But not far from the dazzle of Abu Dhabi is a different version of the emirate: a place where the local markets, not the malls, are still the best spots to shop, and where the souks are fragrant with spices.

Photos: Abu Dhabi's Past and Future

Beyond the glitter, the hype, and the superlatives—the world’s tallest buildings, biggest artificial ski slopes, and most fantastic wonder malls—lie authentic bedouin civilizations. We look closer at Abu Dhabi's past—and future.