7 Interesting Buildings in Abu Dhabi

I had my camera with me all the time when I was in Abu Dhabi and captured as many building pictures as I could. Here are 7 interesting buildings in Abu Dhabi according to me:

1. Capital Gate

Capital GateI saw this building everyday from across where I was at—the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. It stands at 160 m tall with 35 floors and features an 18-degree incline to the west. Dubbed as Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, it is certified by the Guinness Book of World Records certified Capital Gate as the “World’s furthest leaning man-made tower. It was designed by RMJM. (Source: Wiki)

2. Etihad Towers

Etihad Towers

Etihad Towers comprise of five towers that sparkle iridescently in the  never-ending sunshine. Tower 1: 69 floors, 277 meters, Tower 2: 80 floors, 305 meters, Tower 3: 60 floors, 260 meters, Tower 4: 66 floors, 234 meters and Tower 5: 61 floors, 218 meters. These fine buildings were designed, inside and out, to give guests who live, work, shop, dine and stay the most memorable and enriching of experiences.  It was designed by Australian architecture firm, DBI Design. (Source: Etihad Towers.)

3. Adia Towers

ADIA Towers

ADIA (Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) Tower features an innovative double-glazed facade, curtained with automatic blinds and air-conditioning inside the two glass panels which is controlled by the direction of the sun and the heat on the inside and outside of the windows. It stands tall at 185 m with 40 floors. It was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. (Source: Wiki and Emporis.)

4. Al-Bahr Twin Towers


Al-Bahr is very interesting in terms of its unique design. You see the outer layers of the twin towers? It is called Masharabiya, a traditional Arabic shading lattice-work. I am most amazed by how Masharabiya system works; it simulates in response to sun exposure and changing incidence angles during the different days of the year. At night they will all fold and close. On my picture above, you can see that some of the lattice are open and some are close, this is because of the solar rays. Both towers stand at 145m tall each and have 25-storey twin office towers. It was designed by Aedas Architect Ltd.  (Source: Aedas.)

5. The Landmark


The Landmark is a residential and office tower that evokes the use of screens in vernacular Arabic architecture. The plan of the building also has a cultural precedent. Its geometry is based on the dodecagon, the 12-sided figure frequently used in Islamic art. Standing tall at 324m tall with 72 floors, the tower was conceived as a series of layered screens, unfolding like the petals of a flower to reveal a crystalline pillar. It was designed by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects. (Source: Pelli Clark Pelli.)

 6. Nation Towers


Nation Towers comprise of two towers that feature world class facilities including luxury high-rise apartments, deluxe office space, a boutique style mall, a beach club and a 5 star hotel. One building stands tall at 268m (65 floors) while the other,212m (52 floors). Both buildings are connected with a skybridge at a height of 202,5m which connects floors 50 and 54. The skybridge is the highest in the world and 30m higher than the skybridge of the Petronas Tower in Malaysia. It was designed by  WMZH Architecture. (Source: Wiki and Khaleej Times)

7. World Trade Center Residences


Due to its completion in 2014, The Residences is already well known for its distinctive sloped or “sliced” roof that is visible throughout much of the city. It stands at 382m tall with 88 floors of apartments. It was designed by Foster and Partners. (Source: WTCAD.)



Continue Reading

Abu Dhabi Heritage Village

Abu Dhabi is a large and advanced metropolis, centre of government, industrial activities and a major commercial centre due to its position as the capital of United Arab Emirates. It is the largest city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and  is the headquarters of numerous oil companies and embassies. There are buildings everywhere—from typical square to round ones, from weird to amazing ones, you name all the shapes, Abu Dhabi has it. I was like a little lost brown sheep in a big city; looking up, open-mouthed. Deep down in my heart, I want to see something more of the same eye-level, you knowtents, camels and perhaps, desert.

So, I went searching on the Internet and found out about Abu Dhabi Heritage Village and decided to visit the place to see how was life there before urbanisation.

The initial plan was to just go and take a cab because I do not know how to get there on bus but when Nirouz offered to take me there, I jumped at the chance. Made appointment to meet her at Marina Mall around 9am one fine Monday in the last week of April, and later went together to the village. It was not far from the mall actually.

Nirouz El Tanbouli was one of the participants at the Illustrators’Corner, Abu Dhabi International Bookfair. Visiting along was Mama Gajah (Pak Yusof Gajah’s wife) and Nirouz’s mother.

HV Entrance
Heritage Village Entrance.

So…yay. It was more like it.

Situated on the Breakwater, which is reclaimed land off the main Abu Dhabi island, this Heritage Village is a re-creation of a traditional oasis village that offers an interesting glimpse into the emirate’s old way of life. There are reconstructions of bedouin tents, traditional houses, old fishing villages and traditional souqs.


The above bedouin tent (Al-Hadeera) is made from goats’ hair and the surrounding fence is built from branches of dessert trees such al-markh,al-thmam,al-sabt, al-ramth or al-selly. When it rains the weave contracts and doesn’t let the water in. In the heat of the weather, the inside remains blissfully cool and when the night falls, small fire will be made inside the tent to stay warm and cosy. Here, people share conversations and drink Arabic coffee.

HVOasisBait Al-Wahat.

The Oasis House or Bait Al-Wahat is made of palm tree fronds and is inhabited by the farmer’s family.

Al-hassaNirouz entering Al-Hassa.

The Mountain’s People House or Al-Hassa is built from stones collected from the mountain area and was inhabited mostly by Al-Shuhuh tribe. The ceiling of this house is made of plam tree fronds and is made thicker by adding clay in order to protect from the rain as well as to keep the inside cold in summer and warm in winter.


Bait Al-Ewany is made of sackcloth and is used in winter. In the upper part of this house, the branches of Al-Sabt and Althmam trees are added and the house is surrounded by the branches of Almarkh tree in order to keep a moderate temperature inside.



posingMama Gajah (Pak Yusof Gajah’s wife) and Nirouz’s mother.

Other than the tents and houses, there also mud-brick buildings that housed a book store and handicraft centre. Both were closed when we went there, so we just posed and took a photo in front of the building. According to Nairouz, the centre showcases a group of women making traditional baskets, textiles and embroidery.

We later walked to the beach-side area, where we could see interesting view of Abu Dhabi’s cityline.


After taking photos, Nirouz invited us to have breakfast at Al-Asala Restaurant. We were lavished with all sort of food recommended by Nirouz and her mother.

Mama GajahMama Gajah.


 Before we leave, we bought some souvenirs from the souq.

SouqSouq trader.

After buying some souvenirs, it was already around 12 afternoon and Nirouz had to leave because she has a routine to pick-up her children from school. We said goodbye and promised to keep in touch. We are now friends on FB. I love the fact that it connects people.

So, that concludes this post and here’s my favourite photo capture by Nirouz on my camera.


Continue Reading

Architecture and Art: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

On my last day in Abu Dhabi, I went to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world. The mosque site is equivalent to the size five football fields approximately.

szgmPen and watercolor on Daler Rowney Sketchbook.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s design and construction ‘unites the world’, using artisans and materials from many countries including Italy, Germany, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Malaysia, Iran, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Greece and United Arab Emirates. Natural materials were chosen for much of its design and construction due to their long-lasting qualities, including marble stone, gold, semi-precious stones, crystals and ceramics.

Sheikh Zayed Grand MosqueThis is the view from main entrance of Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

The design of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque has been inspired by both Mughal and Moorish mosque architecture, particularly the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan and the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco being direct influences. The dome layout and floorplan of the mosque was inspired by the Badshahi Mosque and the architecture was inspired by both Mughal and Moorish design. Its archways are quintessentially Moorish and its minarets classically Arab. The design of the mosque can be best described as a fusion of Arab, Mughal and Moorish architecture.

archwayBeautiful columns at the archway.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has many special and unique elements: The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world’s largest carpet made by Iran’s Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. This carpet measures 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft), and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. The weight of this carpet is 35 ton and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.

inside mosqueInside mosque. 

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has seven imported chandeliers from Germany that incorporate millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque, the third largest in the world and has a 10 m (33 ft) diameter and a 15 m (49 ft) height.

chandelierBeautiful chandelier.

The 99 names (qualities or attributes) of God (Allah) are featured on the Qibla wall in traditional Kufic calligraphy, designed by the prominent UAE calligrapher – Mohammed Mandi Al Tamimi. The Qibla wall also features subtle fibre-optic lighting, which is integrated as part of the organic design.



Continue Reading

People I met at ADIBF 2013

ADIDF 2013 and the experience I gained was totally priceless. And the people I met and have a chat with was truly inspiring in so many ways. I managed to capture photos with/of some of them while sketching some. I hope you can click the link on their names that I provided to learn more about them.

With Kenizé Mourad. She is not only a princess, a writer, a novelist, and a researcher but also a war journalist. She visited Malaysia back in the 70s.

With Miss Chatz. Local illustrator. She is very chatty and bubbly. I love her cartoons; very her.

With Liz Ramos Prado; a Peruvian illustrator living in Dubai. Her surreal illustrations are gorgeous.

With Nirouz El-Tanbouli; a childhood specialist. She’s an Egyptian living in Abu Dhabi.

This is David Macedo. He is also from Peru and now living in Dubai working as Graphic and Web Designer.


Miguel Gallardo (award-wining Illustrator, Barcelona), Guy Delisle (award-winning Cartoonist/Animator/Illustrator, France), Frida Bunzli (Cartoonist, Switzerland) and German Fernandez (Illustrator, Dubai).

With Jo Belle. Jo Belle, a Filipino, is living in Dubai with her family. She works with Cartoon Art Gallery.

Continue Reading

Emila at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2013

I received the formal invitation to join the Illustrators Corner in January and I was happy to accept the offer because it includes a free panel in the illustrators corner, 10 hotel nights and a flight to Abu Dhabi and back.

And now here I am in Abu Dhabi, writing this posting in my room. I am here since 22nd April and will leave Abu Dhabi on 1st May. Two more days to go.

Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) has considerably grown throughout the past 5 years and has positioned itself as the gateway to the Arab book market with 300 million potential readers. It continues to offer a professional platform to conduct business with regional partners in the publishing industry. Three years ago, ADIBF successfully introduces the Illustrators Corner where visual content is presented to publishers and the general public. It is now a vibrant area with international attendance and sparkling creativity.

Last year, Illustrators Corner hosted 25 artists from the Arab world as well as Korea, France and Switzerland. This year it includes illustrators from Malaysia, Catalonia, Switzerland, Germany, Dubai, Syria, Egypt, Peru as well as local illustrators.


I am having a great time here entertaining questions from budding illustrators who dropped by to seek more information on how to become an illustrator. Apart from that I got visited by publishers and writers from Bahrain, France, India, Pakistan and many more who are interested in my works. It is a great experience as this is my first time being involved in something that I can relate to.

Here are some pictures from my booth.

This is Saied. He likes to draw anime. He bought each of my women series postcards because he, too, likes to draw women. We have something in common there. He said, “I love sketching women, it’s quite easy unlike sketching men.”

This is Aisha. She’s eleven. She likes my postcards and asked whether she can have a piece of everything on display. I said yes and she happily picked her postcards.

This is Mahra Salem. She is an art student at Zayed University. She bought my stuff 🙂 I am so happy that my merchandise items are sell-able there.

They come to see me draw. From left Sara, Fatma and Fatma. Fatma is a popular name here. I met another Fatma after that, who is the cousin of the very right Fatma.

 Will post more soon. Take care.

Much love,
Emila, Abu Dhabi 29/4/2013, 7am

Continue Reading

Hello from Abu Dhabi!

I am today at Abu Dhabi, UAE to attend the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF). Reached here last night at 11.45pm. Waited for the driver but after about 45 minutes of waiting, I decided to take a cab. Got a woman taxi driver, Mekessem, to drive me to the hotel. Very friendly. Cost me AED46. ;P

Anyway, am going to ADNEC to set up my booth. Will update more soon. Here’s some pictures I captured.

My room
My room for 10 days.

The toilet
The toilet!

View from my window.

Breakfast this morning.

Continue Reading