Friday, November 29, 2013

What's in a (street) name?

Further to my last post on the new street signage in Abu Dhabi , it has been announced that a number of major roads will be renamed in Abu Dhabi. It looks like they are doing away with the road numbering system too, which I think is a shame because it really is the easiest way to find your way around (even numbers East to West and odd numbers North to South). The numbers make a grid system similar to New York or Milton Keynes (H & V roads), so places can be easily referenced as e.g. on the corner of 4th and 19th (Muroor Rd and Saada St - aaghh, see below, now Sultant bin Zayed First Street and Shakhbout Bin Sultan Street....doesn't quite trip off the tongue quite the same does it!?)

Anyway, below are the changes and a short explanation courtesy of The National (full article here).

Fatima Bint Mubarak Street (6th Street, popularly known as Al Najda Street)

“The Mother of the Nation” and the wife of Sheikh Zayed, Sheikha Fatima is the chairman of the Family Development Foundation, head of the General Women’s Union and a sponsor of numerous organisations in the UAE and overseas

Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street (Al Salam Street, Street 9)

Ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1966 until 2004 and the first President of the UAE. The street named in his honour is the main highway into the capital and crosses the Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Khalifa Bin Zayed First Street (Khalifa Street, Street 3)

The eldest son of Zayed the First, often known as Zayed the Great, who died in 1909. Sheikh Khalifa refused to become Ruler of Abu Dhabi twice, in 1909 and 1912, but later assisted in the succession of Sheikh Shakhbut bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Sultan bin Zayed First Street (4th Street or Muroor Road)

Father of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Shakhbut and the fourth son of Sheikh Zayed the First. Ruler from 1922-1926

Shakhbout Bin Sultan Street (Al Saada Street, Street 19)

Became Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1928, stepping down in favour of his younger brother, Sheikh Zayed in 1966. Under his rule, oil was discovered in Abu Dhabi in 1958, ensuring the country’s prosperity after the economic hardships of the previous three decades

Mubarak bin Mohammad Street (26th Street)

Father of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture Youth and Social Development. Sheikh Mubarak was the former Minister of the Interior and the grandson of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed the First. He died in 2010

Salama bint Butti Street (23rd Street)

The mother of Sheikh Zayed, of Al Hamed family and Al Qubaisi tribe. A major influence on her sons, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Shakhbut

Al Bateen Street (32nd Street)

Now perhaps best known for the Intercontinental Hotel, Al Bateen was once a fishing village and boat building community distinct from Abu Dhabi. It was eventually swallowed by the city in the 1970s

Al Dhafra Street (25th Street)

The desert interior of Abu Dhabi, with Madinat Zayed, the home of Al Dhafra football club, as the main population centre. Each year, Al Dhafra Festival sees thousands of camels from the region compete for around Dh46 million in prizes. Al Dhafra is also home to an airbase and the Shams solar power station, the largest of its kind in the world

Dhafeer Street (31st Street)

Now on the outskirts of Liwa, Dhafeer Fort is one of a chain of fortifications in the Western Region and was built by the Bani Yas, one of the Emirate’s main tribes

Dihan Street (21st Street)

Another old name for Abu Dhabi. The name may also be descriptive, with another Dihan found in Ras Al Khaimah

Mawgab Street (27th Street)

Mawgab is a fort built on the orders of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed, the father of Sheikh Zayed and located in one of the villages in the Liwa known as Mahather. The area is low lying, circular in shape and had only one entrance, making it easier to defend

Rabdan Street (29th Street)

The celebrated mount of Sheikh Zayed the First, Rabdan was gift from the Sharif of Mecca, Abdullah bin Hashem, and said to be descended from the horse of the Prophet Muhammed. Rabdan was the subject of several poems, with his bloodline is still present in horses ridden by the Nahyan family.


  1. Thanks for this. Introduction of street names in Dubai also caused inevitable confusion - some have stuck, some have not and you still need the usual mix of co-ordinates, folk names and family histories to direct anybody anywhere.

    Meanwhile this list of AD street names is interesting for what it unintentionally reveals if you unpick them a little bit. Of course there is a street for Sheikha Fatima, Zayed's wife - but only Zayed's second and non-royal wife (though reputedly his favourite). She is the mother of the "bu Fatima", of course: MBZ, Abdullah, Mansour et al. What about Zayed's royal first wife and mother of the president? No prominent street for her?

    And Shaikh Shakhbut "stepped down" in favour of his brother? Like Mubarak and Morsi stepped down in Egypt I guess. Nothing mentioned about the eye-watering (ahem) manner in which he originally attained power unsurprisingly. And the timing of his departure was interesting also, no? Just a co-incidence that old Sultan Said in Oman, also an ardent opponent of any development, "stepped down" not long after. It being the eve of independence was neither here nor there and I'm sure the departing colonial power can have had no hand in either event...

    And no streets for poor old Shaikhs Issa and Falah...

  2. Yes, some interesting observations ...and I guess they couldn't have Unconvincted Thug Street really now could they? :-)