Now that the summer is coming to an end, loads of residents are returning to the city and thousands of newcomers are arriving at Abu Dhabi Airport. But while the city can seem a little overwhelming at first, it doesn’t take long for people to find their feet. There’s a lot to learn and plenty to get used to, but Time Out will always keep you updated with the best deals, events, restaurants and offers in the city. For starters, here are ten things you should know if you’re new to Abu Dhabi.
1 Brunch will have a new meaning
Forget eggs benedict and orange juice, because brunch isn’t really a breakfast thing in Abu Dhabi. Most of the top hotels and restaurants in the city will host a brunch where you can enjoy unlimited beverages and food. Every brunch is different and although most take place on Friday afternoon you can get evening and Saturday brunches too.
2 The city is hundreds of Islands
It might not seem like it when you’re driving around Downtown but Abu Dhabi is made up of hundreds of connected islands. Some, like Saadiyat and Yas, are obvious to spot, but there are loads more that you’ll drive over without even realising.
3 Ladies’ nights are a thing
What are they? Well, ladies can receive free drinks and great deals at restaurants and hotels across the city pretty much every night of the week. They’re the ideal way to get out and explore the nightlife scene without spending a dirham. You can find a full list of all the ladies’ nights at timeoutabudabi.com.
4 You’re going to get hot
Being a desert country, it should come as no surprise to hear that it gets incredibly hot in Abu Dhabi. The temperature can get up to around 50 degrees in the summer, which is from around June to September, but don’t worry too much, almost everywhere has air conditioning, meaning most of the time you’re kept cool. For the times you are outside, be sure to keep hydrated and wear plenty of sun cream. For the rest of the year the weather is pretty much perfect, we promise.
5 There’s much more to the city than skyscrapers
The city skyline is one of our favourite sights but there’s more to the city than five-star hotels and top-end restaurants. There are loads of amazing cultural attractions to see, such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, The Heritage Village, Qasr Al Hosn and loads more. Plus, take the one-hour drive down to Al Ain and there are even more brilliant sights, designed to give you an understanding of Emirati culture and traditions.
6 You’ll embrace the city’s taxis
Getting around Abu Dhabi is really easy, and taxis are both plentiful and affordable, so don’t be afraid to wave one down on the street or book through the dedicated mobile app. You can also use Uber and the regional version, Careem, to book a ride from A to B. Abu Dhabi doesn’t have a tram, metro or train service (yet) but public buses cover most of the city and are an even more affordable way to get around. You can also find electric scooters in some parts of the capital, which you can unlock and ride with the help of an app for a few dirhams a minute. It’s a big city so you’ll have to be in a vehicle to see it properly. If you have a 4x4 there’s also the chance to take a ride into the desert.
7 Some dates are absolute musts for your diary
There are loads of events to be aware of throughout the year in Abu Dhabi, but some are inarguably bigger than others. In late November the Formula 1 comes to town for perhaps the biggest weekend of the year, with concerts, parties and loads more happening around the race itself. Abu Dhabi has also signed a five-year deal to bring the UFC to the city – with the first event happening on September 7. You can also expect more big concerts, comedy gigs and other festivals across the calendar year, as well as national holidays, including UAE National Day, which takes place on December 2.
8 Not everything has to be expensive
Sure, staying at five-star hotels and eating at the best restaurants in town will cost you a fair few of your hard-earned dirhams but you don’t have to splash the cash to enjoy the city. There are loads of free sporting activities, cultural landmarks, events, beaches and entertainment that are incredibly cheap and often completely free. No one loves a bargain more than us so keep your eyes peeled and we’ll share all the best offers in the city.
9 Some of the best food is found on street corners
Like most places in the world, Abu Dhabi has great food, and there are some things that you might not have tried anywhere else. We love a bargain so cheap street food like shawarma, manakish and karak is right up our alley. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, they’re a kebab, flatbread and sweet tea respectively and can be picked up for a few dirhams all over town. Keep an eye out for Emirati luqaimat as well – the sweet little doughnuts are delicious.
10 You’ll meet people from all over the world
Abu Dhabi is a truly multicultural city. Home to people from more than 200 countries, you will meet and befriend people from so many different backgrounds. From the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia, the UAE is a melting pot of cultures and it’s a great experience getting to know people, so don’t be scared to go out of your comfort zone when calling Abu Dhabi home. Plus, you’re bound to pick up a few Arabic words during your time here too. Don’t be afraid to use a “shukran” (that’s thank you) here and there as you get to grips with the local dialect.
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