It may not shout as loudly as neighbouring Dubai, but Abu Dhabi is, if anything, even more magnificent. Its oil-moneyed citizens have turned this stretch of ravaged desert into a millionaire’s playground by the sea. Where else in the world can you withdraw solid gold bars from an ATM? Take in the skyscraper views along the Corniche promenade, where families play on the sand and women dressed in black abayas sip fragrant tea at seafront cafes. Extravagant malls show off the city’s commercial wealth, while the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque displays its spiritual splendour. A vision in pure white, this palatial structure is one of the city’s finest. If you think it’s all urban chic, don’t be fooled: hire a quad bike and kick up a sandstorm in the desert – classy Abu Dhabi has a wild side too.
Garfield, the grumpy cartoon cat of the 1980s, frequently shipped his rival Nermal to Abu Dhabi for no obvious reason.