Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is home to a multitude activities, cultural sites, luxury hotels and entertainment for visitors. You can enjoy a high level of luxury and heritage in this bustling island city, but without the crowds.

The History of Abu Dhabi

The first evidence of man in Abu Dhabi dates to the Neolithic period, some 7,500 years ago. The population were then already constructing stone buildings-such as in the island Marawah- and were trading by sea with Mesopotamia. This was the beginning of a tradition of maritime commerce. They were also harvesting the pearls of the Arabian Gulf, an industry that only ended around 50 years ago.

That all changed with the discovery of oil in the late 1950s, first offshore and then onshore. From 1966 under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and from 1971 as the first president of the United Arab Emirates until his passing in 2004, the country began a process of rapid growth. The village of Abu Dhabi it self was transformed in a matter of a few decades into on of the most modern cities in the world, yet one with so much greenery that it has been dubbed the ‘Garden city of the gulf’

Today, the nomadic tradition and pearling have long since disappeared, but the people of Abu Dhabi look back with pride on their heritage in this harsh land drawing from it the confidence to face the very different challenges of today & tomorrow.


Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical, arid climate and sunny blue skies with temperatures that very but never disappoint. Rainfall is infrequent and irregular, falling mainly in winter – November to March (12 cm per year). Temperatures range from a low of around 10° C (50° F) in winters, to a high of around 48° C (118° F) in the summer. The most pleasant time to enjoy a leisurely holiday in Abu Dhabi is the cooler winter months when temperatures are around 24° C (75° F) during the day and 13° C (56° F) at night.

Dress Code

Lightweight summer clothing is suitable most of the year, but some slightly warmer garments may be needed for the winter months, especially in the evenings when visiting hotels, restaurants, shopping malls and cinemas, it is also a good idea to take a sweater or cardigan as the air-conditioning can be little cold. The attitude to dress in Abu Dhabi is relaxed, but visitors (men & women) should show respect for local culture and custom in public places by avoiding excessively revealing clothing

Women experience no special restrictions of dress or behavior in day-to-day life in Abu Dhabi.

Business Hours

Abu Dhabi being the commercial hub of the Middle East sees a huge influx of business travel from international markets. Business week starts on a Sunday and the weekend has traditionally been Thursday afternoon and Friday, but some organizations now close on Friday and Saturday, working through Thursday afternoon instead. Government offices are open from 7.30am– 3.00pm.

Private sector office hours vary, but are generally from 8.00am–1.00pm, re-opening at either 3.00pm or 4.00pm and closing at 7.00pm or 8.00pm.

Shop hours are similar in their opening times, but most shops remain open until 9.00–10.00pm. Department stores, boutiques, souks and many food shops remain open on a Friday, apart from prayer times (between 11.30am and 1.30pm), while larger shops re-open on a Friday afternoon at around 4.00–5.00pm.

Embassies and consulates are generally open from 8.45am–12.30pm and are closed on Fridays and in most cases on Saturdays, but usually leave an emergency number on their answering machines.


Both the local banks and the many international banks represented by branches in Abu Dhabi provide the usual commercial banking services. Transfers can be made without difficulty as there is no exchange control and the dirham is freely convertible.

Bank opening hours are 8.00am to 1.00pm, from Saturday to Wednesday, although some also open from 4.30–6.30pm. On Thursdays, banks operate only from 8.00am to noon. Exchange houses are open from 8.30am–1.00pm and 4.30–8.30pm

Currency & Credit Cards

The monetary unit of the UAE is dirham (Abbreviated to Dhs. or AED) divided into 100 fils. US Dollar to Dirham rate is around AED 3.67 for every

41 Dollar. There are no foreign exchange restrictions and the currency is freely convertible.

Abu Dhabi has a comprehensive network of local and international banks as well as ATM to be found in shopping malls, petrol stations and the airports. Cards accepted include American express, Cirrus, Global access, Master Card, Plus system, Diner Club and Visa.


Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Some restaurants include service; otherwise 10 per cent is adequate.


The electricity supply in Abu Dhabi is 220/240 volts at 50 cycles. US-made appliances may need a transformer.

Useful Tips

- Do not sit in such a way that the soles of your feet are pointing at someone else.

- During Ramadan, never eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours.

- Do not take photographs of military installations or national women.

- Never drink alcohol in public.

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