I don’t have a dog, and everyone I’ve asked about ‘Dog Friendly Abu Dhabi’ has simply laughed as a first response… Not an especially good start, but let me explain. It all started when I received a message from a reader who is in the process of moving to the city and is bringing their dog in tow. So, I may not have my own dog, but since I do know people here who do have dogs, in the interest of trying to answer the question as best I can, I asked around a bit.
It wasn’t an especially good start with the initial response being laughter, though one lady I asked when I spotted her returning from walking her dog sort of sighed and raised her eyebrows – that’s a slight improvement on laughter, no? So yep, spoiler alert – the bottom line is that Abu Dhabi is not a dog friendly place. However, bear with me as all is not entirely lost. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of people here who love their four-legged friends and they make it work, so here’s how.
Sadly, since dogs are banned from public parks and beaches in the city the general consensus seems to be to find a deserted spot of land – whether it be an outlying beach or a land site that hasn’t yet turned into a construction site, those seem to be the most common places to walk dogs and the places that got the thumbs up most frequently.
Reem Island has been named on several occasions as a good bet as currently there are many disused land plots that are great for walks. As an island under an increasing amount of construction though, bear in mind that this of course won’t always be the case. And even then, you also need to find a building to live in that is pet friendly. Thankfully, there seem to be more and more buildings that do allow pets, but having seen friends go through a tricky scenario where they leased a place on the basis it was dog friendly, only to find out after they had moved in that it actually wasn’t pet friendly at all. My advice is to ask, then ask again and check the small print on the contract. Ask more than one person before you move into a building, ask the people in the building if they see other pets around and so on… Of course this isn’t necessarily going to be a foolproof strategy, for as those of us who have lived in the city for some time will know, things have a habit of changing, and not necessarily being communicated well (or at all). Your best bet is to look for a building that has its pet policy written into the contract, but how often that actually happens I couldn’t say.
At the time of writing, buildings on Reem Island that are known to accept pets included: Mangrove Place, Reem Diamond, Al Maya Tower and Beach Tower. I know that the Rihan Heights development at Zayed Sports City also accepts pets and I’m sure there are many more all around the city too.
I have also heard that dogs aren’t allowed on the beautiful walk that is the Corniche, though I’m afraid I haven’t been able to verify whether this is true. Of course they’re not allowed on the beach by law, but rumour has it our four-legged friends may also be prevented from pounding the Corniche pavements. If anyone knows whether that’s true or not, please do let me know!
Dog lovers in the city will be pleased to know though that there is an Abu Dhabi Dog Walking Locations Facebook group to share details on any dog friendly walk locations in the city, so do check that out and I’m sure they’d love it if anyone has anything new to add to their list.
Anyone who knows of any outdoor cafés that will still accept dogs, we’d love to know as most people I spoke to said that any places that used to accept dogs (on leashes, accompanied by owners, outside only) have since changed to a no dog policy. 🙁
It’s also worth noting that dogs are forbidden from travelling on any form of public transport, taxis included.
And here’s the best of the rest for keeping man’s best friend happy…
PET BOARDING & DOG SITTERS
Cloud9 in Khalifa City A has a good reputation for boarding facilities and also offers pet sitting services as well as doggy day care. I’m told they have a great backyard for dogs to get a decent run, and some socialising with other dogs.
The American Vet Clinic also came highly recommended for dog sitting but apparently it gets very busy, so booking ahead is essential. The kennels are located in Mussafah and everything is run very professionally according to my friends who’ve used them. You can pay for extra play time and they even give you a CD with images of your pets playing which is such a super cute idea!
It’s also worth noting that they ask for vaccination copies for all dogs which some others don’t, so this is a plus if you’re looking for the best service and peace of mind.
If you’re not yet a dog owner but would like to be, there are some places I just have to mention that should be your first port of call – UAE Animal Action and Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter. UAE Animal Action do amazing volunteer work in rescuing cats and dogs that have been mistreated, thrown out of cars and other terrible instances and tirelessly work to find happy new homes for these poor creatures of misfortune. Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter is managed by Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and also takes in abandoned strays.
So whilst it’s not a particularly pretty picture at the moment, numbers of dog owners in the city are definitely on the increase, and even though the laws aren’t changing (we can only hope they will for the future), people’s perceptions towards dogs and other pets is definitely changing, and that is about all we can expect, for the moment in time.
Know of any other Abu Dhabi dog friendly tips? Please do let me know in the comments and I’ll add them in!