Abu Dhabi,UAE

Location:

The cruise ships dock at Port Zayed. The city center is 3 miles from the port. Metered taxis are stationed outside the port’s main gate. Shuttle buses are provided. Some cruise lines only provide shuttles to the port entrance where taxis will be available or The Big Bus Hop on/off is within a 3 minute walk. Some cruise lines will provide a shuttle bus to Marina Mall which passes right along the Corniche, the focal point of the city.

It is not allowed to walk in the port area itself.

The new temporary cruise terminal at Mina Zayed is capable of simultaneously accommodating 1,300 passengers.

The terminal spans some 2,000 square metres and comprises two dedicated halls – one a luggage-handling facility, the other a passenger centre complete with a waiting lounge, security section, prayer rooms, offices, visitor information centre, currency exchange as well as customs and immigration facilities.

Only Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit the United Arab Emirates. You must obtain an expensive visa prior to arrival in the UAE.

Sightseeing:

If you buy a guide for Abu Dhabi, make sure it is the latest edition. Anything older than 3 years will not suffice. The cityscape is constantly changing.

Just a few decades ago, Abu Dhabi, the island capital of the United Arab Emirates, was a small fishing village with houses made of mud-brick and palm fronds. Today, as a result of revenue from oil, Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s richest cities, with wide tree-lined boulevards, lush green parks, gushing fountains and imposing skyscrapers.

Somewhat of a dichotomy, Abu Dhabi is a combination of ultra-modern sophistication and Arab mystique. Its ambivalence is reflected in the choices available to visitors – from shopping in upscale boutiques and bargaining in the souq (bazaar), to traveling in air-conditioned limousines and riding camels in the desert, to dining in five-star luxury and sampling Bedouin hospitality. Whatever your choice, you will not be disappointed and, in addition, find an extremely friendly and hospitable people.

Despite the breathtaking rate of development, the people of the Emirate remain conservative and attach great values to keeping with traditions. Business often starts with a tiny cup of cardamon-flavored coffee poured from the traditional metal pot or dallah. The Bedouin custom of offering food and shelter to strangers in the desert is preserved today by the coffee ceremony.
The people of Abu Dhabi and throughout the UAE, led by their ruler and president, H.H. Sheikh Zayed, are deeply committed to Islam. There are more than 400 mosques in Abu Dhabi. The muezzin’s call to prayer forms a rhythmic pattern to life in the city.

Apart from its modernity, the most striking feature of Abu Dhabi is its lushness. The municipality has spent a fortune and hired an army of laborers to turn this desert city into a green oasis.

The Corniche
This park-lined coastal boulevard skirts the city with a backdrop of modern buildings facing the sea.

Heritage Village
Situated in the middle of Abu Dhabi, the village is an exhibition of the nomadic Bedouin life-style and local traditions. Other features include displays on agriculture, fishing and trading.

Lulu Island
Work began in 1998 on this man-made island resort off the corniche. It is designed to be a recreational paradise with hotels, restaurants, gardens, bird and animal sanctuaries.

The Cultural center
Occupying a sprawling complex in the center of the city, it incorporates a library, theater auditorium, lecture rooms and an exhibition center. It is built in traditional Arabian-Islamic architecture and surrounded by courtyards and gardens.

The new Sheikh Zayed Mosque is absolutely spectacular!

Ladies – instead of shorts, pack below-the-knee trousers or skirts. No exposed knees, cleavage or upper arms.

The city is very safe and clean…not one stroke of graffiti to be found

Tours/Excursions/Transportation:

Travel on foot is not recommended: too hot and the sights are too spread out.

Taxi’s are excellent and not expensive. If you take a taxi anywhere in the UAE, ask for the meter to be switched on even if you make a tour by taxi.

Most cruise lines offer a shuttle bus to the Marina Mall, at the far end of Corniche Road. Here you can take a hop on/off bus. The tour takes two and a half hours and gives a very good overview of the city. If your cruise line offers only a shuttle to the port entrance, just exit the gate on foot, and go straight on via the (busy) roundabout and you will end up at the Iranianan market and turn right where this bus has a stop. It’s about a 4 minute walk from the gate.

Shopping and Food:

Abu Dhabi’s central souq area stretches from Hamdan Street almost to the corniche. The new souq provides air-conditioned comfort sheltering a vast network of shop-lined walkways under one roof. Best buys include gold jewelry, watches, perfumes and electronics. Typical local products include embroidered linens, Bedouin silver jewelry and the traditional coffee pot.

The Marina Mall, located on a scenic island overlooking the Corniche. The mall has 300 stores with most well known brands represented. There is a variety of eateries, coffee shops and even a huge Carrefour supermarket. There is a spectacular view from the tower above, where there is a nice coffeeshop with free WiFi connection and smoking and non-smoking areas, almost unique in Abu Dhabi, as smoking areas are very limited.

Currency:

The currency is the United Arab Emirates dirham (AED, local abbreviation dhs). Conversion rates are 3.68 AED for 1 USD, 4.5 AED for 1 EUR and 6.8 AED for 1 GBP. The Dirham is pegged on the USD, so rate variations with this currency are unlikely.

Communication:

The official language is Arabic, but it is safe to say that the majority of the population doesn’t speak it (Iranian, Indian, Asian and Western expatriates are more numerous than Arabs in Dubai, and usually have very limited knowledge of Arabic). English is the lingua franca. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Internet cafes are not fairly common and web censorship is at times odd but rarely obtrusive. Instant messaging and voice-over-IP services like Skype sometimes work. Free WiFi is not normally found. Charges are in general 15 – 20 Dirhams.

Opening Hours and Holidays

Shopping hours Daily 0900-1300 and 1600-2100, but many shops and all malls are open all day. Shops close for prayers Fri 1130-1330.

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Place Categories: Cruise Ports

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