Local Customs

Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
Emirates Palace
Local Customs

Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates and was also the largest of the former Trucial States.

An estimated 1,000,000 people live here, with an estimated 80% expatriate population.

The capital houses important offices of the federal government and is the home of the ruling family and the President of the UAE. Abu Dhabi has grown to be a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its rapid development and urbanisation, coupled with the relatively high average income of its population, has transformed Abu Dhabi to a larger and advanced metropolis.

Blending a “Manhattan” skyline with landscaped parks and gardens, the city is a jewel in the desert warmly welcoming all visitors.


The capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Arabian Gulf from the central western coast.

Abu Dhabi Climate

Sunny/blue skies can be expected through-out the year. The months June through September are generally hot and humid with temperatures averaging above 40ºC (110ºF). The weather is usually pleasant from October to May. January and February are cooler and may require the use of a light jacket.

Local Currency

The local currency used in Abu Dhabi is the UAE dirham (AED or Dhs). Cash is the best method of payment, especially when shopping in souks (markets) or using taxis. In shopping malls, one can withdraw money from ATMs which will mostly accept any card such as American Express, Cirrus, MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus and Plus System.

Credit and debit cards are also widely used as a method of payment.


Arabic is the official language of the UAE, but English is widely spoken and understood. 

Social Etiquette

Abu Dhabi is a modern city that welcomes visitors from all around the world. Certain factors must be taken into consideration during your visit. A conservative dress code is highly recommended, especially in public places. Swimwear is acceptable only at the beach or around the swimming pools.

Etiquette during the Holy Month of Ramadan

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, residents and visitors are requested to refrain from drinking, eating and smoking in public areas (including chewing gum, sweets or drinking water). A very conservative dress code should also be adhered to. Men should wear trousers and a shirt and women should wear either long dresses or a conservative top and skirt/trousers.

Emirati Cuisine

The local cuisine in United Arab Emirates consists of a blend of Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. Due to the harsh desert conditions, the traditional cuisine incorporates a lot of meat, grain and dairy. Reflecting UAE's trade heritage, the cuisine is rich with spices such as saffron, turmeric and cinnamon, along with nuts, limes and dried fruits. 

Experience authentic Emirati Cuisine, in the capital's first fine-dining Emirati restaurant Mezlai at Emirates Palace.

Transportation in Abu Dhabi and getting around from A to Z

Abu Dhabi International Airport serves this city. The local time is GMT + 4 hours. Public transportation is available within the city. Visitors can find out more at www.abudhabi.ae.

Apart from organised tours, most visitors use taxis in the urban areas. These are plentiful, safe and can easily be flagged down at the roadside. Taxi services can also be booked in advance. Should you wish to travel in style with Emirates Palace, you can discuss options with our concierge.

Developments in Abu Dhabi

New developments on islands surrounding the city plan to increase the population of the city by up to 800,000. Saadiyat Island has several cultural developments coming soon:

  • The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel and is planned to open in late 2016.
  • The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be dedicated to contemporary art and culture and is due to open in 2017.

For more information please visit the official Abu Dhabi website

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