From the Hinterland to the Coast: Origins of an Urban Identity (1761–1960)
This chapter discusses the coast and followed it eastward through desolate country. It explores the salt-flats, and led our slithering camels across the greasy surface to the creek which separates Abu Dhabi from the mainland. The earliest version of Abu Dhabi’s modern history dates back to around 1761, when water was discovered on the island by the Bani Yas, a tribal confederation of central Arabian origin. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven United Arab Emirates, occupying approximately 87 per cent of the total land area. The early urban fabric of the emirate would take shape rapidly, and Abu Dhabi would change both economically and socially forever. Prior to the arrival of oil revenues, the economy of the emirate of Abu Dhabi was based on camel breeding and stock-raising in the hinterland, as well as the cultivation of date palms and gardens.