Understanding work culture in Abu Dhabi

The work culture in Abu Dhabi
Updated 2021-11-10 08:09

Abu Dhabi is an international city, and in most workplaces, you will interact and work with people of different nationalities. Every year, the capital welcomes new expats to the city because of its offerings of lucrative salaries, excellent quality of life in terms of residential areas and city life, as well as great compensation packages or benefits.

Reasonable salaries and excellent packages

Most workplaces in the capital offer reasonable salaries if you are wise enough to sort through which companies pay the best. At the end of the day, expats come to the city to get at least fair pay to foster their self-worth and professional development. Good companies in Abu Dhabi will offer excellent benefits and packages that will mostly take care of an employee's basic needs.

Diverse culture in the workplace

Being an expat means accepting the fact that one must be open-minded to different cultures and races. This means accepting and befriending people from all walks of life because, in Abu Dhabi, you will meet a lot of them and will work with them. To adjust to expat life, you need to welcome new ideas, new cultures and new friendships to thrive and be productive for the organisation as well.

Flexible working hours

In some workplaces such as government offices and some private organisations, flexible working hours are permitted. This benefits the employee by making working hours more convenient for them. In this day and age of digital technology, it is also easy to work from home as long as the employer permits it.

Health insurance

Employers are required by law to provide basic health insurance for their employees. This means that the pressure of health insurance is lifted off from the employee's shoulder, especially when an expat is unwell and away from home.

Opportunities for women

The United Arab Emirates is a champion for women empowerment in the region, and it has been pushing for economic growth through the advancement of women. This means quality education opportunities as well as professional growth for women in the workplace.

Dress code in the workplace

Abu Dhabi applies Islamic laws, which is why modesty in work clothes is still applied. For men, they are expected to dress formally while women should dress appropriately without showing too much skin.


English is widely spoken in the workplace, so there is no need to learn Arabic for expats, unlike in other countries where learning the host's language is required. Learning Arabic will not hurt, especially when going around, but English will suffice.

Social conventions

Alcohol is strictly prohibited, except in hotels and other designated areas where it is legally allowed. Smoking is allowed in certain places as well, so best to observe or ask around before going out for a smoke.

Ramadan timings

Eating, smoking and drinking in public are prohibited for the whole month of Ramadan except for those with health conditions and those who are pregnant. However, there are designated covered eating areas for expats and non-Muslims, especially in mall food courts.

Business days

Weekdays in Abu Dhabi begin on Sundays and end on Thursdays. This means the weekends are Friday and Saturday. Some workplaces have only one day off, which is Friday while some have both weekends off for Friday and Saturday. It is best to clarify this with the employer before accepting an offer.

Useful links:

Visit Abu Dhabi

How to develop a professional network

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