Photos from a visit to Abu Dhabi in 1988.

Part 1. Views along Abu Dhabi Corniche

(Click on any image to download a larger version)

I went out to Abu Dhabi to look after a Cray X-MP at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, so this seems like a logical place to start. I've arranged the photos as a tour along the road known as the Corniche, starting at ADNOC headquarters and heading east.

Abu Dhabi city is built on an island jutting out into the Gulf of Arabia, there is a great deal of building always going on and they are very proud of their modern high-rise buildings, some of them as you will see from these photos are quite spectacular.

The first photo is taken from a causeway built out into the bay looking back towards the city, while the second is the first feature fountain you come across as you head away from ADNOC. It is the "Past and Present" fountain, which is actually a collection of fountains with dhows made with copper sails, all arranged around a central fountain with a rotating globe.

The picture to the right represents something of an oddity while I was there, a dull day in Abu Dhabi! The shot is taken from some derilict buildings overlooking one of several gardens along the Corniche. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, is very keen on 'greening the desert', and gardens and fountains are a big feature of the Emirate.

The picture on the right is one of my favourites, I think it captures the essence of Abu Dhabi in that in this one shot you have with the mosque, symbolising a religious country, the modern building in the background symbolising the material wealth of the country (it being the Arab Monetary Fund building) and the gardener watering the plants symbolising what they are doing with their money.

The photo on the left is taken in the garden you see in the previous photo, the mosque is The Ladies Mosque. Another interesting feature of Abu Dhabi is that the ruler decreed no-one should have to walk further than half a kilometer to reach a mosque, so you see them dotted all around. The second photo is the same building close up, while the third is another view with a fountain in the foreground. Fountains are another feature of the city, to be found at almost every junction along the Corniche. You may have to click on the photo and look at the larger image to see that the fountain commemorates the source of wealth in the past, pearl diving, while the blue building in the background represents the source of wealth in the present, the oil industry. The gold building, as I have just mentioned, is the AMF building.

Just a bit further down from the above photos is another mosque which I used as the subject of a long exposure shot to capture the use of lighting. The mosque sits at a junction leading onto a roundabout where there is another landmark feature. Every town and city in the United Arab Emirates has a clock tower on a central roundabout, the one in Abu Dhabi is of course built into a fountain as well. You might notice the twin towers of the mosque in the photo on the left in the background of the photo on the right, to the right of the clock tower.

The working day was from 7am to about 1pm when everyone would go home to escape from the heat of the day. Except me, that was when I took most of my photos, talk about mad dogs and Englishmen. I liked taking shots uncluttered with people. In the evening, however, the city really sprang to life and the gardens along the Corniche would be teeming, everyone in their 'Sunday best', I know that is not the most appropriate phrase to use, but you know what I mean. All the children would be dressed up and would be out until very late, the whole population except for me having had an afternoon's sleep. All the fountains would be lit up and full of colour, and the ice-cream vendors would be out in force as it was always warm. On the right is a long-range shot of the Volcano fountain, the most spectacular fountain in Abu Dhabi, taken from the roof of the hotel I was staying in. I'm very pleased with this shot, if you have a look at the larger image you can see the sunset casting a deep red sheen on the Gulf water behind the fountain.

The first two shots, also taken from the roof, give you an idea of the layout of the Volcano fountain and the terraces built around it. In the third photo you can see individual plumes, the floodlights lighting them and the main plume at the top of the fountain change colour to add to the effect and the whole site draws large crowds each evening.

Still on the roof of the hotel but looking east now, we can see the harbour area in the distance in the first photo, the Corniche road takes a right turn by the Sheraton hotel. We see the same view in the second photo but at night.

On the left is another fountain at night, while on the right is the Al Dalla fountain. The coffee pot turns and tilts, tipping water into the three cups underneath.

Finally, in this section, here are two pictures which are not photographs of mine. On the left is a postcard of Abu Dhabi before the large-scale development of the city. The ruler's fort is in the foreground, the buildings to the right are roughly where the blue and gold buildings seen in my photos above are now, while if you can make out the patch of sand in the plot behind them, you probably need to click on the photo to see the large scale version, that is where the garden with the Ladies Mosque, as seen above, is now. On the right is the man responsible for all this development, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Click on Part 2 to see more photos from around Abu Dhabi city, or click on Part 3 to see photos from elsewhere in the United Arab Emirates.

Updated: 22/03/97

If you enjoyed these photos, why not have a look at the photos I took on my tour of the Falkland Islands just after the war in 1982?

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