By Jo Tatchell

Tatchell takes us on a journey of town with an outlook that’s half local, half critic, half wide-eyed tourist. the result's a really unique college of views and photographs, from a regal expatriate whose husband was once one of many first Brits to settle in Abu Dhabi to younger Emirati artists celebrating their newfound freedom of expression. A compelling piece of historical past instructed with an intimate narrative voice, A Diamond within the barren region is an eye-opening and sometimes haunting standpoint on simply how a lot this attention-grabbing urban has changed—and, for greater or for worse, how a lot it has stayed the same.

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Additional info for A Diamond in the Desert: Behind the Scenes in Abu Dhabi, the World’s Richest City

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Buildings are patterned with Arab motifs, arches, latticework and turquoise glass. The lines follow the curves of the Islamic crescent moon. It makes the skyline of the late 1990s seem Lilliputian. Sheikh Zayed had kept the pace of change under control. Before his death there had been a brake on development, a kind of natural sympathy with what was deemed appropriate. The next generation of decision-makers observe no such limits. In the four years following Zayed’s death there has been more construction than there was in the previous forty.

She dared not think about the people or where she would find friends. At first the locals had seemed remote and mysterious. My father, who had come out months before her, had warned her that the Arab was ‘an unknown quantity and the place an enigma’. When she arrived with Bill and me, he was there to meet her from the small terminal building at Abu Dhabi’s fledgling airport. As we drove down the single-lane road from the airport to the tip of the island, my father had reminded her not to expect too much.

The ease had bewitched a part of me. I found myself returning to visit family and friends several times a year. It was only after my parents had retired and left for good that I stopped going. The intervening years have brought more change than seems possible, even for a city as fast-moving as Abu Dhabi. Unlike Dubai, built on the glitzy, headline-grabbing industries of property, tourism and financial services, each at the whim of international public opinion, Abu Dhabi has quietly grown rich on a more workaday mix of oil, gas, construction, utilities, manufacturing and the processing of chemicals, wood, fibreglass and plastics.

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A Diamond in the Desert: Behind the Scenes in Abu Dhabi, the by Jo Tatchell
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