Abu Dhabi is the largest and most populated of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, with over 80% of its landmass. The emirate’s population, now over 1.6 million, is expected to reach 3 million by 2030. Across the UAE, Emirati citizens make up nearly 20% of the total population; the other 80% are expatriates from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and North America.
The UAE is four hours ahead of UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time – formerly known as GMT) and there is no daylight saving. Hence, when it is 12.00 midday in Abu Dhabi, it is 3am in New York, 8am in London, 10 am in Johannesburg, 1.30pm in New Delhi, and 6pm in Sydney (not allowing for any summer time saving in those countries).
Social & business hours
Generally speaking, government departments, embassies and consulates work from 8am to 4pm. Embassies and consulates may designate specific times of day for processing certain requests (such as passport applications) so always call before you visit. The Islamic holy day is Friday and most organisations operate a Friday / Saturday weekend. Shops and visitor attractions are open on both days, though usually towards the end of the day or in the early evening on Fridays.
During the holy month of Ramadan shops often change their hours by closing during the day, re-opening an hour or two after sunset, and staying open later at night. Food outlets and restaurants generally remain closed or offer takeaway services only during the day and then open up for Iftar after sunset.
Currency and Credit Cards
The unit of currency of the United Arab Emirates is the UAE dirham (AED). Participants can exchange money at the airport and hotels. Major credit cards (Amercian Express, DinersClub, MasterCard and Visa) are accepted at hotels, major restaurants and shops.
UAE dirham (AED)
As of 20 May 2013
1 US$ = AED 3.67
1 EUR= AED 4.81
1 CHF=AED 3.96
The United Arab Emirates operates on 220 volts, 50 Hz, with a UK style plug that fit into recessed wall sockets.
The Business language is English. Arabic is the official language in Abu Dhabi, and English is widely spoken and used as a second language in commerce.
The International dialing code is +971. The United Arab Emirates uses the international GSM (Global System for Mobile Telephony) standard. Foreign visitors can use mobile phone (operating on the 900 MHz and/ or 1800 MHz bands) outside the national network under the international roaming system.
In May, the average temperature in Abu Dhabi is between 25C and 38C.
Abu Dhabi is four hours ahead of GMT/UTC and does not adjust its time to DST (Daylight saving time).
Tipping practices are similar to most parts of the world. Some restaurants include service; otherwise 10% is adequate.