It may be a bit of a repeat of the previous entry, but yes, the UAE likes things big. Not only is Abu Dhabi competing with the rest of the world, they're competing with Dubai. Sure they had the world's most expensive Christmas tree, but in the same hotel you can get $20 slice of cheesecake covered in gold shavings. In fact, the Emirates Palace is proud to advertise that they use five kilograms of gold a year of gold on their deserts. The UAE has the money so why not spend it?
Abu Dhabi uses an excessive amount of water, but those parks aren't green from the rain. Every day while driving to work, I can see the sprinklers watering the parks and road medians. Sure there are the ads telling people to conserve water at home, but no one really takes those things seriously, do they?
The cars that you commonly see driving the roads of Abu Dhabi are almost out of a movie, Ferraris, Rolls Royces, Lamborginis, or even a number of fancy cars with names that I don't even recognize. As for cars that would normally turn heads such as Porches, Hummers, Cadillacs or Lexus? A dime a dozen. I've been accused of being obsessed with cars by more than one person and maybe I am, but my obsession has to do with the vast amounts of money spent on flashy cars rather than any sort of appreciation for the car itself.
Even promotion has to be excessive. It is understandable for a country with such incredible wealth to want to shake the image of being a couple of tents in the middle of nowhere. This would partially explain the obsession with breaking every world record possible. Any time there is an event at the school, the administration wants to make sure that every seat is filled and the cameras and video are out in spades. Because our campus is a point of pride in the the UAE, our school library is decked out with all the biggest and latest technology for all the visiting dignitaries to see. Our school even hosts the Festival of Thinkers to promote thinking and innovation among students in the UAE with some top names among intellectual circles.
Sure there are a lot of excesses here, but for a newly formed country determined to shake off the image of a backwards settlement of nomads, they have a lot to overcome.