Best classic places spots hotspots sites sights views photo locations to photograph for photography with maps tips ideas composition postcard photos cool beautiful pictures
Grand Prize in the National Self-Published Book Awards
Benjamin Franklin Award for Best First Book
Best Travel Guide, Benjamin Franklin Awards finalist
“Impressive in its presentation and abundance of material.”
— National Geographic Traveler
“PhotoSecrets books are an invaluable resource for photographers.”
— Nikon School of Photography
“One of the best travel photography books we’ve ever seen.”
“Guides you to the most visually distinctive places to explore with your camera.”
— Outdoor Photographer
“This could be one of the most needed travel books ever published!”
— San Francisco Bay Guardian
“The most useful travel guides for anyone with a camera.”
— Shutterbug’s Outdoor and Nature Photography
“Takes the guesswork out of shooting.”
— American Way (American Airlines magazine)
PhotoSecrets Abu Dhabi, first published December 14, 2017. This version output April 21, 2018.
Curated, coded and designed by Andrew Hudson. Copyright © Andrew Hudson for PhotoSecrets (Photo Tour Books, Inc.). Photos, text and maps copyrights are listed in the credits section.
“‘And what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversations?’”
— Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Thank you to the many talented photographers that generously made their photos available. Photos distributed by the following:
Text copyright of Wikipedia editors and contributors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA).
Map data from OpenStreetMap and its contributors. Open data licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL).
Cover image by Ventdusud/Shutterstock.
Back cover image by .
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any way without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner(s) and the publisher of this book.
The information provided within this book is for general informational purposes only. Some information may be inadvertently incorrect, or may be incorrect in the source material, or may have changed since publication, this includes GPS coordinates, addresses, location titles, descriptions, Web links, and photo credits. Use with caution; do not photograph from roads or other dangerous places or when trespassing, even if GPS coordinates and/or maps indicate so; beware of moving vehicles; obey laws. The publisher and author cannot accept responsibility for any consequences arising from the use of this book. There are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, images, or graphics contained in this book for any purpose. Any use of this information is at your own risk.
For corrections, please send an email.
A great travel photograph, like a great news photograph, requires you to be in the right place at the right time to capture that special moment. Professional photographers have a short-hand phrase for this: “F8 and be there.”
There are countless books that can help you with photographic technique, the “F8” portion of that equation. But until now, there’s been little help for the other, more critical portion of that equation, the “be there” part. To find the right spot, you had to expend lots of time and shoe leather to wander around, track down every potential viewpoint, and essentially re-invent the wheel.
In my career as a professional travel photographer, well over half my time on location is spent seeking out the good angles. Andrew Hudson’s PhotoSecrets does all that legwork for you, so you can spend your time photographing instead of wandering about. It’s like having a professional location scout in your camera bag. I wish I had one of these books for every city I photograph on assignment.
PhotoSecrets can help you capture the most beautiful sights with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of enjoyment. So grab your camera, find your favorite PhotoSecrets spots, and “be there!”
Bob Krist has photographed assignments for National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Travel/Holiday, Smithsonian, and Islands. He won “Travel photographer of the Year” from the Society of American Travel Writers in 1994, 2007, and 2008.
For National Geographic, Bob has led round-the-world tours and a traveling lecture series. His book In Tuscany with Frances Mayes spent a month on The New York Times’ bestseller list and his how-to book Spirit of Place was hailed by American Photographer magazine as “the best book about travel photography we’ve ever read.”
The parents of three sons, Bob and his wife live in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Thank you for reading PhotoSecrets. As a fellow fan of travel and photography, I hope this guide will help you quickly find the most visually stunning places, and come home with equally stunning photographs.
PhotoSecrets is designed to show you all the best sights. Flick through, see the classic shots, and use them as a departure point for your own creations. Get ideas for composition and interesting viewpoints. See what piques your interest. Know what to shoot, where to stand, when to go, and why it’s interesting. Now you can spend less time researching and more time photographing.
The idea for PhotoSecrets came during a trip to Thailand, when I tried to find the exotic beach used in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. None of the guidebooks I had showed a picture, so I thought a guidebook of postcard photos would be useful for us photographers. Twenty-plus years later, you have this guide. Thanks!
Now, start exploring — and take lots of photos!
Originally an engineer, Andrew Hudson started PhotoSecrets in 1995. His first book won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best First Book and his second won the Grand Prize in the National Self-Published Book Awards.
Andrew has published 38 nationally-distributed photography books. He has photographed assignments for Macy’s, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Men’s Health and Seventeen, and been a location scout for Nikon. His photos and articles have appeared in Alaska Airlines, National Geographic Traveler, Shutterbug Outdoor and Nature photography, Where, and Woman’s World.
Andrew has a degree in Computer Engineering from Manchester University and a certificate in copyright law from Harvard Law School. Born in Redditch, England, he lives with his wife, two kids, and two chocolate Labs, in San Diego, California.
At a Glance
|Address:||Abu Dhabi, UAE|
|Fame:||Capital and second largest city in the United Arab Emirates|
Capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi
|Where:||On a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf|
|Population:||1.5 million (2014)|
|Country:||United Arab Emirates|
|Time zone:||UAE standard time (UTC+4)|
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and of the United Arab Emirates (a group of seven emirates). With 1.5 million people, it also the UAE’s second largest city (after Dubai), and contributes about two-thirds of the UAE economy.
The city of Abu Dhabi is on the southeastern side of the Arabian Peninsula, on a T-shaped island jutting north into the Persian Gulf. Most of Abu Dhabi city is located on the island itself, but it has many smaller islands and suburban districts on the mainland.
The name Abu Dhabi means “Father of the Gazelle,” an animal which was once common in the Arabian region. Inhabited since the third millennium, the island of Abu Dhabi was discovered to have fresh water and Bani Yas bedouin migrated there in 1793. This included the Al Nahyan family which makes up the rulers of Abu Dhabi today.
In the 19th century, Britain became the predominant influence in the area to protect the trade route to India from pirates, hence the earlier name, the “Pirate Coast.”
A primary business was selling pearls from oysters. Pearl divers dove for one to two minutes, and would have dived up to thirty times per day, without air tanks.
In the 1930s, as the pearl trade declined, oil was discovered and developed. Various offshore fields were struck in 1958–1965.
In 1967, the city was planned under the guidance of Sheikh Zayed by Japanese architect Katsuhiko Takahashi. Land reclamation was started in 1988 and completed in 1992 and today there are many man-made extensions and islands.
Emirates Palace was the most expensive hotel ever built when it opened in 2005. There are 394 luxury residences, 115 domes, and two helicopter pads.
|Addr:||West Corniche Road,|
|Look:||North-northwest ↑||Far:||210 m (680 feet)|
North Abu Dhabi Island,
Abu Dhabi Island,
|Look:||Northwest ↖||Far:||60 m (190 feet)|
Etihad Towers is a complex of five towers, the tallest has an observation deck on the 75th floor (305 meters high).
|Addr:||Corniche West Street,|
|Look:||East →||Far:||150 m (490 feet)|
Viewed from the InterContinental Abu Dhabi hotel.
|Far:||0.64 km (0.39 miles)||AKA:||InterContinental Abu Dhabi|
Viewed from the Emirates Palace hotel.
|Far:||420 m (1370 feet)||AKA:||Emirates Palace|
Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan is a 5-star family-resort with one of the biggest pools in Abu Dhabi.
|Look:||South ↓||Far:||60 m (180 feet)|
Keep calm and call from this British telephone box near the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
|What:||Red telephone box||When:||Afternoon|
|Look:||East-southeast →||Far:||19 m (62 feet)|
Beach Rotana is a five-star hotel with 565 rooms.
|Look:||East-southeast →||Far:||100 m (340 feet)|
[start]Al Ittihad Square features monumental Emirati cultural symbols, including a coffee pot (dallah), a traditional incense burner (mabakhir), and a conical palm-frond food cover (makkabah).
|Addr:||Al Ittihad Square,|
|Look:||North-northwest ↑||Far:||100 m (320 feet)|
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in Abu Dhabi. Designed by Syrian architect Yousef Abdelky, the Grand Mosque was constructed between 1996 and 2007 and covers more than 12 hectares (30 acres), excluding exterior landscaping and parking.
The mosque is named for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who launched the project, trying to unite the Islamic world with modern architecture.
Four minarets rise about 107 m (351 ft) in height and surround a courtyard with a floral design, considered to be the world’s largest marble mosaic.
|Addr:||Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,|
|Look:||Northwest ↖||Far:||80 m (270 feet)|
|Addr:||Sheikh Rashid Road,|
|Look:||North ↑||Far:||0 m (0 feet)|
|Addr:||Sheikh Rashid Road,|
|Look:||West ←||Far:||70 m (240 feet)|
|Addr:||Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,|
|Look:||West-northwest ←||Far:||100 m (320 feet)|
Capital Gate is the world’s furthest leaning man-made tower, inclining 18°. Completed in 2011, the “Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi” is achieved with an off-center concrete core, and 490 piles drilled 20–30 meters underground. Appearing to lean on one side is a diagrid, a framework of diagonally intersecting metal to absorb and channel the forces created by wind and seismic loading.
|Addr:||Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street,|
|Look:||East-northeast →||Far:||360 m (1190 feet)|
|AKA:||Leaning Tower of Abu Dhabi, Coin Building||Wik:|
Sheikh Zayed Bridge is an arch bridge with a dynamic lighting design of flowing colors. Designed by Zaha Hadid and opened in 2010, the 842-metre-long (2,762 ft) bridge is named for the country’s principal architect and former president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
|Addr:||Khor Al Maqta,|
|Look:||North ↑||Far:||330 m (1080 feet)|
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the first Ferrari-branded theme park and the largest space frame structure ever built.
Formula Rossa is the world’s fastest roller coaster with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph). The initial acceleration from standstill reaches 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in two seconds, beating the best commercially available supercar.
|Addr:||Ferrari World Abu Dhabi,|
|Look:||East →||Far:||350 m (1150 feet)|
The Yas Marina Circuit is a Formula One race track for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Designed by Hermann Tilke, it opened in 2009 with a capacity of 60,000. The track passes through the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel.
|Look:||South-southwest ↓||Far:||120 m (390 feet)|
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel is a hotel over and around a Formula One race track. Designed by Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, the 499-room hotel opened in 2009. One tower inside the track connects via a bridge over the track to another tower in the marina itself.
|Addr:||Yas Marina Circuit,|
|Look:||Northeast ↗||Far:||210 m (700 feet)|
Aldar HQ (also known as the “coin building”) is the first circular building of its kind in the Middle East. Completed in 2010, its shape is achieved with a diagonal grid of structural steel.
|Addr:||Al Raha Beach,|
|Look:||West-northwest ←||Far:||110 m (340 feet)|
|AKA:||Aldar Headquarters Building||Wik:|
Abu Dhabi International Airport is located 30 km (19 mi) east of Abu Dhabi city. It is the home base of Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier.
Louvre Abu Dhabi is the largest art museum in the Arabian peninsula. US$525 million was paid by Abu Dhabi to be associated with the Louvre name.
The museum is part of a US$27 billion tourist and cultural development for Saadiyat Island, a complex which is planned to include three other museums.
|Look:||Northwest ↖||Far:||230 m (750 feet)|
Thank you to the many wonderful people and companies that made their work available to use in this guide.
Photo key: Tap the camera icon to see the photo. The two letters reference the distributor and license. Key for distributors: f:Flickr; s:Shutterstock; w:Wikipedia. Key for license: a:CC-BY-SA; b:CC-BY; h:Shutterstock standard.
Cover image by .Rob Alter ( wa); JP Bowen ( sh); Patrik Dietrich ( wa); Fritzdacat ( fa); Tanya Hart ( fb); Aziz Hayat ( fb); Norbert Heidenbluth ( wa); Jazon88 ( wb); Mohannad Khatib ( sh); Patryk Kosmider ( sh); Vladimir Melnik ( fb); Gilles Messian ( fa); Kathrin Mezger ( fa); Agenda for the New Millennium ( fa); Andrew Moore ( fb); Phareannah ( wb); Ralf Roletschek ( fb); Alberto Gonzalez Rovira ( wa); Shaibalahmar ( fb); Guilhem Vellut ( sh); Ventdusud ( wa); Wikiemirati ( wa). Some text adapted from Wikipedia and its contributors where noted by the URL path in the “Wik” table field, used and modified under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) license. Map data from OpenStreetMap and its contributors, used under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL).