Welcome to Abu Dhabi
To the uninitiated, Abu Dhabi can appear slightly humdrum, especially when compared to Dubai, its flashier next-door neighbour. Those in the know, however, are charmed by the natural splendour that surrounds the city. What other desert metropolis is home to mangrove forests, date plantations and wildlife reserves? While the edges of the emirate are surrounded by rolling dunes and immaculate beaches, the centre is full of lush, green patches.
True, the club scene may be a bit muted, but what Abu Dhabi lacks in ladies nights it makes up for with local flavour. Many venues, from camel farms to falcon hospitals, are sufficiently exotic to make up for the lack of cosmopolitan nightlife.
The city is yet to be as developed as Dubai – Abu Dhabi has decided to take a more prudent and far-sighted approach to its investments – but if anything, this only adds to its appeal. Beaches are less crowded, roads less jammed and nature more pristine.
Change is coming, however, as the plethora of cranes will attest. The completion of the Yas Marina Circuit, where the city hosts the Grand Prix, launched Abu Dhabi further in the world arena. When the Louvre and Guggenheim museums come to fruition, it's sure to become an even hotter destination.