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Abu Dhabi
Less than an hour from Dubai, depending on traffic, the United Arab Emirates capital city Abu Dhabi exudes a very different urban experience. Hire a driver or book an arranged tour to make the trip southwest. Drive in along the Corniche, a six kilometre coastal boulevard bordered by gardens. About 120 million acacia trees are said to line the entrance to the city. The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan mosque or Grand Mosque, the world's third-largest, equates to the size of five football fields. Morning and afternoon tours are available daily (except Friday mornings, which are reserved for religious services). Al Hosn Palace, the only UAE royal residence that allows visitors, merits a stop. And at the Emirates Palace Hotel, have a look at the world's first 24-karat-gold-bar-dispensing ATM machine, take a seat beneath the gold-plated ceiling and enjoy a cappuccino topped liberally with gold flakes.

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