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Few destinations have undergone quite the transformation that the United Arab Emirates has in the past couple of decades. And Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, more so than the rest.

As an emirate, Abu Dhabi is far more quiet and conservative than Dubai, and offers visitors a more authentic glimpse of the regions’s culture. While tourism is drawn to the fast-paced cosmopolitan of Dubai, Abu Dhabi has become an attractive hub for expats.

In fact, data from the UN has revealed that 88 per cent of the UAE’s total residents have come from abroad. That’s massive!

So, just what is it about this Emirate which is attracting so many expats?

Why Abu Dhabi Has Become a Massive Expat Hub

#1 New Opportunities

Abu Dhabi UAE RF

According to figures released earlier this year, Abu Dhabi welcomed more than 10 million visitors in 2018, with the majority coming from India, China and the UK. Though it’s worth noting that this isn’t a new trend; this has always been a city popular with expats.

One reason has been the development of major work opportunities. As Core Recruitment explains, large global companies have opened major offices in the UAE, while other businesses are able to support those moving out there by offering accommodation and footing the bill on other relocation expenses.

And when we’re talking about work perks – a massive bonus is the fact that UAE salaries are totally tax-free, (as in you pay ZERO tax!) which is understandably proving hugely attractive.

The United Arab Emirates is widely considered a tax-free paradise. Expats who are a tax resident of Abu Dhabi (or any emirate for that matter), earn 100% of their salary, with zero tax obligations.

The oil industry has made the UAE an incredibly rich country, so it is able to use a no-tax policy to attract skilled expats and global companies to diversify and enrich its economy. You should however keep in mind that you might still have to file your tax return in your home country.

In addition, the standard of living is pretty attractive too. As Bayut highlights, the standard of apartments available to rent in Abu Dhabi is incredibly high, with accommodation ranging from studio-style units to four-bedroom flats.

Regardless of the size, all of them tend to be state-of-art accommodation, with some buildings also including dedicated gyms, swimming pools and other facilities.

#2 Entertainment and Culture

Great apartments and tax free employment may be a good reason for people to head to Abu Dhabi, but the reason people stay is because they fall in love with the vibe of the city; and that comes down to entertainment and culture.

Abu Dhabi is far more quiet and conservative than Dubai and offers visitors a more authentic glimpse of the regions’s culture. The UAE might be known for lavish resorts and manmade islands, but Abu Dhabi offers a better chance to see the real UAE before it became overly commercialised.

In terms of entertainment, this is world-class, and despite being a quieter emirate by comparison, there’s plenty of excitement, from the annual Grand Prix, to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and camel racing / camel polo!

Related Post: Cultural Highlights of Abu Dhabi: 5 Things to Do

Art fans will also love exploring the incredible collections of The Louvre Abu Dhabi, while the theme parks of Yas Island will offer fun for all of the family. You can visit the Abu Dhabi Falconry Hospital, or sign up for a riding school and learn to ride on Arabian Horses.

Racing events are free of charge at The Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club where numerous prestigious races are held each year. Top annual races include The President’s Cup, National Cup, and the Emirates Championship.

Image: Robert Haandrikman (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

#3 A Strong Expat Culture

Friends fist bump RF

Yes, a key reason to move to Abu Dhabi is for the chance to fully immerse yourself in a unique Emrati culture, but a great perk is that the city also has a strong expat culture.

Being such a popular expat hub, it’s one of the easiest destinations in the world to settle in, because you’re surrounded by other in the same boat as you, and it’s very easy to make new friends.

In terms of building up your social networks in a new land, start by socialising with colleagues, classmates or expats and when you are moving with your children, you can meet other parents at their school.

A different way to get in touch with new people and make friends is by participating in an organized sport or hobby. Read this post for tips on how to make friends where-ever you go.

Whether you’re a digital nomad looking to set up home in a new country, or someone simply thinking about starting again in a different land, Abu Dhabi could be your location!

The region has gone from strength to strength and it’s hard to bet against it being an expat hotspot for many years to come.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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