Why Abu Dhabi is better than Dubai

In my previous blog post I wrote that Abu Dhabi has everything to become the world’s next place-to-be. In the past decade, Dubai transformed into a popular spot among holidayers and businesspeople alike. It became a place for people with endless ambitions and sky-is-the-limit type of dreams. It saw the construction of the largest tower in the world, the biggest shopping mall, the longest dancing fountain, and more superlatives.

At 830 meters, Burj Khalifa the tallest man-made structure in the world and one of Dubai's superlatives.

At 830 meters, Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure in the world and one of Dubai’s superlatives.

Right next to the Khalifa Tower, the Dubai Fountain is the world's largest musical fountain.

Right next to the Khalifa Tower is the world’s largest musical fountain.

The economic crisis, however, also mercilessly hit the utopia Dubai had come to be. Big brother Abu Dhabi, the richest of all Emirates thanks to the amounts of oil found in its desert, needed to come to the rescue, and did so eventually. But Dubai’s image as the eldorado of capitalism has been somewhat damaged. And haven’t we all come to realize that an uncontrolled free market and pure consumerism are not necessarily conducive to people’s well-being?

Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah with 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab in the background

Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah with 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab in the background

For Ahmed and me, Abu Dhabi did not feel as superficial, artificial, and capitalistic as Dubai. Of course, big business is also here at the order of the day, but at the same time we felt how the authorities do concern about people’s happiness. The numerous parks and beaches right in the center are a good example of that. They could’ve sold those lands to big companies to build hotels and private beaches, but they decided to keep them open for the public. (Of course Abu Dhabi has plenty of hotels, including a 7-star hotel, and private beaches too, but there is enough space left for public recreational areas. Some public beaches are completely free, while others charge a small entrance fee that covers basic amenities like a lifeguard, toilets and showers. Additional facilities – umbrellas, sunbeds, even towels – are available as well for a very reasonable fee.

To get to the beach, there are several public parkings on the other side of the road. A pedestrian underpass takes you to the beach side. Have you ever seen such a clean and beautiful underpass?

No urine smell, drugs, or beggers in this underpass, but a clean, well-lit, and spacious passage with mosaic walls depicting some traditional scenes.

No urine smell, drugs, or beggers in this underpass, but a clean, well-lit, and spacious passage with mosaic walls depicting traditional scenes.

Sunset at one of the Abu Dhabi public beaches

Sunset at one of the Abu Dhabi public beaches

Besides that, the city is clean, not as crowded as Dubai, smaller (in Dubai you have to drive so long to get from one interesting place to another), and people seem more relaxed.

I guess the only way to see if I’m right is to check it out yourselves, but for those who have been to one or both, what did you think of it? Do you agree with me?

All in all, we had a very calm and pleasant break from Jeddah. And perhaps we liked it so much because of our low expectations. Our days were filled with some shopping, some movies, some walking and running, relaxing on the beach, some good food (same you can get in Jeddah, but we enjoyed it very much to be able to go together to very simple, local places, which often don’t have a family section in Jeddah).

DSC_0704

Middle Eastern fare (clockwise): falafel, foul, Arabic bread, cucumber and tomato, pickles, chili sauce, and in the middle my old time favorite hummus.

The idea was to drive to Muscat, Oman, by car and back, but we enjoyed our days so much that we decided to stay a full week in Abu Dhabi. The only excursion we made was to Al Ain, an oasis town 160 kilometers east from Abu Dhabi, where we visited the National Museum, oasis, and Jebel Hafeet, a mountain where we got stuck among celebrating Pakistanis and Indians.

Al Ain oasis

Al Ain oasis

Dates growing in an oasis

Dates growing in an oasis

One of the main things I enjoyed during this trip was taking pictures and experimenting with my camera. It must have been quite boring for Ahmed all the from time to time, but luckily, he found a hobby of his own:

It sometimes takes flamboyant postures to make a unique photo (see upper right) ...

Ahmed photographing me while I am taking photos

It sometimes takes flamboyant postures to make a unique photo (see upper right) …

Al Maqtaa Fort, Abu Dhabi

Al Maqtaa Fort, Abu Dhabi

But the result is worth the effort, isn’t it?

Here are some more pictures I took:

People watching a show on the occasion of Eid.

People watching a show on the occasion of Eid

Life piano music in a store in one of Abu Dhabi's malls on the occasion of Eid

Live piano music at a store in one of Abu Dhabi’s malls on the occasion of Eid. Have you ever seen such a thing? I would almost have offered to work in that store. For free, that is.

Before heading back to Jeddah, we decided to spend the last day in Dubai. I had been there not so long ago, but for Ahmed it had been 10 years, so you can imagine it had changed quite a bit!

We enjoyed visiting Madinat Jumeirah, a shopping (of course!), entertainment and hotel complex. Especially the Arabian-style architecture, souq, and Venice-like canals were worth seeing. The Dubai Mall was a bit too overwhelming (for me at least), and to our disappointment, the fountain only ‘danced’ one very short song.

Madinat Jumeirah

Madinat Jumeirah

We definitely hope to be back on this side of the peninsula soon.

Abu Dhabi skyline

Abu Dhabi skyline

Have you ever been to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or any of the other Emirates? What was your experience?

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Why Abu Dhabi is better than Dubai

  1. Wózki DziecięCe Na raty says:

    Hey there would you mind letting me know which
    webhost you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot
    faster then most. Can you suggest a good internet hosting
    provider at a honest price? Many thanks, I appreciate it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s