- This link provides general information for Abu Dhabi visitors
The Business Environment
Abu Dhabi offers businessmen operating conditions that are among the most liberal and attractive in the region. Matching the highest international standards, facilitating efficiency and quality services of a highly developed economy Abu Dhabi offers incoming business all the advantages to facilitate and encourage new businesses leveraging on its highly developed infrastructure
Currency and Foreign Exchange
The official currency of the United Arab Emirates is the dirham (abbreviated to Dhs or AED), with each dirham divided into 100 fils. Dirham notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 denominations, while coins come in Dhs 1, 0.5, 0.25, 0.10 and 0.05 fils. There is some limitation on the import of currency into the country. Cash exceeding Dhs 40,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency must be declared to airport customs control upon entry. The dirham is pegged to the US Dollar at the official exchange rate of Dhs 3.671 to every US Dollar. There are no foreign exchange restrictions in place in the country, and foreign currency of almost any denomination is readily exchanged. Banks and money exchange bureaus can be found throughout Abu Dhabi, the latter located in most shopping malls and key locations. All major hotels will also readily exchange currency for guests.
Credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club, are widely accepted in the United Arab Emirates, as are traveler’s cheques. Travelers are advised to carry traveler’s cheques in either US Dollar or UK Pounds Sterling to avoid additional exchange rate charges.
Lightweight summer clothing is suitable most of the year, but it is advisable to bring some warmer garments for the evenings. In hotels, restaurants, shopping-malls and cinemas, the air-conditioning can be a little cold and it is therefore suggested that warmer clothing is worn at those times. The attitude to dress in Abu Dhabi is relaxed but visitors (men and women) should show respect for local culture and customs in public places and avoid excessively revealing clothing.
Visitors to Abu Dhabi can rent or drive a car in the emirate if they have a valid international driving license issued by the country from which their driving license has been granted. Visitors are not allowed to use their national driving license during their stay in Abu Dhabi. Note must be made that while the law allows visitors to drive privately registered vehicles, some insurance companies will not cover accident claims, as they only insure vehicles for drivers holding a valid UAE driving license.
Nationals or residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries do not require an international driving license, and can drive or rent a car in Abu Dhabi using their GCC-issued driving license for the duration of their visit in the emirate (up to three months).
The road network in the emirate of Abu Dhabi is excellent and streets are well signposted in both Arabic and English. Driving in Abu Dhabi, and the UAE in general, is on the right hand side of the road. Seat belts are mandatory for drivers and front seat passengers, but optional for passengers in the rear seats. Children under the age of 10 must be seated in the rear seats.
Driving on the hard shoulder is also a violation, as is talking on a handheld mobile phone. Hands free sets are advisable if visitors must use their mobile phones while driving. Violations for any of the above will result in hefty fines. The UAE has an inflexible zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving, and violators will be penalized severely (including jail sentences). Visitors should arrange for alternative transportation, such as taxis or a designated driver, if they intend to consume alcohol, even in small amounts.
If you are involved in an accident, even if it is minor, do not leave the accident scene. Report the accident to the police (dial 999) and wait for them to arrive. Have your car registration card and your international driving license ready for the police who will determine who is at fault in the accident. It is mandatory for cars to be insured in the UAE, therefore the insurance company will pay for repairs if there are any damages. If you are at fault, you may have to pay a nominal fixed charge towards repairs. Note that if you are involved in an accident and tests indicate you have consumed alcohol, in any amount, the insurance on your car becomes void.
Speed limits within urban areas are usually 60-80 km per hour, and 100-120 on major highways and roads. Speed limits are clearly indicated on road signs at regular intervals. Fixed and mobile speed traps are abundant and are activated by speeds of 10-20 km per hour over the speed limit. Speed violators will be fined heavily.
Abu Dhabi Duty Free is among the region’s top duty free facilities, with top brand names on offer in fashion, cosmetics, fragrances, confectionaries, beverages, tobacco, electronic equipment, gold, toys, gifts, souvenirs, and much more. With several shops-in-shop located in the arrival and departure areas of the airport, as well as in the main airport entrance, travelers can shop while waiting to collect their luggage or pick up a range of luxury products and souvenirs before departure. Warm service and open, friendly layouts round off the pleasurable shopping experience. Travelers arriving in Abu Dhabi are permitted to purchase up to 2 liters of spirits and 2 liters of wine (non-Muslim adults only), perfume in reasonable quantities and up to 2,000 cigarettes, 400 cigars or 2 kg of tobacco.
The Abu Dhabi Duty Free also organizes the extremely popular Big Ticket Raffle prize, in addition to a number of other raffles and draws year-round for luxury vehicles, lavish apartments and cash prizes. The monthly Big Ticket raffle offers a total prize fund of Dhs 1,500,000 with the first prize winner scooping the grand prize of Dhs 1,000,000. Tickets for the raffle are available at Big Ticket Counters throughout Abu Dhabi International Airport or they can be purchased online.
Flight to Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Airport is serviced by many international airlines. Etihad is the national carrier . Visitors can visit Etihad web site for more information (www.etihadairways.com
Food & Drink
All types of cuisine can be found in Abu Dhabi. visitors are encouraged to sample the delicious local and regional dishes.
In Abu Dhabi the official language is Arabic. English, however, is widely spoken. Other languages are Persian, Hindi and Urdu
Passport and Visa
Information concerning visa requirements for those wishing to travel to the UAE has been listed below, however visa regulations and costs are subject to change and should always be checked with your travel agent or nearest UAE embassy before traveling. Do not overstay your visa as this will result in detention and fines.
The Cabinet decided to reduce the visit visa period for citizens of 33 countries who are allowed to enter the UAE without a prior visa to one month non-renewable instead of three months. The Cabinet also decided to impose a charge of Dhs100 per visa to be collected on entry to the UAE through land, seaport and airport entry points.
The decision includes citizens from France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Malta, Spain, Monaco, Vatican, Iceland, Andorra, San Marino, Liechtenstein, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Citizens of the UK (with right of abode in the UK) will be granted a free of charge visit visa on arrival in the UAE: Passports will be stamped with the visit visa as you pass through Immigration at any airport in the UAE. Although the visa may be stamped for 30 days, it entitles the holder to stay in the country for 60 days and may be renewed once for an additional period of 30 days for a fee. Except for citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council who do not require a visa and nationalities automatically entitled to visit visas on entry, all other visitors who wish to stay longer than 14 days in the UAE must obtain a visit visa in advance through a sponsor. The sponsor can be your travel agency, your hotel, the company or department with which you are doing business in the UAE, or an individual (e.g. a relative or friend resident in the UAE).
You can pick up this visit visa on arrival at the airport, but there is a fee of Dh100 plus a Dh10 delivery charge for this service. In order to complete your application, your sponsor will require your date of arrival, flight details, and a photocopy of the first few pages of your passport, which should be valid for at least three months.
A hotel will only provide a visa if you are a guest. For an individual to sponsor a visit visa, he or she must earn over Dh4000 per month and hold a valid residence visa. Your visit visa must be deposited at airport immigration one hour before the arrival of your flight. Note that your airline may require evidence (e.g. a photocopy) before departure that a valid visa awaits you on arrival.
Please note that holders of British Overseas Citizens Passport who do not have the right of abode in the UK do need visas to enter the UAE. This special category of visit visa is available for individual tourists from East and West Europe who are not entitled to be issued with a visa on arrival, as well as visitors from Thailand, South Africa and China. The tourist visa, which must be sponsored by hotels and tour operators, entitles its holder to a 30-day stay and is non-renewable.
Entry Service Permit
An entry service permit (sometimes referred to as a 14-day stay) is available to businessmen and tourists. The permit must be sponsored by a company or commercial establishment or a hotel licensed to operate within the UAE. The visa, which is non- renewable, is valid for 14 days from the date of issue and the duration of stay is 14 days from date of entry, exclusive of arrival and departure days. There is a fee of Dh120 plus Dh10 delivery charge for obtaining an entry service permit. Allow at least two weeks for processing of the permit.
If you are flying to or from Europe or the United States, to Asia or Africa and passing through UAE airports, you can obtain a special 96-hour transit visa. You must be sponsored by an airline operating in the UAE and you must have a valid ticket for your onward flight. Your travel documents will be stamped with an entry seal and there is no charge for this visa
Multiple Entry Visa
As an option for business visitors who are frequent visitors to the UAE and who have a relationship with a reputable company in the UAE. Valid for six months from date of issue, each visit must not exceed 30 days in total. The visitor must enter the UAE on a visit visa and obtain the multiple entry visa while in the country.
German citizens (both tourists and business visitors) may apply to the UAE embassy in Germany for one or two year multiple- entry visa. No sponsor is required. The maximum duration of stay should not exceed three months a year. US citizens may apply to the UAE embassy in the US for one to ten year multiple-entry visas. A sponsor is required. The maximum duration of stay should not exceed six months per visit.
Documents to obtain a visa from a UAE embassy, you will need the following:
- 2 photographs
- Duplicate application form
- Letter or fax from the sponsor in the UAE to the embassy concerned
- A letter from the applicant's company plus photocopy
For further information, please visit http://www.government.ae/gov/en/visitors/uae/visas.jsp
Photography of military installations, government buildings, airports and other sensitive locations is prohibited. Photography of local women without their permission is also not permitted. If in doubt, it is courteous to ask permission before taking photographs.
An extensive network of post offices covers Abu Dhabi, offering fast and reliable postal services. Emirates Post, the sole provider of postal services in the UAE, has 22 offices spread out across the emirate that provide both domestic and international mail and courier services. Working hours vary at different post offices, with some post offices remaining open till late evening while others open only until early afternoon.
Mail services in Abu Dhabi are inexpensive, with domestic mail costing 50 fils per letter (under 20 grams) and up to Dhs 3 per letter to Europe. Postcards cost up to Dhs 2 to Europe, America, Australia and the Far East. Most hotel front desks will be able to provide assistance in posting mail or postcards both domestically and internationally.
Alcohol is served to non-Muslims in all major hotels and licensed restaurants, but public drunkenness and drinking and driving are not tolerated. The latter is a serious offence, with zero tolerance for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Serving, selling or giving alcohol to non-Muslims is also against the law. There is also no tolerance for drug use, and visitors may face long prison sentences if apprehended with any drugs, however small the quantity. The Ministry of Health’s Drug Control Department publishes lists of restricted drugs and medications that may otherwise be prescribed in travelers’ home countries, so travelers must take special care to ensure that their medications or other substances are not restricted before traveling.
Compared with other major cities, Abu Dhabi benefits from one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Normal precautions should be exercised if carrying substantial amounts of money, and guests should make use of their hotel safe for storing valuables and travel documents whenever possible.
The local time is four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Water and Electricity
The electricity supply in Abu Dhabi is 220/240 volts at 50 Hz. Square three-pin sockets are standard. It is advisable to bring a plug adapter with you, but most hotels can supply you with adapters for other kinds of plug or you can purchase adapters locally.
Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Abu Dhabi, but if you prefer the taste of bottled water, locally bottled mineral water is readily available in supermarkets and grocery stories everywhere.
Female visitors, whether traveling alone or with their families, experience no special restrictions of dress or behavior in day-to-day life in Abu Dhabi. Women play a full and active part in the life of the country (up to and including Government Minister level) and foreign women visitors can be assured they will be readily accepted and welcomed.
Working Hours Policy
- Upon recommendation from the Civil Service Council, The Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi shall decree the working hours per week in accordance with the nature of work in each government entity.
- Each government entity shall communicate its own official working hours and the weekly holidays through the appropriate channels.
The Official Working Hours through Government Entities
- The official working hours run from Sunday through Thursday for the full time employees in the government entities, and the weekend includes Friday and Saturday.
- The working hours for the full time employees start from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. with 40 hours per week.
- New schedule of working hours, matching with the nature of work in the concerned government entity, may be coordinated between that entity and the Civil Service Department provided it shall be approved by Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Shift Working System
- A government entity may apply a schedule of one, two or three shifts per day in accordance with its requirements and circumstances of work provided that the total hours of the schedule shall not exceed (48) hours per week.
- A rotating shift/shift working schedule may be applied on certain positions or organizational divisions in a government entity according to situations.
Working Hours during the Holy Month of Ramadan
- Official working hours will be reduced by two hours daily during the Holy month of Ramadan.
- During the Holy month of Ramadan, office hours shall begin at 9 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.
- Each government entity shall schedule the shift working hours in accordance with its work requirements
Compliance with the Office Hours
- All employees are requested to attend and leave in compliance with the set office hours.
- In case of emergency, an employee shall inform his/her direct chief accordingly if he/she can not attend or leave at the office hours.
- In accordance with the policy and procedures of discipline, a disciplinary measure shall be taken against the employee who frequently absents him/herself from the place of work or arrives late without a reasonable excuse accepted by his/her direct chief.
Indemnification for Work During Weekends
- The direct chief may enjoin an employee to work during a weekend.
- An employee, working during a weekend, shall be compensated with a number of days equivalent to the days of work during weekends.
- If a weekend coincides with officially important working days, the employee shall be accorded additional days corresponding to the number of days of the weekend which interlaced with the official work assignments
Newspapers and Magazines
The United Arab Emirates printed media includes several English and Arabic language daily newspapers, as well as a large number of weekly and monthly periodicals. These can be purchased in all local bookshops and supermarkets, as well as hotel shops. Most English-language daily newspapers feature information on upcoming theatre, cinema, art exhibition, concert and cultural events taking place in the emirate, as do the two magazines, Time Out Abu Dhabi and What’s On. There is also a wide range of trade and special interest magazines published in the UAE.
Most foreign newspapers and periodicals are also widely available in the United Arab Emirates.
Major UAE daily newspapers:
Trade and Special Interest Magazines
Architecture & Interior Design
Banking & Finance
Building & Construction
Catering & Hospitality
Computers & Technology
HVAC & R (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration)
Media & Broadcasting
Medical & Healthcare
Oil & Gas
Property & Homes Magazines
Transport & Logistics
Travel & Tourism