Abu Dhabi city, an island some 800 feet from the mainland, is the capital city of the UAE, with an estimated population of 900,000 in 2010. The Emierate of Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates, stretching over 80 percent of the UAE's 83,600 square miles. The emirate includes some 200 islands. The coastal terrain merges with sandy dunes and vast deserts that yield less than 1 percent of arable land.
Abu Dhabi isn't the glitziest of the Emirates. That dubious distinction goes to Dubai (dubious in light of Dubai's near-collapse in 2009). But Abu Dhabi is by far the richest of the Emirates. Sitting on 8 percent of the world's proven crude reserves, it is a major oil producer, as the rest of the emirates are not. And its finances are more stable than high-rolling Dubai.
Abu Dhabi is ruled by Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, who is also the president of the UAE. In December 2009, Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai with a $10 billion line of credit when Dubai's sovereign wealth fund faced bankruptcy after a decade of over-extended investments and speculative real estate deals around the world, including in the United States. In exchange for essentially saving Dubai, Dubai renamed the world's tallest skyscraper, which was inaugurated last year in Dubai, from Burj Dubai to Burj Khalifa.