Abu Dhabi's unusual architecture delivers surprises

From its Bedouin past as a modest fishing and pearl diving port to the discovery and production of oil, ...

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 2:13 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 2:13 PM

From its Bedouin past as a modest fishing and pearl diving port to the discovery and production of oil, Abu Dhabi has risen from the sands along the Arabian Gulf to become one of the world's wealthiest cities.

Today, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is known not only by its prosperity, diversity and tolerance, but by its modern architectural wonders.

Abu Dhabi

Architecture

Building design

Building planning and construction

Buildings and structures

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Mosques

Points of interest

Religious buildings

United Arab Emirates

Hotels and motels

Lodging

Travel and tourism

Abu Dhabi Travel Guide

Here are some of the city's extreme skyline attractions to see when you travel here.

Abu Dhabi Island

Sheikh Zayed Bridge

With its ultra-modern wave of symmetrical steel arches, the Sheikh Zayed Bridge makes a powerful statement to all who pass.

It offers a raised view of Abu Dhabi's main island and serves as a defining illustration of the city's dynamic, forward-thinking energy.

Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born architect and the first woman to earn the Pritzker Prize, this arched construction is considered one of the most intricate bridge designs in the world.

Driving across the bridge is a breathtaking experience that screams "Welcome to Oz," but the more humble Maqta Bridge offers an easily accessible walkway with fantastic views of the multicolored, evening light display that flows across the structure's rippling curvature.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Built to unite cultural diversity within the Islamic world with the historical and modern values of architecture and art, Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque is open to visitors of all faiths and can feel more like a monument to the UAE's religious tolerance (and wealth) than a place of devout Muslim worship.

Still, Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque welcomes up to 40,000 worshippers during the Eid al-Fitr festival to mark the end of Ramadan.

One of the largest mosques in the world, the interior courtyard features the world's largest marble mosaic, and the intricately designed interior floral carpet is considered the world's largest prayer rug.

Smart travelers visit in the late afternoon to take in the mosque's bright white marble and floral inlays, then stay through the echoing evening call to prayer as 82 domes and four minarets are lit in a purplish-blue hue, carefully curated to match the phases of the moon.

Capital Gate

When it comes to leaning towers, Pisa has nothing on Abu Dhabi. Capital Gate is recognized by Guinness World Records as the "world's farthest leaning man-made tower."

With an 18-degree twisting tilt (compared to Pisa's mere four-degree lean), the 35-story building appears to bend with the desert winds.

Home of the Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel, there are plenty of ways to lean-in for an over-the-top experience. A decadent brunch with a view is served on Fridays, complete with free-flowing Champagne and too many food stations to choose from.

The suspended outdoor pool on the 19th floor offers sightlines of the city's most western edge and outer islands. Guestrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows including bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs with a view.

Etihad Towers

One of the most defining features of Abu Dhabi's skyline is Etihad Towers. With its dramatic, curved exterior, lit up at night it's a display of modern architectural splendor.

Located at the westernmost section of Abu Dhabi's Corniche, a seaside promenade, Etihad Towers features five high-rises for residential and commercial use, and an upscale mall with names like Hermes, Rolex, Cartier and Versace.

Once Abu Dhabi's tallest building, the structure is also home to the five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Hotel.

Here, visitors head to the 62nd floor and home of Ray's Bar, an elegant marble and glass lounge offering near 360-degree views of Abu Dhabi's stunning skyline and the Arabian Gulf -- all served up with some of the best cocktails in town.

Emirates Palace

With its domed atrium (the largest in the world), interiors gilded with 86,000 square feet of 22-carat gold leaf, expansive gardens, a marina, suites reserved exclusively for the region's governing sheiks, and a vending machine dispensing "golf to go," Emirates Palace exudes the opulence and hospitality characteristic of an Arabian royal residence.

Costing an estimated $3 billion to construct, Emirates Palace is one of the most expensive hotels ever built.

An overnight stay in a three-bedroom suite costs upwards of $15,000.

If that's not in the budget, the hotel's BBQ Al Qasr provides a taste of the life of a sultan. Arabic grilled steak and camel burgers are on the menu, served under the stars overlooking the Palace's private beach.

Saadiyat Island

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Home to an extensive collection demonstrating the intersecting points of Eastern and Western art and culture, Louvre Abu Dhabi is the most significant addition to the Arab art world in recent times.

Housed in a masterpiece structure conceived by Pritzker Prize-winning French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum looks like a floating dome when seen from afar.

The stark and steely web-patterned roof softens the sun's power, creating the "rain of light" effect of walking under a protective umbrella of palm trees.

The museum's free-standing galleries under the dome create a medina-like footprint that offer visitors a maze of hidden outdoor spaces to explore with some of the best city and Gulf views available.

Yas Island

Ferrari World

The largest space frame structure ever built, Ferrari's World's low-slung, bright red roofline with the famous Ferrari shield -- the classic black prancing horse symbol on yellow background -- is a Yas Island landmark.

Ferrari World joins the new Warner Brothers World theme park, a golf course, waterpark, shopping mall, as well as the racetrack where the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place, in this destination dedicated to leisure pursuits.

Ferrari World has more than 20 attractions and thrill rides, including four roller coasters. For speed seekers, the Formula Rossa is the world's fastest roller coaster, reaching a speed of 150 miles per hour in less than five seconds. If that's not enough, the park's Flying Aces features the world's tallest roller coaster loop.

Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi

Built atop the Yas Marina Circuit where Formula 1 race cars take to the 3.45-mile circuit track, Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi is noted for its glass and steel "grid shell" and a light system with more than 5,000 LED bulbs that create a see-through canopy over the hotels' two towers.

Given its location overlooking the site of Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix race held each November, the hotel offers special packages for race fans who want to experience a room with a race-ready view, including hotel suites, private lounges, and terrace access overlooking the course complete with food and drink to take in the F1 season finale.

Abu Dhabi Mainland

Aldar Building

The world's first circular skyscraper is Aldar Headquarters.

Aptly home of and named for Abu Dhabi's largest real estate development firm, this standing nickel structure constructed of diagonal grids of steel is better known as the "coin building," and cost a pretty penny -- nearly $1 billion to build.

Sitting on Abu Dhabi's mainland between Sheikh Zayed Highway (the road that connects Abu Dhabi to Dubai) and the waters leading to the emirate's outer islands, visitors can't access the building from land.

The best way to capture a close-up Instagram-friendly view is with one of the local boat tour companies such as Captain Tony's, which offer tours that include waterside views of this architecturally astounding standing disc.

Terre Haute
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 72°
Robinson
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 66°
Indianapolis
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 71°
Rockville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 70°
Casey
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 71°
Brazil
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 72°
Marshall
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 72°
A Pleasant Overnight
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 279453

Reported Deaths: 8722
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1400785172
DuPage16883551
Lake16489486
Will13539373
Kane12716325
St. Clair6339187
Madison5414131
Winnebago5399149
McHenry4446118
Champaign441120
Peoria325648
McLean318820
Rock Island282771
Kankakee266076
Sangamon226744
Unassigned2250236
Kendall193225
LaSalle163056
Tazewell160920
DeKalb148038
Macon141740
Coles136630
Williamson133737
Jackson124224
Clinton108420
Boone105623
Adams102010
Randolph92311
Effingham8341
Whiteside69420
Ogle6416
Grundy6355
Monroe62715
Morgan62523
Henry6245
Vermilion6224
Knox6133
Bureau58711
Jefferson56438
Marion5160
Franklin4992
Macoupin4987
Union49724
Stephenson4756
McDonough45315
Christian44310
Logan4361
Woodford4026
Crawford3892
Jersey38514
Cass38411
Iroquois35719
Shelby3524
Fayette3513
Livingston3406
Perry33815
Lee3331
Montgomery33113
Warren3072
Bond2944
Douglas2816
Saline2783
Lawrence2502
Wayne2495
Jo Daviess2432
Greene2167
Carroll2124
Moultrie2073
Cumberland2004
Jasper1999
Washington1971
Hancock1943
Pulaski1591
Richland1594
White1590
Clark1512
Fulton1480
Wabash1461
Johnson1440
Clay1410
Piatt1310
Mason1281
Mercer1275
Menard1190
Pike1101
Edgar1097
De Witt1031
Ford985
Massac962
Marshall940
Scott740
Alexander731
Gallatin672
Hamilton670
Henderson630
Edwards610
Putnam520
Stark502
Schuyler450
Calhoun440
Brown410
Hardin360
Pope261
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225