Today, the people of Abu Dhabi enjoy living in a modern and technologically advanced environment, a significant historical leap from living in simple mud brick huts like some of its former settlers.
The emirate is rich in archaeological discoveries. It has been proven that the very first settlements date from the 3rd millennium BC in some areas of Abu Dhabi. Its primitive history resembles that of the nomadic period with lifestyles typical of breeding and fishing.
Settlements date back over 5,000 years and have been found around parts of Abu Dhabi, such as Jebel Hafeet near Al Ain and on Umm al Nar Island.
The most important settlement in Abu Dhabi was that of the Bedouin Bani Yas tribe, located on the coast around the 16th century. Subsequently, the discovery of fresh water led the tribe to move to the island, which was more fertile with large amounts of wildlife. Soon after, the ruling family, Al Nahyan, also decided to flee to the island.
During the reign of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa, Abu Dhabi developed completely through the pearl trade, and in 1892 came the very first exclusive treaty linking Abu Dhabi with Britain. The location of the emirates was seen as a tremendous strategic convenience connecting it with India and the east, and it was established as the Trucial Coast.
As Abu Dhabi’s wealth was on the rise, it was hit hard by the intervention of the Japanese pearl industry and also by the global recession of the 1930s. In addition, Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa passed away, this which added more uncertainty to Abu Dhabi’s prosperity.
However, this was not the end of Abu Dhabi’s fortune. In 1939, in order to search for vast oil reserves, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan granted an oil concession to the Trucial Coast Development Oil Company, (renamed Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company, ADPC, in 1962). In 1958, huge oil reserves at sea were discovered, and a year later reserves on land were also discovered. It was not until 1962 that oil exports began, leading Abu Dhabi down a road of incredible wealth.
In 1966, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became the new ruler of Abu Dhabi and, two years later, he formed the Federation of the United Arab Emirates, which responded to British threats to withdraw from the region by the end. from 1971. The ruler of Abu Dhabi realized that to maintaining a strong position in the oil industry his connection with Britain was vital. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan was elected first president and, with the help of the British, began to realize his vision of developing the country with the benefit of increasing oil revenues.
Sheikh Zayed was known as the “Father of the Nation” due to his significant developments in the city of Abu Dhabi. Sadly, he passed away in 2004 and his son Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was elected president and made sure he would continue his father’s legacy.
Sheik Khalifa has wisely invested oil reserves to boost tourism figures. With the exceptional determination of the reign of the Al Nahyan family, anything is possible.
Fascinating and impressive key developments have been implemented such as Al Grum Resort and Saadiyat Island to attract visitors from all over the world.
Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has come a long way; quickly rebuilding itself into a flawless city, with extraordinary skyscrapers, shopping malls, top quality hotels and picturesque gardens. He is undoubtedly very different from what he was 50 years ago, but his story still remains a major factor in his path to success.
Abu Dhabi has been converted into a tourist attraction, a modern city with its sophisticated skyscrapers, vast entertainment facilities, and magnificent grand gardens and parks. However, under this modern image hides a rich cultural baggage.
The culture of the emirate is deeply rooted in the Islamic traditions of Arabia, with many mosques dotted around the city in modern architecture. Abu Dhabi is made up of many nationalities and cultures, all of which are welcome as long as they do not jeopardize the Islamic religion. Although the city has changed drastically over the past 40 years by foreign influences, the people of Abu Dhabi still uphold ancient traditions and continue to promote their cultures to those unaware of their thriving heritage.
The cultural heart of the UAE is Abu Dhabi, enthusiastically marketing cultural and sporting events that represent its past. Sports include camel racing and dhow sailing, and cultural activities include Arabic poetry, dance and music.
Many locals dress traditionally, the men in their full-length shirt dress (dishdasha) with a white or red checkered headdress (gutra), while the women wear a black abaya – a long black dress and a headscarf (sheyla ).
The official national language of Abu Dhabi is Arabic, although in and around the city, English, Hindi and Urdu are also widely spoken.