The capital city Abu Dhabi is a fascinating one. With varied landscapes and options aplenty for all types of travellers, Abu Dhabi is where the past, present and future all work in tandem and paint a colourful canvas. On December 2, this year the United Arab Emirates completed 50 years since its creation.
Over the years the UAE has witnessed various transformations and some firsts including its formation in 1971, discovery of a church and monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island in 1992, the initiation of the development of the world’s first ecologically smart city, Masdar in 2006, the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in 2009, 13 locations in Al Ain being added to the Unesco World Heritage list, discovery of the world’s oldest natural pearl in 2019 and the opening of the largest aquarium in the Middle East, the National Aquarium in 2021.
Here is a look (in pictures) at how the UAE transformed over the years:
Home to an impressive eight kilometers of manicured waterfront and the stunning, lifeguarded Corniche Beach, it’s the perfect place to soak up Abu Dhabi’s famous year-round sunshine.
Umm Al Nar
The first archaeological excavations in Abu Dhabi began at Umm al-Nar in 1959. Located off the coast of Abu Dhabi emirate, the small island features an archaeological site that has yielded significant finds that have helped to illuminate the culture and lifestyle of Bronze Age inhabitants of the UAE.
Qasr Al Hosn, 1966
The oldest standing structure in Abu Dhabi, the picturesque Qasr Al Hosn was built around the 1790s and comprises two major iconic buildings: the Inner Fort (originally constructed in 1795) and the Outer Palace (1939-45).
Constructed in 1967, it was the first passage that connected Abu Dhabi to the rest of the emirates. Before that the Abu Dhabi Island mass was separated from the mainland by a shallow channel of mater. At that time the only way to go in and out of the city was to wait for hours for the low tide and simply walk or ride a camel across the wet sand.
Abu Dhabi Airport
Abu Dhabi International Airport has been recognised as the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ by the World Airport Awards more than once. But the airport just before the creation of the UAE was very different to what we have come to know today.
Hydroponics on Saadiyat
Saadiyat Island used to have a network of greenhouses that operated there from 1969 to the late ‘70s. Today Saadiyat Island is home to Louvre Abu Dhabi, incredible beach clubs such as the Saadiyat Beach Club and Manarat Al Saadiyat.