After my marriage I relocated to Abu Dhabi, UAE where my spouse was working at the time. It wasn’t a big move for me personally, since I lived, schooled and spent a major part of my teenage years there. The Abu Dhabi I left in 2000 and the one I went to reside in 2011 were vastly different! Abu Dhabi really re-invented itself in a span of a decade. Of course, my recollections from childhood, would be a bit hazy, however I would say, it definitely did change when I wasn’t around. 🙂
To refresh myself and see the changes 11 years had brought to my city (yes, I believe I’m entitled to call it that); I embarked on a self discovery tour. So I started with the farthest reach of Abu Dhabi; the port of Mina. Zayed Port is Abu Dhabi’s oldest commercial port and has been the main city port for the last 40 years. Located in the north-eastern part of the emirate, it covers an area of 5.1 square kilometers. For those interested in the shipping industry, you can read about it here. I for one, wanted to see the fruit and vegetable markets, as well as the fish market located at the spot. The entire Iranian market is situated right before the port of Mina. You could also take a lovely Big Bus tour which allows you to stop by, browse at leisure, and then move on to another iconic part of the city.
Abu Dhabi was never a city for hustle and bustle, that was always Dubai. Though Abu Dhabi these days is a cultural capital for the region, in close competition with it would be another emirate – Sharjah. Sharjah, though can be called the Islamic cultural capital in comparison to Abu Dhabi. I’m not saying the other emirates don’t have culture spots, but the above two are being actively marketed in the region as such. Abu Dhabi is the largest of all the seven emirates and has the largest oil reserves as well in the sovereign state.
There’s so much I discovered when I stayed there in the short span of 2 years, that it should take me a couple of blog posts to write it through. I also made wonderful friends in Abu Dhabi who have remained with me and we catch up frequently. Thank you E and L for just being there for me! Always cherish our times together. 🙂
Coming back to the port of Mina which I went on a tour with E one day, we stopped by and browsed the souvenir stores, the nurseries, the fruit markets, even the fish market saw us stop by. A real treat at the fish market is the live fish they catch and fry for you from the giant tanks with a lovely marinade, and there you have a fresh fish grill done just for you to your taste! Yum!
We also went a bit further and browsed the Mina Mall behind the port which houses the Co-op society (a giant grocery / hypermarket store, a household name here) as well as the Al-Jarir Bookstore and a carpet souk on the first floor with lots of kids games thrown in for good measure. You could have lost me in the bookstore, and for that matter you will lose me in any bookstore 🙂
I recommend if you want to take in the sights of Mina, you take the buses that travel frequently on those routes. Taxis are hard to come by unless you wish to walk in the sweltering sun (in summer) for a good 20 mins or so. In winter the sun is easier to bear but sometimes just as hot for those who are unused to desert weather. You can look up the bus schedule here. And they always are on time! Don’t miss them!
How to get there: Look up the bus schedules and time yourself, so you can make all the pit stops before the next bus arrives to pick one up. I am listing those out here for good measure: nurseries, souvenir stores, basic home stores / Iranian market, carpet souks, fruit and vegetable markets, fish market and Mina Mall. Anyone else who is an Abu Dhabiite, do remind me of any places I may have missed out,
Handy tips: Always WEAR sunscreen. Re-apply every half hour to 40 mins. Else a big wide-brimmed hat. Carry your camera or use your phone. For phone users, do charge your batteries ahead in advance.
Carry handy cash around, It will come in useful for bus fares (small change) and for eating out or any purchases you wish to make.
And that’s it. Till next time.