Living and Working in Abu Dhabi: 9 Things You Need to Know

Living and Working in Abu Dhabi: 9 Things You Need to Know
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A 2018 survey by Gallup revealed that 15% of the world’s adults (that’s approximately 750 million people at that time) would migrate to another country if they could.

If you are one of those who wish to move to another country given the opportunity, how about moving to the United Arab Emirates and, in particular, Abu Dhabi?

Imagine yourself living in Abu Dhabi, enjoying sunny climes year-round.

Read on to learn what you must know if you want to move to Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi: Background and Overview

The UAE is a Gulf Cooperation Council country on the Arabian Peninsula, bordered by the Arabian Gulf, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the world’s largest sand desert, the Empty Quarter.

The UAE has seven emirates, and Abu Dhabi is the largest. Abu Dhabi consists of three regions: the city of Abu Dhabi and its immediate surroundings, the Eastern Region or Al Ain, and the Western Region or Al Dhafra.

Abu Dhabi city is the Abu Dhabi capital and also the capital of the UAE. However, Abu Dhabi is not the biggest nor the most populous city in the country. The city of Dubai has this distinction.

Like the rest of the UAE, Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi’s Competitive Advantage

Abu Dhabi has so much to offer. It can be scorching in the summer, but there’s something to be said for having year-long, sunny blue skies, especially since Abu Dhabi has many great beaches.

Your Abu Dhabi bucket list should include Kai Beach, Corniche Beach, Yas Beach, Al Bateen Beach, Mirfa Beach, and the beach on Sir Bani Yas Island.

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And even if much of Abu Dhabi is on the fringes of the Empty Quarter, Abu Dhabi has exquisite green spaces. There’s the verdant Al Ain Oasis in the Eastern Region, with its 147,000 date palms and selection of fruit-bearing trees (e.g., bananas, mangos, oranges, etc.). It also has many parks, like Al Fay Park on Reem Island. You can also visit the Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island.

More importantly, however, the outstanding management and direction provided by the Abu Dhabi Executive Office make Abu Dhabi, particularly the city of Abu Dhabi, an excellent place to live, work and raise children.

1.     Excellent pandemic response

Abu Dhabi came first in the Deep Knowledge Group’s list of the world’s top 50 cities in pandemic response.

2.     Minimal congestion

Abu Dhabi was the least congested capital among the 416 cities in 57 countries surveyed and reported by TomTom in its 2021 Traffic Index.

3.     Low crime rate

In 2021, Abu Dhabi had the lowest crime index among the 400-plus cities included in Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index. Abu Dhabi has been in this top position for five consecutive years.

4.     Top-notch education quality

Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa University is the top university in the UAE, ranks 181st in the QS World University Rankings and is 37th in the Asia University Rankings. Additionally, Rabdan Academy has a 5-star rating in teaching and employability under the Global QS Stars University Rating System.

5.     World-class facilities

The global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) measures how efficiently vessels can complete their workloads in ports, and in its report, Abu Dhabi’s deep-water port Khalifa Port ranked in the top five.

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Meanwhile, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is among the top 150 hospitals worldwide and has emerged as the leading hospital in the UAE in the World’s Best Hospitals Index. Additionally, Abu Dhabi’s Al Hosn cultural site placed first in the mixed-use category of the 2021 World Architecture News (WAN) awards.

What Foreign Expatriates Must Remember

Abu Dhabi is a terrific place to live. However, you must remember the following things.

1.     You need a visa to live in the uae.

You must have a resident visa to live in the UAE. This can be renewable every year, two years, three years, five years, or ten years (depending on your visa).

2.     You need a work permit to work in abu dhabi.

You must have a work permit, which your employer will obtain on your behalf, to work in Abu Dhabi.

3.     You should live only with your spouse or relatives.

Cohabiting with someone not your spouse or relative used to be a crime in the UAE. It is no longer a criminal act as long as the parties have the consent of their legal guardians.

That being said, the UAE is a Muslim country and follows Sharia law. Therefore, an unmarried couple living together in the UAE will offend locals.

4.     You can drink alcohol in abu dhabi.

You can order alcoholic drinks in a restaurant or a bar with an alcohol license — essentially, any place designated for drinking — and you may buy alcohol from a liquor store and consume it at home.

Just note that you cannot consume alcoholic drinks in public, such as a beach or park.

5.     You cannot eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadan.

Everyone, even non-Muslims, is prohibited from indulging (eating, drinking, and smoking) in public in the daytime during the holy month of Ramadan. There will be a few restaurants discreetly open for non-Muslims, so you can eat there. You may also eat in the privacy of your apartment.

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6.     You cannot eat, smoke or chew gum when riding public transportation.

Eating,smoking and chewing gum in public can lead to you being fined. Note that public transportation includes taxis.

7.     It can get really hot in the summer.

Air conditioning is essential in Abu Dhabi because of the heat and humidity. In the summer, stay indoors and go out only in the early mornings and evenings.

Ventilation is crucial to prevent mould growth in your Abu Dhabi home.

If you’re going to be away, especially for days, ensure everything is dry before you leave. You should also hire someone to do property visits and turn on the dehumidifier and the air-conditioner to keep humidity levels down.

8.     Arabic studies are compulsory in school.

If you have children, note that they must study Arabic in school. Native Arabic speakers must learn Arabic as a first language, while non-Arabic speakers must study Arabic as an additional language.

Side note: The UAE government also requires all schools to offer Islamic studies, but only Muslim students are required to take the subject.

9.     Public schools charge tuition to expat students.

You probably plan to send your child to a private school. However, there are also public schools and they accept foreign expatriates. Just note that they charge expat students tuition and use Arabic as the language of instruction.

Move to Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a beautiful place to live, with many areas of interest, world-class facilities, and an excellently run government.

Just be mindful of what you can and cannot do in Abu Dhabi to enjoy it to the fullest.

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Michelle Gram Smith
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