Middle East & Africa Awards Ceremony 2007

30 May 2007 – Abu Dhabi

Middle East & Africa

Abu Dhabi

A Desert Beginning

The discovery of oil in 1958 and its subsequent export from 1962 produced a sudden upsurge in Abu Dhabi's prosperity and laid the foundations of today's modern society. Thanks to the vision of the then Ruler, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, over a period of more than four decades, this oil revenue was consistently and wisely invested to provide Abu Dhabi and its citizens with the finest infrastructure, telecommunications, hospitals, schools and all the other facilities and services that make for an advanced country. This work continues under the present Ruler, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Development and the Environment

The transformation of the emirate has been remarkable and the visible evidence is particularly apparent in Abu Dhabi city itself, with its constantly changing skyline of high-rise towers, fine new roads, shopping malls and hotels.

But development has not been at the expense of the environment; quite the reverse in fact. The spectacular success in the greening of Abu Dhabi has been a triumphant achievement against the odds of a hostile climate. The capital city and Al Ain are both notable for their excellent parks and tree lined streets.

Living Traditions

While oil provided the financial resources for massive investment in growth and development, a major part of Abu Dhabi's charm for the visitor is that cultural change evolves slowly over time. Traditions, some of them little changed from the 19th century, coexist with a 21st century economy and lifestyle; a juxtaposition that lies at the heart of present day society.

In Abu Dhabi traditional culture is very much alive and holding its own against the global standardisation trend. The first-time foreign visitor will be left in no doubt that this is a unique society, where old world courtesies still prevail, etiquette is important and certain standards of behaviour are expected.

The people of Abu Dhabi are rightly proud of their history and heritage, key aspects of the emirate's attraction to visitors. Given the pace of development and change in recent years, it is considered a priority to safeguard the unique crafts, artefacts and architecture that define the emirate's culture.

Great efforts are being devoted to rediscovering the past through archaeology, the restoration of buildings, museums, establishing indigenous wildlife parks and much more. Traditional musicians, calligraphers, artists and craftsmen are encouraged to develop their skills and thereby prevent their ancient crafts from dying out. The artefacts and tools of pearl divers, fishermen and dhow builders are carefully preserved and displayed.

Especially honoured is the Bedouin way of life. Even though nomadic societies leave little in the way of permanent structures, the people of Abu Dhabi aspire to the noble traditions and values of their desert ancestors.

The Future

While looking back with pride, the Government and people of Abu Dhabi are also looking forward to a still brighter future. Blessed with substantial untapped oil wealth to safeguard the emirate's growth and development, Abu Dhabi is nevertheless seeking to diversify its economy and enhance its environment still further.

In this quest, tourism has been earmarked for a specially important role. As a clean, green industry that promotes international friendship and goodwill, tourism is seen as an ideal means of applying Abu Dhabi's strong tradition of hospitality to good effect.

The establishment of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority in September 2004 underlined the Government's commitment not only to promoting the destination but, more importantly, to developing the emirate's tourism facilities and attractions and ensuring that visitors enjoy ever-higher standards of service. A major element of this will be the construction of many luxury hotels to extend and diversify the emirate's existing excellent range of accommodation options.



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