Living in the UAE is a wonderful experience and I often get asked about what day to day life is like. I decided to put together some facts about life here and answer some of the questions that I get asked regularly.
Can you drink / buy alcohol here?
YES! All hotels and hotel restaurants are licensed to sell alcohol. If an establishment is NOT connected to a hotel, it will not sell alcohol. Golf Clubs are the exception to this and are licensed.
In actual fact, not only can you drink here, but 7 nights a week ladies can drink for FREE! Yes you heard me…FREE! There are dedicated ‘Ladies Nights’ on in different locations throughout the city 7 nights a week.
Non Muslim UAE residents are required to have an alcohol license in order to buy, transport and consume alcohol, the cost of the license is 170AED and is relatively straight forward to obtain.
Can I buy pork products?
YES! Certain supermarkets in the UAE sell Pork products. These will be in the back of a supermarket in a secret location, generally behind a frosted glass electric door with a sign above it that says ‘Non Muslim section’. In this section of the supermarket there will be a butchers counter serving all types of fresh pork and other non Hilal meat products. There will also be a fridge filled with ham, sausages, chorizo, salami, pepperoni, pork pies, bacon, sausage rolls….you name it! This is also where you will find items like smoky bacon crisps, pate, pork gravy, chicken soup (non Hilal) and even pop tarts, not sure why they are in there but they are!
Is it safe for women?
This question often baffles me but I guess if you have never been here then how would you know. The UAE is by far the safest place I have ever lived. Because its a Muslim country there is very little crime and while in Dublin, London or New York I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my handbag on the ground beside me while eating dinner out, in the UAE not only can I leave it at my feet but I can leave my cell phone on the table beside my purse, walk to the ladies, come back 10 minutes later and everything will be exactly where I left it!
Of course its always good to be aware of your surroundings and to act and dress respectfully when in public places but I certainly feel much safer here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. The UAE often comes in the top 10 safest places in the world to live.
Do I have to wear an Abaya?
No. I always dress respectfully when out shopping or out in the city meaning that my knees and shoulders are covered but thats because I feel comfortable dressed like that. There are plenty of people living here that wear tank tops and short shorts but for me I feel more comfortable in causal clothes that cover me. In a few cases, women may choose to wear an abaya to work. I have a teacher friend who works in a school outside Abu Dhabi closer to the Western Region and she chooses to wear an abaya to school because all the students and other teachers wear them. She also loves the fact that she can wear her yoga pants underneath and still look professional going to work!
Is it expensive to live in Abu Dhabi?
If you compare the price of things in the UAE compared to the price at home then the simple answer is yes, it is expensive to live here. However, you are earning more here than you would be at home so everything is relative. With the exception of a few things, I feel that, relatively, it is not that expensive to live here. Alcohol is expensive to buy in an off license..a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at home would cost about €12 whereas here it will cost about 70AED ( €18). But given that its a Muslim country thats not too bad. Any imported goods from home and any speciality items like gluten free bread for example can be expensive 30AED (€7.70).
There is a massive take away culture in Abu Dhabi and I imagine for a single person it could be more cost effective to eat take aways every night rather than buying groceries and cooking. Healthy, fresh food and vegetables can be pricey and almost every restaurant in Abu Dhabi has a free delivery service so you never have to cook if you don’t want to!
If you are thinking of moving to the UAE or if you are just interested in asking some questions please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram or Twitter.