Abu Dhabi to Al Ain highway distance sign

UAE 2010: Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (& back)

Date: 4th April, 2010

On my second day in Abu Dhabi, I really didn’t have any plans besides checking out some stores nearby. But I ended up not doing so when my mother told me we had to go pick up my grandmother from our relative’s place in Dubai. And I thought: “Great, road trip!”

So post-lunch, we set off from Musaffah via Emirates Road for Dubai.

Driving from Abu Dhabi to DubaiDriving from Abu Dhabi to DubaiWe stopped at the gas station for fueling up and to grab some coffee, and while there, it was good to note the locals still love their SUVs.

Abu Dhabi Dubai ENOC station SUV
Fill 'er up! Even after the price hike, a litre still only costs Rs. 16 out here

There really wasn’t a whole lot to see on the journey besides dry land on either side and heavy vehicles…

Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai trucks… but my mother did ask me to notice just how long this green and white compound wall would stretch for.

Driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai compound wall
I didn't see it end until after 60kms or so!

45 minutes into our journey, as we entered the emirate of Dubai, things started to get a lot more interesting.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai Emirates roadThe number of heavy-duty trucks all lined up, heading in and out of Jebel Ali was staggering.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai trucks highwaysThen, slowly but surely, came the construction projects. Besides factories, all the newer office buildings and the massive ambitions of Dubai.

Dubai motor city board sign

Dubai Autodrome Emirates road Motor city
Dubai Autodrome: The FIA certified racetrack in Motor City

If you want to know what heck is Motor City, check out their official website.

Driving past the Dubai Cricket stadium on Emirates roadDriving past the Dubai Cricket stadium sign on Emirates road The 25,000-seater stadium is part of the US$4 billion Dubai Sports City project. If you want to… actually, just click here (.pdf document).

(FYI, most Arabs don’t give a shit about cricket. The UAE national squad is mostly comprised of Pakistanis and Indians. Despite that, ICC’s international headquarters will now be in Sports City.)

Dubai Global village Emirates RoadThe Dubai Global Village mostly comes alive during the world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival.

But the sad reality behind the facade and the large signs that advertise these massive projects are that… well, they are either on hold or are lying empty. Some bits are done, but there are still many phases yet to be started/completed due to the financial crisis of last year that put an end to Dubai’s extravagant dreams.

An empty office on Emirates roadDubai Emirates road building constructionIn fact, the Motor City, Sports City and Global Village are all part of the massive (you’ll see me use this word a lot) Dubailand — what they described at launch would be the largest theme park in the world. But all I saw was a statue of a dinosaur near Dubailand’s hoarding. Sigh.

Abu Dhabi to Dubai power grids
Saw a lot of this on the way too. They'll need it.

Dubai Emirates road airplane

By evening, we were in Jebel Ali heading to a residential complex called LuLu Village where my relatives were staying.

Dubai Emirates Road to Jebel AliAn hour later, coffee and chit-chat over — and with grandmother in tow — we set off once again.

The sights weren’t obviously that different on the way back. More construction…

Dubai Emirates road twin towers
ENOC = Emirates National Oil Company

… completed apartments …

Dubai Emirates road apartments

… and Dubai’s new skyscrapers.

Dubai Emirates road Marina distance
Dubai Marina in the distance -- and where the mistreated labour that built them live in the fore

All of which now have disappointing occupancy rates.

Regardless, I was still looking forward to my time in Dubai.

Dubai Burj Khalifa shadow
You can't really hide the tallest building in the world now can you?

Dubai exudes excitement. It is the party capital of the Middle East. I was looking forward to meeting my friends and going around the city.

It’s not for everyone of course, especially the uneducated poor, for whom it can be one of the harshest places to be in.

Dubai Emirates trucks highway
There were a lot more trucks on our way back

Dubai to Abu Dhabi Emirates road sunsetDubai to Abu Dhabi Emirates road lamp postsAbu Dhabi lamp posts flyover

Abu Dhabi Yas Island Aldar distance
The impressive Yas Marina Circuit in the distance. (Yes, even this was on my itinerary)

Abu Dhabi underpass art

By nightfall we were back home in Abu Dhabi. The plan for the next day was a visit to Shaikh Zayed Mosque — and as with a lot of things I had planned, I was really looking forward to it.


Also read: Heading back to the Gulf after 7 years (First post in this series)

Next posts in this series:

UAE 2010: Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

UAE 2010: Heading to Dubai by bus; checking out Bur Dubai

UAE 2010: Dubai Mall (Aquarium, Underwater Zoo & Gold Souk) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Burj Khalifa, At the Top (and Wafi Mall) – Part 2

UAE 2010: Mall of Emirates and Times Square Center

UAE 2010: Driving around Dubai (Souk Madinat Jumeirah, The Atlantis & The Palm Islands) – Part 1

UAE 2010: Dubai Marina, Jumeirah, The Walk and David Guetta concert – Part 2

UAE 2010: Showing my parents the sights of Dubai; inside Ibn Battuta Mall

UAE 2010: From the desert sands of Abu Dhabi to the corniche

UAE 2010: Yas Island, Abu Dhabi – Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit

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