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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Early Days in the UAE

When I first started 'googling' Abu Dhabi, I came across a lot of You Tube videos that are pretty much travelogues and adverts for travel to the region along with shows about Abu Dhabi's (and Dubai's) opulence. 

As a tourism professional, they are all without a doubt outstanding and well produced, but my favorite video by far is this documentary on the UAE dating back to the 1960s, which so clearly explains the very beginnings of the United Arab Emirates. 
"At the wheel of this car is a man torn between two worlds. He's an Arab Sheikh who was born in an old Arabia and will die in a new one. He worships Allah, loves the desert, and is one of the richest men in the world. His name is Zayed."
Oil wasn't found in the UAE until 1958 and as luck would have it, Sheikh Zayed came into power a few years later, setting a clear vision for the country and its people that extended well beyond oil production. 

Even if you just watch the first three minutes, you'll see footage of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan driving his Lincoln Continental over the dunes. 

The original dune basher? 

Everywhere in Abu Dhabi, you can see this vision still taking form. In addition to the famed mosque, hotels, skyscrapers, reclaimed land projects, there's Saadyiaat Island, which is being developed to be one of the most exciting cultural centers in the world. The includes a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, an outpost of the Louvre as well as a maritime museum designed by Tado Ando

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