Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is not just about glitz and glamour; it aims to preserve the historic sites and the well-being of its tribe for many years. If you’re visiting the city, here are some historic spots that are little known to tourists.
Indulge in the Bedouin Culture
Abu Dhabi’s roots are grounded with the Bedouin culture, which can be seen in much of its architecture today. Abu Dhabi Heritage Village, built like a fortress, is a little town showcasing the Emirati life in pre-oil days. The museum exhibits many Arab antiques featuring equipment used by pearl divers, traditional clothing, and Bedouin jewelry – complete with a goat-hair tent and a barasti house that the Bedouins lived in. It’s a unique experience to watch the craftsmen demonstrate pottery making while the women engage in weaving and spinning.
Explore the Residence of the Sheikh
Built in 1793, this charming white fort was once the royal palace of the ruling sheikh. The interiors were recently renovated and modernized with white plaster walls. Some of its notable features are beautiful tile work and the courtyard guarding the main northern gate. Inside the palace is a museum rich in exhibits, from traditional artifacts to historic photographs. An exceptional piece that will amuse you is the aerial photograph of the palace about 100 years ago surrounded by desert. Now to the contrary, the palace is ringed by high-rise buildings. If you’re staying in any of the hotels in downtown Abu Dhabi, the fort is only a few blocks away.
Delve into the Art of Falconry
With deserts being a harsh place to live in, the Bedouins were on a constant hunt for resources to meet their needs. Thus, to supplement their diet with meat, Bedouins used falcons for hunting. However, now falconry is done purely as a sport.
The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is the first of its kind built to nurture and care for falcons. Hospital staff members give the falcons annual checkups, primarily their feathers because these birds are known to lose balance during their flight even if a single flight feather is missing. The hospital provides guided tours that are particularly rich in information about the procedures involved in the medical treatment of a falcon.
Watch the Sun Go Down in the Deserts of Abu Dhabi
A short distance from the city, Liwa Oasis was once home to the ruling families of Abu Dhabi. You’ll be amazed to see the abundance of date palm in the middle of a desert. As part of the Liwa Date Festival held every July, a large complex of air-conditioned tents is set up, where a variety of dates are on sale along with many Bedouin artifacts. In addition, the festival staff provide historical information on the culture. Make sure you’re around for an exhilarating dune-bashing experience on one of the highest dunes in the emirates: Tal Mireb. During the winter, many locals also head there for a weekend picnic and camping under the stars.
If you’re heading to this beautiful city, be sure to check out my article on Hipmunk on the ultimate guide to getting around the city and where you must stay.
Also, check out the ultimate guide I wrote to finding cheap lodging options in Abu Dhabi.
Featured Image: Photo by AsHerWorldTurns via Trover.com
This post is published for Hipmunk as part of the City Love Project.
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