Abu Dhabi at a Glance
Living in Abu Dhabi
Expats enjoy the flair of a modern metropolis with almost 5000 years of tradition. From being the “Father of Gazelles” (the literal meaning of Abu Dhabi) to becoming a home for 900,000 people of different nationalities, this emirate has undergone a great transformation, which also becomes apparent in the vast variety of life in Abu Dhabi.
Outside of Abu Dhabi City, this emirate impresses visitors and expats alike with beautiful sand dunes and a desert landscape interspersed by various oases, such as the garden city of Al Ain. Living in Abu Dhabi’s second largest city, expats can enjoy parks, palm trees, and the famous nearby Hajar Mountains.
Tradition and Modernity
Life in Abu Dhabi is very much influenced by Islam. Mosques can be found in almost every district of the city as well as in every corner of the emirate. The biggest and most sumptuous mosque in the UAE, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, is also located here. It is not only a popular tourist attraction, but offers space for 40,000 worshippers in Abu Dhabi.
Tourism, in addition to the country’s massive oil reserves, is increasingly becoming a new source of income for expats and Emiratis. Almost everybody’s life in Abu Dhabi is affected by developments in the tourist sector, such as Saadiyat Island or Al Gurm Resort.
In addition to the modern tourist spots and shopping centers, there are traditional souqs offering spices, clothing, jewelry and other goods to expats and nationals. The busiest bazaar, which every expat should visit at least once, is the Grand Souq on Sheikh Hamdan Street.
Living in Abu Dhabi may not be as relaxed as the life many expats are probably used to. Although it is a modern and cosmopolitan city, the rules of a conservative society are prevalent, affecting everybody’s social life in Abu Dhabi.
Smoking, for instance, is prohibited in public areas. Expats have to find designated smoking rooms if they can no longer resist the urge to light a cigarette. The Ministry of Health plans to implement even stricter laws in the future to confront the problem of the increasing number of (mostly underage) smokers in Abu Dhabi.
Visitors and expats should make sure to avoid improper and revealing clothing. While bathing suits and shorts are acceptable at the beach, you should choose light clothing with longer sleeves and trousers’ legs for most other occasions.