Abu Dhabi is home to important financial institutions such as the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the corporate headquarters of many companies and numerous multinational corporations. One of the world's largest producers of oil, Abu Dhabi has actively attempted to diversify its economy in recent years through investments in financial services and tourism.
Abu Dhabi, garners less worldwide attention than its neighbor, the flashy, rapidly developing city of Dubai. However, Abu Dhabi is actually richer than Dubai and has monitored its growth carefully, with an emphasis on the arts and preserving the city's heritage.
Abu Dhabi has more than 10 top places to see, especially considering tours to the desert outside the city top the list of must-see attractions. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the third largest in the world, boasts the largest Persian carpet in the world in its interior. From the outside, the mosque sits gracefully in a classic architectural style.
Abu Dhabi Corniche, The Corniche, along Abu Dhabi's waterfront, features elegant walkways used by walkers, joggers and cyclists. Lots of green space hosts families picnicking and restaurants and cafes serve international foods, Arabic specialties and Turkish coffees.
Lulu Island, a man-made island with peach-colored dunes, can be reached easily by ferry boats, and visitors can swim, ride camels, take a train around the island or just enjoy the view of the city skyline. Saadiyat Island, dubbed the "island of happiness" by local residents who enjoy weekends there, now has branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums, as well as a performing arts complex.
Whether you're a shopper or not, don't miss a visit to an Arab souk (market) -- such as the Madinat Zayed Gold Souk for gold and jewelry -- near the Madinat Zayed Shopping Center, or for the renowned Persian carpets at the Iranian Souk and Al Meena Souk.
A trip to Abu Dhabi should include a visit to see the desert just outside the city, where some of the tallest sand dunes in the world loom against a bright blue sky. Watch people sand-board down the dunes or enjoy a ride weaving in utility vehicles up and down the dunes. Desert farms house racing camels, and Bedouin tents set up in the desert host barbecue dinners at night. Abu Dhabi has a hot arid climate ; Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year.