Important Information about Abu-Dhabi UAE

Public Opinions International
KAMPALA | 27th March 2017

Abu Dhabi (meaning in Arabic “Father of the gazelle”) is the capital city and the largest of the seven Emirates making up the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Abu Dhabi, 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 megacenters such as Abu Dhabi and Marina malls. Beneath white-marble domes, the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque features an immense Persian carpet, crystal chandeliers and capacity for 41,000 worshipers.

Abu Dhabi houses federal government offices, is the seat of the United Arab Emirates Government, home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family and the President of the UAE, who is from this family. Abu Dhabi's rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed the city into a large and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the country's center of political and industrial activities, and a major cultural and commercial centre, due to its position as the capital. Abu Dhabi accounts for about two-thirds of the roughly $400-billion United Arab Emirates economy.

Abu Dhabi is the seat of the Federal Government and is the country's political and industrial hub as well as being a major historical and cultural centre. It is a city of contrasts. You'll find the domes and minarets of traditional mosques nestled beside ultramodern skyscrapers, chic five-star hotels near vibrant traditional souks (markets) and futuristic tourist attractions neighbouring kilometres of rolling desert dunes.

Economy

Covering around 87 per cent of the UAE's total land area, Abu Dhabi possesses 94 per cent of the country's oil reserves and, as the world's fourth largest oil producer, contributes 10% of the world's oil. An initiative aimed at diversifying its economy has evolved Abu Dhabi into a magnet of foreign investment. It is now a cosmopolitan city boasting one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

The UAE’s large hydrocarbon wealth gives it one of the highest GDP per capita in the world and Abu Dhabi owns the majority of these resources – 95% of the oil and 92% of gas.Abu Dhabi thus holds 9% of the world’s proven oil reserves (98.2bn barrels) and almost 5% of the world’s natural gas (5.8 billion cubic metres or 200 billion cubic feet). Oil production in the UAE was in the region of 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2010,and projects are in progress to boost production to 3m bpd. In recent years the focus has turned to gas as increasing domestic consumption for power, desalination and reinjection of gas into oil fields increases demand. Gas extraction is not without its difficulties, however, as demonstrated by the sour gas project at Shah where the gas is rich in hydrogen sulphide content and is expensive to develop and process.

Recently the government has been diversifying their economic plans. Served by high oil prices, the country’s non-oil and gas GDP has outstripped that attributable to the energy sector. Non-oil and gas GDP now constitutes 64% of the UAE’s total GDP. This trend is reflected in Abu Dhabi with substantial new investment in industry, real estate, tourism and retail. As Abu Dhabi is the largest oil producer of the UAE, it has reaped the most benefits from this trend. It has taken on an active diversification and liberalisation programme to reduce the UAE’s reliance on the hydrocarbon sector. This is evident in the emphasis on industrial diversification with the completion of free zones, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, twofour54 Abu Dhabi media free zone and the construction of another, ICAD II, in the pipeline. There has also been a drive to promote the tourism and real estate sectors with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Tourism and Development Investment Company undertaking several large-scale development projects. These projects will be served by an improved transport infrastructure with a new port, an expanded airport and a proposed rail link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai all in the development stages.

Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest emirate of the UAE in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and per capita income. More than $1 trillion is invested worldwide in this city alone. In 2010, the GDP per capita also reached $49,600, which ranks ninth in the world after Qatar, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg and many others. Taxation in Abu Dhabi, as in the rest of the UAE, is nil for a resident and for a non-bank, non-oil company. Abu Dhabi is also planning many future projects sharing with the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and taking 29% of all the GCC future plannings. The United Arab Emirates is a fast-growing economy: in 2006 the per capita income grew by 9%, providing a GDP per capita of $49,700 and ranking third in the world at purchasing power parity. Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), currently estimated at US$875 billion, is the world's wealthiest sovereign fund in terms of total asset value.Etihad Airways maintains its headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi's government is looking to expand revenue from oil and gas production to tourism and other sorts of things which would attract different types of people. This goal is seen in the amount of attention Abu Dhabi is giving to its International Airport. The airport, in 2009, experienced a 30%+ growth in passenger usage.This idea of diversification of the economy is also seen in the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 planned by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. In this plan Abu Dhabi's economy will be sustainable and not be dependent on any one facet or source of revenue. More specifically the non-oil portion of income is planned to be increased from about 40% to about 70%.

Many Hollywood and other national film production teams have used the UAE as filming locations. Whilst neighbouring Dubai gets a lot of attention, in recent years Abu Dhabi has become a popular destination. The Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace Hotel were some of the city's landmarks used as filming locations for the movie Furious 7. In this movie, cars rush through the building and smash through the windows of the Etihad Towers.

 

Population

The UAE's population has grown to over 9 million, as strong economic growth has attracted a workforce from all over the world. The population of Emiratis is just over one million. According to the Abu Dhabi statistics center, Abu Dhabi's population is over 2.5 million, with around 20% being UAE Nationals.

Religion

Islam is the official religion of the UAE. However, other religions are respected and are diversely represented.

Language

The official language of the UAE is Arabic, but English is widely spoken and understood, with both languages being commonly used in business and commerce.

Heritage and Tradition

The city's progressive vision is tempered by a deep-seated respect for traditions and culture. The artefacts and tools of its early inhabitants, pearl divers, fishermen and dhow builders, are carefully preserved and displayed. The Bedouin way of life is especially honored.

Climate

Between November and March a moderate, warm climate prevails during the day at an average temperature of 26°C, with cooler evening temperatures averaging 15°C. Humidity levels rise significantly in the summer months, between June and August.

UAE Currency

The monetary unit is the 'dirham' (AED) which is divided into 100 fils. The Dirham is tied to the US Dollar at a steady exchange rate of $US 1= AED 3.671.

Useful tips

Photography

While it is quite acceptable to take photographs, it is considered offensive to photograph Muslim women. It is also courteous to ask permission before photographing men. Avoid taking photographs of government or military buildings.

Clothing

Abu Dhabi is generally conservative but tolerant when it comes to dress code. The attitude to dress is relaxed, but visitors (both men and women) are advised not to wear excessively revealing clothing in public places, as a sign of respect for local culture and customs.

Want to know more?

Find out more about what to see & do, where to stay & eat, and what’s new in Abu Dhabi on www.visitabudhabi.ae – the emirate’s official destination website.

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