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Abu Dhabi plans for a pleasant future

Abu Dhabi wants to be a global capital city: a pleasant hub for industry and high-class tourism. To attain that goal, it is looking for outside investment. But despite a stated desire for more independent business, the ruling family is still omnipresent.

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A PROJECT IS under way to turn a quiet little town into one of the world’s most famous capital cities.

Sitting atop immense oil and capital reserves, Abu Dhabi is already cementing its position as a financial powerhouse. Its recent $7.5 billion lifeline to Citi demonstrated that.

With huge financial muscle behind it, Abu Dhabi is no longer content to play the sleepy neighbour to Dubai. Nor is it content to quietly invest and reinvest abroad in small stakes of equity, real estate and debt. It wants to concentrate more on putting its resources to use at home; and it wants others to help it do so.

"In America, when you say you’re from Abu Dhabi, almost nobody has heard of it," says an Abu Dhabi businessman. "But when you say you’re from somewhere near to Dubai, people’s faces light up."

Envy and admiration of Dubai’s status are important forces behind the will to make Abu Dhabi city, in its government’s words, a "great world metropolis".

But the chaos Dubai has thrown up with its real estate development has also convinced the rulers of Abu Dhabi to adopt a more careful, planned evolution.

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