Living InAbu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Lifestyle

Abu Dhabi is a modern metropolis with stunning skyscrapers, larger than life theme parks, adventure destinations, beach resorts and more. It offers an enviable lifestyle along with plenty of job opportunities and a tax-free income, making it a preferred destination to live in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi is a well-established, progressive, dynamic city with a strong community. It offers an extensive range of international schools, a great variety of places to live depending on your budget making it an increasingly attractive place to live.

Safety

Safety is an issue for cities all over the world but Abu Dhabi consistently ranks among the safest places to live, work and visit. According to the Crime Index 2021 report by Global Data website, Numbeo, Abu Dhabi is the safest city in the world. High-level security and public safety regulations are only partially responsible for this ranking as the people in Abu Dhabi uphold the country’s core values of respect, integrity and transparency in their daily lives. Residents often trade stories about losing valuables and returning to establishments - be it a mall, restaurant or the car park - only to find their items still there and untouched. Safety is important in the UAE and both the government and the community at large work together to ensure a healthy, prosperous and safe life for all.

  • A Safe Haven for Women

    The UAE also has a remarkable record in women’s safety. The UAE is not only the safest country in the region for women , but the entire world. According to The Women, Peace and Security Index published by Georgetown University; the UAE ranked as the country in which women felt most safe walking alone around their community at night.

  • The Best Place in the World to Live

    Abu Dhabi topped a list of cities for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, compiled by analytics consortium Deep Knowledge Group. The swift response led to faster economic recovery and a return to normal, everyday life because, ultimately, prosperity of the people is most important. The UAE is ranked fourth-best place in the world to live and work in the HSBC 14th annual Expat Explorer study.

Work-Life Balance

The wellbeing of residents and visitors is of the highest priority to the Abu Dhabi government. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE and also the largest of the seven Emirates, is an aspirational place to live and work. It offers an idyllic lifestyle with exceptional employment opportunities, world-class education and sought-after leisure and entertainment.

The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi conducts periodic studies to determine the happiness and wellbeing index, a key quality of life indicator, which shows that the work-life balance index increased by nearly 16 percent. This is likely due to health, fitness and wellbeing initiatives rolled out by the Abu Dhabi government.

  • Abu Dhabi Encourages an Active Lifestyle

    Abu Dhabi, the oasis in the desert boasts an abundance of parks and green spaces. Active Parks, a collaboration between the Department of Community Development and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, is an initiative aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles through exercise and activity. The programme offers 380 free training sessions in 12 public parks and urban spaces across the capital for anyone aged 15 and older. Classes include DanceFit, RunFit, Boot Camp, CrossFit and Yoga along with classes designed for people of determination. Active Fit is just one example of how the leaders of Abu Dhabi champion an active, outdoor lifestyle.

  • Less Work, More Living

    In January 2022, the UAE introduced a 4.5-day work week for government employees, from Monday to 12 noon on Friday, making it one of the first countries to formalise this arrangement. Many private companies have also followed suit with a shortened work week and/or flexible scheduling. The UAE also introduced flexible working models, which give you the chance to opt for temporary and flexible work, freelance jobs, condensed working hours and shared jobs.

    With a more flexible work week, employees can work as many hours as they need to meet the professional and financial goals as opposed to having to commit to a full-time position. Flexible work options include:

    Part-time allows you to work for one or more employers for a specific number of working hours or days. It usually means working fewer days per week.

    Temporary work is a situation whereby workers are engaged for a specific period of time or employment that is task driven and ends when the work is complete.

    Flexible work involves changing working hours or working days, depending on the workload and the employer’s needs. Employers may also allow employees to choose the times that they want to work.

    The UAE also launched a remote work visa plan that allows employees from all around the world to work remotely from the UAE. The new program seeks to help both the public and private sectors by improving work-life balance, increasing productivity, and improving business culture. Employees can also improve their digital skills and adapt to the new gig economy. The move allows remote workers and their families to relocate to one of the world's leading tourism and business destinations and enjoy a secure and high-quality lifestyle for one year. 

People of Determination

Abu Dhabi is an ideal home for all people including People of Determination. Under the National Policy for Empowering people with Special Needs, People of Determination are defined as those suffering from a temporary or permanent, full or partial deficiency or infirmity in his/her physical, sensory, mental, communication, educational or psychological abilities to an extent that limits a person’s ability. Federal Law No. 29 of 2006 Concerning the Rights of People with Disabilities supports equal care, rights and opportunities for People of Determination in education, healthcare, training and rehabilitation and aims to ensure their rights.

With centres and clubs for People of Determination across Abu Dhabi, Zayed Higher Organisation for People of Determination (ZHO) provides a range of integrated services that aim to rehabilitate disabled people to prepare them for inclusion into society. These services include training and education, vocational and therapeutic rehabilitation (assessment, early intervention, physiotherapy, functional therapy, speech therapy, and vocational training workshops), psychological care, family counselling, as well as supporting educational and sport activities.

Throughout its history, ZHO has made wide strides and considerable achievements, notably its expansion plans to accommodate people with disabilities all over the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. ZHO operates centres in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region.

Public Services

The Department of Health - Abu Dhabi provides People of Determination, both UAE nationals and expatriates, with a variety of services including disability assessment, eligibility assessment for parking permits and mental health assessment.

Employment Services

The Ministry of Community Development works to integrate People of Determination into society through job placement. Its mandate is twofold: help People of Determination who are seeking employment, and federal governmental, local and private bodies, which seek to employ people of determination.

Transportation

All public facilities, including pavements, pedestrian underpasses, and building entrances, are becoming progressively more user friendly for People of Determination. The Abu Dhabi government offers People of Determination subsidised fares for various modes of public transportation and they are also eligible for free unlimited travel on all buses using the Hafilat smart card.

Abu Dhabi Police provides People of Determination with a special parking permit for use in designated public parking spaces. The permit exempts People of Determination and their drivers from Mawaqif parking fees. Those who park illegally at spaces reserved for vehicles of People of Determination will get a fine of AED 1,000.

Free Entry to Emirates Park Zoo

Emirates Park Zoo and Resort is home to various animal species, including an ever-growing list of attractions and fun activities such as animal feeding, animal shows, zip lining and climbing adventures. Children with disabilities can enjoy free access to Emirates Park Zoo and several attractions are also made accessible to children of determination.

  • Programmes and Initiatives

    In Abu Dhabi, People of Determination receive a great deal of support and can benefit from a variety of services, programmes and initiatives offered by various rehabilitation and care centres. Abu Dhabi leadership as well as, public and private organisations come together with the shared goal of offering services to ensure that people with disabilities get a fair opportunity to showcase their talents and pursue their ambitions in all fields of life and on equal footing with the rest of the society. To benefit from exemptions, discounts and various facilities around Abu Dhabi, People of Determination should apply for a People of Determination ID card.

  • Apps and Early Detection

    The Ministry of Community Development has launched two apps designed for children with special needs. Tawasol is intended to help children with autism to communicate using pictures. The app has tools to help them express their needs, communicate about their environment and develop skills to help with integration into society. The Nemo application is focused on the early detection of developmental delays in children under the age of five. The app is instrumental in identifying children that should be referred to the UAE Early Intervention Programme for a free comprehensive assessment.

  • Educational Initiatives

    The “Why?” programme is an educational initiative supported by the Department of Education and Knowledge to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for students, including people of determination. The program operates through workshops, presentations and educational lab experiments at schools in Abu Dhabi Schools.

  • Special Olympics

    The Special Olympics World Games 2019 was hosted in Abu Dhabi, for the first time in the Middle East since the movement was founded over 50 years ago. The Crown Prince Court won the bid to host the event with a mission to promote positive social change for people with intellectual disabilities and create a more inclusive society. Special Olympics is the world’s largest humanitarian sporting event and a global movement, which focuses on the empowerment of People of Determination with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport.

    Over 7,000 athletes from over 170 countries competed in a series of sporting events, as well as a variety of initiatives and activities held across the seven Emirates. The Local Organisation Committee (an entity independent of Special Olympics UAE) was formed in 2017 to organise and prepare for the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. It is worthy to note that this same Committee organised the Special Olympics IX MENA Games 2018.

    Special Olympics UAE continues to serve athletes with intellectual disabilities through year-round sports training, athletic competitions and community programmes. As part of the World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 legacy, UAE leaders announced 31 legislations, initiatives, and projects to better serve the needs and aspirations of People of Determination across sports, education, health, culture and overall quality of life. Some of the initiatives include the establishment of Unified Champion Schools in every public school in the UAE, which pairs mainstream students and athletes to engage in sports and other activities.

    Another development was the Mothers of Determination Association, which aims to support the needs of families with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to reach their full potential through education.

Religion

Abu Dhabi is home to many people from around the world with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, however religious tolerance is a pillar of communal life in Abu Dhabi and a defining element of the Emirate’s social landscape. Perhaps the most monumental example of this was the papal visit to Abu Dhabi in 2019. The three-day historic visit by Pope Francis marked the first time a leader of the Roman Catholic Church made a visit to the Arabian Peninsula. During his stay the Pope celebrated interfaith relations with Abu Dhabi’s esteemed leadership and hosted a public mass for Catholics in the region, approximately one million of whom live in the UAE. The Pope’s visit sent a strong message about religious tolerance that still lives on in Abu Dhabi.

  • About Islam

    Islam is the official religion of the UAE and is widely practised. The Islamic holy day is Friday and there are five pillars of Islam, which all Muslims must follow: the Profession of Faith, Prayer, Charity, Fasting, and the Pilgrimage to Makkah for those who are able to make the journey.

    Additionally, a Muslim is required to pray (facing Makkah) five times a day. The times vary according to the position of the sun, when the call to prayer is transmitted through loudspeakers on mosque minarets.

    The UAE Constitution provides for freedom of religion in accordance with established customs. Abu Dhabi is tolerant of other religions, with people being free to practice their religious beliefs, so long as they do not interfere with Islam. Non-Muslims can learn about Islam through complimentary guided tours of the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

  • Places of Worship
    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

    As Islam is the official religion of the UAE, a number of historically significant mosques can be found in Abu.Dhabi. One of the largest mosques in the world, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, welcomes up to 55,000 people daily. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was established to extend the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s noble deeds to humanity and serve as a research centre to enhance cross cultural communication among religious, educational and cultural institutions, as well as serve as a tourist destination. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque offers tours, religious programs and a host of other activities.

    St. Joseph’s Cathedral

    St. Joseph's Cathedral is the seat of the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia and is one of the four Catholic churches in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi including the St. Paul's Church in Musaffah, St. Mary's Church in Al Ain and St. John the Baptist Church in Ruwais. The parish today has over 100,000 expatriate Catholics from all over the world. With the growing economy within the region, the church also witnessed a steady increase in the number of faithful. Masses are celebrated in several different languages, and the church is generally seen packed to full capacity at most services.

    St Andrew’s Church

    St Andrew’s Church, which opened in 1968, is one of about 18 churches in Abu Dhabi. St Andrew’s has been serving the Abu Dhabi community for over 50 years and welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds. It is an Anglican church, part of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, which is overseen by Archbishop Michael Lewis. Aside from its own services, the church hosts more than 50 other congregations.

    The Abrahamic Family House

    The Abrahamic Family House is inspired by the signing of the Document on Human Fraternity by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb in February 2019. It will be a beacon of mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence, and peace among people of faith and goodwill. The design unites three monumental buildings of faith both theoretically and aesthetically with external visual harmony, while ensuring they retain their distinctiveness. Three identically sized cubic volumes will sit on a podium, each one containing a house of worship: a mosque, church and synagogue. An educational centre is also planned for the development to be built on Saadiyat Island, the cultural heart of Abu Dhabi. Through its design, the Abrahamic Family House captures the values shared between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and serves as a powerful platform for inspiring and nurturing understanding and acceptance between people of goodwill.

    This landmark will be a place for learning, dialogue, and worship – open to all and a true reflection of the UAE’s belief in tolerance and respect. The Abrahamic Family House will host a variety of programming and events—from daily religious services to international summits. Currently under construction, the projects anticipated completion date is in 2022.

Observed Holidays

There are two types of public holidays in Abu Dhabi: fixed holidays with exact dates and Islamic holidays, which are determined by moon sighting, therefore the dates change each year.

Fixed holidays include UAE National Day (December 2), New Year’s Day (1 January) and Martyr's Day (1 December) . The Islamic calendar year is a lunar calendar used to determine the dates for Islamic months, holidays and rituals, such as fasting, Eid Al Fitr, Hajj season and Eid Al AdhaProphet Muhammed’s Birthday (Peace Be Upon Him). Federal ministries, public departments and government institutions are closed during public holidays.

Important cultural and religious occasions such as Diwali, Holi, Christmas, Easter and Chinese New Year are also widely celebrated throughout the community. It’s commonplace to see impressive Christmas displays in malls and decorative items on sale in stores around the Emirate. Restaurants and special interest groups host events in connection to these holidays and all celebrations are respected regardless of personal affiliation.

  • Fixed Holidays

    The UAE celebrates UAE National Day on December 2 each year, under the theme “Spirit of the Union”, which is derived from the historic meeting of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE, with the rulers of the other Emirates to announce the formation of the UAE on December 2, 1971.

    New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are always huge celebrations in Abu Dhabi with the city hosting exciting activities, events and firework shows across the Emirate.

    Martyr's Day is a national holiday whereby the UAE expresses appreciation for the martyrs who sacrificed their lives defending the honour of their homeland. Dedicating a day to these martyrs is an expression of gratitude and a chance to express the deep correlation between the nation and its leadership.

    On the twelfth of Rabi' al-awwal each year (29 October), Muslims in the UAE celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammed (Peace Be Upon Him) and his message of tolerance and coexistence.

  • Islamic Holidays

    Ramadan is the holy month in which Muslims commemorate the start of the revelation of the Holy Quran. During this time Muslims fast, abstain from all food, drink, smoking and activities between dawn and dusk. During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to be charitable and thoughtful in all their actions.

    At sunset, the fast is broken with the Iftar, an evening meal. Ramadan ends with a three-day celebration and holiday called Eid Al Fitr, which is characterised by gifts being given among families, friends, neighbours, and charities.

    Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid Al Fitr (the festival of fast-breaking), an occasion that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. On the thirtieth night of Ramadan, the moon observation authorities confirm either the completion of fasting or the start of Shawal, the next Hijri (Islamic calendar) month, whose first day is Eid Al Fitr.

    Arafat day is the ninth day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, when pilgrims accomplish the most important rite of Hajj, while other Muslims fast, following the teachings of their Prophet.

    Eid Al Adha is the tenth day of the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah, after Arafat day on the ninth, during which pilgrims accomplish the most important rite of Hajj.

    On the first day of the month of Muharram, Muslims celebrate the beginning of the Islamic New Year also known as Hijri. This day marks the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) from Mecca to Medina almost 1,400 years ago.

Sports

From sporting events to unique leisure experiences, there is plenty to do in Abu Dhabi. Sport is placed at the forefront of leisure activities in the UAE so the country invests in world-class infrastructure for its emerging sports sector through the construction of modern sports facilities such as football (soccer) stadiums, motor racing tracks, golf courses and training centres throughout the country. Hobbyists can enjoy activities of interest as there are community groups for almost every sport and fitness activity you can imagine such as netball, swimming, Padel tennis, tennis, cricket, football, rugby, cycling, softball, wakeboarding, kite-surfing, dance, yoga, pilates and so much more. With lots of gyms and studios available, you can sign up for a membership or practise for free in any of the parks or public gyms. Many of the expat communities offer free use of gyms and pools as a courtesy to residents. Furthermore, all UAE residents, regardless of their nationality, can represent the UAE in national sports competitions. Whether you are a professional or hobbyist, there is bound to be a leisure activity that meets your needs in Abu Dhabi.

  • World-Class Sports

    Your next big adventure awaits in Abu Dhabi, which is a popular destination for sports competitions, recreational and leisure activities. There is plenty to do for every age group all year round, despite soaring temperatures. You can head indoors to lavish sports complexes complete with restaurants, gyms and spas. Abu Dhabi offers incredible diversity with both family friendly and luxury activities on offer.

    Basketball

    Basketball is an emerging sport in the UAE thanks to a ground-breaking multi-year partnership between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi will host pre-season NBA games beginning with two games in October 2022. Abu Dhabi will also host a variety of interactive fan events featuring appearances by current and former NBA players, the launch of Jr. NBA Leagues for boys and girls at schools across the UAE fostering teamwork and inclusion, a series of NBA Fit Clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event.

    Abu Dhabi has an abundance of indoor and outdoor basketball courts and a growing number of youth basketball programmes that teach skills and fundamentals. The Emirate is also home to several teams in the UAE National Basketball League, a professional basketball league for men and boys that compete internationally on behalf of the country.

    Tennis

    The Mubadala World Tennis Championship is held at the International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. The annual Championship, which features eight (six male and two female) of the world’s leading tennis stars, has consistently brought world-class entertainment to the UAE since 2009. Notable names in tennis such as 5-time champion Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon Semi-Finalist, Denis Shapovalov and Serena Williams, the most decorated female tennis player in the world have all competed in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. It gives you the opportunity to interact with the best in the world during player appearances, and enjoy the tennis village with family activities, entertainment, prizes and food trucks!

    Football

    The Abu Dhabi Football League is the only amateur league in the UAE sanctioned by the UAE Football Association. The league has several participating teams including, Al Wahda Football Club, Al Dhafra FC, Al Jazira, Baniyas Sports and Cultural Club, and Al Ain Football Club. Abu Dhabi also has an abundance of indoor and outdoor football pitches and a variety of youth football programmes that teach skills and fundamentals.

    Cricket

    Abu Dhabi Cricket has welcomed prestigious cricket teams over the years, hosting events such as the VIVO Indian Premier League 2021, the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup along with the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 and the 2021 Abu Dhabi T10. The Abu Dhabi Cricket stadium has proudly served as a “home away from home” for Pakistan and Afghanistan’s national cricket teams since 2009. Abu Dhabi T10, the annual flagship event, brings together over 120 of the biggest names in world cricket to compete in the fastest format of the game.

    In addition to international fixtures and tournaments, Abu Dhabi Cricket serves as a training venue for international clubs and associations from across the globe. Teams such as the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) England Lions, the Afghanistan National Team, and numerous English County Cricket Clubs have all graced the turf for training camps over recent years. Abu Dhabi Cricket also supports a new and exciting era of community sport as the UAE’s largest and fastest growing community sports venue. Whether you are a football fanatic or a keen volleyballer, a Gaelic enthusiast or a passionate netballer, Abu Dhabi Cricket has something for everyone.

    Rugby

    Abu Dhabi Harlequins are the biggest and most successful rugby club in the capital, with teams for boys and girls from under 4 to 19, as well as adults and veterans (for age 35 and up). The team was founded as the Abu Dhabi RUFC in 1970 and plays in the UAE Premiership, an English professional rugby union competition consisting of 14 clubs. Harlequins is a family driven club as all coaches and contributors are parents and volunteers who bring experience and dedication that makes the club run like any professional club.

    Cycling

    Abu Dhabi was the first city in Asia to receive the prestigious UCI Bike City label. Bike Abu Dhabi,a new platform and government initiative, builds on this success by furthering the Emirate’s long-term goal of becoming a global cycling hub. The programme aims to promote cycling growth as a health and leisure activity, as a sustainable means of transport, and as a competitive sport for amateurs and professionals. Initiatives underway include a new 109km segregated cycleway that will connect key destinations across the city. The project forms part of a planned extension of Abu Dhabi’s existing 300km cycle network to more than 1,000km and a new 3,500 spectator capacity arena for track racing, to be built on Hudayriat Island. Abu Dhabi will also host key events such as the Abu Dhabi Al Ain Classic, a one-day amateur event, as well as the 2022 and 2024 UCI Urban Cycling World Championships, and the 2028 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.

    Swimming

    From pristine beaches to fabulous indoor and outdoor pools, Abu Dhabi is a swimmer’s paradise. In 2021, Abu Dhabi hosted the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships  and the world’s best short course swimmers at Etihad Arena. The six-day event featured exhilarating competitions and the setting of new records, including 4 World Records. Siobhan Haughey stormed to a world record of 1:50.31 in the women’s 200m Freestyle while Sweden matched the 4x50m Medley Relay world record set by the USA in the previous year. As well as the newly crowned world champions, the Championships also featured a wide array of talented swimmers from across the world including Alaa Maso, the lone member of the FINA Refugee Team, who fled his home nation Syria to pursue his swimming ambitions.

    Padel

    Padel is an emerging sport in Abu Dhabi. The high-energy sport is on trend and venues across the capital are expanding to meet the needs of paddlers. Marina Padel has state-of-the-art courts available for rent and professional coaches on hand to help those wanting to hone their skills. You can also find padel courts located at various clubs, hotels and sports hubs throughout the city. Let’s Padel Academy provides specialised training by professional staff, four indoor courts, as well as padel products and accessories, seven days a week.

    Triathlon

    Abu Dhabi joins a list of some of the world’s most iconic cities in hosting the World Triathlon Championship Finals - including London, Budapest, Beijing, Chicago, Lausanne and the Gold Coast - marking the first time the prestigious event will ever be hosted in the MENA region. Building on the Emirate’s reputation as the region’s home for international sporting events, the prestigious four-day event will take place across the waterways, tracks, and roads of the UAE’s premium sporting destination, Yas Island. It is expected to bring more than 7,500 local, regional, and international triathletes to Abu Dhabi.

    Jiu-Jitsu

    Jiu-Jitsu is the official sport of the UAE. The UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation was established in 2012 as the official authority for Jiu-Jitsu throughout the country. The Federation plays a leading role in supporting Jiu-Jitsu and contributing to building the next generation of UAE athletes. The Federation’s role is to implement policies that develop the sport in collaboration with various government entities, educational institutions and other partners in order to advance the sport locally, regionally and globally. The UAE has become an important destination within the global jiu-jitsu community, and is regarded as one of the most influential countries in the development of the sport. Abu Dhabi has gradually become known internationally as the home of jiu-jitsu, being home to the headquarters of both the Asian and the international federations of the sport.

  • Cultural Sports

    Traditionally, Emiratis engaged in falconry and racing horses, camels, salukis and dhows as a way of survival. However, with changing times and laws that keep pace with a progressive society, these activities are now practised purely as regulated national sports.

    Falconry

    At the end of the annual hunting season, falcons undergo medical check-ups at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and only the healthy birds are let into the wild, while the others are treated at the hospital. Each falcon is microchipped for identification and protection. Sports in the UAE include endurance, show jumping, eventing, dressage and racing. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan started endurance rides in the UAE and his legacy lives on as several members of the royal families in the UAE continue to passionately pursue equestrian sports. Camel racing was mainly staged to mark important social occasions such as wedding ceremonies, community festivals or the visits of Sheikhs to Bedouin villages. Today, it is an organised sport involving valuable prizes and cash awards worth millions of dirhams.

Key Leisure Areas and Attractions

  • Abu Dhabi Corniche

    Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Road stretches across an impressive eight kilometres of manicured waterfront that includes children’s play areas, separate cycle and pedestrian pathways, cafés and restaurants, and the stunning Corniche Beach. If you’re looking to soak up Abu Dhabi’s famous year-round sunshine, this immaculate beach is one of the best places to do it. Not just home to turquoise water and a soft white sand shore, the beach also boasts a beautiful seaside boardwalk, with well-kept walkways, manicured gardens and benches overlooking the picturesque Arabian Gulf.

    The 2km beach is divided into three sections: Al Sahil (Gate 4, free entry) is perfect for singles and larger groups, Gate 2 is ideal for families and has its own quiet zone, and Gate 3 is also great for families and kids. The two latter beaches are shielded from view with a fence. Showers, changing rooms and cabanas are available, and sun loungers and umbrellas can be hired for a fee. A lifeguard is on duty until sunset. Abu Dhabi’s pristine Corniche beachfront has been awarded coveted Blue Flag status, with this internationally renowned eco-label for beaches and marinas guaranteeing clean and safe seawater.

    The Abu Dhabi Corniche is also a journey between old and new Abu Dhabi with a mix of historical sights on one end and modern landmarks on the other. Mina Port, also called Mina Zayed, is a commercial deep-water port that serves Abu Dhabi. East Corniche Road is anchored by the Fish Souk offering up the fresh catches of the day, the Al Mina Fruit and Vegetable Souk, which sells locally grown produce as well as the Carpet Souk, which stocks Yemeni mattresses, machine-made carpets and other Arabic style textiles. This part of town also lends itself to commerce of the past, as haggling for a bargain is part of the experience. Dhows, traditional Arab sailing vessels, once used by fisherman and pearl divers can also be seen in the water at the east end of the Corniche offering visitors tours and dinner cruises around the coastline. On the opposite end, West Corniche Road, a new era of the city is revealed with landmarks such as Qasr Al Watan, Marina Mall and Etihad Towers, home to Observation Deck 300, the highest viewpoint in Abu Dhabi.

    There are more than 1,100 free parking spaces within a five-minute walk of the beach, with entry to the family and singles sections costing AED 10 and AED 5 for children under 12. Entry to the public beach is free. A fun and healthy way to tour the Corniche is to hire a bicycle starting at AED 30 per hour for adults and AED 20 for children.

  • Yas Island

    Yas Island is packed with fantastic spectacles that everyone can enjoy. From theme parks, to leisure activities, lifestyle and shopping opportunities, Yas Island is a popular destination for Abu Dhabi residents and tourists. Stroll along the marina and gaze into the glimmering sea at perfectly parked yachts, splurge a little at Abu Dhabi’s largest luxury mall or get behind the wheel at one of the world’s most renowned racetracks. In addition, the Island is home to three theme parks: Yas Waterworld, which features more than 40 exhilarating rides, slides and attractions, Ferrari World, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.

    Reach new heights at CLYMB, the indoor skydiving and climbing hub in the capital and if you have a need for speed, sign up for an excursion at Yas Marina Circuit, the home of Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Get behind the wheel of a high-performance vehicle taking a few laps around the Formula 1 racetrack or you can let a professional race driver take you for an incredible ride in a Yas Radical SST, Chevrolet Drift Taxi or the Aston Martin GT4. The kids can get in on the action too in appropriately sized karts. Yas Island has exciting nightlife options too, with MAD, Yas Island’s ultimate destination for entertainment shows, fun-themed parties, and world-class artist line-up. The island is also home to Etihad Arena, the largest indoor entertainment venue in the Middle East that has played host to major events such as the International Indian Film Academy Awards, FINA World Swimming Championship and Maroon 5. You can wrap up all the fun with exceptional dining options at Yas Bay, one of the premier waterfront destinations in Abu Dhabi featuring restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities.

  • Hudayriyat Island

    Hudayriyat Island is a natural haven that a long line of Arabian pearl divers once called home. Today, it is one of the Emirate’s exciting sports and leisure destinations. It is the perfect place to exercise and have fun. The island offers a little bit of everything from sporting facilities to restaurants and a picturesque beach. You can have fitness-themed fun at Circuit X, which contains four thrilling parks: BMX Park, Splash Park, High Ropes Park and Skate Park. Every road on the island is lined with cycling tracks and you can challenge yourself on the 750m jogging trail. 321 Sports features 23 different courts for play action including pitches, indoor and outdoor courts for basketball and tennis. If you are looking for a premium experience, you can treat yourself to a glamping excursion set along the pristine Hudayriat Beach.

  • Saadiyat Cultural District

    Saadiyat Island is the cultural hub of Abu Dhabi with world-class museums, beaches, hotels and a golf course. Located just seven minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi and 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, the gorgeous, natural 27-square-kilometre Saadiyat Island has been undergoing a remarkable transformation into a world-class leisure, residential, business and cultural hub. It houses the world's largest single concentration of premier cultural assets, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and will include Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in the future. All of these stunning spaces have been designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winners. In addition, Saadiyat Island is home to Berklee Abu Dhabi, a premier institute of contemporary music and performing arts. The school is inside the UAE Pavilion’s newly renovated 42,00 square foot arts education centre on Saadiyat. The island also boasts two gorgeous white-sand beaches (which protect critically endangered Hawksbill turtles), the competition-worthy Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and a collection of luxury hotels.

    The iconic Louvre Abu Dhabi fosters a spirit of openness and dialogue between cultures. Located in the Saadiyat Cultural District, this art-lovers’ dream displays works of historical, cultural and sociological significance. The structural masterpiece was designed by award winning architect Jean Nouvel and spans 9,200 square metres.

    Manarat Al Saadiyat brings Saadiyat's vision to life, encouraging visitors to connect. Meaning 'place of enlightenment' in Arabic, it hosts the Abu Dhabi Art fair and printmaking, self-portrait, theatre, figure drawing and robotics workshops. You can also enjoy comedy nights, sky-gazing, yoga, conferences, art shows, talks and film screenings at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

    The Abrahamic Family House will be a place for learning, dialogue, and worship – open to all and a true reflection of the UAE’s belief in tolerance and hospitality. The design unites three monumental buildings of faith with three identically sized cubic volumes, each one containing a house of worship: a mosque, church and synagogue. The landmark will host a variety of programming and events—from daily religious services to international summits. Currently under construction, the projects anticipated completion date is in 2022 and will be one of several undertakings the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity will advise upon.

  • Zayed Sports City (ZSC) is a premier sport and entertainment hub in Abu Dhabi. Home to five iconic venues, ZSC operates Zayed Sports City Stadium, the International Tennis Centre and stadium, and purpose-built facilities for bowling and ice-skating. Surrounding the venues are natural grass pitches, a 600-m2 indoor event space, plazas and tarmac areas. This collection of facilities accommodates everything from marathons to spartan races; youth football practice to FIFA tournaments and UAE National Day celebrations to Holy Mass with Pope Francis. Community sports organisations often use the facilities at Zayed Sports City to offer training, clinics and host competitions.

  • Golf Courses

    Abu Dhabi is one of the most competitive golf destinations with some of the most unique golfing landscapes in the world. With fabulous courses carved out of the desert and along spectacular coastlines, golfing in Abu Dhabi is unmatched. Here, you can play a different course and enjoy a totally unique experience every day of the week. Whatever golf experience you are looking for, whether it’s championship-ready parkland, ocean or links facilities, a gentle urban centre course, or an attempt at the Emirate’s longest-hole at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club in the emirate’s garden city and heritage heartland of Al Ain, Abu Dhabi has got it all. Six pay-and-play courses – all with certified PGA professionals on the books – ensure variety and truly memorable playing, while some of the finest clubhouses deliver luxurious post-round relaxation.

    Yas Links Abu Dhabi

    Yas Links Abu Dhabi, a first in the Middle East - where noble heritage combines with impressive surroundings to enrich both your game and your senses in a truly unique environment. Home to the 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Kyle Phillips designed course ranks #48 in the world golf rankings. The 18 hole course presents the kind of challenges that golfers from all over the world dream about and the 9 hole par 3 course and practice facilities are the perfect fit for all abilities. The clubhouse is set alongside the water’s edge, against dramatic views of the Arabian Gulf, which provides the perfect setting for dining and events.

    Yas Acres Golf and Country Club

    A spectacular addition to the Abu Dhabi golf scene, this Fry/Straka-designed golf course, situated within the heart of Yas Acres, is open to the public. The world class 3700 yard 9-hole golf course serves up both a challenging round of golf and a breath-taking backdrop. The floodlit par-36 course will test golfers with its compelling contours spanning 130 acres adjacent to the Yas Acres residential community. A major design element of the golf course is a low, meandering ridgeline that runs through the centre. The course also features a lake and stream system that flows throughout the entire course, supporting native desert plants and vegetation. The golf course is impressive visually and provides a family friendly atmosphere where players of all levels can have fun. With the largest driving range in all of Abu Dhabi, and an expansive short game area with two chipping greens, two practice bunkers and a large putting green, there is no better place to improve your game than Yas Acres Golf and Country Club.

    Saadiyat Beach and Golf Club

    Saadiyat Beach and Golf Club is the region’s first ocean course. Designed by golfing legend, Gary Player, the 18 hole championship course and practice facilities harness the beauty of Saadiyat Island and create an unparalleled golfing experience with views of the Gulf’s glittering ocean. Saadiyat Beach and Golf Club also gives you access to premier events, as the hosting venue of the first Ladies European Tour event in Abu Dhabi and the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is recognised globally as a world class golfing destination, voted ‘Best Course in the UAE’ in 2015 and ‘Best Course in Abu Dhabi’ in 2019.

    Abu Dhabi Golf Club

    Abu Dhabi Golf Club, designed by Peter Harradine in 1998, is a 27- hole championship course with an impressive clubhouse, built in the shape of a falcon with its wings outstretched, overlooking the golf course. With lush fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and generous greens, the 27-golf course has hosted 16 consecutive editions of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Abu Dhabi Golf Club, with its 162 hectares has been dubbed a “super course” by the press and has a golf institute, all-day dining options, programmes, and events for the whole family.

Shopping

With such diverse offerings, Abu Dhabi is fast becoming a renowned shopping destination. Just like the city itself, retail offers new, luxurious options alongside the traditional souks and markets of earlier times. There is no shortage of malls in Abu Dhabi. Every community has at least one accessible shopping mall. In fact, malls are a one-stop-shop where you can get your fashion fix, enjoy a meal or entertainment and even handle official business as some government entities have locations inside the mall. 

The UAE’s retail market is strong and benefits from year over year growth. Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, retail availability remained the same, the methods simply changed. E-commerce has given this sector a big boost as Abu Dhabi residents enjoy the convenience of online shopping and fast delivery. According to a survey by Euromonitor International, e-commerce in the UAE is expected to grow 60 per cent to more than $8 billion by 2025. The increased shift towards cashless transactions has also prompted the growth of the online shopping space. More than half of UAE consumers say they plan to use only cashless transaction methods by 2024, compared with the global average of 41 per cent, a recent study by Visa found.

Whether shopping online or visiting any of Abu Dhabi’s well-appointed malls, you are sure to have an unrivalled experience.

Dining And Eating Out

Abu Dhabi has a range of impressive dining options on offer, with stylish restaurants, cafés and bistros serving cuisines from around the globe. From family-friendly casual restaurants to fine dining options, beachside eateries boasting stunning views to some of the most fashionable restaurants in the world and even dinner cruises, the sheer volume of choices is endless. In Abu Dhabi, you can find any cuisine you crave, from Japanese to Peruvian, American to Chinese, British to French, Indian to Lebanese, Emirati to Italian and much more.

Although malls are known for food courts with quick bites and well-loved fast food chains, the malls in Abu Dhabi also offer fine dining options. Explore mall dining in Abu Dhabi.

Brunch is a regular fixture in Abu Dhabi. It is like the universal celebration after the working week. Four and five star luxury hotels offer a huge array of cuisines and for four hours or more in lieu of an all-you-can-eat feast. Diners are invited to kick back, relax and enjoy good fare at their leisure.

The street food scene is buzzing in Abu Dhabi with plenty of local cafes, restaurants and food truck parks consistently opening up across the Emirate. Whether you are looking for local favourites such as parathas, kebabs and shawarma or down to try reimagined staples such as tacos and burgers, Abu Dhabi’s street food venues have something for every palate.

  • Alcohol and the Law

    Hotel restaurants and many standalone venues serve alcohol and alcohol can be bought at approved liquor stores who now also allow you to order it online and deliver it straight to your door. Alcohol should only be consumed privately or in a licensed public place. A person must be at least 21 to legally drink in the UAE.

  • Dining Standards

    Islam is the official religion of the UAE and therefore, provisions are in place ensuring that food prep is halal and in line with Islamic law. However, with the UAE’s stance on tolerance, non-Muslims can consume pork in certain restaurants with any dishes prepared using pork ingredients being cooked separately from non-pork dishes and clearly marked on the menu. Some supermarkets have closed off rooms where imported pork products are made available for sale.

Interest Groups

With such a diverse population, there is no shortage of special interests groups in Abu Dhabi. Whatever your interest or hobbies, there is a group of like-minded people assembled and waiting for you to join. Some interest groups are virtual whereby participants interact digitally and some meet offline. Most have a social media account or web page where you can make contact and assert your interest. Here’s a range of groups you can join:

Volunteering

The UAE fosters a culture of giving and human compassion by setting a good example for its residents and citizens. The country is consistently ranked highly amongst the most charitable countries in the world. For example, the UAE was one of the first countries to reach out and support global humanitarian initiatives at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The UAE’s aid accounted for 80 per cent of the international response to countries struggling to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of July 2021, the UAE sent a total of 2,154 tons of medical aid, ventilators, screening equipment, personal protection equipment and testing kits to 135 countries around the world, and a total of 196 medical aid flights were sent. 6 field hospitals were set up in Sudan, Guinea Conakry, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Lebanon and Jordan and 1 fully equipped mobile clinic was set up in Turkmenistan. The UAE’s in-kind aid to WHO amounted to USD 10 million.

Volunteerism in Abu Dhabi

Consequently, the Department of Community Development in Abu Dhabi is committed to the social welfare of everyone who calls Abu Dhabi home. The organisation is guided by the values of respect, credibility, empathy, responsibility, passion for giving and kindness to ensure a dignified life for all. The Volunteering Policy in Abu Dhabi aims to enhance social cohesion and benefit the community as a whole, through increasing volunteer engagement and participation, in addition to enhancing skills-based and service-based volunteering. The policy encourages professionalism and openly recognises volunteers for their achievements. Individuals and organisations must register as volunteers and/or apply for a licence.

Volunteers.ae is a portal to support volunteering. Volunteers can register themselves on this portal to let organisations find them through the portal’s online directory. Volunteers could be individuals, a group or an organisation. The portal also publishes volunteering opportunities and criteria of volunteers needed to help match volunteers with the best opportunities. Volunteers receive recognition and an official tally of hours worked, which can be added to their online profile.

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