The big sights, such as Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Emirates Palace, Yas Island and Masdar City, all have facilities for those in wheelchairs; all midrange and five-star hotels have lifts (elevators).
There is a special check-in gate for travellers with special needs and a meet-and-assist service called Marhaba at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Dangers & Annoyances
Abu Dhabi is a very safe city to travel around during the day or night. Women can safely take taxis on their own but they may encounter unwanted attention, especially if walking alone.
The UAE has zero tolerance towards illegal drugs. Having illegal substances in your bloodstream counts as possession.
- Electricity Electrical current 220V. British-style three-pin wall sockets are standard. North American visitors require an adapter and a transformer.
Emergency & Important Numbers
Entry & Exit Formalities
Free 30-day visas available on arrival for 34 nationalities, including most Western nationals.
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ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops.
Many credit and debit cards can be used for withdrawing money from ATMs. There is usually a charge (around 1.5% to 2%) on ATM cash withdrawals abroad.
Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted at shops, hotels and restaurants throughout Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and debit cards are accepted at bigger retail outlets.
Round taxi fares to near nearest Dhs5. Tip 10% at restaurants unless service is already included on the bill.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) weekend is on Friday and Saturday.
Banks 8am to 1pm (some until 3pm) Sunday to Thursday, 8am to noon Saturday
Restaurants noon to 3pm and 7.30pm to midnight
Shopping malls 10am to 10pm Sunday to Wednesday, 10am to midnight Thursday to Saturday
Souqs & markets 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 9pm Saturday to Thursday, 4pm to 9pm Friday
Public holidays include 1st January and UAE National Day on 2nd and 3rd December. Religious holidays, determined by the lunar calendar, are announced in the papers (www.thenational.ae).
Hejira Islamic New Year
Eid Al Fitr Marks the end of Ramadan fasting and is a three-day celebration.
Eid Al Adha A four-day celebration following the main pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj.
Ramadan Month of fasting during daylight hours.
Prophet's Birthday Varies annually according to the Islamic (lunar) calendar.
New laws governing smoking came into effect in January 2015 throughout the UAE. The key facts are as follows:
- No smoking in public places.
- Shisha smoking is prohibited under the age of 18.
- Smoking is still permitted in designated hotel rooms and some bars and nightclubs.
- There are fines for throwing cigarette butts into the street and for smoking in non-smoking areas.
Taxes & Refunds
- UAE Country code (0971)
- Local directory services (181)
- International directory assistance (151)
- Abu Dhabi area code (02)
- Dubai area code (04)
- The UAE’s mobile phone network uses the GSM 900 MHz and 1800 MHz standard. Mobile numbers begin with either 050 or 055. If your phone is unlocked, consider buying a prepaid SIM card, available at the airport and citywide stores.
- 3G is widely available.
Mobile phones operate on GSM900/1800. Local SIM cards cost from Dhs55 and include Dhs5 free credit. 3G is widely available, 4G increasingly so.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority maintains information desks in the airport arrivals hall – T1, Ferrari World and World Trade Center Souk. In addition, the following official websites give comprehensive tourist information.
Visit Abu Dhabi (www.visitabudhabi.ae) The city's main tourist-oriented website.
Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi Useful information online and tourist brochures available.
Yas Island Information (www.yasisland.ae) A good online overview of what's on, when and where on Yas Island.
Travel with Children
With its many kids' zones in shopping malls and shaded parks, most with slides, swings and climbing frames, Abu Dhabi has lots of fun for the family. In addition, top-class theme parks on Yas Island ensure that all ages are catered for. Don't forget some of the out-of-town features, such as the Saluki Centre, which introduce children to local culture.
Best Mall Entertainment
- Fun Works Learning is the focus of this play environment.
- Bounce Epic trampoline park at Marina Mall.
Best City Parks for Kids
- Al Khalidiyah Public Park There are good climbing frames here.
- Murjan Splash Park Safe interaction with water guns and slides in Khalifa Park.
Best Out-of-Town Experiences
- Falcon Hospital A chance to learn about falcons and meet them up close.
- Arabian Saluki Centre Cuddling the puppies is way too good for kids!
Best for Eating
- A warm layer is useful year-round to avoid overly cold AC in malls and cold nights in winter.
- The heat of summer is hard for infants as dehydration is a danger. Hats are essential.
- Discounts are available for children. The cut-off age is usually 10 years old or dictated by height.