Desert City Living on the Up | Abu Dhabi

A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one.Aristotle

I was browsing my usual news and newspaper apps when I stumbled across an article published on The Independent website about the world’s top ten favourite cities and I was very happily surprised to see Abu Dhabi in at fourth place!


The article, written by the Independent’s Simon Calder, detailed how our current home city ranked above Sydney, Zürich and Tokyo on the first Ipsos Mori survey of favourite cities around the world and what was even more surprising to me is that our glitzy, tourist loving neighbour Dubai was nowhere to be seen.

Sitting pretty at the top of the list is my favourite city in the world (as seen so far) New York and good old blighty’s capital London is joint second along with Paris. Abu Dhabi has nipped in front of Sydney, Zürich, Tokyo, Hong Kong, LA and coming in at number ten Rome…..Go Abu Dhabi!

What has caused this shift in popularity and growth I ask myself? What does our desert capital offer that can compete with the Sydney Opera House, Hollywood and historical sites such as the Colosseum in the Italian capital, to name a few? Maybe it’s the tax-free living, the weather?

We do have the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, where visitors don traditional clothing to explore the magnificent structure that was the vision by the late President of UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, uniting the cultural diversity of Islamic world with architecture and art.



The Abu Dhabi tourist trail is never complete without a trip to the Emirates Palace Hotel, another feat of design and architecture, where traditional meets opulent luxury and you can even buy some gold from the specially designed ATM.


No doubt Formula One adding an Abu Dhabi race to its annual grand prix calendar back in 2009 has put the capital on the map as all the action from the Yas Marina Circuit is screened worldwide. When the F1 circus rolls into town along with the world’s media, a plethora of celebrities and motor sport fans, this city bursts at the seams.


Calder reports that market research company, Ipsos surveyed 18,000 global citizens in twenty countries to rate cities as places to live, do business in and to visit. It would seem that tourists like our sandy shores here in the UAE and there has definitely been an upturn in cultural places to visit since we moved here, such as the opening of the Manarat Al Saadiyat Gallery, concert facilities that attract the top-selling artists, an exhibition complex and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.


Participating in the ‘Inside Out’ art project by JR at Manarat Gallery

The future’s even brighter with the planned opening of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and of course there are always plenty of new malls and hotels on the horizon.

All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett. All rights reserved

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