Abu Dhabi at a Glance
Living in Abu Dhabi
Expats make up 90% of Abu Dhabi’s population, enjoying 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 over 940,000 people representing many nationalities, this emirate has undergone a great transformation. This 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, you 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. 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 it also offers space for 40,000 worshippers in Abu Dhabi. In 2013, the mosque received over 307,000 visitors.
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 you 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.
You 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.
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