Information and advice you will need for moving to Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is part of the UAE and the currency is the Emirati Dirham (AED). The Dirham is pegged against the US dollar at 1US$ = AED3.67, and is stable against the British Pound, but it is worth checking the exchange rate. Dirham banknotes come in denominations of 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10 and 5.
Most well-known international banks are present in Abu Dhabi and Sharia-Law bank accounts are available. A resident visa is required to open a bank account. Internet banking is available but it is more limited than in the UK; many transactions need to be carried out in a branch. Bank opening hours are 8am to 3pm, Saturday to Thursday.
High-speed broadband is available in Abu Dhabi. WiFi access is available at most malls, public places, restaurants and hotels. The international dialling code for Abu Dhabi is 00 971. To dial the UK from Abu Dhabi, the code is 00 44
The clocks in Abu Dhabi are set according to Arabia Standard Time, which is GMT +3 hours. The weekend is Friday and Saturday.
Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical, arid climate, which means summer is extremely hot and humid. During this season (June to September), the day-time temperature can reach 40°C (104°F) and above, while the night-time temperature can remain at around 30°C (86°F). In the milder months (November to April), the average day-time temperature is a much more pleasant 24°C (75°F), and night-time temperatures rarely fall below 12°C (54°F). The wettest month of the year in Abu Dhabi is usually February, which sees on average a relatively modest 20 millimetres of rain.
Dress and etiquette
Abu Dhabi is an Islamic state and you should dress accordingly. Dress modestly, particularly when in public. Women should wear dresses or skirts that cover their knees and tops with long sleeves – shoulders should be covered at all times. In addition, clothing should not be too tight or revealing. Men should wear trousers and tops with long sleeves – you should not wear t-shirts and shorts. Men should never be seen bare-chested in public. Do not wear swimwear away from the beach or hotel pool.
Alcohol consumption by non-Muslims is tolerated and alcohol is served only at hotel and club bars and restaurants. Drinking at home is permitted. In order to consume and buy alcohol you must have a licence. The legal age for drinking is 18. Drinking in public and public displays of drunkenness are illegal, so it is best to take a taxi directly home after a boozy night out.
Men and women can drive in Abu Dhabi. Vehicles are driven on the right. As an expat from the UK, you will need to get a local driving licence. This process is fairly straightforward. To drive in the meantime, you must hold an international driving licence in conjunction with a domestic licence. Traffic congestion is a problem and driving conditions can be challenging.
The standard of healthcare in Abu Dhabi is good. Emergency treatment in state hospitals is usually free, but follow-up treatment is often chargeable and expensive. Private insurance is common for expats and this coverage is advisable. A UAE medical card is required to use medical facilities. Some prescribed and over-the-counter medicines may be controlled medicines in Abu Dhabi. Check with your doctor and, if you need to bring a controlled medicine into the country, ensure you carry a doctor’s note.
Private education is the only option available to expats. There are British- and American-curriculum schools. School fees are expensive and range from AED40,000 to AED150,000 per year. The standard annual fee level is AED70,000-90,000.
The number to call for police is 999. For medical services, call 998. For the fire service, call 997.
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