As the capital and second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has long grappled with a reputation as a mere bureaucratic outpost. However, with the ascendance of Sheikh Khalifa in 2004, numerous public works began to alter the face of this important city, turning it into the bustling metropolis is now is today.
Located on the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Dhabi sits on a desert island straddling the North end of the adjoining Persian Gulf. The island itself is separated from the mainland by less than 1000 feet – the majority of recent commercial and residential development has taken place on the suburban mainland and nearby islands Saadiyat and Reem.
Most visitors come to Abu Dhabi for its luxurious hotels, shopping malls, and boutiques. There is also a wealth of small independent stores scattered throughout the city – this is where travelers can purchase authentic rugs, Middle Eastern antiques, and clothing. If you feel comfortable haggling with shopkeepers, you will enjoy Abu Dhabi's consumer climate – most shopkeepers are more than happy to oblige and many will offer deep discounts if you know how ask.
As a city located in a hot desert climate, Abu Dhabi is bright, sunny, and hot year-round. There is very little rain but dense fog is common, especially during winter months. January is the coolest month of the year, so if you want to beat the heat, that is the best time to do so.