CfBT – Abu Dhabi Project
CfBT Education Trust is a not-for-profit international organisation with a mission to improve the
quality of education around the world, having been reaching out to children and governments for
over 40 years. CfBT’s Abu Dhabi School Improvement project has been underway for 3 years, and is
widely considered to be a very successful Public-Private Partnership programme within the Abu
Dhabi state school transformation project.
Background of the project:
Abu Dhabi provides a ‘state’ education to its citizenry through a network of local schools. These
schools have in the past taught all subjects in Arabic, using a variety of teaching methods. Through
partnerships and initiatives, the Abu Dhabi Education Council has invested significantly to change the
language of instruction to English and to adapt/improve teaching methods of locally employed
teachers. CfBT works within the schools to advise and support the local teachers as they implement
the changes in curriculum and delivery, and work to improve the quality of teaching and learning
within these schools.
Types of Teachers required:
Before you fill out an application form, if there is any doubt that you meet the requirements below,
please ring your Teachanywhere consultant to avoid wasted effort.
Candidates must meet the minimum requirements as set out below.
Candidates must have significant personal flexibility and adaptability as they will be working
within the local schools with a foreign management structure and teachers
Candidates must have excellent teaching references. Referencing, criminal record checks and
credential checks will be carried out upon application.
Candidates for most posts must have experience in training or mentoring other teachers and
must be confident in their teaching skills.
Candidates should be sensitive to local culture and work collaboratively with the teachers they
Excellent communication skills are required, and having some knowledge of Arabic language and
culture, whilst not required, is an advantage.
Candidates for Advisory teacher posts must be qualified /certified to teach in government schools in
their home country with teacher training such as a Bachelor of Education, Post Graduate Certificate
in Education or Higher Diploma in Education and teaching certification.
o Teaching Subjects required for Advisory Teachers : Secondary (Middle/High School)
English, Maths, and Special Needs
o We have a limited number of vacancies for Advisory Teachers of Secondary Science, ICT
o Partnership Management Advisors (School leaders)
o English as a Foreign Language Trainers (non-advisory)
Candidates must have at least 3 years of recent experience teaching the subject and level they are
advising – English, Maths, Science, Primary/Elementary, or be Principals/Head Teachers , within the
appropriate age range and must have experience training and mentoring other teachers. Candidates
must have significant teaching experience and/or teacher training from one of the following
countries: UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US or South Africa.
Candidates for the ESL trainer post must have a degree+ TEFL certificate and at least 3 years of
recent TEFL teaching experience, as well as consistent, verifiable work history. Candidates must be
native/near native English speakers, and the ability to speak Arabic is a plus.
Due to the need to conform to local customs and sensibilities, and to conform to local law,
candidates with a partner/spouse who intend to live together must be married.
Some posts have gender requirements due to UAE regulations. Candidates must be younger than 65
upon completion of the contract.
Job Basic Salary Age Range Taught Qualified Degree +
(AED/Annum) /Gender Requirement Teacher TEFL
Partnership 225,000 * 5-10 years old, Female Yes, 3+ years
Teacher Teachers only, teaching
11-18 years old, Male experience +
or Female mentoring other
Partnership 273,000* Primary(Elementary), Yes, 5+ years
Management Middle School and teaching
Advisor Secondary (High) experience and
School teaching and 2+ years whole
leadership experience school
EFL Trainer 225,000* All ages, including adult 3+ years EFL Yes, 3+ years
teaching experience in
experience school setting
*Pending approval by Ministry
All posts enjoy the following benefits
1-2 year contracts
Free housing and AED allowance for utilities
Flights yearly for self, spouse and 1 dependant under 18
School fees allowance of 25,000 AED per child for up to two children*
End of contract bonus
Orientation and mobilisation assistance during arrival
*age restrictions apply. Not applicable for non-UAE resident children.
Interested? To evaluate your candidacy we will require
A short application form, available to download HERE
If shortlisted we will require
Copy of passport
Copies of degrees and certificates
Criminal Record Check
If selected you will be required to undergo a medical check. Unless otherwise instructed,
send copies of your CV/documents to
Below is information about Abu Dhabi that has been compiled by
Teachanywhere.com. This information is meant to act as only as an initial guide and we
encourage all candidates to do their own research.
WELCOME TO ABU DHABI
Abu Dhabi Gives a First Impression
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates
(UAE). It is the principal city of the largest
emirate of the same name and is home to the
government and royal family. The island city
of Abu Dhabi is a lush, modern metropolis,
complete with tree lined boulevards, towering
skyscrapers, dazzling shopping malls and
luxurious international hotels, brimming with
vibrancy. Abu Dhabi is growing rapidly, and its evolution from quiet village to thriving
metropolis has been remarkable, a testament to the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed,
and the energy and drive of its people.
The high rise central business district is home to imaginatively designed buildings
which provide a dramatic back drop to the corniche area, bordered by the sparkling
azure waters of the Arabian Gulf offering a striking contrast to the large parks and
green boulevards that spread across the island. Further inland the high-rises make way
for beautiful villas, low rise apartment blocks and quieter tree-lined streets. Nothing
here stands still, and future developments promise an even more exciting skyline!
The outstanding aspect of life in Abu Dhabi it is dramatic contrast to its commercial
neighbor, Dubai. Abu Dhabi offers all of the attractions and amenities you would
expect of a modern city, but in a tranquil and relaxing setting, without the dust choking
development and traffic congested streets of Dubai. Although Abu Dhabi is spending
its oil and commercial wealth at a startling rate, fast on the heels of Dubai, you hardly
notice the development and construction that has been contained to outlying and off
The UAE’s culture is tolerant and welcoming, and visitors are sure to be
charmed by the genuine friendliness of the people. Abu Dhabi is a melting pot
of nationalities and cultures; all of which are embraced without losing the cultural and
national identity of which the UAE’s people are justifiably proud; a culture and heritage
inextricably linked to its religion. Indeed you will find the greatest concentration of
mosques in Abu Dhabi than in any other part of the Muslim world. And that is another
welcoming differentiator from life in Dubai; you feel the culture, you see locals, you
feel as if you experiencing the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi offers a unique Arabian cultural experience comfortably balanced with the
attractions of a western expatriate lifestyle.
Abu Dhabi is Geographical
Situated on the NE part of the Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) is bordered by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the south and west,
and the Sultanate of Oman to the east and north. The geographical co-
ordinates are 24 00 N and 54 00 E. It has a coastline on both the Gulf of
Oman and the Arabian Gulf
The total area of the country is 83 600 square kilometers. Abu Dhabi is the
largest emirate, occupying 80% of the total landmass.
The country is made up of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi, the largest, Dubai,
Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
Golden beaches dot the country’s 1 318 km coastline, of which 100 kilometers
are on the Gulf of Oman. The Arabian coastline is littered with coral reefs
and over 200 islands, most of which are uninhabited. Salt flats, sand dunes,
stretches of gravel plains, desert and the Hajar Mountains characterize
much of the inland region.
The highest point is Jebel Yibir at 1 527 meters
The traditional city of Abu Dhabi is situated on a natural island.
Abu Dhabi Has a History
It is difficult to reconcile the modern city of Abu Dhabi with the scattering of
‘barasti’ (palm frond) huts from the 1950’s horizon. Historical documentation of Abu
Dhabi’s history is scarce but it is rich in archeological finds. Evidence of
settlements has been found around Jebel Hafeet, near Al Ain, and on
the island of Umm al Nar, near Abu Dhabi City, dating back to between
3000 and 2000 BC. Abu Dhabi’s history really begins with the Bani Yas Bedouin tribe
who are known to have been in the area along the coast by the 16th century.
Following the discovery of fresh water, the tribe moved to the island of Abu Dhabi
in 1761, which was very fertile and abundant in wildlife. The name means ‘father of
the gazelle’. The initial settlement was soon followed by the relocation of the ruling
Al Nayhan family from the Liwa Oasis in the south of the country.
By the 1800s the town had developed through the trade of pearls, and in 1897
accepted the protection of Britain. The area was seen as an important
communication link with India and the east and became known as the Trucial States
(or Trucial Coast)
Fortunes faltered after the creation of the cultured
pearl industry in Japan, but in 1958, Abu Dhabi found
oil and production began on Das Island, with exports
happening in 1962.
1966 sees a new ruler, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al
Nahyan and the British withdraw in 1971. By 1972 the
United Arab Emirates are completely united and the
UAE dirham currency is released in 1973. The new state was composed of the
emirates of Abu Dhabi (the capital and centre of government), Dubai (the
commercial centre), Sharjah (the cultural centre), Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and
Fujairah and in 1972 was joined by Ras Al
Sheikh Zayed died in 2004 but not before
initiating a major programme of development
National Day is on 2nd December
The population at present is approximately
1.67 million due to increase to 3.5 million by
Abu Dhabi Has a Culture
The rapid economic development has changed life in the UAE beyond recognition.
The country’s rulers are aware of the threats to their traditions and heritage and
are keen to promote cultural and sporting events that are representative of their
Camel Race Meetings are held at the
weekends between October and March
from around 7.30am. The Al Maqam Camel
Race Track, about 45km outside Abu Dhabi
on the road to Al Ain, is the closest to the
Falconry is an important part of the
tradition and culture; displays are held at the Breakwater Heritage Village
overlooking the Corniche. It is operated by the Emirates Heritage Club and gives an
interesting insight into the way that life used to be. The displays in this attractive
open museum set out to illustrate traditional aspects of Bedouin life, including
traditional workshops and craftsmen in action.
Horse racing is very popular and meetings are held in the evenings during the
winner. Check out the website www.emiratesracing.com for the calendar. Remember
there is not betting but there are great prizes to be won.
The Bateen Dhow Yard builds traditional boats for racing and trading. An early
evening visit will guarantee some great photographic opportunities and possibly a
chat with some of the boat builders.
Gold is a big part of Arabian tradition. Check out what is left at the old Central
Market (which is currently being revamped) on Hamdan Street; an old traditional
souk, and the Madinet Zayed Shopping Centre and Gold Souk (02 631 8555) to
where most of the traders from the central market are relocating.
Although not open to the public, the Qasr Al Hosn on Sheikh Zayed First Street is
a typical Arabian fort, and is Abu
Dhabi’s oldest building dating back
The Cultural Foundation (02 621
5300 / www.cultural.org.ae/e) on
Sheikh Zayed First Street is Abu
Dhabi’s thriving community arts
centre, located in the grounds of
the Old Fort and is home to the
National Archives, the National
Library and the Institution of
Culture and Arts. Exhibitions,
lectures and concerts are held regularly. Entrance fee is just 3 AED.
Abu Dhabi Has Development
Abu Dhabi is a rapidly developing city hot on the heels of its frenetic neighbor,
Dubai. There are many exciting projects under development, and here are just a few
Beginning at the airport, the terminal buildings
are being upgraded and a second runaway is
being constructed to accommodate the new
Airbus A380, to allow for increased tourist
and business travelers. The UAE wants to
attract business to the area, and so
the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center is being constructed complete
with a landmark skyscraper, a huge exhibition space, hotels and retail facilities.
Soon to be one of Abu Dhabi’s largest tourist attractions, development is busy on
Lulu (www.sorouh.com ), a man made island situated next to the breakwater facing
the Corniche. There will be hotels, restaurants, gardens, an aquarium, museum and
The Corniche Redevelopment Program has been a major project to revamp the
waterfront area. It is a very attractive part of town; great for walkers and cyclists.
There are also a number of public parks.
Shopping is big in Abu Dhabi – the second phase of Marina Mall should now have
been completed, that includes a snow dome, ice rink, bowling alley and the new
Marina Village, an exclusive residential area. The Khalidiya Mall
(www.emkegroup.com) will spread across 80000 sq meters designed in a distinctive
Islamic architectural style, including an atrium, a summer garden, fountains, cafes
and food court. The Market (www.aldar.com) promises to become a major landmark,
a transformation of Abu Dhabi’s central souk area, on Hamdan Street, into a
modern development of apartments, an Arabian style souk, restaurants, office
space and a mosque.
The beach locations outside of the city are also
being developed. First there is the new Raha Resort
comprising of townhouses, villas, schools, an
equestrian club, a fitness club, a hotel, retail outlets
and restaurants. Second, The Gate located near
Zayed Sports City will be split into landside and
waterside areas, comprising of a new 5 star hotel,
service apartments, a mall, a beach club and an
adventure water world! And the Al Gurm Resort and
Spa (www.algurnresort.com) is under construction among the mangroves off the
Coast Road, an eco-friendly development of luxury villas, signature island villas and
Saadiyat Island is located 500m off the coast of Abu Dhabi and is a huge
residential, business, cultural and leisure development. There will be two
championship golf courses, 12km of beaches and a luxury marina. A staggering 29
hotels, 8000 villas and 38000 apartments have been scheduled to be built.
The Zayed Sports City is to be expanded to include an Olympic sized swimming pool
in a hope to bid for future Asian Games.
Abu Dhabi and UAE Have a Supreme Council
H. H. The President, SHEIKH KHALIFA BIN ZAYED AL
President of the UAE
The Supreme Council of Rulers is the highest authority in the UAE, comprising the
hereditary rulers of the seven emirates. Since the country is governed by
hereditary rule, there is little distinction between the royal families and the
The Supreme Council is responsible for general policy matters involving education,
defense, foreign affairs, communications and development, and for ratifying federal
H. H. General, SHEIKH MOHAMMED BIN RASHID AL
Abu Dhabi is Relaxed MAKTOUM
Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai
Abu Dhabi is 4 hours ahead of Universal Co-ordinated Time of the Greenwich
Defense Minister of the UAE
Meridian in London. There is no summer saving time like in western countries so
during the period from April to October the time difference is just 3 hours.
Social hours were once very Mediterranean in style; an early start, an afternoon
siesta, a return to work and a late meal. This traditional style struggles to preserve
in more quieter part of the city and the country, but as Abu Dhabi leaps forward in
its commercial development, working hours are becoming more westernized.
The working week spans from Sunday until Thursday. Friday is a day of rest and
worship. Everywhere is generally open (banks until midday) on a Saturday.
Shops tend to open at about 10am (cafes and supermarkets earlier) unless it is
Friday when they open at lunchtime. Closing time can be as late as midnight. Despite
more western working hours, locals and expatriates alike love to shop and socialize
until late. During Ramadan shops and restaurants are open until about 1am!
The attitude to time, especially in business, is often very different from the ‘time is
money’ approach in other parts of the world. Locals like to take their time, and
business is not usually discussed until the third meeting. Times are changing though.
Abu Dhabi is a Working City
You have no doubt seen the glossy holiday
brochures and the tempting travel
programmes cascading dazzling images of
Abu Dhabi and the UAE and indeed it is all
here from the fancy international hotels
to the exclusive spa resorts in the desert.
But please be aware that your own working
and living location may not be in these
areas. Abu Dhabi is very much of a
working city; there are many business
areas and residential communities that you
will not see in the brochures and the programmes. Generally Abu Dhabi is a clean and
well maintained city, but like any city it has its fair share of boring and unkempt
Abu Dhabi has a Currency
The currency is the UAE dirham which is written as AED or Dhs. Each dirham is
divided into 100 fils. Check www.xe.com for up to date exchange rates. Notes are
1000 AED, 500 AED, 200 AED, 100 AED, 50 AED, 20 AED, 10 AED and 5 AED. Coins
are 1 AED, 50 fils, 25 fils and 10 fils. Please note that supermarket pricing does not
match the coins available, so sometimes you will gain a few fils, others times you may
It is recommended to have low denomination notes for taxis and coins for parking.
There are currency exchange houses all over Abu Dhabi. Rates are published daily in
the financial section of newspapers. Exchange houses often give better rates than
banks, and work longer hours.
If you have Cirrus, Maestro or Plus cards, you may use them to withdraw money from
your account back home, using an ATM machine with a matching sign, but there will
be a charge.
To open a bank account you must have a residential visa. There are stiff penalties
for going into the red. You can use western credit cards or apply
for a local one.
Abu Dhabi is Safe and Secure
Abu Dhabi is a safe and secure city as long as you adopt all necessary precautions
that you would back home.
Female western expatriates will be safe here but you may be stared at and
sometimes followed. It is something you have to get used to. There are many
workers here without their families, and western women are something different for
them. Young male Arabs will like to look too. Sooner or later you will rarely notice it.
Avoid traveling alone at night or to remote locations. Keep a check on your valuables.
Crime does happen but it is not as frequent as in western countries.
Women face relatively little discrimination and, contrary to the policies of
neighboring countries, are able to drive and walk around unescorted.
Abu Dhabi Has Public Transport
Cars and roads dominate the transport system in a city that is relatively easy to
navigate, although public transport is rare
The road system is built on a grid system
running from a central T, that is formed
by the corniche which runs along the end
of the island furthest away from the
mainland, and the Airport Road which runs
the length of the island. Roads parallel to
the corniche have odd numbers (the
corniche is 1st Street) and roads running
vertically have even numbers (Airport Road
nd th th
is 2 Street, with 4 Street, 6 Street, etc. leading off to the east, and 24th
Street, 26th Street, etc. to the west).
Taxis are reasonably priced and plentiful and by far the most common method of
getting around. The more up market Al Ghazal or NTC taxis must be booked by
phone (02 444 7787 / 02 622 3300), but individually registered taxis can be flagged
down at the roadside. Most taxis are metered but some drivers prefer to negotiate
the fare, particularly after midnight.
The Abu Dhabi Municipality operates bus routes all over the emirate, as well as in
the city. The system is being improved by adding more routes. Fares can be as little
as 1 AED for travel within the capital. Call Abu Dhabi Transport on 02 443 1500 for
There is a rapid bus link between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. A taxi fare between the
emirates is set at 300 AED, although you can catch an illegal mini bus and barter the
Cycling and walking are less popular. People prefer their cars and for half of the
year it is too hot! There are cycle ways on the corniche, a great place to walk too.
There are pavements and crossing points particularly at traffic lights. Pedestrians
must take care; there are many zebra crossings without lights; cars will not stop.
There are car rental agencies – Abu Dhabi
Rent a Car (02 644 3770), Avis Rent a Car (02
575 7180), Budget Rent a Car (02 633 4200),
Diamond Lease (02 622 2028), Europcar (02
626 1441), Hertz Rent a Car (02 672 0060),
Thrifty (02 575 7400).
Just take very good care if you drive yourself.
Traffic jams are not too bad in Abu Dhabi and
there is a reasonably good flow on the roads.
The 4 way traffic light intersections are a bit
of a bind but you soon learn to be patient.
However, driver discipline leaves a lot to be
desired. There is a massive conflict of driver ability and attitude on the roads
reflecting the many nationalities in the city. Drivers will undertake, change lanes
without indicating, tail gate, middle lane driver, speed excessively, but in without an
acknowledgement, swerve across lanes; it will astound you and then really annoy you,
but please contain your frustration. You will see some dramatic accidents! Smile and
Abu Dhabi Has Heat!
Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical and arid climate; sunny skies and high temperature can
be expected throughout most of the year. You only need light clothing.
Abu Dhabi has 2 distinct seasons, summer and winter. There is a much longer
summertime than in other parts of the world. Summer peaks in July and August when
temperatures can reach as high as 48C or 120F. Humidity levels can be very high too.
Most buildings are air-conditioned and you feel the heat only when you step outside.
In winter, temperatures of 14C are not uncommon at night. Mid-November to mid-
March is the best time of the year. Morning sea fog is common during this time of
the year, as are frequent sandstorms. Take a light sweater or coat for the winter
Rain has been known to fall but you would have to be very alert to catch it. You can
enjoy some spectacular lightening displays.
Abu Dhabi Has Activity
Visitors to Abu Dhabi will be pleasantly surprised by the
wide variety of sports and activities available; from the
wonderfully indulgent to the adrenalin fuelled. Obviously
winter (October to March) is the best time to enjoy
outdoor activities, whether its mainstream such as golf,
rugby and tennis or more extreme pursuits such as
caving, mountain biking, rock climbing and skydiving.
People do venture outside in the summer, but there are
also many indoor activities, and most hotels have
excellent gym facilities.
The coastal location, ideal climate and warm waters offer a wide range of tantalizing
water sports. The Blue Dolphin Company at the Intercontinental runs organised half
day excursions for 350 AED per person (02 666 9392). A great snorkeling location is
at Snoopy Island near the Sandy Beach Hotel in Dibba on the east coast; but this is
a long drive from Abu Dhabi. Closer to home you can parasail, wake
board, water ski and jet ski. There is also kayaking, kite surfing,
windsurfing and surfing, although the waves are not fantastic!
Diving is a popular sport; there are many wrecks to explore
and marine life to experience, like clownfish, sea horses, small
sharks, sting rays, moray eels and barracuda. There are plenty
of dive companies such as Abu Dhabi Sub Aqua Club (02 673
1111 / www.abydhabisubaqua.com), Al Jazira Dive Centre (02
562 9100 / www.goldentulipaljazira.com) and Golden Boats (02
666 9119). If you are a certified diver you will need to present
your divers certificate.
The unique desert, wadi and mountainous terrain offer many exciting and crazy
activities like dune buggying, wadi bashing, quad biking and off
roading. If you are suitably experienced and equipped you can do
this yourself but for the novices there are a number of tour
operators who offer tailored trips such as Arabian Adventures
(02 691 1711 / www.arabian-adventures.com ), Emirates Holidays
(02 691 1722 / www.emirates-holidays.com), Sunshine Tours (02
444 9914) and Thomas Cook (02 672 7500 / www.tcart-me.com). If you buy or hire a
4 wheel drive it is worth investing in a copy of the ‘UAE Off Road Explorer’. Another
unique activity is canoeing at the Khor Kalba Nature Reserve on the UAE’s east
coast, where you can experience native bird and marine life. Tours are available from
Desert Rangers (based in Dubai, 04 340 2408 / www.desertrangers.com).
Abu Dhabi plays host to numerous monthly and annual tournaments. January sees the
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and just over an hour away the Dubai Desert Classic at
the Emirates Golf Club. The Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club (02 445 9600 /
www.adec-web.com) only has 9 holes but offers different tees for the back nine. It
also has the longest par 5 in the Gulf at 630 yards. Green fees for visitors range
from 140 AED for none holes to 230 AED for 18. Located 30 minutes from the city,
the Abu Dhabi Golf Club by Sheraton (02 558 8990 / www.adgolfsheraton.com)
boasts two 18 hole courses and a floodlit 9 hole course, not to mention a pool, spa,
restaurants and tennis courts. And the Al Ghazal Golf Club (02 575 8040 /
www.alghazalgolf.ae) close to the airport, is an 18 hole sand golf course with a driving
range and a licensed clubhouse.
If you want to just hang out, there are many beautiful parks and beaches. And if
chatting over a coffee is your way of relaxing, there are cafes everywhere. There
are Starbucks, Costa’s, Dunkin Donuts, too numerous to mention!
Abu Dubai Has Hotels
Abu Dhabi offers a wide range of hotels from the inspiring and
luxurious to the budget serviced apartments and youth hostels,
but be warned the city does not really cater for the budget traveler.
Here are a few examples. Al Raha Beach Hotel (02 508 0555 / www.ncth.com) has a
great beach location and has a health club and spa, indoor and outdoor pools, gym,
squash clubs and water sports. The Beach Rotana Hotels and Towers (02 644 3000
/ www.rotana.com) in the city has a private beach and a conference centre. The
Hilton International Abu Dhabi (02 681 1900 / www.hilton.com) has a private beach
and pool. Le Meridien Abu Dhabi (02 644 6666 / www.lemeridien-abudhabi.com)
offers the same plus 15 food and beverage outlets and a great spa. And saving the
best to the last, well the most opulent, the Emirates Palace (02 690 9000 /
www.emiratespalace.com) represents the ultimate in luxury and style. It has a
private beach, great swimming pools, spas, tennis and squash courts; exotic retail
outlets all set within superlative décor and landscaped gardens.
Most of the nightlife and a lot of activities are centered around the hotels, where
you will find restaurants, Friday brunches, bars, spas, gyms and clubs.
Abu Dhabi Has Restaurants
Cosmopolitan and bustling, Abu Dhabi has an excellent
and ever-increasing variety of restaurants for you to
soak up the Arabic atmosphere or dine in familiar
surroundings. Most of Abu Dhabi’s popular
restaurants are in hotels and these are pretty much
the only outlets that can serve alcohol with your meal.
The taxes levied on alcohol translate into fairly high prices. You will rarely find a
bottle of house wine for less than 90 AED, and a beer can cost as much as 30 AED.
For local cuisine try the ‘Al Safina Dhow Restaurant’ (02 681 6085) at the
Breakwater, a permanently moored boat offering great fish and lamb dishes and
superlative views of the Abu Dhabi skyline. There is the ‘Al Mawal’ (02 681 2773) at
the Hilton International offering an exhaustive Arabic menu and belly dancing! The
‘Lebanese Flower’ (02 666 6888 / Nr Choithram, Khalidiya) has impeccable service
and a great range of grilled fish and meats. The ‘Al Aris Restaurant and Grill’ (02
645 5503) on Salam Street offers good standard Arabic fayre with a quick service,
a great place for a snack.
Indian restaurants are everywhere. The licensed ‘Casa Goa’ (02 627 7701) in the
Zakher Hotel sells very cold beers to douse the very hot curries on offer! Generous
portions of North Indian cuisine are available at the ‘India Palace’ (02 644 8777)
opposite the ADNOC petrol station on Al Salam Street. Opposite Blue Marine on
the same street you will find “Kwality’ (02 672 7337). Rock bottom prices and a
great takeaway menu can be found at ‘Nihal Restaurant (02 631 8088) near Sands
Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Second Street. The ‘Maharaja’ is a little more up market set
in impeccable surroundings at the Le Meridien (02 644 6666).
And there is Chinese too! ‘Panda Panda Chinese Restaurant’ (02 633 9300) on Al
Istiqlal Street is a but pricey but has enormous portions! Share a rice dish instead
of ordering two!! Try the ‘Restaurant China’ (02 632 5661) at the Novotel Center
Hotel. Or the ‘Bam Bu!’ (02 645 6373) at the Abu Dhabi Marina offers a set menu
for 99 AED.
Tex Mex is very popular. ‘The Alamo’ (02 644 0300) at Abu Dhabi Marina, ‘El
Sombrero’ (02 677 3333) at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Resort and Towers and
‘Chilli’s’ (02 671 6300) at the Grand Al Mariah Cineplex.
There are many other nationalities represented on the dining scene. Mongolian –
‘The Coconut Bay’ (02 681 1900 / Hiltonia Beach Club), Italian - ‘Amalfi’ (02 674
2020 / Le Royal Meridien), Moroccan - ‘Marakesh’ (02 626 2700 / Millennium
Hotel), Japanese – ‘Soba’ (02 674 2020 / Le Royal Meridien), French – Le Bistro (02
644 6666 / Le Meridien). There are many more, too numerous to mention.
Why not try a dinner cruise for a special occasion. The ‘Shuja Yacht’ (02 695 0539)
opposite Marina Mall gives you a two hour cruise with a menu of fresh seafood, lamb
and chicken dishes. The more traditional ‘Al Dhafra’ Dhow (02 673 2266) offers
dinner cruises along the Corniche and menu of exquisite Arabic fayre.
There are many great eating places throughout the city not necessarily associated
with the hotels. Some of them may be unlicensed but offer good food, impeccable
service, large portions and a reasonable price. Most of them will home deliver too so
collect a menu when you eat out.
You will also find all of the popular restaurant and fast food
chains in Abu Dhabi – Pizza Hut, MacDonald’s, KFC, Hardees,
Burger King and more. Prices are about two thirds of what you
would pay in the UK. A typical McDonald’s meal ranges from 14-16
AED. Menus will differ; sadly at KFC you cannot buy a Chicken
Abu Dhabi Has Bars
You will amazed by the number and range of bars and pubs in Abu Dhabi. Let’s begin
with the finest, the ‘Havana Club’ (02 690 8021) at the Emirates Palace, a typical ‘old
boy’s club’ exclusive bar where one can relax in an opulent ambience with a vintage
brandy and a Havana cigar! And at the opposite end of the spectrum why not an
evening at the ‘Harvester’s Pub’ (02 633 5335) at the Al Diar Sands Hotel, a smoky
basement bar, the epitome of a ‘working man’s club, complete with live
entertainment, four busy dartboards, and good old English fayre, like bangers and
mash and chip butties! A good place for a little male bonding and the homesick Brit
And there are many places in between. The city’s best sports bar is ‘Heroes Diner’
(02 621 0000) with big screen tellies and great table service for both
drinks and food. There is also Ladies Night, Quiz Night and Dance Night.
For the Irish there is ‘P.J.O’Reillys (02 695 0515) with great food and good prices,
big screens and a lively atmosphere. Overlooking the gardens and located in the
Culinary Village of the Le Meridien, the ‘Captain’s Arms’ (02 644 6666) offers a
British style drinking and eating venue.
Every hotel will have some sort of bar. You need to check them out. For the
nocturnal energetics there are also a number of nightclubs. There is the Roman style
‘Colosseum’ (02 644 0300) at the Abu Dhabi Marina for the young and hip for the
latest R&B and pop fusion beats belted out by capable DJs. Drinks are reasonable
and ladies get in for free. After 10pm try the ‘L.A.B.’ (02 644 3000) at the Beach
Rotana Hotel and Towers, a very futuristic nightspot with strong and expensive
The atmosphere is always very good; everyone is happy and in good spirits, and
generally all drinking venues are safe places in which to socialize. There will be rowdy
behaviour within male groups and fights can happen.
When leaving a bar contain your intoxicated behaviour on the street or in a taxi.
Public displays of loud singing and shouting under the influence of alcohol are not
tolerated. And definitely do not attempt to drive; there is zero tolerance for drink
driving in the UAE, and if caught you will be imprisoned and worse!
You will need a liquor license to buy alcohol for home
consumption. It is not very difficult to get the license. The
license will take between a fortnight and a month to be
processed, after the application has been submitted. It
costs AED 150, and is valid for 1 year. This can be done only
after the residence visa is stamped in your passport. It is
illegal to drink alcohol at home without a liquor license.
There are a number of legal alcohol outlets throughout Abu
Dhabi usually beside the major supermarkets. There are also
tax-free outlets in Ajman and Umm Al Quain, but these are
a very long drive from Abu Dhabi. These are much cheaper but to return to Dubai
you must pass through Sharjah, a dry emirate, and even if you have a license it is
illegal to transport it through this part of the country. Please take care.
Abu Dhabi Has Concerts
Abu Dhabi is becoming a popular venue for singers and bands.
Just recently the Emirates Palace hosted a ‘Justin Timberlake’
concert, and during 2008 there will be one featuring ‘Elton
Abu Dhabi Has Shops
Abu Dhabi is a shopping destination of choice for bargain hunters, collectors,
souvenir seekers and shopaholics alike. Not only will you find a huge selection of
mainstream items, authentic antiques and some unusual discoveries, at all excellent
prices, but with shops staying open late into the evenings you can really shop at
If you are after a more authentic Arabian shopping experience head for the
traditional markets or souks, a great bustling and
traditional atmosphere offering unique photographic
opportunities. The area is best known for its gold,
carpets, pashminas, shisha pipes ands spices. The
more traditional areas expect you to haggle over a
price. Offer the seller half of what he is asking; it
will not offend, and you will reach a good price for
both parties. The Carpet Souk is on Al Meena Road,
the Fish and Fruit & Vegetable Souk is in Al Meena and the Iranian Souk is near the
There are more modern shopping experiences too. The Abu Dhabi Mall (02 645 4858
/ www.abudhabimall.com) has over 200 retail outlets and a huge multi-screen cinema
complex. The Marina Mall (02 681 8300 / www.marinamall.ae) at the Breakwater is
the city’s largest mall with IKEA, a snow park, bowling alley and a great range of
Western retail outlets. Marks and Spencer’s can be found at the Fotouh Al Khair
Centre (02 621 1133) near the Etisalat Building. Clothing, shoes and sports equipment
are best bought at the Hamdan Centre (02 632 8555) near the Novotel Centre
Hotel. Others include the Khalifa Centre near Abu Dhabi Co-op, Liwa Centre (02 632
0344) near the Novotel Centre Hotel, for jewellery, clothes and perfume, Lulu Cente
(02 677 9786) on Al Salam Street, for just about everything, and the Rotana Mall on
the Corniche for antiques, carpets and handicrafts.
Abu Dhabi Has Groceries
Shopping for food can be expensive if you are tempted by imported western brands,
particularly the Muller yoghurts (8 AED), the frozen fish (up to 70 AED) and the
frozen deserts (up to 40 AED). There is a wide range of food and drinks and the
more local you buy the further your money will go. Water and drinks are particularly
cheap, at 1 AED a bottle or can. Imported fruits and vegetables are criminally
expensive. Watch out for the Dutch tomatoes and the apples from the USA.
There are a few supermarket chains. Carrefour is a French outlet based in the
Marina Mall and along Mussafah Road a few kms from the city, offering local and
western brand names, a great place for basic bulk shopping. They have seasonal
themes during the year relating to the outdoors, Ramadan and tableware. Spinney’s
is located in the Khalidiya area and is well known for catering for more western
expatriate tastes selling many Waitrose
imports. The bakeries are better here.
Remember to weigh and price your fruit and
vegetables before you go the check out. Find
out more at www.spinneys.co.ae. At this
branch there is a book and magazine section,
hairdressers, barbers, picture framing shop, a
DVD and CD store and a pharmacy.
Remember to use your blue Air Miles card at
Spinneys, where you can also buy parking and mobile cards.
Other supermarkets include ‘Al Ahlia Prisunic’, a huge one
in the Khalidiya area on Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street, the
Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society at Abu Dhabi Mall, The
Mina Center at Port Zayed and one in Al Bateen.
Service is very good in the supermarkets. There are attendants who will pack your
groceries and wheel out your cart to the car park. Nice to give them a few coins!
Abu Dhabi Has Greenery
If you were expecting to be living in a sea of sand
dunes, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Abu
Dhabi is a green city, both environmentally
conscious and with wonderful parks and gardens.
Roads and central reservations are lined with
palm trees and beds of exotic flora tended by an
army of hidden sprinklers. The municipality has
done its best to develop a very pleasant and
attractive community managed by a huge team of
gardeners and garbage collectors. Beyond the city limits, the scene changes
dramatically and you will certainly see sand dunes surrounded by more sand dunes!!
The city’s most notable parks are the Corniche and Sheikh Khalifa Park. The latter is
one of the city’s newest parks; the gardens have an international flavour and are set
amid canals, fountains, lakes and waterfalls. There are play areas for children and
picnic spots, making this a popular place to get some fresh air, play a spot of Frisbee
or cricket in the open spaces or just relax with an ice cream and watch the world go
Abu Dhabi Has Weekends Away
Try to get out of Abu Dubai for a weekend. There are many interesting places to
explore throughout the emirates even for a day trip.
Dubai is just one and a half hours away by car. Enjoy old Dubai with visits to the
Gold Souk, Bastakiya and Dubai Museum. Take a ride on an abra (50 fils for one
crossing or 50 AED for a private hire for an hour), then head for the striking
Al Ain is one hour and a half away inland nestled against the Hajar Mountains, an
oasis city full of history from the 4000 year old tombs at Hilli to the 175 year old
Al Nahyan fort and UAE’s only remaining traditional camel market.
The Liwa Oasis will take 5 hours for spectacular sand dunes, scattered villages and
the vast emptiness of the awe inspiring Empty Quarter.
Strike out for the east coast and Fujairah and Dibba, a great location for
snorkeling, diving and wadi bashing. Try the hot pools in Hatta and lunch at the
Hatta Fort Hotel. There is also a heritage village.
There are also opportunities to take organised tours for desert, mountain and
Whenever you are camping or driving through remote locations by yourself, please
ensure you have sufficient water, petrol, supplies and you are able to navigate and
contact emergency services.
Abu Dhabi goes on Holiday
There are many long school vacations and public holidays that recognise key Islamic
or historical events like the Prophets Birthday and National Day.
Most British / American / International schools work a standard three term
academic year with breaks over Christmas, Easter and summer and enjoy the
benefits of the extra national holidays. But watch out some schools work over
Christmas (it is just another working day) and have a long mid year break in late
January / early February.
The UAE allows the celebrations of all western and eastern events. During
Christmas there is more of a festive atmosphere than in the UK with music playing
in shops, malls festooned with decorations, Christmas fayre and decorations on sale,
big Christmas trees everywhere, Santa grottos for the kids, ice rinks and Christmas
Abu Dhabi represents an excellent stepping stone to so many Near East (Jordan,
Syria, Cyprus), Middle East (Oman, Bahrain), Far East (Sri Lanka, India, Thailand)
and African (Kenya, Egypt) locations. And of course the
Maldives and the Seychelles are so much closer. There are
many travel agents and an increasing number of low cost
airlines like Al Jazeera and Air Arabia. Abu Dhabi is home
to their new airline and travel company ‘Etihad’
Abu Dhabi Has Annual Events
Throughout the year the UAE hosts a number of well
established annual events. Here are a selection for your
social calendar in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Dubai Marathon (Jan / World Trade Center / 050 584
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship (Jan /
Dubai Desert Classic Golf Tournament (Feb / Emirates Golf Club / 04 397 6161 /
Dubai Tennis Championship (Feb / Mar / Aviation Club Garhoud / 04 3166966)
Skywards Dubai International Jazz Festival (Feb / Mar / Dubai Media City /
Abu Dhabi Shopping Festival (Mar)
Abu Dhabi Powerboat Racing (Mar / www.adimsc.ae)
Dubai Desert Rock Festival (Mar / Dubai Country Club / www.csmentertains.co )
Dubai World Cup (Mar / Nad Al Sheba / 04
Dubai Camel Racing (Mar / Apr / Nad Al
Abu Dhabi Dhow Racing (May/Jun & Jan/Feb /
Dubai Beer Festival (would you believe?)
(August / Irish Village Garhoud)
Dubai Airshow (Nov / Dubai International Airport / www.fairs-exhibs.com)
UAE Desert Challenge (motor sport) (Nov / www.uaedesertchallenge.com)
Al Ain Air Show (Nov / www.alainaerobaticshow.com)
Dubai Rugby 7’s (Nov / Dec /change of location / www.dubairugby7s.com)
Dubai Film Festival (Dec / Medinat Jumeriah – www.dubaifilmfest.com)
As you can see most of these events are held in the winter during the cooler months
Abu Dhabi is a Well Serviced City
One of the main dangers of living in Abu Dhabi is putting on weight. You can
practically do everything without leaving your armchair or car seat. Local shops will
deliver, even just a mobile card, the laundry will collect and deliver, all the local
restaurants offer home delivery services. There are even drive through restaurants,
ATM machines and pharmacies.
Petrol stations are amazing places. Petrol pump attendants will fill your tank and
clean your windows. You can service your car, change your tyres and check the air-
conditioning. For between 30 – 35 AED you can have your car hand washed and
And everyone serves with a smile. These people earn very low salaries but always go
out of their way to be polite and helpful. Tipping is not expected but it is not an
unreasonable expectation to offer between 5% and 10%, or just a few coins for the
petrol pump attendant who works all day in the sun.
Abu Dhabi Does Not Do Drugs
If you are bringing in any medication, please ensure that you carry a prescription
with you. There are many drugs that are restricted unless they have been
specifically prescribed. It is highly recommended to contact your local UAE embassy
before leaving your home country.
Narcotics and other recreational drugs are banned in the UAE and there are
very strong deterrents, including the death penalty for those convicted of being
drug dealers. Be wary of packages handed to you by others
Abu Dhabi Has Cars!
If you like cars you have come to the right place. Cars are much cheaper here than
in the western world. Where can you buy a brand new 4.6 liter 8 cylinder Ford
Mustang for just 20000 GBP and fill it for just 70 AED? Many car showrooms offer
4 year credit schemes.
If you are a bit of an environmentalist you will hate Abu Dubai! Locals and
expatriates like their cars big and powerful. Indeed there are many Japanese cars
around that are economical to run and repair, but many of us relish the opportunity
to drive something a little different!
You will notice many, many 4 wheel drives on the road; they are a little monotonous
but families like them for their capacity and security; I doubt many of them have
actually been off-road! There is a little social status attached to them (but I can’t
see how, as they are so common); we have a little ‘mine is bigger than
yours’ mentality in Abu Dhabi! Unfortunately you can be judged by the car
you drive; I would not worry too much about this sad and pretentious side
of Abu Dhabi expatriate life!
As I have written previously, just take care when driving on Abu Dhabi roads.
Within the city you should be fine but remain alert, check your mirrors and blind
spots and expect the unexpected, and if you are cut up, please contain your anger
and frustration. Out on the open road it becomes a bit of a free for all. Speed
limits are 120 km/h and cameras are set at 160 km/h (this drops entering Dubai –
keep to the speed limit) and you will witness some very fast and crazy driving.
Speeders are notorious on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway. And if you do venture
out into the desert for a bit of dune bashing, please make sure you know what you
are doing and don’t get stuck in the sand far way from civilization unable to get
help! Pick up a copy of the ‘UAE Off-Road Explorer’.
If you have a valid driving license from Turkey, Iran, South Korea, North
America, Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, one of the GCC
countries or one of the European Union countries, you may transfer it and get
one from the UAE without having to do a test.
This can be done only after the residence visa is stamped in your passport.
If you are from any other country, you must pass the UAE driving test
before driving in this country. An International Driving License is valid only
until the Residence Visa is stamped in your passport.
Once you have a visa you may no longer use your international driving license
When you drive always carry your driving license
Abu Dhabi Has Housemaids
You are allowed to sponsor a housemaid provided she is not
related to you. It is almost impossible to bring in a man for
this position, unless he is employed as a driver.
The minimum salary is 800 AED a month, although most
westerners tend to pay up to 1500 AED and pay extra for
evening baby sitting. Expatriates tend to be more generous.
A fee of 5000 AED is payable to the government for visa processing and
sponsorship. This is an annual payment and non-refundable.
You are personally responsible for the conduct of anyone you sponsor.
There are companies that provide maid services. This is a legal service. They charge
around 25 AED per hour for cleaning, ironing, party catering or baby sitting services.
It is illegal to employ part time maids who are on their own visa.
House maids are entitled to at least one day off a week, usually Friday.
The employer provides accommodation and food and an annual flight
Some people may find the concept of having a housemaid difficult to accept. It is up
to you if you employ a full time home help or book one on a weekly basis or not at all.
But please note that this is a major job opportunity and source of income for many
women from countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, India and the Philippines where
their situation has become quite desperate in their home countries. They rely on this
type of work, and the salary earned in the Middle East is a lot in comparative terms
and if treated well, they will be loyal and hardworking. They do need guidance and
some supervision, but, as with any one new in your home, always be cautious.
Abu Dhabi Has Hospitals
There are good hospitals in Abu Dhabi, both in the private and in the state sectors.
Here are some examples. Abu Dhabi Central Hospital (02 631 4666), Ahalia Hospital
(02 626 7267), Al Manara International Hospital (02 621 8888), Corniche Hospital
(02 672 4900), Al Noor Hospital (02 626 5265).
Your employer should supply you with a medical card and a recommendation of which
clinic or hospital to use. There is no free treatment; everything has to be checked
by the insurance firms first like in America.
If you visit a doctor or a hospital you must pay the first 50 AED regardless of the
treatment. Then most of the subsequent treatments, drugs and follow on
appointments within 7 days should be covered. There are exceptions, so you must
then check with your employer.
If you require an ambulance call 999. This is for the police too, but is 997 for fire.
It is probably quicker to get a taxi!
Abu Dhabi Has a Religion
The UAE is an Islamic state but is tolerant of all religions. Other religions do have
their own places of worship and are left alone by the authorities. It should be noted
that you must not attempt to convert Muslims to other religions – it is illegal and can
land you in jail!
It is important that you respect Islam. Don’t pass any
derogatory remarks about the religion or its followers.
Remember that pork products and alcohol are
forbidden to Muslims so don’t offer them any.
The holy month of Islam is Ramadan, a strict period of
fasting, a method of self-purification and self restraint
by cutting oneself off from worldly comforts. The precise
dates cannot be forecast with certainty because it begins only after the crescent
moon has been sighted. It begins 10 days earlier each year.
Islam follows the Higra calendar for religious events. This is approximately 11 days
shorter than the Gregorian calendar and does not take leap years into account.
During Ramadan, no one of any religion is allowed to eat, drink, smoke or chew in
public from sunrise to sunset. You may do any or all of these in the privacy of your
home during the day and in public after sundown. In a place of work there will usually
be a separate area for non-Muslims to eat and drink. Children are allowed to eat
even in public. Adults will be arrested and imprisoned if they are caught doing the
same. Many restaurants in more western areas or free zones are now actually open
during Ramadan; their doorways and windows are simply covered. Working hours are
changed during Ramadan; school and business have shorter working hours;
unfortunately this puts a lot of pressure on the road system as everyone begins and
finishes work at the same time. Exercise greater caution on the roads nearing dusk;
drivers are tired and tend to rush home to break their fast. More road accidents
happen at this time than any other time of the year!
Abu Dhabi Expectations
Wherever you may come from, one thing that everyone must do, is to arrive in Abu
Dhabi with an open mind. Regardless of how much research you have conducted, it is
not quite the same as the real experience itself; landing in the middle of the night,
far from home, family and friends, not sure who is meeting you, wondering what the
apartment will be like and where it will be, hoping you will make new friends and
enjoy working in the school with new colleagues, wondering where the shops are and
how to buy a mobile, and in general adapt to completely different way of life. But it
will all fall into place with a little patience and perseverance!
There will be times when you miss home, wonder why on earth
you did this, as you begin to experience some of the frustrations
of living in a non-western country, when a lot of your
expectations are not met. Culture shock sets in – you are
frustrated by the red tape, the hot and sticky weather, the
slow management style, the tomorrow will do attitude. And then
you will you adapt and wonder what all the fuss is about when
your hear people moaning and groaning, complaining that it is not
like this back home. Well, why are you here then? Enjoy it and
have a great time. There is too much to do.
And the real unique feature of life in Abu Dhabi is that you can almost live as
though you were at home balanced nicely with a cultural and local experience. By all
means do what the westerners do, have a few beers, party, shop and the rest. But
why not try learning the language; the locals love it when you make an effort. Get to
know an Arabic family; they are so generous and hospitable. Explore the cultural
delights throughout the country, the museums, the forts, the heritage villages.
Surely you have come here for more than a holiday. Of course you are seeking to
pursue your professional career in a different cultural setting with the challenges
that it presents, but you must want to find out more about a new region, a new
culture – surely that is why you came here. Abu Dhabi offers the best of all worlds.
Abu Dhabi Author
Neil Ollier works for ‘Teach Anywhere’ and has been based in Dubai since 2004. He
has taught in Kuwait for two years and has lived in the UAE for almost four years.
He has worked with Select Education / Teach Anywhere since 1994 as a consultant,
business manager, regional manager and currently the Business Development
Manager for Teach Anywhere Middle East and Africa Division. He and his family
enjoy a very safe, secure professional and social lifestyle. His son loves it here; he
goes to a great UK curriculum school and as you can see enjoys a wide range of
Although he professes to know quite a lot about the Middle East (his wife is Arabic,
so that helps too) through his personal and professional experiences. The
information that he has put together comprises of a combination of personal
adventures, factual guide book information, internet help and advice from friends
and schools in the UAE. He hopes that you will find this document useful but urges
anyone to conduct their own research first to make sure that a place like Abu Dhabi
fits their own professional and personal aspirations. Good luck!
Please note that timings, pricing and information may change. ‘Teach Anywhere’ does
not take responsibility for the information in this document. It acts only as a guide.