Moving to Abu Dhabi


Download the Expat Arrivals Abu Dhabi Schools Guide for detailed reviews of International Schools in Abu Dhabi including independent suggestions from parents, teachers and school inspectors.



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Moving to Abu DhabiMany expats move to Abu Dhabi in search of the same tax-free wealth and less of the constant commercial frenzy found in nearby Dubai. Once a desert outpost dependent on pearling and palm gardening, the United Arab Emirates' capital has grown tremendously in the last two decades and emerged as an attractive destination luring foreigners from around the globe.

There are many work opportunities available in this oil-rich emirate, the largest of the United Arab Emirates. Expats who are drawn to Dubai will find that the two emirates share many of the same characteristics, including a thriving expat community that greatly outnumbers the local population, a vibrant lifestyle with lots of opportunities for shopping and entertainment, and an extremely safe environment where crime and theft are rarities.

That said, life in Abu Dhabi tends to unravel at a slower pace than in Dubai; and the city is often characterised as being more family-friendly and better suited for those looking to settle down and stay a while. Not to mention, the UAE's capital is less built-up and boasts broader patches of greenery.

The largest concern expats moving to Abu Dhabi will have is sorting out schooling for their children; while a number of reputable private, international schools exist, shortages are common and admission competitive. It's important to start the enrolment process as early as possible.

For those enjoying the single life, or who have yet to have children, relocating is simply a matter of negotiating the right kind of contract in the face of a rising cost of living, waiting for the appropriate paperwork to come through, and then embarking on the period of cultural adjustment that always comes attached to life abroad.

Though the majority of those living in Abu Dhabi are foreigners, behaviour in the emirate is nonetheless mandated by the Islamic faith, and it's essential expats familiarise themselves with what to expect and learn to respect traditional Arab culture.

Expats living in Abu Dhabi will have to adapt to the stifling summer heat and the artificial air-conditioned cocoon in which the city enshrouds itself, in this desert emirate.

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