Do you know these awesome Abu Dhabi facts?

Just for fun and to help you get to know your home even better, this is a collection of capital curiosities, fascinating facts and stimulating stats that you need to know about the ‘Father of the Gazelle’…


You’ve been there, done that. You know Abu Dhabi like the back of your hand, have all your own hidden gems and favourite places to visit.

A passing Ferrari or Bentley no longer causes you to do a double take and you like to throw the occasional ‘yalla’ and ‘khalas’ into conversation for emphasis. You know the best place to get a shawarma or immerse yourself in creative culture – that would be Broasted Al Medan and Warehouse421, Mina Zayed. In short, you’ve got this city down pat.

Or do you? If you want to be a real Abu Dhabi know-it-all, one of those people who seem to know a million and one fascinating titbits, then this ultimate Abu Dhabi fact file is for you.

Think you know it all? Well, did you know?…

World Records 


The economy 

  • Consumer prices for non-citizen households increased by 2.3 percent in 2016.
  • 169 – the total number of hotels in Abu Dhabi as of 2016.
  • Abu Dhabi’s top 3 export destinations for the year were China, Saudi Arabia and India.
  • Dirham comes from the Greek word ‘drachmae’, meaning ‘handful’.
  • The UAE dirham is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of 3.67 dirhams to the dollar.
  • 0.7 percent – amount agriculture contributed to GDP in 2016, whereas oil contributed 49.2 percent of GDP.

Explained: A history of the Dirham


Paper money was a foreign concept to traditional Bedouin tribes who traded in goods until the early twentieth century when the rise in trade necessitated the introduction of currency. With the formation of the UAE a few decades later, the dirham was introduced to replace the widely-used Dubai riyal. A few years later, in 1973, dirham coins and fils were introduced. In 1978, the dirham was pegged to the US Dollar.



Explained: Imported sand 

Despite being a desert country, the UAE imported $456m (AED 1.6bn) worth of sand in 2014, which was mostly used in construction.Why on earth would the UAE need to import sand, we hear you ask? Well, after water, sand is the most used natural resource on the planet. UAE sand, however, is not the right type for construction use: it is high in salt and too smooth.

People and history of the UAE 


Emirati culture




  • There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet in the main prayer hall of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – it took two years to complete.


Explained: A short history of the Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the third largest mosque in the world. At the request of the late Sheikh Zayed, the mosque was built at 11m above sea level and 9.5m above the street level, so it’s clearly visible from all directions. Featuring four minarets and 82 domes, the main dome is the largest in the world, standing 85m high. The materials used in the construction of the mosque – which took a total of 11 years – came from all over the world including Greece, Italy and China. At capacity, a total of 40,000 worshippers can visit at one time.

  • Emirates Palace boasts more than 1,000 chandeliers and the heaviest one weighs more than two tonnes.

Explained: A short history of Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace took four years to build, opening in February 2005. Construction included the use of 250,000 cubic metres of concrete and 110,000 cubic metres of marble among other materials. Designed to incorporate various Arabic elements, the colour of the building was made to represent the shades of sand found in the UAE and features more than 100 domes. Set along a 1.3km beach the luxury hotel features two helipads, 140 elevators, 7,000 doors, 8,000 trees, 302 deluxe luxury rooms and 92 suites.

  •    Burj Mohammed bin Rashid, World Trade Center, is the tallest building in Abu Dhabi standing 382 metres tall with a total of 92 floors.
  • The Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel is the first hotel to built on an F1 circuit.

In Depth: Yas Marina Circuit


Yas Marina Circuit is one of the most technologically advanced circuits in the world. It is not only set up to hold events at night but can also be sectioned into two tracks to run two races simultaneously. It was also the most expensive to build with an estimated cost of $1billion (AED 3.6bn). The 5.55km track features 21 turns and covers 161 hectares in area. The fastest lap time recorded is one minute and 40 seconds, achieved by Sebastian Vettel in 2009.

Fake facts – ADW’s ‘guestimates’

Just for fun, don’t quote us on this.

  • If everyone in Abu Dhabi made a human chain, it would span a distance of more than 2,500 miles, that’s longer than the distance from Abu Dhabi to Budapest, New Delhi or Moscow.
  • If every person living in Abu Dhabi contributed 50 fils a total of more than AED 1m could be raised for charity. Let’s do it!
  • If you drilled a hole through the earth from Abu Dhabi going directly down you’d come out the other side in the middle of the Pacific ocean near the Pitcairn Islands.

WORDS Colin Armstrong


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