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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 17, 2021
Headline for 10 Things to know before you travel to Abu Dhabi – Get to know UAE a little better before your next trip!
Joanna James Joanna James
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10 Things to know before you travel to Abu Dhabi – Get to know UAE a little better before your next trip!

Abu Dhabi has something for everyone, amazing shopping malls, desert adventures, nature trails, endless, winding souks, theme parks and cultural and religious attractions. Here are some tips before planning your next trip to Abu Dhabi.


The Culture of UAE

Abu Dhabi is a nation rooted in Islam therefore cultural beliefs and practices are different. Dress modestly without exposing too much skin, cover arms and legs up to the knees. Stick to the conservative dress even in modern Dubai, as this is what is recommended by long term ex-pats as well.


Public Displays of affection

PDA should be limited, other than holding hands other forms affection are frowned upon in public and should be avoided. Heavy fines, jail time and deportation can follow if you don't adhere to the cultural norms. Furthermore, it is illegal for unmarried couples to share a single room.


Prayer time

The call to prayer is announced five times a day, and during that time most shops will be closed. Non-Muslims are not expected to do anything concerning the prayer times, just listen and be respectful.


Be mindful of what you pack

When bringing medicine into the UAE, double-check to see if they have any narcotic substances. Even painkillers with codeine will be seized as UAE as adopts a zero-tolerance to drugs. Drug traffickers get charged with the death penalty. Always bring the prescriptions attached to any medicines. Any products with pork will be confiscated and non-Islamic religious material, trinkets and statues should not be brought to the country.


The Climate

Of course, no one expects a dessert climate to be anything but hot, but don't underestimate it! During the summer between July and August the temperature rockets to around 106 F. The best time to travel is during the winter months, from December to February. The temperature drops to 60 F however, the accommodation and flights will be on the expensive side. The shoulder months from May to September are manageable and hotels and flights will tend to offer discounts as well. Try places like Anantara Eastern Mangroves Abu Dhabi Hotel for great deals and offers.



The national currency is the dirham, and you can pay in cash or card anywhere. Debit and credit cards are widely accepted. However, when visiting the souks and smaller shops carry money with you.



Though not mandatory it is a common practice to tip the server, especially if the service is good. A tip of 5d is considered a good tip. Most restaurants will add a 10 % service charges to the bill, which is divided between all the servers.


UAE cuisine

The local cuisine is an infusion of flavour! Spices and aromatics play a big role in the Persian Gulf and The Emirati. Cinnamon, nutmeg, are common flavours, and the herby olive oil spread za'atar eaten with crusty bread is a breakfast staple.


Dining times

Dinner is eaten much later by locals and ex-pats usually after 8.30 pm. So, head out a bit late, if you want to mingle with the locals and get to know the ex-pats around the area.


Alcohol use

Alcohol is served only in licensed clubs and in many 5 Star Hotels in Abu Dhabi. It is best to indulge in the comfort of your hotel and don't go overboard. Inebriated tourists misbehaving in public will be taken into custody.