Life in Abu Dhabi: All You Need to Know

The United Arab Emirates is a thriving country for expats, thanks to tax-free income, expanding businesses, and international investment. Abu Dhabi is the capital and biggest of the seven emirates, including Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain. 

There are many expatriates from India, Pakistan, and Asia, but the British expat population, which numbers over 250,000, is the largest among Westerners. Dubai is home to many British expats, with Abu Dhabi coming in second.

Abu Dhabi’s way of life

Dubai is a popular destination for expats and has established itself as the Middle East’s financial, economic, and cultural powerhouse. Thousands go to Abu Dhabi because of its quickly rising economy and wealthy and exciting lifestyle, but how does it compare?

Whereas Dubai attracts visitors with its glittering luxury resorts, limitless skyscrapers, retail malls, and attractions, Abu Dhabi is a contemporary city noted for being quieter, slightly more traditional, and community-oriented.

Abu Dhabi is located in the Persian Gulf, on the outskirts of the Rub Al Khali Desert.

While there are opulent resorts, skyscrapers, apartment towers, retail malls, and the world-famous Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi also protects natural environments like mangroves and turtle nesting areas along the shore.

Beautiful blue seas and various beaches, such as Corniche Beach, Yas Beach, Saadiyat Beach, and Al Sahil Beach, make Abu Dhabi a perfect weekend destination for sunbathing or water sports. Along with the beautiful shoreline, the city has various cultural and heritage attractions profoundly steeped in Islamic traditions, including mosques, temples, and spectacular desert vistas.

Working in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is one of the richest emirates globally, a rapidly expanding economy. Oil and gas are important commercial areas for Abu Dhabi, which controls about 10% of the world’s oil supply and 95% of the UAE’s oil output. Property, tourism, construction, trade, and food manufacturing are important.

This encourages many expats to migrate here; nevertheless, whilst the tax-free perks of Abu Dhabi and its neighbouring areas were once a major appeal for foreigners, rising property costs and stagnant earnings have slowed expat numbers.

The average wage in the UAE is roughly 123,063 AED (£26,337), which is lower than what you’d earn in your native country in some situations. Whereas financial gain used to be a big lure for expats, it’s becoming less of a role now, and most people stay for the lifestyle.

Many expats arrive in Abu Dhabi with a job contract already in place. Several companies have moved their operations to Abu Dhabi, allowing expats to follow their employers. Alternatively, you might look for jobs through local recruiting firms or through expat forums.

Those with specialised talents or languages have an easier time finding jobs. The government has begun to push for an official Emiratisation strategy, which promotes firms to recruit locals to reduce unemployment and enhance chances for local graduates while making it more difficult for migrants to obtain work.

Cost of living in Abu Dhabi

The standard of rent in Abu Dhabi is high; the city is placed 40th out of 209 cities in the 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, and it is the second most expensive location to live in the Middle East, behind Dubai.

In comparison to Dubai, Abu Dhabi is around 6% cheaper to live in terms of food, clothing, transportation, personal care, and entertainment. On the other hand, housing is 11% more costly than Dubai.

Housing prices are quite high, accounting for almost half of your monthly wage. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will set you back 5088 AED (£1088), while one far outside the city would set you back 3805 AED (£814). Utilities are affordable, costing on average 445 AED (£95) each month. Some expats prefer to rent in Dubai and commute to Abu Dhabi to save money on rent.

Another significant expense is the purchase of a vehicle. Although public transportation is improving, most expats still prefer to go by automobile. Because buying or leasing a car is so costly, it’s worth your time to browse around. The majority of dealerships operate seasonal promotions. Although gasoline costs are far cheaper than in many other countries, this offsets the expense of automobile ownership.

Customs and Laws

If you’re considering relocating to Abu Dhabi, you should be aware that Islam’s culture is heavily influenced and far more orthodox than you may be used to. The following are the most important laws and customs to be aware of:

  • Cover your shoulders and legs up to your knees when you’re out in public.
  • Smoking in public and using electronic cigarettes are both prohibited; however, there are dedicated smoking areas.
  • It is unlawful to live with someone of the opposite sex if you are not married or have a family.
  • In Abu Dhabi, public displays of affection are prohibited. Anything other than holding hands is considered rude by the natives.
  • Non-residents can purchase alcohol at permitted hotels, taverns, and restaurants, but drinking or being under the influence in public is forbidden.
  • Non-Muslim citizens can seek a permit to consume alcohol in their own homes.

We urge that you thoroughly understand the legislation in this country before relocating anywhere in the UAE.

Is it worthwhile to move to Abu Dhabi?

There’s no doubt that the lifestyle in Abu Dhabi simply attracts a large number of expatriates each year; with fantastic weather, great beaches, and being only 130 kilometres from Dubai’s glitz, it’s a popular area to migrate to.

If you want to relocate, you may find it difficult to obtain work in the present climate unless you’re in a professional field or have secured employment before leaving.

Living and working in Abu Dhabi is costly; While it was formerly known for its tax-free status, rising property prices and stagnant earnings have resulted in less financial benefit for foreigners. Even so, the lifestyle attracts thousands of visitors each year.

It sounds so dreamy living in Abu Dhabi; You can surely look for an apartment for sale in Abu Dhabi, which might be a bit more affordable and convenient for shifting there.


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