Tourist Club Area

This area, forming the northernmost corner of Abu Dhabi Island, is home to the oldest areas of the city. With narrow streets, busy traffic, quirky restaurants, interesting shops and artistic development projects, it is buzzing with activity and offers the visitor and resident alike a true taste of cosmopolitan Abu Dhabi. The Tourist Club Area got its name from the now long-gone Abu Dhabi Tourist Club and today is an area in transition, as road projects, underpasses, bridges and expressways combine with the construction work on The Quay development. In early 2014, Tourist Club Area was given a new name, Al Zahiyah, which means 'colourful' in Arabic.

Along with neighbouring Al Markaziyah, this is the city centre and, currently at least, the main business district; it’s also the closest you’ll get to the city’s heritage and history. It is a real fusion of residential and commercial, with well-known hotels and apartments, high-rise business towers, embassies and the Al Noor Hospital, surrounded by a good range of local and international shops. Two of the busiest roads in the capital, Hamdan Street (5th Street) and Electra Street (officially called Sheikh Zayed The Second St or 7th Street), run through the district.

It’s a haven for those in need of some retail therapy, as the local, traditional shops share the streets with big name international stores and smaller malls. Along with nearby Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, it’s a great place to go for colourful fabrics, Indian and Arabian gifts and jewellery – there are shops selling all sorts of bizarre items. For a more comfortable and comprehensive shopping trip, Abu Dhabi Mall will more than suffice. There are some interesting dining options to be found too, including a well-known Ethiopian restaurant.

The area also has its share of the city’s five-star hotels with the Crowne Plaza, Sands Hotel, Grand Millennium and Le Meridien all within walking distance. Then there’s the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi, which has a great members-only beach club and some superb restaurants and bars. To escape the mass of buildings, your best bet is to head for Capital Park on Khalifa bin Zayed Street. Here you’ll find a large pond with fountains, a children’s play area, a small amusement arcade and an enclosed cafeteria – it’s a world away from the busy city streets.

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