I’ve already talked about the reasons we love the UAE which you can read here, but people still often ask me what it is specifically that I like about living in Abu Dhabi so much. Abu Dhabi seems to remain a sort of enigma to many people, overshadowed by the glitz and fame of Dubai – so here it is – reasons we love Abu Dhabi…
1. The beaches! Abu Dhabi has the best beaches and many miles of beautiful coastline that are easily (and cheaply) accessible to the public and close to the city.
2. There’s a real feeling of community in Abu Dhabi. Whether it’s the fact that the city is compact or because of the countless parks and public spaces to spend time in, if you’ve been here a while – you can’t go too far without seeing someone you know!
3. Abu Dhabi has everything a modern city needs, but still maintains a more traditional feeling than some neighbouring cities. This allows that exotic and exciting feeling of being ‘on holiday’ in a foreign country and amongst a different culture.
4. Adventure and exploring! The main parts of the city of Abu Dhabi are built on a series of islands, though the Emirate itself also extends far into the mainland and is the largest of the Emirates in the UAE. All this space and lesser known islands means lots of opportunities for Robinson Crusoe style day trips to deserted islands, remote villages and landmarks.
5. There’s plenty of culture to absorb in the city. From the traditional markets and souks to the Heritage Village, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and Qasr Al Hosn to name a few, there’s plenty of opportunities to learn more about the culture of the city and country.
6. There’s plenty of modern culture to absorb in the city, with the capital working hard to build a world-class city of the future including such landmarks as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi and much more. Whilst we wait impatiently on the development of such landmarks there’s still plenty of art to be found, whether it’s at small local galleries or temporary displays at the Emirates Palace Hotel or even the wide array of arts and cultural displays that rotate through the Manarat Al Saadiyat, the city’s got you covered.
7. Abu Dhabi is a very family friendly city. There’s heaps for kids and families to do together both indoors and out, and as for eating out together – even the most high-end restaurants in the city have kids menus! It’s a very family centric culture so kids are welcome just about everywhere.
8. The people! Despite being home to over 100 different nationalities, the people in Abu Dhabi are more often than not very open and friendly. Perhaps it’s because of the sense of community here it manages to maintain that local spirit within a global city, but everywhere you go, people are friendly and often willing to help you out if you need it.
9. It’s a very tolerant city. As I mentioned in the point above, Abu Dhabi is home to over 100 different nationalities from all walks of life and a myriad of cultures from all over the world. Yes, the UAE itself is an Islamic country, but you can find institutions and churches from a host of different religions here. Respect the culture of the country you live in, but you are also free to practise your own beliefs. Live and let live.
10. The work / life balance is still very important in Abu Dhabi. People work hard and play hard, but there’s much more of a feeling of ‘family comes first’ in Abu Dhabi. Many people do work long hours but for the main part, the importance of spending time away from work is still recognised (and encouraged) as a vital part of maintaining a good life balance.
11. There’s so much to do! Many non-residents mistakenly believe that there’s nothing to do in Abu Dhabi – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s something for everyone – whether you love adventure and the outdoors, camping, dune bashing, lazing around in beautiful surroundings, sports from all over the world with top-notch facilities, top class dining, international events of all descriptions – music, sports and more, exploring the city’s hidden global street food experiences, meeting people from all around the world from numerous cultures, shopping (of course!) and so much more – it’s all here, you’ve just got to find it and get off the sofa and join in!
12. Abu Dhabi holds a lot of secrets – the city holds an allure and charm that is hard to put your finger on and explain to an outsider, but once you start to scratch the surface and learn about life in the city you’ll quickly begin to understand why the people who live here love it so much.
And I’m sure many people can agree with me when I say that the residents of the city are quite happy to keep the appeal of the city under the radar. Abu Dhabi may not shout about its virtues but that’s part of its charm. If you want to truly understand the demure charisma of the city, you’ll need to come – open-minded, and investigate for yourself.
What do you think? What do you love most about Abu Dhabi? I’d love to hear your thoughts!