Abu Dhabi is the laid-back island capital of the United Arab Emirates. It’s known for its subdued opulence, hospitality and best of all – a lifestyle by the water. Whether it’s walking / jogging along the 6km seafront corniche or enjoying high tea at one of the Emirates Palace hotels, the city offers all kinds of opportunities. It is also considered one of the safest cities in the Middle East. Across the UAE, Emirati citizens make up nearly 20% of the total population; the other 80% are expatriates from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.
The UAE is four hours ahead of UTC (coordinated Universal Time – formerly known as GMT) and there is no daylight saving. Hence, when it is midday in Abu Dhabi, it is 3am in New York, 8am in London, 10 am in Johannesburg, 1.30pm in New Delhi, and 6pm in Sydney (not allowing for any summer time saving in those countries).
The city is a fascinating and lively city with attractions aplenty, ranging from the beauty of the eight kilometer perfectly manicured Corniche Road and beach, to the equally breathtaking Emirates Palace which located in the heart of the city is the preferred location for business travelers as well as providing a glamorous venue for international events, conferences and exhibitions.
Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical, arid climate. Sunny blue skies and high temperatures can be expected most of the year. Rainfall is sporadic, falling mainly in winter (November to March) and averaging 12 cm per year in most of the emirate.
Local business etiquette and customs
Abu Dhabi’s culture is firmly rooted in Arabia’s Islamic traditions.
Muslims are required to pray (facing Makkah) five times a day. The times vary according to the position of the sun, when the modern day call to prayer can be heard being transmitted through loudspeakers on mosque minarets.
UAE nationals usually wear traditional dress in public. In public, women wear a long, loose black robe (abaya) that covers their normal clothes – plus a headscarf (sheyla). Women are expected to wear modest closing when visiting public areas, malls, parks etc. It is a predominantly Muslim country ,though open and liberal in terms of religious tolerance and cultural ethics.
For men, this is the kandura – a white full length shirt-like garment, which is worn with a white or red checkered headdress, known as a ghutra. This is secured with a black cord (agal).
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT
More carriers than ever are now flying from and to award-winning Abu Dhabi International Airport – one of the most customer-friendly airports around.
Travel around Abu Dhabi is fairly simple. The easiest form being taxis which are cheap and widely available. Be aware though that driver turnover seems to be an issue so often drivers will be unsure of locations. Always aim to give the nearest tourist location as the nearest point to your desired location. Taxi rides vary hugely in comfort and speed so please ensure you wear your seat belt and do not be afraid to ask the driver to slow down if you feel it is appropriate. Drivers must operate the meter, it is illegal for them to turn it off and negotiate a set price.
There are a very small number of ladies taxis running alongside regular taxis. These are pink in colour, driven by women and meant for females and children under 10.
There is also a very comprehensive bus service that runs throughout the city costing form 2aed to 10aed. Inter-emirate buses and taxis are readily available.
Hemingway’s – British pub
Lebanese Mill – Arabic food (if you want to try out something from the region)
Cellar bar at Spaccanapoli – A nice bar,
Royal Orchid- Thai food
Y bar at Yas Island – For chilled out evenings
Cho Gao – Chinese food
WOMEN’S NETWORKS AND EVENTS
BEAUTY AND FITNESS
Hotels usually have the best gyms and spas so be sure to have a look there first.
SAFETY and emergency services
Women should face no problems while travelling in the UAE. The police are helpful and respectful. It is courteous to dress with a little modesty especially when shopping or sightseeing to avoid unwanted attention.
You will be able to drink alcohol in licensed bars and restaurants. There is zero tolerance on public drunkenness and drink driving.
Ambassador: Smitha Samuel
Bought up in Abu Dhabi , it has always been the place I consider my hometown. My work in Project management often gives me a unique opportunity to see the structures as they go up ( often before they are lauded as architectural masterpieces). I enjoy travelling, reading – the current obsession is historical themes. My all time favourite book remains – Notes from a small Island by Bill Bryson.
Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Networking: See who is networking in Abu Dhabi now
Read the doing business in Abu Dhabi guide.