square-open-quote GREY

When I moved to Abu Dhabi, I had a million questions. This is an attempt to answer 175 of them.

If you’re new to Abu Dhabi, this is the book you need. It’s full of hard-won practical information, and because it’s a PDF e-book it’s both searchable and full of clickable links.

What’s more, it has an accompanying Google map that details the location for just about every official department, office, landmark, beach, shop and general point of interest that’s mentioned in the book.

What can it tell you? Click here for the 175 questions. (And if your question isn’t there, drop me a line at info@abudhabiessentials.com – I may be able to answer it and/or it may appear with an answer in the next edition of Abu Dhabi Essentials.)

Where’s the map? Click here and it will open in a new browser window

How much will I have to pay for the book? It’s just £10. Why British currency? Because PayPal can’t handle dirhams, so I took an easy option. It’s the equivalent (at the exchange rates current when I wrote this) of AED 53 or USD 14.45 or AUD 19.5 or EUR 12.8. A bit of a bargain in any currency, if you ask me.

How do I buy the book? Easy – click this button:

What will happen then? You’ll be taken to a PayPal order form. You don’t need a PayPal account yourself to use this – any credit card will do. Once PayPal has accepted the payment, you’ll go to the download page and your download should start automatically.

Will I get a receipt? PayPal should send you confirmation of the purchase and you should also get a thank-you email with the transaction details. Get in touch if you need a receipt and haven’t had one.

Can you do me a bulk discount? I’m happy to offer bulk-purchase rates on 10 or more downloads – email me to discuss.

Can you do me a custom version? I can tweak the look and even the content to give you a version of the book customised for your organisation. Again, drop me a line.


The 175 questions

Everyday life

  1. What does ‘Abu Dhabi’ mean?
  2. How hot does it get in Abu Dhabi?
  3. Will I need a jumper and a coat?
  4. Is Abu Dhabi safe, especially for women?
  5. I’m new in town – how do I make friends here?
  6. Will I be able to practise my religion if it’s not Islam?
  7. Is there any censorship?
  8. Are there any issues about taking photographs?
  9. Are there lots of mosquitoes?
  10. When is the best time for friends and family to visit?
  11. What are the phone codes?
  12. Where are the beaches? Are they free?
  13. How does Abu Dhabi compare with Dubai? Isn’t it more boring?
  14. How far is Dubai? How can I get there?
  15. What are these birds I see everywhere around Abu Dhabi?
  16. How many people are there in Abu Dhabi? Where do they all come from?
  17. How do I mail a letter or a parcel?
  18. How do I find out what’s going on?
  19. What are the phone numbers for the emergency services?
  20. What are the official holidays?

Living local

  1. How do Arabic names work in the UAE?
  2. Why do I see so many variations on place names and other words?
  3. How do I handle Arabic coffee?
  4. Is Sharia law applied? What does this mean in practice?
  5. What is the dress code for business?
  6. What is the dress code for the malls and the streets?
  7. How about the beach – what can I wear?
  8. Is it offensive for a non-Muslim to wear Emirati dress?
  9. Can I hold hands with my partner in public? How about kissing?
  10. Can I visit a mosque as a non-Muslim?
  11. When is Ramadan?
  12. What’s Ramadan like for a non-Muslim?
  13. What is ‘wasta’?


  1. How do I find an apartment?
  2. How do I judge a real estate agent – are they regulated?
  3. What do I have actually have to do to sign up for an apartment?
  4. What costs should I budget for when renting an apartment?
  5. How do I get electricity and water connected?
  6. How do I pay my water and electricity bills?
  7. What is Tawtheeq and why do you need it?
  8. Can I take over a previous tenant’s ADDC and Etisalat accounts?
  9. Who should be responsible for repairs in a rented property?
  10. How do I get a PO box? Do I really need one anyway?
  11. Do companies like Amazon deliver to the UAE?
  12. Who is responsible for looking after the common areas of an apartment building?
  13. Do I need to sort out buildings and contents insurance?
  14. How much notice does a landlord have to give to move me out?
  15. Can my landlord raise my rent?
  16. Can I move out and recoup the unused portion of prepaid rent?
  17. Can I share a villa or apartment with friends?
  18. Can I share a villa or apartment with my boyfriend/girlfriend?
  19. Is it worth buying an apartment as an alternative to renting?
  20. Where can an expat buy a property?
  21. What’s the procedure when buying a property?
  22. Is it worth buying off-plan?

Getting around: general

  1. Explain the street numbering to me. Why don’t buildings have proper addresses?
  2. Are there plenty of taxis?
  3. Do cabs accept payment by credit or debit card?
  4. Are taxis safe?
  5. Can taxis pick up anywhere?
  6. Are taxis expensive?
  7. What alternatives are there to the standard taxis?
  8. What’s so special about the airport cabs?
  9. How do I buy a bus ticket?
  10. How do I get to the airport?
  11. Is there long-term parking at Abu Dhabi airport?
  12. What is an E-gate and how do I use it?
  13. Is it worth travelling to Dubai for my flights?

Getting around: cars and driving

  1. Are the roads safe?
  2. How much does fuel cost?
  3. How do I get a driving licence?
  4. How can I replace a lost driving licence?
  5. Do I need to take a driving test here? How/where do I do it?
  6. Should I rent or buy a car?
  7. Should I buy a new car or go for a secondhand vehicle?
  8. What’s a Truck Road and do I want to use one?
  9. Do I need an International Driving Permit?
  10. Where do I find a used car?
  11. What’s involved in transferring the ownership of a used car?
  12. How do I finance a car purchase?
  13. How do I get my car insured?
  14. Is it feasible to work in Abu Dhabi but live in Dubai?
  15. How do I pay for street parking?
  16. How do I get my windows tinted? Why would I bother?
  17. Where do I check my traffic fines? How do I actually pay them?
  18. Where and how do I re-register my car?
  19. Is there a penalty points system for traffic offences?
  20. Are there road tolls in the UAE? How much do they cost?
  21. How do the speed restrictions work? How come it’s possible to exceed them without getting fined?
  22. What should I do if I have a traffic accident?
  23. How do I report a traffic accident?
  24. What’s the rule for seat belts?
  25. What’s the rule for using mobile phones while driving?
  26. What do I need to take a car into Oman?

Red tape and regulation

  1. What are the rules about buying and transporting alcohol?
  2. What’s the law on soft drugs?
  3. What opportunities are there for volunteering?
  4. How do I get documents attested?
  5. Is it possible to get married legally in Abu Dhabi?
  6. Can I get divorced in the UAE?
  7. What’s a ‘no objection letter’ and when would I need one?
  8. What’s a PRO?
  9. Is there any consumer protection here?
  10. What sorts of visas are there? Can I work on a tourist visa?
  11. How can I extend a 30-day visa?
  12. How do I cancel a residency visa?
  13. What are the penalties for overstaying my visit visa?
  14. Can I add family members to my visa?
  15. I’ve been to Israel. Will this be a problem?
  16. How do I employ a maid or nanny?
  17. How do I get an Emirates ID card?
  18. How can I replace a lost Emirates ID card?
  19. Are there any issues about staying in hotels?
  20. Should I consider making a will here in the UAE?
  21. Where can I find a lawyer?


  1. Can I get all the medicines I’m used to? If I have a prescription for medicines from my home county, can I get it filled here?
  2. Where do I go if I have a medical emergency?
  3. Are there any all-night pharmacies?
  4. How will I cope with the heat? What kind of skincare routine should I follow to handle the Abu Dhabi summer?
  5. Do I need health insurance? How do I get it?
  6. How do I find a doctor? Can I trust them – are they licensed?
  7. Can I get a doctor to visit me at home?
  8. How do I find a dentist? Can I trust them – are they licensed?
  9. How do I choose a gym? How much will it cost me?
  10. Do I need a personal trainer? What will that cost me?
  11. Can I buy e-cigarettes here?
  12. Is smoking permitted in public?
  13. Can I donate blood?


  1. Do I need a mobile? How do I get one?
  2. Which mobile network should I sign up with?
  3. Is there a mobile phone option for visitors?
  4. Can I use Skype? Facetime? Google Hangouts? Viber?
  5. Can I access video services like Netflix or Amazon Prime?
  6. How about music services like Apple Music or Spotify?
  7. Are contact apps like Tinder and Periscope available?
  8. What’s a VPN and why do I need one anyway?
  9. What web content is blocked?
  10. How do I get TV and/or internet service at home?
  11. Can I watch sports like Wimbledon, Test Matches, EPL, Aussie Rules, NBL etc. on TV?

Money in general     

  1. What is the currency like?
  2. Which bank should I use?
  3. What do I need to open a bank account?
  4. Do I need a credit card? Which should I choose?
  5. How can I transfer money back home?
  6. What happens if I accidentally bounce a cheque?
  7. Are there any local or state taxes to pay?
  8. Am I liable to pay any taxes in my home country on what I earn in the UAE?
  9. What’s the exchange rate?
  10. Is betting allowed? How about raffles and lotteries?

Spending money   

  1. Is Abu Dhabi an expensive place to live?
  2. How much should I tip?
  3. Why do restaurants and hotels have extra charges (often not mentioned)?
  4. Are the discounted famous-name handbags on sale in Hamdan Street real or fake?


  1. What’s the law about employment contracts?
  2. Should I expect a housing allowance?
  3. Can I set up a business easily?
  4. Can I be self-employed here?
  5. What is a free zone?


  1. Can I keep a pet in my apartment?
  2. How can I ship in my pet from my home country? How about exporting it?
  3. How do I find a vet? Are they regulated in any way?
  4. How will my pet cope with the summer heat?
  5. Should I get a rescue animal?


  1. Is breastfeeding in public allowed?
  2. Do all children have to go to school?
  3. At what age do children start school here?
  4. Do I have to send my child to a private school?
  5. How do I choose a school?
  6. Are internationally recognised qualifications and curriculums available at Abu Dhabi schools?
  7. When should I apply for a school place?
  8. As well as tuition fees, what other school outgoings can I expect to be billed for?
  9. How can I fund my children’s education?
  10. Do any schools offer scholarships or bursaries?
  11. How do I judge a nursery or kindergarten – are they regulated?
  12. Can I home-school my kids here?

Bonus sections 

  1. Where to get more information about anything in Abu Dhabi
  2. Apps for Abu Dhabi
  3. Key concepts in Islam
  4. A brief guide to Emirati clothing
  5. Things to do and places to go in Abu Dhabi that you (and your visitors) absolutely must do at least once
  6. Exit strategy: how to leave Abu Dhabi for good

Buy the book! Click here


arrowGo back to the top of the page