To say Abu Dhabi is modern is an understatement. The UAE is younger than many of the people who live here. But that’s not to say it has no past. People first settled here 7,000 years ago. Yet, until the late 1950s, when oil was discovered, Abu Dhabi was a small coastal town with a few hundred huts, a couple of buildings and a fort.
Over 250 years ago, a party of hunters followed a gazelle at low tide on to the island. The legend goes that they found a small spring and reported back to the ruler of the day. He gave orders that a village should be established close to the spring and that today's 'City of Abu Dhabi' was formed. Abu Dhabi means 'Father of the Gazelle'.
Today, huge skyscrapers and residential towers rise from where only sand existed just a few decades ago.
The Emirate is very proud of its past, and there are many attractions around the capital where you can step back in time and experience what it was like to live here.
When you begin exploring around the cultural and heritage attractions, you will quickly discover Abu Dhabi is very much a destination where respect for the past informs the present, and shapes the future.
Across the vibrant emirate, you can see more than 700 kilometres of beautiful coastline, stunning natural islands, picture-perfect deserts, lush oases, soaring mountains and lively towns with plenty to offer.
As you begin exploring the cultural and heritage sites listed on our site, we hope you have an enjoyable visit. These popular attractions will give you a true insight into the wonderful traditions of the Arabian culture.