Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s most modern, and perhaps richest, cities. Seat of the UAE government, it is also headquarters to several oil companies. It boasts large parks and gardens, green boulevards, international luxury hotels, rich shopping malls, and sophisticated high-rise buildings.
Until 2004, Abu Dhabi and Port Zayed were dominated by Dubai in their tourist attraction. In 2004, Sheikh Khalifa took power and undertook an ambitious effort to attract tourism. Alcohol restrictions were loosened a bit and foreigners were allowed to buy land. Several huge development projects were started, including the $28 billion Saadiyat Island containing the Guggenheim and Louvre Museums that are supposed to open in 2011.
Visitors to Abu Dhabi and Port Zayed will enjoy their stay at one of the many luxury hotels that offer private beaches (non-hotel residents can buy admission) and swimming facilities. Tourists also enjoy desert safaris that must be booked ahead of time. The trips start in the evening and include rides over the dunes, camel rides, Arabic buffets, and belly dancers (for larger parties).
The favorite sport in Port Zayed and Abu Dhabi is shopping. There are limitless shops, malls, and opportunities to buy a wide range of luxurious and exotic items.