His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates. He is a son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates.
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. The GDP per capita also reached $63,000, which is far above the average income of the United Arab Emirates and which ranks third in the world after Luxembourg and Norway. 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.
Abu Dhabi houses important offices of the federal government, and is the seat for the United Arab Emirates Government and the home for the Abu Dhabi Emiri Family and the President of the UAE from this family. Abu Dhabi has grown to be a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed Abu Dhabi to a larger and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the country's center of political, industrial activities, and a major cultural, and commercial centre due to its position as the capital.
Abu Dhabi is home to important financial institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the corporate headquarters of many companies and numerous multinational corporations. One of the world's largest producers of oil, Abu Dhabi has actively attempted to diversify its economy in recent years through investments in financial services and tourism. Abu Dhabi is the second most expensive city for expatriate employees in the region, and 50th most expensive city in the world. Fortune & CNN stated that Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world.
Abu Dhabi is known around the world for its massive oil reserves and majestic mosques with towering minarets. These, combined with the distinct Arabic hospitality and mystique - and world-class infrastructure - make Abu Dhabi an excellent destination both for the experienced and novice traveller.
The famous Liwa oasis in the south is home to some of the largest and most beautiful sand dunes in the world. It is also the frontier that leads to the legendary Rub Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), a vast expanse of desert that extends through Saudi Arabia and Oman, which has been the object of many explorers’ conquest in the past.
Abu Dhabi city bursts with dazzling business-cum-leisure facilities ranging from state-of-the-art convention centre, luxurious hotels, spas, designer golf courses, theatres and very soon, some of the world’s most famous museums particularly Guggenheim and Louvre. The palace-like shopping malls and indigenous souqs in Abu Dhabi make for a great shopping expedition, offering the best handicraft from local Bedouins to the best of Paris’ or Milan’s high street fashion brands, sans the ubiquitous sales tax. Gastronomic treats further abound from cool and sophisticated cafes, clubs and restaurants. For the fitness conscious, jogging and cycling (or even roller blading) are a welcome treat especially during the cooler months in the city’s charming corniche or beachfront, merely minutes away from the bustling city centre.
Cultural sites abound in Abu Dhabi, whose name implies “Father of the Gazelle” most likely due to the large number of gazelles and oryx that once flocked the emirate’s arid deserts. These heritage sites provide holiday makers with a glimpse of this emirate’s storied past - reaching as far back as 5000 BC - and an understanding of its people’s culture, values and aspirations. Being the capital, Abu Dhabi also houses embassies and hosts ambassadors from all over the world.
Parks and gardens
Abu Dhabi has over 2000 well-maintained parks and gardens and more than 400 km of coastline, of which 10 km are public beaches. Furthermore the garden city of Al Ain – lying near the Oman border - is home to one of the famous peaks of the majestic Hajar Mountain and the highest point in the Emirat of Abu Dhabi (Jebel Hafeet), which rises about 1,340 metres.
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 trillion cu metres).
Its oil wealth has been wisely utilized to encourage a healthy atmosphere of trade & commerce. The large gardens & parks, green boulevards lining all the streets & roads make it an attractive city for tourists. The long coastline, the shallow waters of the southern Gulf, extends from the base of the Qatar Peninsula in the west to the border of Dubai on the Northeast.
This was once the world's best water for pearling. When the pearling industry declined, oil discovery in the offshore oilfields of the southern Gulf revived the economy of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi was also the first Emirate to export oil from Umm Saif offshore field in 1962.
The water supply in Abu Dhabi is managed by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company. As of 2006, it supplied 560.2 MiGD (million imperial gallons per day) of water, while the water demand for 2005–06 was estimated to be 511 MiGD. The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) states that groundwater is the most significant source of water, as well as desalinated potable water, and treated sewage effluent. At 40.6 MiGD, the Umm Al Nar storage is the largest water source for Abu Dhabi, followed by the rivers Shuweihat and Taweelah. With falling groundwater level and rising population density, Abu Dhabi faces a severely acute water shortage. On average each Abu Dhabi resident uses 550 litres (120 imp gal; 150 U.S. gal) of water per day. Abu Dhabi daily produces 1,532 tonnes of solid wastes which is dumped at three landfill sites by Abu Dhabi Municipality. The daily domestic waste water production is 330 MiGD and industrial waste water is 40 MiGD. A large portion of the sewerage flows as waste into streams, and separation plants.
State-owned Etisalat and private du communication companies provide telephone and cell phone service to the city. Cellular coverage is extensive, and both GSM and CDMA (from Etisalat and Du) services are available. Etisalat, the government owned telecommunications provider, held a virtual monopoly over telecommunication services in Abu Dhabi prior to the establishment of other, smaller telecommunications companies such as Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC — better known as Du) in 2006. Internet was introduced into Abu Dhabi in 1995. The current network is supported by a bandwidth of 6 GB, with 50,000 dialup and 150,000 broadband ports. Etisalat recently announced implememnting a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Abu Dhabi during the third quarter of 2009 to make the emirate the world's first city to have such a network.
As the emirate covers 67,341 km2 (26,001 sq mi), nearly 87% of the UAE, the population density is 21.73 /km2 (56.3 /sq mi).
The majority of the inhabitants of Abu Dhabi are expatriate workers from India, Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines, the United Kingdom and various countries from across the Arab world. Consequently, English, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Tigrinya, Amharic and Bengali are widely spoken. Apart from Urdu and Hindi spoken by Indians and Pakistanis, many South Asian expatriates also contribute other South Asian languages to the cultural milieu, including Malayalam, the main language spoken in the state of Kerala.
The native-born population are Arabic-speaking Gulf Arabs who are part of a clan-based society. The Al Nahyan family, part of the al-Falah branch of the Bani Yas clan, rules the emirate and has a central place in society.
Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) is the city's main aviation hub and the second busiest airport in the UAE. Its terminal spaces are dominated by Etihad Airways which is the UAE's national carrier and the country's second largest airline. A new terminal opened in 2009 with total capacity reaching 12 million passengers per annum by 2011.
Public transport systems in Abu Dhabi include the Abu Dhabi public buses, taxis, ferries, and airplanes.
Abu Dhabi has a diverse and multicultural society. Major holidays in Abu Dhabi include Eid al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, Eid ul-Azha which marks the end of Haj, and National Day (2 December), which marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates.
This unique socioeconomic development in the Persian Gulf has meant that Abu Dhabi is generally more tolerant than its neighbours. The country is home to several communities that have faced persecution elsewhere. The cosmopolitan atmosphere is gradually growing and as a result, there are a variety of Asian and Western schools, cultural centers and themed restaurants.
The diversity of cuisine in Abu Dhabi is a reflection of the cosmopolitan nature of the society. Arab food is very popular and is available everywhere in the city, from the small shawarma to the upscale restaurants in the city's many hotels. Fast food and South Asian cuisine are also very popular and are widely available. The sale and consumption of pork, though not illegal, is regulated and it is sold only to non-Muslims in designated areas. Similarly, the sale of alcoholic beverages is regulated. A liquor permit is required to purchase alcohol; however, alcohol is available in bars and restaurants within four or five star hotels. Shisha and qahwa boutiques are also popular in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is home to several international and local private schools and universities, including government-sponsored United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain and New York Film Academy, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi University in Abu Dhabi.
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