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Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi


H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is the President of the UAE and the 16th Ruler of Abu Dhabi. He assumed his presidential duties on 3 November 2004. Sheikh Khalifa succeeded his father, the late H. H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who served as the President from 1971 to 2004.


Civilisations in Abu Dhabi date back to the third millennium B.C.; Umm Al Nar island and Jebel Hafeet, in particular, are sites of great archaeological importance. The history of the Abu Dhabi island is interesting. Sheikh Dhiyab bin Isa first moved to the island; although he would reside there only during the pearling seasons in summer. At that time, there were only 20 settlements. But, when news of availability of water travelled, the once barren coast soon became a small fishing village. To protect the water source, Sheikh Dhiyab built a watchtower near it. Later, a bigger structure was built around it. This came to be known as Qasr Al Hosn. This is Abu Dhabi's only historical building still standing. The ruling Al Nahyan family descends from a sub-section of Bani Yas tribe, known as Al Bu Falah. They originally lived in the Liwa oasis and settled in Abu Dhabi in 1793. They lived in Qasr Al Hosn for almost two centuries.

How it was named

Abu Dhabi was previously called Milh or salt probably because of the salty water. Literally, Abu Dhabi means father of deer. However, it signifies land of gazelle. There are many theories about how the emirate got its present name. It might have got this name either because there were many deers there or because a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water or because a man who used to chase deer was named the ‘father' of the animal.


Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates and makes up 87 per cent of the entire country. It lies on the coast of the Arabian Gulf and is bordered by Sultanate of Oman to the east, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the south and the emirate of Dubai to the northeast. It also enjoys a coastline stretching 700 km. The two main regions of the emirate are:
  • The eastern region, represented in the city of Al Ain
  • The western region, Al Gharbia, which has seven main cities: Liwa, Madinat Zayed, Ghayathi, Ruwais, Mirfa, Sila and Delma Island.
The city of Abu Dhabi is connected to the mainland by three bridges: Maqta bridge, Mussafah bridge and Sheikh Zayed bridge.

Nature and environment

70 per cent of Abu Dhabi is an open desert. It has 200 islands including: Sadiyat, Al Futasi and Sir Bani Yas. It has two major oases:
  • Al Ain oasis in Al Ain city
  • Liwa oasis in Al Gharbia
Jebel Hafeet is the emirate's highest peak (1,240 metres) and is located south of Al Ain city.


Abu Dhabi is the world's eighth-biggest producer of oil. It has 95 per cent of the nation's oil reserves and about 94 per cent of gas reserves. In 2014, because of the diversification policy, it maintained a GDP of AED 952.6 billion, and the share of non-oil sector was 49 per cent.


There are several landmarks in the emirate; old and new. Some of them are:


Estimated population around mid-2014 was 2.65 million (1,766,140 males and 890,308 females). Out of this, 507,479 million were UAE nationals and 2,148,969 million were expatriates. Average annual population growth rate for the years from 2005 to 2014 is 7.6 per cent. Life expectancy at birth (2012)
  • Male citizens: 75.2 years
  • Female citizens: 78.7 years
Useful links: Sources:
View Abu Dhabi map