Foods of Abu Dhabi

Sociological Food Histories in a Visual Format

Crafting an investigative, often interpersonal research project can be difficult for shy people. However, the biggest challenge with our Abu Dhabi Foods data set is the freedom of choosing the restaurants. By foregoing a methodical street-by-street calculation, it remains relatively unclear which areas where built up when, which would be my personal area of interest. The Al Raha beach area, for instance, is often discounted by long-term city residents, but this apparently new area seems more popular among expat communities, especially those living out in that part of the city. However, being relatively nearby Zayed University, it’s also possible that Al Raha or areas close to it began building up before one would guess, and without documenting every single restaurant in a given area, there’s no way of knowing when the first restaurant was built there. It’s also hard to gauge the popularity of new restaurants in one area over the other without a comprehensive review of the restaurants in both areas. To further complicate representing the data, either due to personal oversights of data-takers or due to issues with the exportation of the data, some values for data_established appear as 0. For this reason, the date line in the map starts at 0 and I cannot figure out how to change it to a more reasonable date. Further, I’m uncertain whether it would be better to include these places and note that 0 is an unknown or whether I should just eliminate these data points. Because they were numerous, I favoured the former option for one and included these unknown places in the visualization instead of just erasing them.

For the map on a separate webpage however, I decided to edit the .csv dataset, deleting all entries with 0 for date established, uploaded that into Carto and created the map visible here. What I prefer about this 2nd map is that the critical years go by at a reasonable pace. In the first map, going from 0 to 2016, it was necessary to use a fast pace to get through 0-2000-something, and I was unable to determine how to change the speed for the 2000’s. However, one issue I did have with the second map, and it’s quite blatantly apparent in the result, is representing the timeline accurately. The widget at the bottom of the final version has number values that appear to correlate with the “steps” of the timeline, or when it shows one set of data and when it shows the next. I hope to eventually correct this problem and better represent the timeline.

In the future, I would narrow the scope of the research so that specific neighborhoods might be tackled and there will be a higher concentration of data in those areas. This would however likely effect variations in delivery options. While this would also take a lot more interviewing and research, I personally became fascinated by the nationalities of the founders and the chefs. I would find it incredibly interesting to know what restaurants were started by Emiratis and which by foreigners; however, that does raise an issue of massive procrastination because it’s more difficult to find out this information. As seen below, student procrastination was common for data collection even with our relatively simple information required. (It should be noted that I wanted to create these as hexbins for some variety and ease of viewing the data; however, unfortunately, the data would be need to be one numeral, e.g. a year or the like, for this functionality in Carto).


However, these maps prove useful to travelers and residents by offering functionality different than that of Zomato or TripAdvisor. For instance, below you can see Emirati restaurants across Abu Dhabi. If you want cheaper food, that information is easily accessible by hovering over the point. This is important for those willing to explore new areas or venture further out for cheaper food and different atmospheres and typically absent from Zomato, the popular app in the Emirates, that focuses on your neighborhood and makes a city-wide search relatively inconvenient.

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