Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi (UAE)

The seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel reflects Abu Dhabi’s new ostentation. Photograph: Rabih Moghrabi/AFP

Even by the standards of the bling-obsessed United Arab Emirates, the Bugatti parked outside one of the federation’s many five-star hotels was exceptional and the Emiratis, leaving their evening meals after breaking fast on the first day of Ramadan last week, were eager to have their picture taken beside it.

The two-seater in deep burgundy with gleaming chrome engineering bore an Abu Dhabi registration plate in Arabic. Alongside, in English, the mark was translated as ‘I AM 17’. This toy was not another bauble of a wealthy old sheikh; this was a birthday present for a teenager. The youth who eventually got in and drove it from the hotel forecourt to a ripple of applause from admirers looked almost embarrassed at the attention.

I doubt he thought there was anything unusual in being given a gift worth several times more than the lifetime earnings of the Indian hotel employees whose job it is to valet-park the sports cars, limousines and top-of-the-range SUVs. The fact that an awkward adolescent could have such riches is commonplace in the Emirates, the Beverly Hills of the Middle East and the new financial powerhouse of the Gulf and the world

continue reading at………..www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/07/manchestercity.travelleisure


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