Abu Dhabi is the federal capital and centre of government in the United Arab Emirates. It is the largest city of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and one of the most modern cities in the world.
With a population of just under 1.5 million, Abu Dhabi is the headquarters of numerous oil companies and embassies. With only 420,000 citizens in the entire emirate, each has an average net worth of USD17 million! The city features large gardens and parks, green boulevards lining all the streets and roads, sophisticated high-rise buildings, international luxury hotel chains and opulent shopping malls. Long viewed as a staid bureaucratic outpost entirely lacking in neighbouring Dubai's pizazz, things started to change radically in 2004 after long-ruler Sheikh Zayed passed away and his son Sheikh Khalifa took over. In a bid to attract tourism and investment, land sales to foreigners were allowed and restrictions on alcohol were loosened. Homosexuality is currently illegal throughout the United Arab Emirates with possible resulting penalties of deportation, fines, prison time, or the death sentence. Several massive projects are also under way. Yas Island hosts Abu Dhabi's Formula 1 track and the new Ferrari theme park, while the upcoming USD28 billion cultural zone of Saadiyat Island and its centrepieces the Guggenheim (scheduled to open in 2017) and Louvre Museums (opened 2017) have been repeatedly plagued by delays. It remains to be seen how well the strategy will work but the city is certainly experiencing a construction boom.