Sunday, November 6, 2011

UAE - roaming around Abu Dhabi city

UAE or United Arab Emirates, is a federation of 7 emirates. Namely: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain.

Though Dubai is the most well known emirate among the seven, it is not UAE's capital but Abu Dhabi. CNN money published an article on 2007 about Abu Dhabi being the richest city in the world. It sits on one-tenth of proven world oil reserves while having a mere half a million citizen.

So much with facts, let's focus to my experience while roaming around Abu Dhabi city. I used to work in a gas (NGL) plant outside Abu Dhabi City for seven years before I transferred to my present company in another mid-east country. I have seen with my own eyes how this city progresses in just a decade.

Some of the land marks that I have seen before are still existing like the old Hamdan center. This is a two-storey shopping center with residential towers. It is located at the heart of Abu Dhabi city. Though some of the original shops have been replaced by new one, the building itself remains the same. I noticed that they were installing a new escalator on the left end of the building during my last visit. To add, Mercure hotel used to be Novotel. Well, same old building.

Hamdan Center

Madinat Zayed shopping mall is another old land mark in Abu Dhabi city. It comprises of two buildings. The other building mainly caters to gold and jewellery shoppers. These two buildings were separated before but recently, they were joined by Lulu center. Lulu center used to occupy a part of second floor of Madinat Zayed shopping center but now it has a separate building connecting these two.


These are famous and old land marks in the heart of Abu Dhabi city. I am glad to see them again still standing during my visit to Abu Dhabi recently for 2 weeks company sponsored training.



It was unbelievable that for a short period of time, countless skyscrapers mushroomed not only inside but also outside Abu Dhabi City. In fact, many are still under construction.

Sheik Zayed Mosque

When I arrived in Abu Dhabi in year 2000, this mosque was under construction until I left Abu Dhabi last 2007. I am so happy to see it finally completed; its splendor and grandeur is simply beyond words. It can accommodate 40,000 worshipers at any given time. Sheik Zayed, the father of UAE, was laid beside this mosque.

Emirates Palace Hotel

Another iconic and new landmark in Abu Dhabi City is the Emirates Palace Hotel. It can rival the 7 star Burj Al-Arab of Dubai. Head of states on diplomatic or official visit normally stay on its suites. The uppermost level has six Rulers' Suite which are reserved for the other Emirati royal families. The price of staying on this hotel can range from 400 to 11,500 USD per night. The hotel won't even fit on my cam lens due to its sheer size. 


Hamdan Street

Hamdan Street - another famous land mark is the Crown Plaza hotel. I stayed there before.

Salam Street

Khalifa Street

road to Mussafah area


I went for training with my (Arab) colleagues. They invited me to an Arab restaurant in this city. Working for many years in middle-east, I have learned to love their cuisine. Believe me, their broast chicken can easily beat KFC. I remember when I was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, many many years back, one KFC outlet at Al-Balad closed shop due to its proximity to Al-Baik chicken. Until now, I still remember the crispiness of the chicken skin, tenderness and juiciness of its meat. You can ask any OFW working in Jeddah about Al-Baik chicken and I am sure that they would attest to what I mentioned earlier.

In Abu Dhabi City, Taza restaurant in Hamdan Center also offers broast chicken. It is good but not the same level of Al Baik chicken. However, its chicken barbeque can easily give Nando's Prei-Peri chicken a run for its money.

Going back to Arabic restaurant that my colleagues and I have eaten, normally, Arabs eat with their bare hands while sitting cross-legged on the floor. If you are not used to it, you'd find it uncomfortable. As for me, after spending many years in the gulf, I can eat the way Arabs eat. During special occasions, they cook lamb in several ways. The two most common way of cooking lamb are mendhi (boiled and cooked with rice) and madfhoon (bbq style).

King Mindi Arabic restaurant

You can easily say that they eat like brothers. They Share the food in one large round plate and eat with their bare hands. It is an Islamic belief that if the food of two people are shared together, it will be enough to feed four people.


Here at Saudi Kitchen (Gava Hotel, Abu Dhabi), we have ordered and enjoyed both mendhi and madfhoon.

Saudi Kitchen

I consider myself very fortunate for I have experienced a tradition and culture which are entirely different from my own.


There are several shopping malls in Abu Dhabi city and some are under construction like Delma Mall. However, these two big malls are the crowd drawer in Abu Dhabi city.

Marina mall is the biggest in Abu Dhabi. It has Carrefour and IKEA as main tenants. It has cinemas, ice rink and revolving  restaurant. It is located near the Marina Sports Club which is within the breakwater area.

Abu Dhabi mall is one of the biggest shopping malls in Abu Dhabi city. It has Cineplex and a large hypermarket (Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society). It is also connected to a five star hotel.
Weird Buildings

Our training venue was in Mussafah area. It will take around 30 minutes for our transport to reach this area at a speed of 120 kph. Going to and fro, I have noticed these weird design buildings.


Even the old taxis in Abu Dhabi have been replaced by GPS equipped Camry and Altima. 

Typical villa in Abu Dhabi city. They don't use galvanized iron sheet on their roof due to very hot temperature during summer. These villas are sealed also from sand storm.


There are several parks inside Abu Dhabi city. Along the new corniche road are some very nice and family-friendly parks. To add, I am pleased to see this, Garden tower park. It is one of the oldest parks in this city. I used to live in garden Tower as well.
This is the old bridge that connects Abu Dhabi city to mainland Abu Dhabi.

And this is the new bridge recently constructed in parallel with the bridge above.

We passed on this bridge on our way to Dubai.
Our two weeks training have been completed. We are now on our way to Dubai for another week of inspection and testing.

I felt sad when I learned that the one of the oldest hotels in Abu Dhabi City, Zaker Hotel has been demolished and a new building was being constructed on the same site. I have many fond memories regarding that hotel. Actually,my friends and I used to frequent that hotel due to its Filipino bar and karaoke lounge. My previous company used to supply manpower to different oil and gas companies in Abu Dhabi, be it off-shore, on-shore or remote area. Whenever we (Filipinos) meet our colleagues from other work sites, we would end up in Zaker hotel. Another thing that I missed in this city was the souk. A new skyscraper has replaced the old Arabic Souk along Hamdan street. Well, that's the price of development.

Though considered as more conservative compared with Dubai, Abu Dhabi is now developing at astonishing rate. It now boasts Ferrarri World at Yas Island, a new airlines, a 3 $ billion hotel and a new corniche. Moreover, museums and hundred of hotels, hospitals and factories are undergoing construction. If the trend continue, in near future it will even overtake its progressive neighbor, Dubai. Indeed, Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world and will be eventually mentioned in the same breath as Singapore and Tokyo.


Abu Dhabi Corniche
Roaming around Dubai city

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