Abu Dhabi Overview
The brash, bold city of Abu Dhabi is a modern marvel, capital of
the wealthy United Arab Emirates and headquarters of the world's
richest oil operating companies. The pulsating city, with
futuristic skyscrapers and wide tree-lined boulevards, is
capitalising on its sophistication, amazing duty-free shopping
zone, its luxury hotels and top class transport and communication
infrastructure to attract tourists. They come not only for the
'retail therapy' and glitz, but also to explore the fascinating
culture of the vast Abu Dhabi Emirate itself (it is the largest of
the seven Emirates), with its miles of desert and interesting
The city is almost an island, jutting into the Persian Gulf,
with land having been reclaimed from the sea to make way for a long
seafront Corniche, lined with lush gardens and gushing fountains.
It is a relatively young city, the area having been first settled
by nomadic tribesmen in the mid-18th century; it remained little
more than a fishing village until oil was discovered in the 1950s,
and the financial and trading boom began.
Today the international airport and deep water port bring in
visitors from around the world, most clutching credit cards and
cash, set on spending as much as possible in the enticing shopping
malls and buzzing souk (market). Limousines are a common sight in
the congested streets, and restaurants offering the cuisine of many
nations do a roaring trade, especially along the waterfront.
Shopping fever is at its height during the annual Shopping Festival
held in early March. Those taking a break from modern luxury can
escape to the desert for a Bedouin feast under the stars, or a
camel ride through the dunes.