On a recent trip I decided to stop over in Abu Dhabi in the hope to see what buildings new and old could be labelled truelly Abu Dhabi Designs. Upon arrival I noticed that the new Abu Dhabi was a modern oasis with little architecture of bygone days. Open highways modern glass filled building and orderly sparse population and struggling parks and gardens dealing with a climate unsuited.
The new Abu Dhabi is not unlike the original new Dubai just in a much smaller “newer” phase. I guess I had a disappointment at what was on offer for the tourist like me but again I wasn’t sure what I should see.
The options for the government seem to be to create reasons for tourism via F1 car raceway, Louvre (currently being completed) and of course a serious selection of first rate hotels. What I struggled with is why they seek this. Certainly not real sure the incredible cost will really deliver anything to the ordinary citizen. I’m also unsure what will bring someone back in a world filled with many natural wonders including the ability to interact with the citizens and their customs when you travel. For me half the reason I travel. The other a break from working.
These matters aside the buildings are very well finished and a credit to the designer’s, organisation and skill employed to achieve ‘progress” on a new Abu Dhabi. The newer area of the city of Abu Dhabi is dotted with 50’s and 60’s buildings with new mainly 5 star hotels rising from the sands.
We visited the Emirates Place Hotel which, I’m was assured, is a 6 or 8 star establishment. Certainly a high level of gold coloured features and remarkable workmanship displayed through the public areas and gardens. The entrance (see featured picture) make for a picture perfect opportunity with forever changing lights and textures of this very Roman styled entrance. This hotel with all the glitter seemed cold and removed whilst be spectacular and stunning in finishings and design. I liked it but felt it didn’t quite hit the never of wow for the money spent.
Would I say Abu Dhabi is a location for design and tourism. Not quite now but certainly they spending plenty of money working there way to a new Abu Dhabi. Like the Place hotel not sure they really making a jewel they seem to crave.
The people we had contact with were friendly and helpful from hotel staff (we stayed Jumeirah at Etihad Towers) to taxi drivers. As is known in these area’s very little contact is possible with actual locals as they represent a small number of the many overseas workers brought in to manage, built and provide services to locals ad tourists. Locals simply seem somewhat removed and possibly uncomfortable with direct contact. Difficult to know due to almost no contact over 3 days.
In terms of design I believe Dubai provide a more vast and established example of both Arabic design and feel that I felt the planners were missing in their developments in Abu Dhabu. I feel a more Arabic design, texture and landscape would create a jewel within the sand that Dubai is heading toward. The new extensive place being built might hit the target but regrettably for very few to enjoy from the resources that provided it.
I would return because I felt safe and welcomed but not for design difference.
My next blog will deal with our visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque certainly one of the architectural wonders of this area