With a population of around 1.5 million, Abu Dhabi is the second largest city and the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Compared to the desert metropolis Dubai, Abu Dhabi appears as a small town, but is no less charming. The ruler of Abu Dhabi and simultaneously the President of the United Arab Emirates is Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Abu Dhabi city covers an area of approximately 970 km², roughly a quarter of Dubai city, but still three times the size of Munich. The emirate of Abu Dhabi in turn is by far the largest of the seven emirates by occupying almost 87% of the total land.
Above all, life in Abu Dhabi is one thing: SAFE! Abu Dhabi has been voted the safest city in the world by Numbeo several times in a row, from 338 cities worldwide. The crime rate is very low and you can roam the streets freely at night and never feel uncomfortably even for a moment. Most people never lock their doors at night and while on the beach, it is normal to leave your belongings unattaended without worrying about longfingers.
And although Abu Dhabi stands, of course, a bit in the shadow of its big brother Dubai, in terms of events, it is in no way inferior.
Besides the annual Formula One race at the Yas Circuit, numerous events take place during the year. The famous RedBull Air Race is being held at an yearly basis right beside the public beach of Abu Dhabi with free entry and inclusive goose bumps when the amazing Al Fursan aerobatic display team perform their breathtaking maneuvers right above the spectators heads.
But even without these events you will find plenty of action to occupy your spare time. Countless shopping malls and leisure facilities can be found. Among other things, The Yas Water Park, next to the famous Ferrari World with the fastest roller coaster in the world is definitely worth more than one visit. Or you can make a few laps on the Yas Circuit, the Formula 1 circuit in Abu Dhabi. From the Mercedes AMG or an Aston Martin, to a Formula Yas 3000 racer. Visit your favorite cartoon character in the newly built Warner Brothers World. What more do you want? Zoos, parks, one of the numerous cinemas or simply the fantastic public beaches, are all perfect venues for a fun family day out.
The expat community in the UAE is around 88%. This means, in turn, that the Emiratis are a vast minority in their own country. As a European, you feel almost more at home in Dubai than in European large cities. Abu Dhabi has developed into one of the most modern cities in the world thanks to revenues from the oil business. "Small but powerful" one might say. And lets use another phrase: "All that glitters IS Gold!"
Here is an amazing number: $1.329 trillion - that is the estimated sum of the sovereign wealth fund of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). It is the second largest fund in the world and is meant to secure the future of the country even after the oil era has come to an end.
According to the "Cost of Living Index Rate" by Numbeo, Abu Dhabi is currently holding rank 185 out of 436 with first place being the most expensive city. The bottom line is that life in Abu Dhabi is on average cheaper than, say, in European cities such as Munich (70), Vienna (114) or Glasgow (170).
It should be noted that the cost differences apply to different areas. Restaurant visits for example are usually more expensive than in Europe, the same applies to rental rates, but used cars or insurances are far cheaper than the European average.
The rental prices for both apartments and houses or villas vary greatly, depending on the location of the property. Taking into consideration location, size and facilities, one must expect to pay between €1.500 (US$1.700) to €5.000 (US$ 5.700) per month for a 3-bedroom apartment.
Modern buildings are usually more expensive, of course, but they come equipped with pools, fitness rooms and sometimes even a sauna or additional play or recreation rooms, usage of which is included in the rental price.
The purchase of real estate in Abu Dhabi is only possible in a few designated areas. It is also important to distinguish between two purchase options (leasehold / freehold), which is an important factor for any purchase.
In contrast to Dubai, only the leasehold purchase is possible in Abu Dhabi, which limits the ownership of the property to a maximum of 99 years.
Insurance for both people and vehicles is far cheaper in Abu Dhabi than in Europe cities. Medical insurance for an employee costs as little as €250 (285US$) per year (!) and the liability insurance for cars, a BMW X6 for example, costs around €300 (350US$) per year.
These are only guidelines and the final costs depend, of course, on other factors such as the insurer and the respective insurance.
Also in terms of food, you do not have to worry in Abu Dhabi. There are innumerable restaurants of all nationalities and price ranges, from the super cheap Arabian snack to international well-known fast food chains to exclusive 5* gourmet kitchens.
Alcohol is available in liquor stores for all non muslims and alcoholic beverages are served in most restaurants that are affiliated with a liquor-licensed hotel. There are numerous bars and nightclubs throughout the UAE and almost all beach clubs have their own beach bar.
Gas prices in Abu Dhabi are regulated by the government and are adjusted on an almost monthly basis. On average, a litre costs around 2.1 AED (about 50 euro-cents) for SuperPlus and about 1.9 dirhams (about 45 euro-cents) for super gasoline.