Abu Dhabi June 2019 Small

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a vibrant and global business hub, with plenty of job opportunities. Whether you’re relocating for a permanent or contract position, or perhaps weighing up relocation, here are 5 things to consider to ensure a safe and fulfilling assignment. 

1. Safety and Security in Abu Dhabi 

Abu Dhabi is considered as one of the safest places in the world. It receives over 10 million visitors a year and its population is estimated to be 1.4 million, with over 900,000 being expatriates! The vast majority of assignments are trouble-free but sensible precautions should still be taken such as: 

  1. Take care when walking or travelling alone
  2. Don’t accept drinks from strangers or leave your drink unattended
  3. Always use a reputable taxi company
  4. Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place in case you lose it

In the unlikely event that you do need help, the police are easily recognisable in olive green uniforms and are very approachable. They are actively involved in the community and are thoroughly respected. 

2. Relocating to Abu Dhabi with Children 

Relocating with children can be challenging, but Abu Dhabi boasts excellent educational provisions. The Ministry of Education governs both public and private schools in the country and they set overall guidelines which the schools must adhere to. Education is compulsory up to the ninth grade and this takes place in a four-tier process over 14 years:

  1. Kindergarten - age 6
  2. Primary - 6 to 12 years old
  3. Preparatory - 12 to 15 years old
  4. Secondary - 15 - 18 years old

There are many schools in the three main expatriate areas teaching UK or US curriculums and in different languages including: English, German, Japanese and French.

There are also plenty of extra circular opportunities for children such as swimming lessons, ballet, music lessons, dance classes and horseback riding, as well as programs for Brownies, Girl Guides, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

3. Abu Dhabi Weather 

The climate in Abu Dhabi is generally hot and dry all year round. The hottest months are July and August and can be quite unpleasant for those not used to such temperatures, with the highest recorded temperature reaching 52.1 degrees Celsius. During summer, high temperatures persist across the country and it’s important that you take precautions to protect yourself against sun exposure and heat exhaustion. Stay safe in the heat by following these steps:

  1. Stay indoors! Air-conditioning is in almost all of the shops, hotels, office buildings, transportation and restaurants.
  2. Stay hydrated throughout the day and drink water periodically.
  3. Use sun/UV protection when you go outside.
  4. Consider using hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing that covers your skin.

Abu Dhabi is also subject to slightly higher environmental risks such as earthquakes, landslides and sand storms. As well as this, watch out for heavy rain as it can result in flooding and hail storms. 

4. Abu Dhabi's Culture 

The UAE is a Muslim society. Visitors and expatriates must respect the laws and conventions – some beliefs vary from Western cultures so you need to be aware to avoid criminal prosecution:

  1. The drinking age is 21and you must have a liquor license to purchase and consume alcohol, even if you’re in your own home.
  2. There is a modest dress code. Swimwear is only acceptable at the beach and when in public, shoulders and legs should be covered.
  3. Marriages are made by arrangement between the families of the bride and groom and cohabitation outside of marriage is prohibited by law.
  4. Be considerate of your behaviour when out in public – profanities and public displays of affection should be avoided. 

Celebrations and Festivals

Muslim festivals are timed according to the moon, meaning that the dates for Islamic religious holidays are approximate and the precise dates are not announced until a day or so before they occur. If a public holiday falls on a weekend, the holiday is usually taken at the beginning of the next working week. Some celebrations to note are:

  1. Eid-ul-Adha: A time for sharing and giving to the poor, this three-day holiday in the twelfth month marks the end of the period assigned for Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) in Saudi Arabia.
  2. Ramadan and Eid-Al-Fitr: Occurring in the ninth month of the Islamic year, this celebration involves a month of fasting, prayer, and retreat. Between sunrise and sunset there is no smoking, eating, or drinking (not even water) and non-Muslims are expected to refrain from doing so in public. The end of Ramadan is marked by a three-day holiday, Eid-Al-Fitr.It’s also important to note that the weekend in Abu Dhabi is Friday and Saturday, with the working week running from Sunday to Thursday.

It’s also important to note that the weekend in Abu Dhabi is Friday and Saturday, with the working week running from Sunday to Thursday. 

5. Travelling in Abu Dhabi 

It’s also important to note that the weekend in Abu Dhabi is Friday and Saturday, with the working week running from Sunday to Thursday. 


In Abu Dhabi, they drive on the right-hand side of the road. Ensure to give pedestrians right of way and note that using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is illegal. Driving under the influence is considered a serious offence that results in large fines, prison time and in some cases deportation. It’s encouraged that you check the weather before setting off as Abu Dhabi is prone to occasional but violent dust storms, which can severely reduce visibility. Also – watch out for camels on the road, especially at night! 

Public Transport 

If you’re regular users of the bus, you should buy a Hafilat Smart Card. This card is available in six categories to meet different requirements and needs of the public. There is also a complimentary shuttle bus service in Yas Island running daily via two routes providing easy access to Yas Island’s main attractions and landmarks.

You can also use the ‘Abra Water Hopping Service’. This is a traditional wooden abra and operates between the Khor Al Maqta Hotels, Eastern Mangroves and Yas Island. There are 3 routes with varied prices.

Taxis are also readily available, including Uber. Abu Dhabi also has a similar app named “Careem” which typically boasts more experienced drivers. Whilst you don’t need to tip, it is often expected. 

NES & Relocation

NES opened our first Middle East office in Doha in 1999. Since then, we have expanded across the region establishing operations in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Damman, Erbil, Basra, Muscat and most recently Mumbai. We have placed thousands of contractors in The Middle East and can help clients mobilise their workforces.

Relocating is one of the most stressful experiences a person can do, so it’s important you seek help and advice from experienced professionals. At NES, we can help candidate’s experience a smooth relocation via our designated assignment support services

NES can help clients and candidates, every step of the way. 


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