Move Over Paris, Bilbao: Here Comes Abu Dhabi

"We do have a few locally based artists, not many who have been exported. At the moment it's mostly imported from Egypt, Lebanon or Jordan," Rahbar told ABC News.

What that means for today's visitor is a relative bargain on local and regional art. But local art dealers say that as Dubai and Abu Dhabi raise the profile of regional art they'll also be pumping up the price.

"This is the next art scene. It's definitely a good time to buy," Rahbar said.

Rahbar expects major galleries to move in within the year. Auction houses have already set up in Dubai. Christie's International opened a local office in 2005; last October it set a record for an Arab work sold at auction with Ahmed Mustapha's "Qu'ranic Polyptych of Nine Panels" at $657,000.

Assuming all goes well with their current construction Dubai and Abu Dhabi, dynamic cities less than two hours apart by car, could form a powerhouse duo of tourist delights.

"Abu Dhabi will be where we'll all go to see big world-class shows in the region," Rahbar said. "In terms of cultural tourism, what the Guggenheim did for Bilbao [Spain], that's what's going to happen for Abu Dhabi. It'll bring in a better quality of tourists."

That is Abu Dhabi's billion dollar-gamble and, city officials hope, your next family vacation.

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