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Abu Dhabi - Past and Present

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is the largest of the seven Emirates making up the UAE Federation. It possesses 94 per cent of the country’s oil reserves, covers around 87 per cent of the UAE’s total land area and is home to 38 per cent of the population. It is both the seat of the Federal Government and a bustling business centre. Located on the North-East coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Dhabi offers a strikingly contrasting landscape, from sandy beaches to green oases, and from skyscrapers to rolling desert dunes. Its coastline is home to nearly 200 islands offering fascinating scenery of untamed beaches. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi consists of three administrative regions: the capital city; the Al Gharbia (Western Region), which includes the oases of Liwa and extends deeper into the famous Al Rubu Al Khali (Empty Quarter); and the eastern oasis of Al Ain, better known as the "Green City". Human settlement in the Abu Dhabi region dates back several thousand years. The place was discovered by a group of hunters who found a big herd of gazelles around a rare fresh water spring. They called it "Abu Dhabi", which translates into "Father of the Gazelle". For centuries, the population in coastal areas sustained their living through pearl diving, fishing, and dhow trading, while those in the desert interior led a more traditional Bedouin (nomadic) lifestyle. Until the discovery of oil, the Emirate was little more than a coastal trading community, but home to one of the biggest pearling fleets in the Gulf. The discovery of oil in the early 1960s quickly transformed Abu Dhabi from a pearling centre into a global business powerhouse. Four decades later, oil still remains the main driver of Abu Dhabi economy. The Emirate is the world’s fourth largest oil producer, contributing 10% of the world’s oil and 5% of its gas production. Recently, however, the Emirate has annouced various initiatives aimed at diversifying its sources of income. These initiatives have already begun to pay dividends with the Emirate fast evolving into a magnet of foreign investment and a business hub. Abu Dhabi is the most populous of the seven Emirates of the UAE Federation, with around 1.6 million (or 38% of the total population) living within its borders. Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan city that boasts one of the highest per capita incomes and one of the lowest crime rates in the world.

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