Abu Dhabi AUH Airport Reviews | Abu Dhabi International Airport

AUH Abu Dhabi International Airport

United Arab Emirates FlagAbu Dhabi
(AUH) Abu Dhabi International Airport, Abu Dhabi logo
4.4 out of 5
IATA Code: AUH
ICAO Code: OMAA
Latitude: 24.426912
Longitude: 54.645973
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"Abu Dhabi, no longer the Pearl of Arabia"

Review

I had thought I still kept a soft spot for Abu Dhabi International, as a legacy of the time I spent living and working in that hot, dusty town. Many an hour I waited under the stylised green-turning-to-sky-blue date palm which still forms the central pillar of the original terminal. In the mid-Eighties, the Arabian (Persian) Gulf lay at the fag end of transcontinental schedules; long haul flights arrived long after midnight, and the bleary-eyed passengers were outnumbered by night-shift officials and staff.

Abu Dhabi, the pre-eminent emirate of the UAE, has been a late player in the game of ‘let’s build a national carrier from the ground up’. It follows that the new carrier’s hub, Abu Dhabi, needs to offer passengers a smooth and tolerably transit experience if Ettihad is to win business.

After two Europe-Australia round trips, we found that both the airport and the airline need to try much, much harder if we are to repeat – or to recommend – the experience.

The old Terminal 1 is now crowded with both passengers and shopfronts. The mosaic palm tree has acquired a clutter of awnings gathered around its once-imposing trunk. All this is dwarfed by the new Terminal 2, uncluttered and tastefully decorated with much-enlarged period images.

What on earth is achieved by confronting disembarking passengers with X-ray screening as they step out of the shuttle bus and into the building? Or by inconveniencing departing passengers – freshly cleared by immigration officers – with repeated passport checks en route to the departure lounges? OK, the two teams, standing just metres apart, are clearly employed by different organisations, but so what – couldn’t they stand side-by-side and do it just once?

It gets worse. On four separate occasions we have now been corralled outside the departure lounge entrances, waiting for half an hour or more before the security screening equipment and staff were ready to receive us.

Anyone arriving from Europe will find the retail outlets sorely disappointing here (leaving aside the usual pointless bling). Prices are uncompetitive, the catering is a dog's breakfast – why not offer a taste of something genuinely Middle Eastern or Indian? And if you must charge eight dollars and more for a single drink, do have the good sense to soften the blow with a complimentary dishes of nuts or other snacks.

We had spent the previous weeks interacting with countless European café and bar staff, stakeholders in their own enterprises. Such a let-down here, to be confronted with the “don’t ask me, I just work here” attitude of guest workers. The economies of the Gulf States still rely totally on expatriate staff, whether as contract managers or as night-shift cleaners. Abu Dhabi’s window on the world, the showcase hub of its national carrier, is in the hands of disinterested expatriates. Commitment is one of those things that money just can’t buy.

Conclusion
Facilities: Poor
Check-In Area: Satisfactory
Security Level: Low
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