Business Travel to the UAE – Everything You Need to Know Before You Arrive in Abu Dhabi

Business Travel to the UAE – Everything You Need to Know Before You Arrive in Abu Dhabi

Business Travel to the UAE – Everything You Need to Know Before You Arrive in Abu Dhabi
11th May 2022

The United Arab Emirates is a multicultural melting pot with expats from all over the world. Made up of seven Emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this middle Eastern federation is a global hub and key business destination. Abu Dhabi is the largest, and capital of the seven Emirates and has a thriving economy. Oil exports contribute significantly to the UAE economy and Abu Dhabi is home to some of the world's largest oil reserves. Once a sleepy fishing village, the discovery of oil in Abu Dhabi transformed it into the bustling metropolis it is today. Business travellers visit Abu Dhabi from all over the world, but the laws and regulations of the UAE can sometimes be intimidating to new visitors. Read on to discover everything to you need to know before you arrive in Abu Dhabi. 

Key Information

Flight Time: Around 7 hours from the UK

Currency: UAE Dirham

Language: Arabic

Time Difference: GMT +4

Visa: Those with a British passport can obtain a free 30 day visa for the UAE

Getting to Abu Dhabi

Getting to Abu Dhabi International Airport takes around seven hours from the UK. Flights are available daily from London Heathrow and Manchester Airport. Abu Dhabi is less than 140km from Dubai Airport so it is also possible for business travellers to fly there and get a bus or private transfer.  

The best way to travel from Abu Dhabi airport to the city centre is by bus or taxi. The buses run regularly from Terminals one, two and three to and are air conditioned providing a comfortable and economical journey. 

Abu Dhabi City at Dusk
Abu Dhabi International Airport is only a thirty minute drive from the city centre

Dress code in Abu Dhabi

Business attire should be relatively conservative for both men and women in Abu Dhabi. As the UAE is a Muslim country, apart from on the beach or a by a pool, showing your shoulders or knees in public can be seen as being disrespectful, so it is best to dress modestly. A pashmina or scarf can be handy for ladies to cover up and will also assist with the cool air con that is on in many offices and shopping malls. It is not recommended to walk round with anything too see-through or revealing - especially not when it comes to business meetings in Abu Dhabi. 

Food in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has an impressive gastronomic scene. From traditional Emirati dishes featuring aromatic flavours, to popular Western classics, there is a wide variety of dining options. Al Dhafra Dinner Cruises offer a unique dining experience when in Abu Dhabi. Traditional Emirati cuisine is served on a Dhow boat as you sail around the scenic Abu Dhabi Corniche. Many of the traditional dishes in the UAE have Indian and Persian influences, with strong flavours and spice. Some popular Emirati dishes to look out for are: Al Machboos – this is similar to an Indian biryani with meat and rice cooked together with fragrant spices. Khameer, which is an Arabic bread sprinkled with sesame seeds often used to accompany a curry. Chebab which are like pancakes and served with a delicious date syrup.  

Yadoos House in the Embassies’ District in Abu Dhabi is a great place to sample traditional Emirati cuisine in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Yas Marina is a popular destination for business travellers and expats to dine as it has a wide range of tempting restaurants and bars. You will also find a selection of cafes and restaurants in the impressive shopping malls dotted around Abu Dhabi. 

Spices in the UAE
Strong flavours and fragrant spices are often used in traditional Emirati cuisine

Travelling around Abu Dhabi

The most popular method of transport for business travellers to get around Abu Dhabi is by taxi. Taxis are readily available and inexpensive. They also have air conditioning which is usually a necessity in the hot middle eastern temperatures. Taxis can either be flagged on the street or pre booked over the phone.  

Buses are also a great economical option. Buses in Abu Dhabi are modern, well-equipped, and run 24 hours a day.  

In the summer months the average temperature can be 40°C so people usually try to avoid walking too much around Abu Dhabi – particularly around midday when the temperatures peak.  

Camels in the Arabian desert
A Short drive from Abu Dhabi is the vast Arabian Desert

Accommodation in Abu Dhabi

Like many locations in the UAE, accommodation in Abu Dhabi is of a high standard. Those visiting on business or relocating to the area often choose to stay in serviced apartments in Abu Dhabi. Apartments enable guests to enjoy the comforts of a hotel with the additional benefits of having more space, privacy, and cooking facilities. Many of our apartments in Abu Dhabi are well equipped with a lounge space, work desk, a washing machine and kitchen area. Most also have access to a swimming pool, fitness centre and meeting rooms on site. Abu Dhabi is quite a large sprawling city, so it is worth researching the area you wish to reside in. Our dedicated account team can also advise you on this. 

Serviced apartments in Abu Dhabi
Southern Sun Abu Dhabi Apartments are well equipped with everything you need when on a business trip to Abu Dhabi

Conference Venues

Abu Dhabi has an abundance of conference venues and exhibition centres. Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre is the largest exhibition centre in the Middle East and hosts hundreds of events each year. The ADNEC is centrally located in Abu Dhabi and only 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International airport. Many business travellers visit Abu Dhabi specifically to attend events at the ADNEC each year. 

Top sights to see in Abu Dhabi

Whether you are on a short business trip to Abu Dhabi or relocating for longer, it is a good idea to schedule in some time to explore and see the sights in this diverse destination. Some of our favourite sights in Abu Dhabi are: 

  • Yas Mall – Located on Yas Island, Yas mall is the biggest shopping mall and entertainment destination in Abu Dhabi. Home to 370 international stores, and more than 60 restaurants and cafes, you can while away hours in this striking air-conditioned centre. There is also a 20-screen cinema, fairground, playground, soft play, climbing wall and indoor skydiving making it a popular destination for all the family. 
  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – The largest mosque in the UAE, this impressive religious structure is simply striking. Built from white Macedonian Marble, with intricate stone work, opulent gold features and sparkling crystal chandeliers it is one of the most impressive buildings in the country. Visitors are welcome at the Mosque but there is a dress code to observe
  • The Corniche – One of the most iconic roads in Abu Dhabi, the Corniche stretches 8 km along the Arabian Gulf Coast. Here you will find pedestrian walkways, picturesque sandy beaches, children’s play areas, cafes and restaurants. 
  • Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi – If you are on your business trip to Abu Dhabi with family or children Yas Waterworld is a must visit destination. Fun for all ages this extraordinary water park has over 40 thrilling rides, spread over 37 aches.  
  • Dessert Safari – If you have the time to explore wider Abu Dhabi a desert safari can be a great way of seeing outside the city. A range of day or evening tours are available, or you can even experience an overnight tent safari camping in the desert. 
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is a stunning example of Islamic architecture and design

Top tips for visiting Abu Dhabi

  • Dress respectfully when exploring Abu Dhabi – ladies should cover shoulders and knees and it is usually worth carrying a jacket or cover up, this is also helpful when it comes to the air conditioning inside. 
  • Be careful when it comes to public displays of affection in Abu Dhabi. Islamic laws can be very strict regarding PDAs and it is wise to avoid holding hands or kissing in public. 
  • When doing business in Abu Dhabi a man should always wait for a woman to initiate a handshake first.
  • During Ramadan there are strict rules about eating, drinking, and smoking in public. Muslims will not eat or drink during daylight hours and it can be disrespectful for people to do this in public places. 
  • The UAE does have some strict rules and laws but this does mean is it one of the safest countries in the world with a low crime rate. 

Abu Dhabi is a key commercial centre that sees thousands of business travellers visit or relocate to each year. With year-round sunshine and a healthy economy this middle eastern metropolis has a lot to offer. If you are planning a business trip to Abu Dhabi, or the UAE, contact our friendly team or you can find our full range of serviced apartments here 

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