Abu Dhabi is the capital and the second largest city of the United Arab Emirates in terms of population and the largest of the seven member emirates of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Arab Gulf from the central western coast. The city proper had a population of 921,000 in 2013. 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 alone generated 56.7% of the GDP of the United Arab Emirates in 2008. 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 67th most expensive city in the world. Fortune magazine and CNN stated in 2007 that Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world.
History (Early Civilizations)
Abu Dhabi is full of archeological evidence that points to civilizations, such as the Umm an-Nar Culture, having been located there from the third millennium BC. Settlements were also found further outside the modern city of Abu Dhabi but closer to the modern city of Al Ain. There is evidence of civilizations around the mountain of Hafeet (Jebel Hafeet). This location is very strategic because it is the UAE%u2019s second tallest mountain, so it would have great visibility. It also contains a lot of moisture in its springs and lakes, which means that there would have been more moisture thousands of years ago.
Origin of the name Abu Dhabi The origin of the name “Abu Dhabi” is uncertain. Meaning “Father of Deer”, it probably referred to the few gazelle that inhabit the emirate. According to Bilal Al Budoor, assistant under-secretary for Cultural Affairs at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, “The area had a lot of dhibaa [deer], and was nicknamed after that.” An old story tells about a man who used to chase deer [dhabi] and was named the “father” of the animal. Abu Dhabi’s original name was Milh “salt”, possibly referring to the salty water of the Arab Gulf. Some Bedouins called the city Umm Dhabi (mother of deer), while British records refer to the place as Abu Dhabi. According to some historical accounts, the name Abu Dhabi was first used more than 300 years ago. Abu Dhabi is pronounced “Bu Dhabi” by inhabitants of the western coast of the city. In the eastern part of the city, the pronunciation is “Abu”.
Origins of the Al Nahyan family The Bani Yas bedouin were originally centered on the Liwa Oasis. This tribe was the most significant in the area, having over 20 subsections. In 1793, the Al Bu Falah subsection migrated to the island of Abu Dhabi on the coast of the Arab Gulf due to the discovery of fresh water there. One family within this section was the Al Nahyan family. This family makes up the rulers of Abu Dhabi today
Pearl trade Abu Dhabi worked in the pearl business and traded with others. According to a source about pearling, the Arab Gulf was the best location for pearls. Pearl divers dove for one to one-and-a-half minutes, and would have dived up to thirty times per day. There were no oxygen tanks and any other sort of mechanical device was forbidden. The divers had a leather nose clip and leather coverings on their fingers and big toes to protect them while they searched for oysters. The divers were not paid for a day%u2019s work but received a portion of the season%u2019s earnings.
In the 19th century, as a result of treaties (known as “truces” which gave the coast its name) entered into between Great Britain and the sheikhs of the Gulf shore, Britain became the predominant influence in the area. The main purpose of British interest was to protect the trade route to India from pirates, hence the earlier name for the area, the “Pirate Coast”. After piracy was suppressed other considerations came into play, such as a strategic need of the British to exclude other powers from the region. Following their withdrawal from India in 1947, the British maintained their influence in Abu Dhabi as interest in the oil potential of the Arab Gulf grew.
First oil Discoveries
In the 1930s, as the pearl trade declined, interest grew in the oil possibilities of the region. On 5 January 1936, Petroleum Development (Trucial Coast) Ltd (PDTC), an associate company of the Iraq Petroleum Company, entered into a concession agreement with the ruler, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan al Nahyan, to explore for oil. This was followed by a seventy-five-year concession signed in January 1939. However, owing to the desert terrain, inland exploration was fraught with difficulties. In 1953, D’Arcy Exploration Company, the exploration arm of British Petroleum, obtained an offshore concession which was then transferred to a company created to operate the concession: Abu Dhabi Marine Areas (ADMA) was a joint venture between BP and Compagnie Française des Pétroles (later Total). In 1958, using a marine drilling platform, the ADMA Enterprise, oil was struck in the Umm Shaif field at a depth of about 8,755 feet (2,669 m). This was followed in 1959 by PDTC%u2019s onshore discovery well at Murban No.3. In 1962, the company discovered the Bu Hasa field and ADMA followed in 1965 with the discovery of the Zakum offshore field. Today, in addition to the oil fields mentioned, the main producing fields onshore are Asab, Sahil and Shah, and offshore are al-Bunduq, and Abu al-Bukhoosh.
Geography and Climate
The city of Abu Dhabi is on the northeastern part of the Arab Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula. It is on an island less than 250 metres (820 ft) from the mainland and is joined to the mainland by the Maqta and Mussafah Bridges. A third, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, designed by Zaha Hadid, opened in late 2010. Abu Dhabi Island is also connected to Saadiyat Island by a five-lane motorway bridge. Al-Mafraq bridge connects the city to Reem Island and was completed in early 2011. This is a multilayer interchange bridge and it has 27 lanes which allow roughly 25,000 automobiles to move per hour. There are three major bridges of the project, the largest has eight lanes, four leaving Abu Dhabi city and four coming in. Most of Abu Dhabi city is located on the island itself, but it has many suburbs on the mainland, for example: Khalifa City A, B, and C; Al Raha Beach; Al Bahia City A, B, and C; Al Shahama; Al Rahba; Between Two Bridges; Baniyas; and Mussafah Residential. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi%u2019s land surface measures 67,340 square kilometres, which is equivalent to about 87% of the UAE%u2019s total land area.Only 30% of the emirate is inhabited, with the remaining vast expanses covered mainly by desert and arid land %u2014 constituting about 93% of the total land area.
Land cultivation and irrigation for agriculture and forestation over the past decade has increased the size of “green” areas in the emirate to about 5% of the total land area, including parks and roadside plantations. About 1.2% of the total land area is used for agriculture. A small part of the land area is covered by mountains, containing several caves. The coastal area contains pockets of wetland and mangrove colonies. Abu Dhabi also has dozens of islands, mostly small and uninhabited, some of which have been designated as sanctuaries for wildlife. Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year. The months of June through September are generally extremely hot and humid with maximum temperatures averaging above 38 °C (100 °F). During this time, sandstorms occur intermittently, in some cases reducing visibility to a few meters. The cooler season is from November to March, which ranges between moderately hot to warm. This period also sees dense fog on some days. On average, January is the coolest month in the year, while July and August are the hottest. The oasis city of Al Ain, about 150 km (93 mi) away, bordering Oman, regularly records the highest summer temperatures in the country; however, the dry desert air and cooler evenings make it a traditional retreat from the intense summer heat and year-round humidity of the capital city.