The neighboring Emirate to Dubai
and the seat of power of the UAE
. Abu Dhabi, as the largest and wealthiest Emirate, is burdened with flying the spiritual flag for the nation. As a result, Abu Dhabi is more conservative and less tolerant of western dress sense and ettiquette. (Not that I've had any problems, and I was there during Ramadan
You're much more likely to see men ambling around the streets in dishdashas, the traditional white garb which is, I'm reliably informed, cool in summer and warm in winter. You're also more likely to see women wearing veils that cover either their entire face (thin black netting) or else all but their eyes. During Ramadan, abayas (the black shoulder-to-ankle coveralls) are more-or-less standard issue for women, though younger, unmarried women do not always wear them throughout the year.
Abu Dhabi is more laid-back than Dubai, although it does come alive and have a vibe of its own in the evenings, after about 8pm. Or perhaps this is only during Ramadan, as Muslims celebrate Iftar each night, the breaking of the fast.
Alcohol is reputedly not sold at all in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, earning it the scorn of many westerners, who label it boring and a waste of time. This is confirmed by omission by my Lonely Planet guide to Dubai, which mentions small places like Al Ain and Hatta (admittedly within the Emirate of Dubai), as well as other places much more remote than the mere 150km or so trip to Abu Dhabi.
The ruling Sheikh, Zayed the Second, has invested considerably in recreational facilities for his underlings. He is very popular and it is difficult to find somewhere that does not display a large portrait of him. The Al Wahdah sports complex, housing the national football stadium, is a sight to behold: 4 full sized emerald green football pitches. Most of the roads in Abu Dhabi are also tree-lined and the road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi traverses a section of the 90 000 ha man-made (albeit very young) forest.
The town (city?) is located on the main island off the mainland. The island is separated from the main land by a very narrow channel and there are two large bridges connecting the two.
All roads in Abu Dhabi seem to be 3-lane dual carriageways, with 5-lane intersections. Cabs are extremely cheap and you can get across the island for about 5Dh, or 1 pound sterling.
Abu Dhabi's economy is predominently based on oil ("Abu Dhabi has oil to burn", an ironic phrase as what else does one do with oil usually?) although the perimeter of the island is lined with large ports as well. Not on the scale of Dubai's ports by any stretch of the imagination, but constructing their own version of Jebel Ali when the oil wells eventually hint of running dry is well within their financial means. However, there are several smaller islands flanking Abu Dhabi, so perhaps a man-made port would not be necessary.