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40Isea& iIWINTER 2010 W ith a pleasing twist of fate, Abu Dhabi has, in a sense, come full circle. Originally a hub of the pearl industry, it is now the jewel of the Middle East - being the largest of the seven emirates and the most important cultural city in the UAE. It is to its credit that amid such acclaim, and while embracing enormous change, it still remains faithful to its roots. Traditional wooden dhows used for pearl fishing still line the harbour; only now they front a somewhat incongruous Manhattan- like skyline. But therein lies this city's charm - it is a place where anything is possible. Pillow talk The Abu Dhabi Emirates Palacestakes the heady claim of being one of the leading five- star hotels in the city, reassuring news for its investors as it is rumoured its build cost was a staggering US$ 4billion. It is not without competition, though. The new Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Berirecently opened ( sister to the existing, sumptuous Shangri- La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri), and a further 29 hotels with 7,000 rooms are planned for the Saadiyat Island development over the next few years. But for now it is Yas Hotelon Yas Island that is claiming the headlines. It has an 18- hole championship golf course and views of the Yas Marina and Yacht Club, a Crown Prince Court comprising 12 rooms, and a Ruler's Court with two presidential suites and 28 bedrooms. Further afield, the five- star resort Qasr Al Sarab opened only weeks ago in the Liwa desert. Opt for its royal villas. Eat, drink, dance Nightlife in Abu Dhabi is a cocktail of your own creation. You can take a stroll in a park, watch a rock band, dance in a nightclub, take in a concert, art exhibition or show, or hit the gaming centres and late- night shopping malls. Almost all pubs, nightclubs and bars are located inside the five- star hotels. EAT. Food ranges from Arabic to Far- Eastern, European, Latin and Continental. Buffets abound around the Breakwater, Sheikh Zayed Street, Corniche Road and Tourist Club area, where Abu Dhabi is an intriguing oasis of disparity, where east meets west and past meets present, making it one of the most dynamic cities on the globe ByKate Rigby abu dhabi ? Emirate of interest Opposite page: Shangri- La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri Below: Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri

WINTER 2010I sea& iI41 cityguide