The local currency is the Emirati dirham, officially abbreviated "AED". Notes vary in size from AED5 (approx. GBP1/USD1.4), up to AED1,000 (approx. GBP200/USD260), and there are also AED1 coins, with smaller coins of 25 and 50 fils (there are 100 fils to AED1). ATMs typically issue larger bank notes, but most hotels or money exchange outlets in the malls will offer an exchange service. Keep smaller notes ready for any taxi journeys as changing a larger note could be tricky. Bank cards are accepted in most places.
The UAE follows Islamic traditions, therefore everyone must understand and observe the social rules. Public displays of affection amongst adults are not considered appropriate, so you should avoid hugging and kissing in public. Acts of drunkenness are not tolerated, and rude gestures or swear words, including on social media, are not permitted by law. Whilst you may wish to share your experience, it is advisable to exercise common sense when posting comments about the UAE on social media.
The official spoken language is Arabic, but you’ll find that English is widely understood. With residents from over 200 nations calling Abu Dhabi their home, many other languages are spoken too. As with any destination, efforts by visitors to speak a few words of the local language are greatly appreciated. Some useful Arabic phrases include "Marhaba"
or "Ahlan", which means hello, and "Maa Salama" for goodbye. Thank you is "Shukran", and "Inshallah", which means "God willing".
Warm and sunny! One of the best things about the UAE is its guaranteed year-round sunshine. The ideal time to visit the UAE for visitors wishing
to make the most of the outdoor activities is from October to April, when daytime temperatures average around 27-30 degrees celsius. However, with refreshing water
parks across the emirate, and plenty of temperature-controlled indoor attractions and world-class shopping malls to keep visitors entertained, the emirate is a popular destination all year round.
The UAE is an Islamic country and follows the customs, rules, and traditions of the Islamic faith. The daily call to prayer, which takes places five times, can be heard throughout the day. If you have time, a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is highly recommended. The Holy Month of Ramadan is observed for 30 days every year, and the dates follow the lunar calendar. The Holy Month is the month of compassion and giving, in which Muslims will fast during daylight hours. If you are not observing the fast, some restaurants will still be open for those wishing to eat discreetly.
Visitors and residents are advised to dress sensibly in public places. Swimsuits and more modest bikinis are acceptable when by the beach or pool. When outside of the hotel, it is suggested that women wear looser, non-transparent clothing, and should cover their shoulders, cleavage and knees. There is no need to cover your head unless you are visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, in which case ladies and older girls should fully cover their body as far as the wrists and ankles. Men should wear long shorts or trousers in public places.
Food & Drink
With over 200 nationalities residing in the city, you can enjoy practically every kind of cuisine imaginable. Have a look at our Dining section for inspiration. Meat-based dishes are prepared according to Islamic conventions, and this may mean that some products are only available in selected outlets. Visitors are advised to drink bottled water both inside and outside of their hotels. Adult beverages are available in licensed premises to those aged 21 or over. Note: Strict rules on behaviour apply across the UAE.
Abu Dhabi is home to many people, The emirate of Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates, and has a population of approximately 3 million across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Abu Dhabi city is home to around 1.1 million people, and with residents from around 200 countries enjoying the many opportunities for work, leisure and entertainment, this is a truly global destination. Emiratis form around 20% of the population and are well known for their hospitality and warm attitude towards visitors.
People drive on the right-hand side of the road here. Seat belts are compulsory, and children under 12 must remain in the rear of the vehicle. Visitors can hire a car provided they are over 18 years old and hold a full driving license from an approved country. Driving conventions may be a little different to those in your home country. Always observe the speed and traffic information signs carefully, as well as taking extra care whilst you get used to finding your way around.
It is easy to get around the city, and in particular to get to your final destination once you step off the plane at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Authorised metered taxis are available outside the Arrivals area at the airport, and a taxi into the city will cost you around AED75. Your hotel may run a shuttle service or collect you, and there are comfortable air-conditioned buses, which run regularly between the airport and the city. You may instead decide to hire a car and drive yourself, or hire a private licensed car or limousine.
It is forbidden to take photographs of other people without specific consent. You should also avoid taking snaps of aircraft, or in restricted areas, which include, but are not limited to, bridges, palaces, courts, and government or military zones. If you wish to take photographs by the beach, you should only include your immediate companions. You should also be careful when posting your photos on social media, and be aware that tagging people without their consent might be considered an invasion of privacy.
Some medicines which are available on prescription or at pharmacies in your home country may not be approved for sale or use here in the UAE. Any visitor bringing medication with them, even if Abu Dhabi isn’t their final destination, should check to see if their medication is permitted before they leave. It is sensible to make sure that you bring enough medication for your whole stay (up to a maximum of 30 days), and bring any paperwork with you to demonstrate that this medication is for your personal use. www.uae-embassy.org