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Moving to Abu Dhabi

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    Having made its start as a small oil town, Abu Dhabi has flourished into a dynamic and international city. The sleek urban views of high-rise buildings and gardens of date palms create a bustling atmosphere in and around the main commercial centre. With just 25% of the 1.2 million inhabitants being natural-born citizens, the city is a haven for expatriates, the majority of which are from the UAE’s Arabic neighbouring countries as well as the Philippines, India and Pakistan.

    Expats moving to Abu Dhabi understandably have many questions about living in the city, especially for people more experienced in Western Culture. Our international moving guide should answer all of your questions about living in Abu Dhabi. You can also find out more about our services and how we can support your move to Abu Dhabi.

    Should I move to Abu Dhabi?

    Making a decision as big as an international move should not be taken lightly. Your specific circumstances with family, work, and even personal preferences will all take precedence when considering your move. Carefully consider factors such as whether you can find a job, whether you can afford to move, and whether the new climate and culture will be a suitable fit for you and your family. It’s also a good idea to visit beforehand to ensure you understand the environment you could be settling down in for months or years at a time.


    Can Unmarried Couples Live Together in Abu Dhabi?

    From 2022 onwards, unmarried couples are now allowed to live together in Abu Dhabi as the United Arab Emirates have changed Islamic personal laws. This means you can move to anywhere in the UAE even if you haven’t married your partner. This comes as part of a further overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws, with a relaxing on alcohol restrictions and other strict laws.

    Weather and climate in Abu Dhabi

    The climate can be a surprise for Britons, with almost year-round sunshine. While it may sound simple, it’s important to prepare yourself for the extremely hot and dry climate of the UAE. Particularly during the summer months, expats should be aware that temperatures can soar to over 40°C. There can also be sudden sandstorms which can even affect Abu Dhabi city. If you will be moving to Abu Dhabi during the winter months, you can relax a little, with temperatures settling at around 15°C and basically no rainfall until February.

    Our international moving service will ensure that moving to Abu Dhabi and into your new home will be as easy as possible as we support you and provide you with the tools you need every step of the way.

    Human footprints in a sandy desert in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    What is housing like in Abu Dhabi?

    There are many housing areas popular among expats in the city. As there is no real city centre, if you are moving to Abu Dhabi it is best to live in a location that is convenient to your workplace, schools and facilities. It is likely that you will be looking at moving into a high-rise apartment, however, there are some districts with townhouses. In recent years, housing is becoming more readily furnished with basic facilities, but make sure you know what you’re moving into. House prices are becoming more reasonable, but expats can still expect to pay large percentages of their wages in rent.

    Districts preferred by expatriates looking for houses in Abu Dhabi include Bateen, Karama, and Khalidia. There are many international schools located in Khalidia, so this is a popular area for people living in Abu Dhabi with families. For expats looking to rent an apartment, the Corniche offers beautiful sea views, great facilities for entertainment and exciting nightlife. For a cheaper, more residential and less traffic-congested living situation, many people are choosing to move further out of town to areas like Mushrif.

    Our international moving service will ensure that moving to Abu Dhabi and into your new home will be as easy as possible as we support you and provide you with the tools you need every step of the way.

    Abu Dhabi - Etihad Square, United Arab Emirates

    Culture Shock in Abu Dhabi

    In any new place, you are bound to experience a certain level of culture shock as there are new customs and practices to get your head around. Moving to Abu Dhabi from the UK or any other Western culture, there are many differences in lifestyle that you will need to accept. With the hugely international element of Abu Dhabi, it can be overwhelming at first with the sheer volume of different languages, cultures and laws here. It’s important to have patience in understanding the way things work when moving to Abu Dhabi.

    For single people, the difference in the number of men and women can be hugely surprising. The high volume of men compared to women can make it hard for men to meet a partner, while the women that relocate to Abu Dhabi may find themselves receiving a lot of attention. The most popular religion in and around Abu Dhabi continues to be Islam. While Christmas and Easter are widely celebrated, particularly commercially, it’s important to note for people moving to Abu Dhabi from the UK that Muslim holidays, such as Ramadan, will have an impact on your life. This must be respected if you should relocate here.

    Like many places, Abu Dhabi has no national health service, meaning that you will need to acquire health insurance with a trusted company. The climate can be another surprise for Britons, with almost year-round sunshine and much of everyday life moving indoors in the summer as temperatures average 50C.

    To help you prepare for relocation, we offer relocation management services to reduce any issues you might experience. This includes culture and language training, aiding you in making your relocation process more seamless.

    Happy Muslim women walking in the city center

    Getting around Abu Dhabi

    When it comes to travelling around the city, traffic is often heavy. During rush hours, traffic is at its heaviest, which is to be expected in any large capital city. Taxis are reliable, easy to hail and fairly inexpensive to use to get around the city, which avoids the need for public transport or a personal vehicle, which can make expat life more expensive and more stressful. There are also local buses as well as buses to other cities, running regularly and equipped with air conditioning. However, these can be badly affected by heavy traffic.

    The beautiful skyline of Corniche Beach, Abu Dhabi

    Entertainment and Dining out

    With the sandy beaches, sophisticated shopping facilities and cosmopolitan feel, there really is something for everyone in Abu Dhabi. The city is full of art and music, with concerts and festivals all year round. Plus with the great weather, moving to Abu Dhabi will mean that exercise and water sports are accessible for the whole family.

    The Corniche is one of the most popular areas for entertainment as well as fine dining. The sandy beaches, stretches of boardwalk and newly developed cafes and restaurants make for the best place to be at the weekend. This is also a great place to visit if living in Abu Dhabi with family. You can rent bicycles, attend art shows and there are even puppet shows put on for young children to enjoy. If you can get past the traffic around this area, it’s a great day out for people of all interests.

    Makloubeh rice with eggplant traditional arabic or middle eastern food

    How to move to Abu Dhabi

    As with any international relocation, it can be difficult to know where to start, and moving to Abu Dhabi is no different. Preparation and planning are, of course, key so complete as much research as you can before starting any processes. If you would like more information about passport and visa requirements, read our UAE moving guide to get you started.

    Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi with park trees

    Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.

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