Sand dunes, the occasional oasis, a vast coastline on the Persian Gulf, and the laidback powerhouse capital of the UAE is what the visitor is likely to experience on a visit to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. By far the largest of the emirates, Abu Dhabi is mostly a vast desert area. Along the coastline is a sprinkling of islands. On one of these resides the city with the same name as that of the Emirate - Abu Dhabi.
Today Abu Dhabi is a sparkling metropolis. Though it is more laidback than the nearby Dubai, the modernity and sophistication of Abu Dhabi is reflected in the broad boulevards and tall offices and apartment buildings that flank it on every side. There are numerous green areas, gardens and parks, including the Corniche and Khalidia. The picturesque White Fort is the oldest building in Abu Dhabi. The Cultural Foundation has a well stocked library and museum. The Emirates Palace, partly inspired by Arab architectural traditions, is a luxury hotel that is reputed to be the most expensive hotel ever built.
The annual shopping festival held every March attracts visitors from all over. You can visit traditional souks and modern malls and find a bargain on a large number of goods. Sports tourism with sponsored events such as polo matches, golf tournaments and cycling championships, is also a big draw in Abu Dhabi.
Other places of interest in the Emirate include the Futaisi islands which are a pretty eco-tourism destination. The oasis villages of Liwa and the city of Al Ain, where the traditional sport of camel racing is practised, will also hold the visitor’s interest.
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