As the second largest city in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has already acquired a status as one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the world. Since it is essentially an island on the edge of a desert, the amount of space available to build on is limited, at least if you try to expand outwards. City planners have realised that, so new construction doesn't go in a lateral direction. It goes up.
Sky Tower, a three hundred and ten metre skyscraper in Shams Abu Dhabi, is perhaps the most famous of all the tall buildings that grace the Abu Dhabi skyline, but it's not the only one. The Landmark (324 metres) and the Central Market Residential Tower (382 metres) are both taller. All three are part of a visionary plan developed by city administrators called Abu Dhabi 2030. As the area evolves and grows, their goal is to create as much usable beachfront real estate as possible.
If you want to get a good look at Abu Dhabi's skyline from up high, there are a number of ways to do it. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Tower has an attached car park and rooftop viewing area. The Central Market Hotel Tower, the final piece in that project, is scheduled to be 254 metres with 58 floors, with the top floor containing a restaurant and lounge for guests. There are also numerous helicopter tours available if you want to get up above it all.
The city of Abu Dhabi has been a centre for commerce and trade since the late 18th Century. Its main exports back then were camels, dates, and pearls. This sustained the population and helped the small village to grow into a larger community, but it wasn't until the arrival of oil money in 1958 that Abu Dhabi began to grow at a rapid pace. The discovery of petroleum in the region immediately improved the economy and the modern skyline began to take shape, seemingly out of the very sand itself.
Other notable skyscrapers include the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Tower, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi headquarters, the Hilton Hotel Tower and the Etisalat. Not quite in the same category but definitely worth a look are the Emirates Palace and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Any suite at the Emirates Palace offers a tremendous view of the city skyline, if you want to pay the price to stay there. Rooms start at a meagre $400 a night, but those with the best views run around $5,000.
About the author: Lucas Lowecroft writes a number of articles about Abu Dhabi, including the newest and tallest buildings in the skyline.