x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Visitors to Abu Dhabi's New York outpost find an oasis amid the bustle

New York's Times Square can be so crowded, it's easy to just pass on through. But a pavilion erected by the Culture and Tourism Authority beckons passers-by to relax for a moment in Abu Dhabi. Lauren Lancaster talks with those who heeded the call.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority erected a 60ftx40ft tent in Times Square to 'transport' visitors to Abu Dhabi. Lauren Lancaster for The National
The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority erected a 60ftx40ft tent in Times Square to 'transport' visitors to Abu Dhabi. Lauren Lancaster for The National

With more than 500,000 people wandering through New York's Times Square every day, it's not exactly the most relaxing place to be; at least, until now. Abu Dhabi's majlis offered a period of respite from the crowds and a glimpse into a city and culture distant to many visitors there, for just 15 people at a time. Photographer Lauren Lancaster captured the contrast of two worlds and talked with some of the people who took a look.

Geny Glory lives in Reno, Nevada and is in New York to see her niece graduate from NYU. Geny has friends living in Abu Dhabi and has heard great things about it and would really like to visit.

Juan Valenzula, 33, from Seville, Spain, is in the US for his graduation from Duke University and in New York City as a tourist. Juan visited Abu Dhabi for a few hours once while on a school trip to Dubai. He thought it was beautiful then and this experience reinforced that view. He would like to visit and he thinks the tent in Time Square reflects Abu Dhabi's openness to visitors.

Juliette Leipold, 33 and Antonio-Leu, 2 yrs, 7 mo. Juliette is from Mexico but now lives in New York. She had never heard of Abu Dhabi but after visiting the tent she things it would be "very nice to try, I think I want to go".

Maria Carrasco, 34, fr om Seville Spain, is visiting New York with her boyfriend and has never been to Abu Dhabi but has heard of it from her boyfriend who has been there. The tent gave her the impression that she would really like to visit the capital.

Michael Maresca is from Warren, New Jersey, and has heard of Abu Dhabi but never been. He thought the people seemed very hospitable and he would live to visit.

Ursula Maresca from Warren, New Jersey, had heard of Abu Dhabi because her previous job was in international relocations. Her impression from visiting the tent is that the women are beautiful and the people are hospitable; she would like to visit.

Rene Elinzano, 60, from San Diego California. Rene is in New York for his daughter's graduation from New York University. He had only heard of Abu Dhabi by name. His impression from the tent is that the people of Abu Dhabi are very hospitable. When asked if would be interested to visit he said:- "Definitely, are you kidding me? In a flash."

Casey McWhorter, 18, is from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and in New York visiting her grandparents. She has heard of Abu Dhabi and after visiting the tent thinks it seems "decadent and interesting" and is a place she would like to go.

For a slideshow of the tent, click here.