Abu Dhabi

10 Things You Need to Know About Abu Dhabi

The capital of United Arab Emirates (UAE) and also one of the largest cities in the country, Abu Dhabi is a wonder. Living in the city brings to you cherished experience from all over the world and some which are truly unique to Abu Dhabi. Merely two decades ago, this city was a small town with a few immigrant families and a majority of oil corporations setting sights on the black gold. Since then Abu Dhabi has come a really long way.

For those of you seeing the town for the first time will realize that the city barely resembles the desert it is so widely associated with. Skyrocketing towers and a thriving business district give this city its worldly charm. The city is now home to thousands of immigrant families who settled in the city not only because of its world-class facilities in sports, education, business, and living but because the city offers a charm like no other in the country. Sure, the first thing you are going to wonder – ‘isn’t Dubai better?’, well to the untrained eye yes, it may seem that way. Surely Dubai has a plethora of wonderful amenities and world-class hospitality but that’s great when you are planning to stay only a few days or weeks. Those things mean very little when you want to settle your family in a city and want the best the world has to offer. That’s where Abu Dhabi provides you with all the Dubai has to offer and so much more.

For those of you who are visiting the city for the first time or relocating for work and/or business, we have collated a list of things you should keep in mind. This list is to help you better adjust to the cultural differences and nuances of the city that we love.

Conservative Cosmopolitan

Abu Dhabi is a world-recognized pioneer city in technology and business which puts it in the top brass of cities all over the world. That said, Abu Dhabi is strongly rooted in its customs and traditions. This hugely applies to women and clothing customs. Covering your shoulders, legs and knees are mandatory in public places. In the vicinity of your hotels or private venues, you have the freedom to wear what you like although, in places such as mall, mosques and other open areas, it is mandatory for women to abide by the local customs of the land. As an outsider to the customs, we recommend carrying a pashmina shawl with you at all times. This will help you cover yourself in places where the customs require you to. Also in areas where the air conditioning is high having a shawl is an added advantage.

The local language is not a mandate

While the city has a conventional culture and as a outsider, you may consider language to be a problem as well but that is not the case. Most hotels and service providers will have English speaking staff available to support you in the common language. Although, knowing a few local phrases especially ones for greeting will be beneficial to you.

Tips and additional service payments

Tipping is a common practice in the city of Abu Dhabi. There are many places like taxis, hotel valets, restaurants etc. where locals will expect a tip for their services. So it’s good to keep with the practice but there is no mandate on this. You can always refuse to do so. If you do choose to tip for the services rendered, keep to a maximum of ten percent as that is the norm. In restaurants make sure to check if the bill already contains an inclusion for the tip, if so there is no need to pay an additional tip.

Finding your way around the city

If it’s for your first time in the city and you don’t have a local guide to take you around, fear not. There are plenty of transport services available to you. You can dial for a taxi or venture out on any of the bus routes. Buses are fully air-conditioned and you will be able to converse with the attendants in English. Make sure to grab a map of the city and know the name of the location you are staying in.

Driving in UAE

The UAE traffic rules and regulations have provisions for tourists and non-residents to drive in the city. There are options for those of who prefer to drive which include temporary driving licenses and similar such provisions. Although keep in mind that driving in the cities of UAE can be perilous. We recommend checking for car insurance Dubai online for the best rates and options to ensure you are thoroughly covered on the road. Safety is our primary concern.

The best time to travel to UAE

While this point isn’t specific to Abu Dhabi in particular, it’s always a good idea to check in advance what the best time is to visit a new city or country. Since UAE is mostly desert and arid land, there is heavy sunshine all year round. This holds true for Abu Dhabi as well. The Summer months become exceptionally uncomfortable for those who aren’t used to the harsh heat that local may be accustomed to. With UAE in particular, it’s good to visit in the months between May and October. The winter periods are also fairly good times to be in the country. Although, if you are traveling in May or June, consider checking for the Ramadan dates as its a nationally celebrated time and due to fasting periods most shops and services shut early. The cities are also not too vibrant or active during these periods.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

This is a must visit landmark in the city of Abu Dhabi. The sight of the towering mosque and its vibrant artwork will leave you speechless. It is truly a wonder and will leave you mesmerized in awe of the wondrous architecture.

Get your shades on

The harsh sun and hot climate will be a challenge for you when you begin your journey in the city. It’s a great opportunity for you to pick out your favorite shades and sport them on whenever you step out for your sightseeing tours and travels around the city.


Some of you may have had this questions on your mind. To ease your pain and rest easy, there are restaurants and bars in Abu Dhabi that serve alcohol. While the nation is culturally bound by the consumption of alcohol, it is available for non-residents and tourists who choose to indulge in alcohol.

Public Display of Affection

Being a conservative nation, public display of affection is not acceptable in the city of Abu Dhabi. You can hold hands in public places but anything more is not tolerated by the morally policed nation. Beware of the affectionate gestures with your beau.

We hope these pointers help you get slightly more familiar with the local customs and traditions as well as plan out your journey with more ease.