History of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

History of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The city of Abu Dhabi was founded in 1760.

There is a beautiful legend about the founding of the capital of the UAE. Arab hunters from one of the oases pursued a gazelle. The gazelle meandered through the desert for a long time, and then led the hunters to the shore of the Persian Gulf, where it jumped into the water and wade across to the island. The hunters followed her and the gazelle led them to a spring of fine fresh water. In gratitude, the hunters gave life to the gazelles, and the settlement founded near the source was called the “father of the gazelles”, which in Arabic sounds like Abu Dhabi.
Forty years ago, Wilfred Zesaiger, the last of the great European explorers of the Arabian Peninsula, made his unforgettable camel journey from southern Oman through the desert lands of Rab Al Khali and uninhabited territories to the shores of the Persian Gulf.

According to Diseaseslearning, the story of this journey was later set forth in his famous book “Arab Sands” and told about the amazing adventures and hardships of crossing the waterless desert, accompanied by Bedouin friends. Giant dunes rose all around, sometimes there were small springs of water and rare oases where travelers stopped to rest. This story also tells about the courage of a person who dared to survive in such conditions, which, it would seem, nature itself cannot resist.

Part of the journey passed through the lands of the emirate Abu Dhabi and very interesting descriptions of the author of his arrival in the picturesque oasis of Liwa and a wonderful hunt in Al Ain, together with the President of the country, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Until now, the literary work of this researcher is one of the best descriptions of Arabia published in English.

If the history of the emirate of Abu Dhabiis estimated at only 200-300 years, this does not mean that early civilizations did not exist in this part of the earth. Research by archaeologists, both local and foreign, shows that the first human settlements developed in this corner of Arabia. Scientists have found flint knives and stone tools in the desert, which presumably date back to the 6th millennium BC, but the first serious evidence of the existence of early settlements in these territories was a find dated to the 4th millennium BC. In any case, it is generally accepted that since that time people began to settle in this part of Arabia.

The first mention of Abu Dhabi appeared in the 17th century, when the Al Nahyan family became the head of the Bani Yaz tribe, who lived on the territory of Liwa. Since then, the unification of the Bedouin tribes in the far east of Arabia began.

The Bani Yaz tribe then shared the territory of Liva with the Manasir (Mansuris) tribe, whose descendants are still alive, and it all began in Liva, or is it just a legend that Sheikh Diab bin Isa in 1761 invited everyone to a big hunt, which and changed the course of history in this part of Arabia. According to the traditions of the tribe, the hunters drove the gazelle along the coast, when suddenly, she forded a narrow strait and disappeared into a foggy haze. When the fog cleared a little, the astonished hunters saw a gazelle drinking water from a transparent spring. What happened to the gazelle then is unknown, but when the participants of the hunt returned to Liva, Sheikh Diyab announced that from now on the island would be called Abu Dhabi(translated from Arabic “Father of the gazelle”). Due to the fact that the island had fresh water reserves, a settlement was established there. At the same time, part of the tribe remained to live in Liva under the leadership of the son of Sheikh Diyab – Sheikh Shakhbut bin Diyab, who settled in the oasis in 1793. His descendants lived there until the city of Abu Dhabi became the capital of the emirate of the same name. Sheikh Shakhbut built a small fort in Liwa near fresh water sources. Now this fort is called Al Hisn Palace, it houses the Documents and Research Center.

The third significant part of the growing emirate was Al Ain, home of the vibrant Dhawahir (Dhahiri) tribe, with whom Sheikh Shahbut allied at the beginning of the 19th century. In honor of the unification in 1818, a fort was built, which has survived to this day.

To complete the process of unification of the disparate tribes that now form the basis of the local population of the emirate, the Bani Yaz tribe entered into an alliance with the nomadic tribes of Awamir (Amiri), who roamed through the desert in the south and west of Liwa.

Thus, four tribes and three settlements – Abu Dhabi, Liwa and Al Ain became the foundation on which the emirate was formed. For many years, the emirate’s economy was based on fishing for pearls and fish, on the cultivation of date palms and other crops in the oases of Liwa and Al Ain, and trade with the northern emirates. Pearl fishing in the waters surrounding Abu Dhabi, was only allowed to local residents, fishermen from other parts of the country could dive for pearl shells after paying a fee to the ruler of the emirate, the same applied to merchants. The Bani Yaz tribe consisted of several family clans – Hamili, Kabiessi, Maheirbi, Suwaydi, Mazrui, who unanimously recognized the leadership of the Al Nahyan family. Control over pearling in the emirate was carried out in Abu Dhabi, in order to avoid quarrels and strife between the tribes.

With the arrival of the British in Arabia in 1820, the imperial rulers tried to convince the emirates along the coast of the Persian Gulf to conclude an annual truce for the pearling season, to which Abu Dhabi¬†responded with great zeal. The “Maritime Truce Treaty” entered into force and became permanent, and also gave the name to the entire coast – Independent States of Peace, which remained with him until 1971.

From 1855 to 1909, under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa (Zayed the First), grandson of Sheikh Shahbut bin Diyab, Abu Dhabi went through its heyday, which allowed the emirate to become an effective force in the southeast of Arabia, deeply influencing the life of inner Oman ( the UAE still has tracts of land belonging to the Sultanate of Oman) and the desert lands of Rab Al Khali, including those territories that now belong to the northern emirates.

In subsequent years, the size of the emirate decreased, but this did not prevent its importance from being maintained, and with the discovery of oil fields in the 60s of the XX century, Abu Dhabi began to play a key role in the formation of the state of the United Arab Emirates under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (grandson of Zayed the First).

The modern history of the emirate is connected with the development of the oil industry. Oil began to be searched here in 1950, and the first wells showed its complete absence. Only in 1958, the search was crowned with success. 1959 underwater exploration of the shelf off the coast of Abu Dhabi (in which, by the way, the famous J.-I. Cousteau took part) also revealed huge reserves of oil and gas. The then ruler of the emirate, the old Sheikh Shekhbut, continued to rule the country in the old fashioned way and simply accumulated the money that the emirate received from the sale of oil, without investing it in the development of the country. In 1966, as a result of a bloodless coup, his younger brother Sheikh Zayed, the current ruler of the emirate of Abu Dhabi and the confederation of the United Arab Emirates, came to power, who proved himself as a ruler-manager. Over the past decades, industry, agriculture and tourism have developed rapidly in the emirate.

Most of the emirate’s hotels are concentrated in the city of Abu Dhabi itself. Since the city is located on an island, and the coastline is large enough, many hotels are located right on the coast, unlike Sharjah and Dubai.

In Abu Dhabi there are hotels of all famous world hotel chains (LE MERIDIEN, INTERCONTINENTAL, SHERATON, HILTON). There are hotels that are located on the coast, far from the city – for example, the AL DIAR JAZIRA BEACH hotel, which is built near the border with the emirate of Dubai, or the AL AIN PALACE hotel, located in an oasis in the desert.

History of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates