Life In Abu Dhabi

Comments from staff members. Each number represents a different person.


I am a Scot who has recently relocated to Dubai from Abu Dhabi, having been there for over 5 years. I also have children, ( all born whilst here), so may be able to help you a bit.

Anything I tell you is only my own experience, what works for one isn't always what will work for others. If you are going to be a good expat then you have to accept lots of different scenarios that you may not agree with but I am sure you know all that! My husband and I came out from Scotland over 15 years ago and have loved most of our time in the Emirates. Originally we were in Al Ain, which is inland from Abu Dhabi and now, of course, we are in Dubai. The cities are all completely different.

We arrived in Abu Dhabi from the relative country side of Al Ain. We were in a 17th floor apartment on a busy street but we quickly made friends and within a year had moved to a nicer location back on ground level. It all really depends on your budgets for living or whether the company have accommodation set up for you. It varies greatly. You can get a lovely 3 bedroom spacious apartment with views for 65,000 Dhs upwards. Villas are more expensive and also vary greatly on whether you have central air conditioning, units or split. Some apartments have leisure facilities, others not.

When it comes to Clubs nearly every hotel has a leisure facility attached. You can utilise anyone of them as long as you pay either a daily rate or join for a year. Some hotels offer six monthly deals. All the main hotels have great facilities and most of them have beach clubs. Most have web sites, so check them out. The Gulf Hotel is very nice as is the Intercontinental, Hilton and the newly renovated Sheraton. For a family you will probably have to pay around 4 to 8,000 Dhs a year for the full use of the club. Abu Dhabi is on an island but it is surprising how few of the hotels have beaches. The alternative to forking out a lot of money is to join The Club, which was formerly know as the British Club. It is cheaper, managed by a Scot and offers very good value for money on all its facilities and outlets. It runs lots of community things and tons for things for kids ranging from wee ones right up to teenagers. They host an Easter camp and also a summer camp for kids. During the weekends they also have lots going on. You can be guaranteed to meet people there but often that is the problem, it is very British and very busy most of the time. You can enjoy the facilities as a non member and also go to any of their functions which they have tons of. Lot of Gentlemen's dinners, comedians, drama, a real mixed bunch. I am sure they have a web site, if I can find it, I will forward it to you. They run fitness classes and offer crèche facilities. There is a sailing and diving club here also. We were members for years and were lucky enough to also be members elsewhere so when it became too busy for us we went somewhere else! We kept a boat down there that was handy for toddling off to an island.

There are several groups of kids and mums and tots groups around Abu Dhabi. A lot of people go to the St Andrews Church group, not religious in any way, they just use the church hall. There are Sunday schools though and Rainbows and Brownies
for older children along with Beavers, Cubs and Scouts. You take your kids to meet other children, there are all sorts of toys and they have a little sing along at the end. I think it runs 3 times a week but as my children were a wee bit too old for it lately I have not been for ages. There is a play group at the Club as well I think. Abu Dhabi mums was set up a few years back and they are great for new arrivals. They meet at least once a week in various places and organise all sorts of activities. They
did originally split it up into two different age groups, basically walkers and toddlers and new ones who do not move!
There are tons of nurseries and kindergartens, some in favour others not, depending on the whim of the community that year. There is a good English School, Al Khubairat Community School that takes children from 3 in their KG group. There are rugby clubs, swimming clubs, all sorts of sports, activities etc. 

Basically there is something for everyone as long as you are willing to look and find it. Abu Dhabi may be difficult for new comers or it may be easy it really depends on how you look at it. Summer months are exceptionally hot and humid and a lot of people move away for the really hot months of July and August. I have suffered through a few summers and it is not so bad and in the evenings it was pleasant enough to go out.

To be honest I found Abu Dhabi difficult after living in Al Ain, others could not understand what we enjoyed from Al Ain! By the time we left Abu Dhabi I was very sad to go, we have tons of friends still there and we miss it terribly, it really is not a big place despite the feelings sometimes of it being overcrowded. It is only what you make of it.


Housing in Abu Dhabi

Expensive is the first word I think of

When we originally lived there our budget was under 70,000 and we moved into a 2 bed roomed apartment on a busy street called Electra, real name Sheikh Zayeed the 2nd street. A lot of Abu Dhabi is named after local landmarks and the real names are not commonly used! It was 17 floors off the ground and parking was a nightmare. There was central air conditioning, a small kitchen, a living dining area and a tiny maid's room with a toilet off it. There was one full bathroom and another toilet room. No balconies and no other leisure facilities. It was brand new though. We then moved to a very old ground floor apartment with a tiny garden in not a particularly nice area. It suited our purposes at the time though and was within our budget still. We moved again the following year into an area called Muroor which was still not ideal but we had a much bigger place with a garden, near the new Corniche with its lovely walk and cycle area. It was old and had
lots of maintenance problems which caused us many a headache. It also had unit Air conditioners that are both expensive to purchase and to run but on the other hand if one breaks down the house does not get hot!

I know you can get nicer apartments in the tourist club area or on one of the main roads . They will have central air conditioning and many will have built-in satellite. They will not have a sea view, these cost a fortune. They may or may not have a small pool or a gym.

The Khalifa committee is a government run agency that rents out apartments and villas. They have lists of available properties that can be viewed. They are busy and understaffed and not particularly helpful but it is one avenue. Another way to go is through an agent who usually charges a percentage of the annual rent if they find something for you. Most are pretty dubious and are always trying to make a fast buck, do NOT pay to view a place, they are usually unsuitable apartments that you have no intention of renting but eventually you may find something you do like. They will ask though for a fee, just be aware of this. The best way to go about it, I think, is to try and get around the areas you wish to look at and if an apartment is nearing completion, ask the watch man to let you have a look at it. This is time consuming but often worth while as good blocks go extremely fast for some reason! If you want to look at older places, look for signs on the doors or empty air conditioning vents. Word of mouth always helps as well, notice boards at Spinneys at Khalidyia or Abella's supermarket off the Corniche. Nice areas include Bateen, and the Corniche but are more expensive.

Remember that landlords are often out to get as much money as they can, negotiate and try and ensure that if you go for an older place that it is not going to be demolished within a few months!




Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, is quieter than the commercial hub of Dubai. Nevertheless, it has plenty to occupy visitors and residents alike. The city is particularly agreeable for families. There are numerous clubs, many of which are associated with major hotels, which provide sporting and social facilities. Sailing, golf, scuba diving and bridge are among the most popular pastimes. There are also numerous activities organised by church groups. Week-end activities include fishing or trips into the desert.

The city has many pre-school and nursery facilities. These, plus the ready availability of household help create the potential for parents to work or pursue social activities.

For the months of May to October, the weather is very hot and outdoor activities are kept to a minimum. For the rest of the year, however, the weather is delightful with clear skies and pleasant temperatures.



5 Nurseries In Abu Dhabi

There are many and the standard is pretty good- the best are probably

Stepping Stones 9712 6815583/6815580
First Steps 9712 4454920
Ladybird 9712 3441011
Humpty Dumpty 9712 6663277

with flexible systems e.g. 3 mornings a week etc

or another I was given was My Nursery 9712 4463634


6 Abu Dhabi Women's College home page

This has some more info on Abu Dhabi on it 



This page was last updated by Leigh Butler on October 01, 2013