Explore Our History
The Modern History of Abu Dhabi started when the tribe of Bani Yas debouched from their motherland Liwa in search of fresh water and new pastures.
In 1761, fresh water was discovered in Abu Dhabi (named “Maleeh” at the time, derived from salt, in reference to the salinised land that extends along the coastline of the island. The new name came from the fact that Abu Dhabi “Father of the Gazelle” is home to a large number of gazelles), where Bani Yas resided, fished and dived for pearls....
Shortly after, Sheikh Shakhbut bin Dhiyab bin Isa Al Nahyan, the chieftain of Bani Yas, settled in the Island of Abu Dhabi and built a square fort with a watchtower (Al Hosn Palace) to protect the city. He was also able to strengthen the local economy by uniting the regional tribes. The hegemony of Abu Dhabi Tribes Alliance at the time stretched from southern skirts of Qatar along the coastline to Dubai; it even reached Al Buraimi, and Al Dhahirah regions and the city was able to establish a potent navy force alongside its ground force.
Throughout the ninetieth and until the end of the twentieth century, Abu Dhabi luxuriated in a flourishing economy owing to pearls trade.
Since the beginning, the Al Nahyans revealed prodigious political insight, where Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon consolidated the fort to protect the city from aggressors; and after him Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa who ruled Abu Dhabi for more than half a century. During his reign, despite the recession in previous years, Abu Dhabi matured into the most prosperous city in the region, wherein trade enlivened, agricultural expansion increased substantially, and diving season grew popular yet again.
Not only did Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa work on social and political reforms, but also succeeded in the restoration of unity and coherence to the region thanks to the alliances with the tribes outside the borders of the Emirate.
Qasr Al Hosn
In 1905, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed launched, in an attempt to establish a unified state, an invite for a union; this tribal meeting represents the roots from which stems the political union experience in the UAE now. In 1909, Sheikh Zayed Bin Khalifa died, leaving behind a prospering Abu Dhabi.
By the year 1918 the first world war broke out, which had a significant impact on the economy of the region, and the pearl trade retreated in Abu Dhabi after inventing artificial pearls and pearl cultivation in Japan. Soon after the war came to a closure, the Great Depression swept over the world, and pearl diving vessels stopped after the traders failed to fund it....
In the wake of these events, Sheikh Shakhbout Bin Sultan (1928-1966) granted permission to oil companies to start drilling in 1939. Despite the slow exploration and lack of proceeds, Sheikh Shakhbout Bin Sultan used all returns to provide employment opportunities for those affected by the retreat of the pearl trade and to build Qasr Al Hisn (which is currently a historic palace of the ruling family to preserve the cultural heritage of the State). This agreement marked a new beginning for the economy of Abu Dhabi in history.
In 1946, Sheikh Zayed started his rule over Al Ain, and immediately started the development and reform of the city; where he opened the first school in Al Ain, the first hospital and market. He also established a network of roads linking the city, and increased the agricultural area until he came to be known as the "Great Reform Man".
The city's development increased following the discovery of sizable commercial oil fields in 1958, and the expansion of the city began to accommodate the population growth of Abu Dhabi. In 1962, sailed the first oil tanker called the British Signal from Das Island in Abu Dhabi.
In 1966, Sheikh Zayed took over the reins of government in Abu Dhabi; he believed since the first moment of the importance of the distribution of oil wealth to his people and sat his eyes on improving the quality of life for the people of Abu Dhabi. He urged all Emiratis to take ownership of land, the real expansion around Qasr Al Hisn began, with increased numbers of newcomers to the city to work and live.
In 1968, Britain announced that it would withdraw from the Gulf region in three years. On account of Britain's decision, in 1971, Sheikh Zayed founded the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and Abu Dhabi started to take charge of its wealth and signed agreements with foreign oil companies to receive 50% of the oil revenues.
The oil field " Al-Bab" recorded production of 100,000 barrels per day in 1974, whereas the field "Bu-Hasa" recorded production up to 500,000 barrels per day in the same year. Abu Dhabi gained an international reputation not only as one of the leading oil-producing countries in the world but also for producing high-quality oil that has a high degree of density and content of sulfur.
After the withdrawal, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan met with Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum and held the convention known as "Assamiyh Convention" which proposed the unity between Abu Dhabi and Dubai while extending the invitation to the rest of the Emirates and other Gulf countries.
Sheikh Zayed hurried to unite the word of the rulers of the surrounding emirates to form the United Arab Emirates as a powerful confederal state on the 2nd of December 1971 and was elected head of state.
Since he assumed office in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed started supporting the city with a sustainable infrastructure and implemented extensible reforms, and built Al Maqtaa bridge to bypass the Abu Dhabi island to the mainland, and an airport to link Abu Dhabi to the rest of the world. He also initiated the development of education, health, and sat a tremendous developmental program and led its implementation. He encouraged his people to participate wholeheartedly in the occurring renaissance and employed foreign competencies to use their expertise. Within days of assuming leadership, he announced the creation of an official government.
By 1977, the capital's first Executive Council announced an Economic Development Plan of 8.23 billion dirhams.
Sheikh Zayed agreed with Gulf Rulers to create a gulf union between the sibling countries; on 25th of May 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council was established after the signing of the agreement in Abu Dhabi, which has had an enormous positive impact on all the countries of the Gulf.
It is worthy to mention that His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was one of the founders of the Peninsula Shield Force; a formation of strategic defence systems of the Gulf Cooperation Council, founded in 1983 to protect the Arab Gulf region as a whole....
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed, the Crown Prince at the time, paid substantial attention to education and established in 1986, computer laboratories in Abu Dhabi Schools and Higher Colleges of Technology, believing in the importance of technology to achieve sustainable development.
The country started to develop in all fields rapidly, and planning for the future took a broader scope. Sheikh Zayed focused on the development of the industrial sector which progressed tremendously in his era; he also founded the national media of the seven emirates; he further established new roads, airports, seaports, which placed Abu Dhabi on the global industrial map.
In the 1990s, the emirate of Abu Dhabi was diligent to achieve the sustainable development and recorded consecutive successes in the economic, administrative and political levels alike. Amidst this immense success, the State's need for a strong capital to manage communications with other countries, and a permanent constitution, was evident. In 1996, the Supreme Council approved a modified version of the country's temporary constitution, which became the permanent constitution of the United Arab Emirates; and Abu Dhabi was selected the capital of the Union. "
The date 2nd of November 2004 marks Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan's death; in the aftermath of this appalling event, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was unanimously elected by the members of the Supreme Council of the Union, President of the United Arab Emirates.
Following his father's footsteps, His Highness Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan believed in the development of man in the first place and made education and health at the top of his priorities. Moreover, he has continuously urged citizens for political participation which was behind the launching of the political participation program in 2005 in-line with the parliamentary expansions in the UAE. ...
UAE parliament witnessed unprecedented development where it has been enabled to perform its constitutional competencies, and to develop the Federal National Council. In the thick of this, women's participation increased for enactment as voters and members of the Council, upon the Constitutional Amendment No. 1 for the year 2009.
InIn 2015, Amel Abdullah Al Qubaisi was elected Chairman of the Federal National Council, becoming the first woman to hold the post of the presidency of a parliament in the Arab world. Afterwards, the Federal National Council launched its strategy for the years 2016-2021, which focused on strengthening patriotism, placing the political empowerment program launched by His Highness the head of state in 2005, in the spotlight. The strategy aims at the happiness of the people of the Emirates, and the consolidation of the country's ranking internationally.
The UAE is currently on a concrete path paying significant attention to the principles of sustainable development to ensure continued prosperity for future generations. ...
UAE has achieved a whole heap in recent years, which is proof of its ubiquitous presence in the international scene. Moreover, it ranked high in the report of the UN Development Program in the category of countries that focus on human development. It was also ranked first among Arab countries in the World Bank report on the feasibility of practising businesses in 2016.
The UAE has maintained its presence in the Green List of the most prosperous countries in the world and was among the first ranks in the economic report of the rate of per capita income. In addition, UAE was ranked first amongst Arab countries and fifth in the world, in the satisfaction of living index in the report of the "Legatum Prosperity Index 2017". In the "World Happiness Report 2018" the UAE came first among Arab countries and the 28th globally.