History of Abu Dhabi

A Tale of a Young City in the UAE

archway in abu dhabi

UAE history lessons are very interesting indeed! This Middle Eastern country is full of surprises!

Historical records are indicative of inhabitants being present in Abu Dhabi dating back to 5500 B.C, though new evidence has emerged suggesting that it could have been much earlier; possibly as far back as the Stone Ages.

The history of Abu Dhabi is remarkable in that it is so short and yet so full of change!

Burials recently uncovered propose inhabitants being present in 2500 B.C, as well as tombs dated back to the Northern Emirates times 500 years before that.

Even still, historians and archeologists are amassing technological evidence that points to earlier populations being present such as irrigation tools and iron structures and galleries.

Even though the UAE is a young country the history is full of interesting facts and surprises! Read on to learn more about the history of Abu Dhabi.


How Many Emirates are There?

abu dhabi emirate

In 1971, The United Arab Emirates was formed to include 7 Emirates: Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Kaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi. Before that is was ruled locally but was under the protection of the British Empire but was known as the Trucial States.

Each of the 7 Emirates, which roughly translates as a state, has a ruler with their own laws. Every Emirate has their own police force to enforce the laws.

Abu Dhabi is found on the North Eastern area of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula and has a recorded population of 1.6 million. It is the capital of the UAE and biggest of the 7 emirates that make up the federation of the UAE.

It is anticipated that by the year 2030 their population will have grown to quadruple that. This comes as no surprise for those who know of or have been to Abu Dhabi.

The landscapes are breathtaking and include mountains, oasis’, lagoons, cascading waterfalls and mystic caves to be explored. The grandeur of landscapes coupled with the metropolis lifestyle and sub tropical weather makes Abu Dhabi a coveted place to both live and visit.


The Early Years of the UAE

bedouin lif

The history of Abu Dhabi started long ago. Abu Dhabi at its beginning was quick to flourish has a long and rich history in structure and irrigation from which future settlers learned. By the year 300 B.C. inhabitants of Abu Dhabi were extremely prosperous in the coinage trade and future endeavors in pearling also secured the land financially.

The defeat of Qawasim in the early 1800’s gave birthed maritime truces, leading to its well known name the Trucial States. Economically, Abu Dhabi was well ahead of other neighboring countries as the maritime truces allowed for astronomical success in the pearling industry, until its collapse during World War I and the Depression Era in the 20’ and 30’s.

Abu Dhabi suffered great financial loss and devastation, but still emerged victorious under the care Sheikh Sultan, a business savvy and perspicacious gentleman who recognized the earning potential of the state’s oil. Today, Abu Dhabi owns 10% of the world’s oil and generates 90% of the oil in the UAE.

In Abu Dhabi, which means "Father of the Gazelles" where the first gazelle was discovered in the mid 1770's by the Bani Yas tribe who tracked the gazelle across the desert to find a fresh water spring. A rare find to the area, but was perfect for the beginnings of this great city.

In 1958, oil was discovered in the UAE by an Anglo- French Consortium. They began exporting oil in 1962 and as of today, Abu Dhabi oil reserves have more the 90% of the world total oil supply. This is where the title of "The Richest City in the World" came from.

Locals in this area speak classic Arabic as the official language and this is often utilized in business, governmental and formal settings, although English is also widespread and spoken. Most signage, particularly in more tourist driven areas is in both English and Arabic. Learn more about Arabic language here.

Religion plays a key role in Abu Dhabi, with most practicing Islam, worshiping one God along with his messenger, Mohammad. Muslims follow the five pillars of Islam: Profession of Faith, Charity, Prayer, Fasting and Pilgrimage with emphasis on Holy Fridays.

Muslims are required to pray five times per day in accordance with the sun’s position. During prayer times, all activity ceases and the prayers can be heard everywhere over loudspeakers.



Where is Abu Dhabi?

mini middle east map

United Arab Emirates is located on the Arabian Gulf southern coast, boarded by Oman and Saudi Arabia. They have in increasing population of 1.8 million and counting. Of those, only 20% are Emirates. The capital Abu Dhabi is located in top Northern center of the UAE.

The present ruler is Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who also happens to be the President of United Arab Emirates. Although, each of the seven Emirates has their own ruler and laws, the whole of United Arab Emirates has a Supreme Council of Rulers, which are the rulers of the 7 Emirates. Read more about the UAE Royal Family here.

They also have a Federal National Council of which 40 members belong to the ruling families of the 7 Emirates. The Federal National Council reports directly to the Supreme Council of Rulers about government policy.


Abu Dhabi Today

corniche vie

Today, Abu Dhabi is a miraculous and booming metropolis which offers tourists an abundance of things to do and see. Luscious parks and forests fraught with greenery are picturesque for visitors to take bicycle rides and hikes and the beaches are lined with quaint cafes.

Travelers can enjoy the nightlife of this cosmopolitan area, visiting some of the pubs and nightclubs while watching a band or listening to a D.J. Enjoy the local oriental fare or any of the International cuisines Abu Dhabi offers.

If arts and culture are more to your tastes, there are plenty of museums to visit, as well as gaming centers, shopping malls and theaters. The UAE history is an interesting one with such great stories for a country so young! Learning about UAE history or the Dubai and Abu Dhabi history is an important part of being an expat in the region.



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