to mention 1200 people were involved in making the carpet.
A total of 38 tons of cotton and wool were used to make the 30-acre carpet! It was delivered in 9 parts and put together in the mosque.
The carpet was actually made in Iran’s Khorasan Provence and was designed by an Iranian Ali Khaliqi.
16. Abu Dhabi’s Most Expensive Car Number Plate Was 23 Million AED
Motoring enthusiasts and millionaires in Abu Dhabi love low-numbered car registration plates. The lower the number the more expensive it is. The Royal Family have some quite recognisable number plates in Abu Dhabi.
However, one of the most expensive number plates in the world was sold in Abu Dhabi in 2022. It is the No.2 plate which sold for 23 million AED.
The car plate was sold at an auction with proceeds going to the government’s 1 billion meal initiative. The 1 billion meal aims to provide food to places in need and end world hunger.
Needless to say, the auction produced the most ruthless bidding imaginable. Especially since the car plate is considered to have significance to the 2nd of December which is UAE National Day.
At the same auction a series of phone numbers such as 0547444444 sold for 160,000 AED.
17. Abu Dhabi is Home To The Largest Indoor Sky Diving Tunnel
Clymb is also based in the entertainment district on Yas Island and is conveniently attached to Yas Mall and Ferrari World.
When it comes to adventure facts about Abu Dhabi, Clymb is not only home to one of the tallest indoor rock climbing walls but also has the largest indoor sky diving tunnel in the world.
The chamber features 16 fans and stands at 32 feet tall which is quite the contrast to 4 fans and a usual 14 ft tunnel.
There is a lot of prep that goes into getting visitors into the sky diving chamber. From briefing and training, not to mention a tonne of safety precautions and clothing, it is a full routine.
Nonetheless, Clymb has become a popular attraction with residents and tourists alike.
18. Emirates Palace Has The Most Expensive Christmas Tree In The World
Emirates Palace along Abu Dhabi’s Corniche holds many records for being one of the most lavish hotels in the world.
In true Abu Dhabi fashion, Emirates Palace fully embrace western festivities and is known for being home to the most expensively decorated Christmas Tree in the world.
The Christmas Tree is thought to be worth more than $11 Million dollars. The Emirates Palace Christmas tree is adorned in gold, diamonds, pearls and jewels which rack up the huge price tag.
The evergreen tree stands 13 metres tall each year in the palace lobby during the festive season in December. Not to mention turning on the Christmas tree lights is quite the event attracting many tourists and residents of the city.
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