Cost of Living in Abu Dhabi 2016: It’s that time of year again where I’ve been traipsing around town to compare how prices of ordinary goods have changed since last year.  Last year I noted that a lot of things had actually come down in price, and this year a fair bit has stayed the same, though the items that have gone up seem to have increased quite considerably. As in previous years, for the sake of consistency I visited Lulu hypermarket for the prices and you can compare these to previous years by clicking on the cost of living posts for 2014 and 2015 if you like.

Also to make it easy to see what’s gone up, down or stayed the same, I’ve used the following self-explanatory key:

Price up:
Price down:
Price stayed the same: →


Since the price deregulation which came into effect in August 2015, petrol prices have been all over the place with some months up and some down, though mostly prices are down overall since the deregulation began.

The price is currently set for September 2016 as follows: one litre of ‘Special’ fuel, the most common one will now set you back Dhs1.64. This is actually up from Dhs1.62 from last month, but in fact down considerably from the August 2015 price of Dhs2.14.

That means that on our car, a Toyota Prado Landcruiser with a tank range of around 990km, we average 13.5litres per 100kms, so it costs us around Dhs218 to completely fill our tank (vs Dhs 285 this time last year), which equates to about Dhs67 less per tank this year (woo hoo!).


→ Milk 1 litre, Dhs5.50
→ Pasta (Barilla brand) 500g, Dhs9.50
→ Pasta (Lulu own brand) 400g, Dhs2.90
→ Rice 2kg, varies depending on the brand and type from anything between Dhs7 to Dhs30.
 Toilet paper (Fine brand) 10 rolls x 400 sheets, Dhs17.50
→ Facial tissues (Fine brand) 200s x 2ply, Dhs4.50
→ Ariel automatic washing powder 3kg, Dhs35.60
Tea (Twinings fruit teas) 25 bags, Dhs15.30
→ Tea (Lipton yellow label) 50 bags Dhs8.95
Coffee (Nescafé red mug) 100g, Dhs14.50
→ Granulated sugar 2kg, Dhs17.95
→ Granulated sugar 2kg Lulu own, Dhs5.20
Heinz Baked Beans 410g, Dhs5.25
 Large wholemeal loaf (Lulu bakery), Dhs6.50
→ Large French stick, Dhs2
→ Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 500g, Dhs14
→ Eggs, six local (not free range) Dhs4
→ Eggs, six local free range, Dhs8.75
→ Eggs, six French imported free range certified organic, Dhs15.50



→ Whole grilled cooked chicken (served hot), Dhs13.90
→ Uncooked chicken breasts, around Dhs13-20 per 500g depending on which local brand you buy
→ New Zealand beef rib eye steak, Dhs85.90 per kg
 New Zealand beef round steak, Dhs41.90 per kg
→ New Zealand beef shank, Dhs36.90 per kg
 New Zealand beef rump steak, Dhs59.90 per kg
New Zealand beef mince, Dhs50.90 per kg
↑ Australian beef mince, Dhs49.90 per kg
 Australian rump steak, Dhs49.90 per kg
↓ Australian round steak, Dhs39.90 per kg
→ Australian beef shank, Dhs36.90 per kg
 Australian rib eye, Dhs79.90 per kg
Brazilian and Indian beef is also available which tends to be cheaper, it just depends what you prefer and are willing to spend on.

Pork – Pork is available in the ‘only for non-muslims’ section behind closed doors in some supermarkets (Spinneys and Waitrose), or what we like to call the ‘naughty pork section’. But – as you’d imagine in a country where eating pork is against the religion, it’s expensive. A small packet of Waitrose own brand proper fresh unsmoked back bacon, 12 slices (not that fatty processed stuff) would cost around GBP4 in the UK, but you’re looking at spending around Dhs35-50 for the same packet here – although I’m told Abela supermarkets have some great prices on Pork products but haven’t investigated this myself since there are no Abela Supermarkets in my neck of the woods…



Bananas, from Dhs5.95 per kg
Navel oranges (South Africa), Dhs5.95 per kg
Apples, Royal Gala (New Zealand), Dhs8.65 per kg, although they were on special offer at Dhs5.95 per kg when I checked (which is the same offer price as last year)
 Carrots (Australian import mostly), Dhs5.95 per kg
 Peppers / capsicums (local), Dhs8.95 per kg
Peppers / capsicums (Holland), range from ↑ Dhs19.95 per kg for green and → Dhs18.65 per kg for red. You can pick up a pre-packed mix colour pack of four small imported peppers for ↑ Dhs9.95 (though they were on offer for Dhs8.50 which is last year’s price when I checked)
↑ Broccoli (Spain), Dhs14.95 per kg
Pineapple (Philippines), Dhs11.50 per piece from Lulu – but if you buy them from Spinneys or Waitrose, pineapples will set you back a rather pricey Dhs7.95 per kilo!
 Potatoes (Egypt), Dhs3.25 per kilo

photo 4 - Version 2


(I’ve included these items because they are easily available in almost every country and therefore act as a good indication of the difference in costs globally).

McDonalds Big Mac medium meal, Dhs23
McDonalds Big Mac Sandwich, Dhs14
 Ikea hot dog, Dhs5
→ Ikea hotdog and drink combo, Dhs6 (with free refill)
→ Ikea ice cream, Dhs1
Coca Cola 500ml, Dhs2
→ Cinema ticket normal, Dhs35, VIP/Gold Dhs160
→ Hourly maid rate, Dhs35-45
→ Regular cappuccino coffee in branded coffee shop (Costa, Nero, Starbucks etc), around Dhs18


→ Bus fare, Dhs2 per single journey from any A to B anywhere in the city regardless of distance
→ Taxi fares:
6am-10pm: flagfall Dhs3.50, 1km up to 50km Dhs1.60, booking fees (if you call and book in advance) Dhs3
10pm-6am: flagfall Dhs4, 1km up to 50km Dhs1.69, booking fees Dhs4, minimum fare Dhs10
The first five minutes of waiting time are free, then it costs Dhs0.50 per minute
Over 50kms the price goes up to Dhs1.69 per km
From the airport the flagfall is Dhs20 for small vehicles or Dhs25 for large


A tricky one to pinpoint as there are options at all ends of the scale. If you want to eat out exclusively in five star hotels then you’ll find eating out expensive, and very expensive! Even a sandwich at lunch time can set you back the best part of Dhs50 depending on where you buy it from! But, as with everything and everywhere in the world, there are a wide range of options available so you don’t have to spend a lot if you don’t want to. If you’re more willing to explore and try new things, you can eat extremely cheaply in many local independent restaurants around the city. You can pick up a filled roti bread direct from the backstreet bakery for Dhs2 at lunch time or a sandwich for Dhs5 from the Carrefour café as well as dropping between Dhs20-40 or so on branded high street coffee shop sandwiches – it just depends on you.

Alcohol also tends to be expensive but not always as bad as you might think (especially if you’re comparing prices to bars in a place like London), and again, it tends to vary depending on the standard of the hotel you’re drinking at. A (not necessarily very good) glass of wine can cost anything from a cheap  Dhs35 (maybe less in happy hour) to an average Dhs50 for a mid range wine and up to Dhs80-90 or more for a decent glass (yup, just one glass!).


This is another one that varies wildly according to where you look and what it is you are looking for. You can still find share accommodation for around Dhs5000 per month in Khalidiya including all bills based on three friends sharing, but do note that officially, unmarried couples and members of the opposite sex not from the same family are not permitted to share by law (though many do and have no problems).

Property is one thing in the emirate that people constantly complain about the price of, though according to official reports, rent has actually decreased along with the recent falling oil prices. According to an article in The National, the average cost of a two bed apartment in the capital is now four percent less than last year at Dhs129,000 per year. Read the full article here.
A good place to start if you’re looking for information on property prices is Property Finder.


At the end of the day, you’ll find some things more expensive here and some things cheaper. Some things are much cheaper, and some much more expensive depending on where you shop and what you buy. If you have the time and inclination, you’ll also get the best deals (not to mention the freshest produce) at the markets.

For info on the markets of Abu Dhabi take a look at my previous posts for:

It also comes down to what you buy – if you have very specific tastes and only want to buy imported international brands (there’s not much you can’t find here!), then in any supermarket you’re likely to find your bill to be very high, but if you look around and start experimenting with local produce and local brands you will soon find your shopping can be very cheap – and discover a whole new world of tastes and ideas in the process!

One of the quirks of supermarket shopping here is that you’ll often find two stacks of exactly the same product next to each other on the shelf… One priced very high, and the other very reasonably. This is because one is the imported overseas version, and the one next to it is the same branded product, but produced in a regional factory. The products are exactly the same, just priced differently, so that’s something to watch out for if you want to save some cash!

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this useful! Do let me know your thoughts or if there’s anything I’ve missed that you’d like me to add for next time!