Dubai has amazing architecture to be praised. Every year, a flock of people move to the city for having quality...
When it comes to luxury holidays, the Middle East always tops the list. The two amazing cities of the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are home to the best attractions, enormous shopping malls, spectacular hotels, as well as scrumptious cuisines. These cities are also home to two of the world’s best-performing airlines. These two megacities are well-linked to each corner of the world.
The UAE is known as one of the best countries to live in. Year after year, it is ranked high by international media outlets due to its unrivaled safety, lack of income tax, and unparalleled infrastructure.
The UAE, is made up of 7 Emirates or cities. While arguably the most popular city is Dubai, it is Abu Dhabi serves as the Capital of the country. If you want to move to the UAE, you might be faced with a choice of whether to live in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
Several vacation websites are swarming with the Dubai holidays; however, Dubai’s sibling Abu Dhabi is equally attractive. If you are also finding yourself wondering where to plan your vacation, here’s a complete guide to know each and everything regarding Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Before we dive in, it would be best to share a little bit about this region. There’s a common misconception- Abu Dhabi is a city within Dubai but the reality is, is separated Emirate from its own identity and governance.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are 2 of 7 Emirates making up the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is a populous of the two. On the flip side, Abu Dhabi is the largest and covers around 90% of the total land of the UAE. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan serves as the President.
One of the significant things to note is that the capital of Dubai is Dubai, as well as the capital of Abu Dhabi, is Abu Dhabi. Although the distance looks large on the map, it just takes about 90 minutes to travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. That means it is possible to see the best of both in a single trip.
If you are not sure which city is best to settle for, this Dubai vs Abu Dhabi comparison is your savior. But there is a great need to know that both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are blessed with equally good conditions of living but this comparison is on the scales of location, topography, cost of living, salaries, education, weather, career opportunities, crime rate, population density, public transport and many more factors.
The distance from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is approximately 140 km. Driving may take 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the traffic situation. It’s absolutely possible to visit both cities in a day trip or overnight stay. Many people visiting the UAE stay in Dubai and visit Abu Dhabi in a day. However, Abu Dhabi is the hidden gem of the two offering so much more to offer.
We suggest to stay in Abu Dhabi as accommodation is cheaper. Visiting Dubai in a day trip or few nights in both cities offers more than your expectations. However, a single day is not enough to experience everything.
Dubai- perhaps one of the most iconic cities in the world rose to fame claiming as the world’s fastest-growing city. The city has transformed from being a small country to one of the hottest business hubs in a matter of just 40 years.
The capital city of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is located on an island in the Persian Gulf. Abu Dhabi boasts some of the world’s most visited attractions such as Emirates Palace, Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Marina Mall, Ferrari World, and many more. Abu Dhabi is also attracting scores of tourists over the past decade.
Abu Dhabi- being a desert city is subjected to scorching heat in the summers. Wintertime is ideal for spending holidays in Abu Dhabi. Moreover, you can also visit the city during the spring and fall shoulder seasons.
Dubai is located in a desert; the summers are very intense. So, winters are the ideal months for enjoying a favorable climate. If you are planning a vacation to Dubai, it is suggested to travel between December and February.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are located on the eastern coast of the Persian Gulf. They are approx. 140 km apart from each other taking around 90 minutes to reach one city from another. Traveling from one city to another is so simple as there is no need to take a flight. Being two major cities in the Middle East region, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have frequent daily flights to other cities around the world. Thanks to the strategic location, southern parts of Europe, the east coast of Africa, and west coast of Indian continent are few hours in flight from both.
Both places showcase somewhat flat with rare bounces of elevation. Located on the banks of Persian Gulf, these cities allow you to explore many beaches. Apart from beaches, both cities are also known to offer the best desert tourism. If you don’t mind leaving boundary behind, cherish the unusual beauty of sand dunes, few lakes, oasis, and mountains.
Dubai is overloaded with tourist hot spots offering fantastic mountainous terrains in close vicinity. Al Hajar Mountain Range is one of the best places for adventure sport lovers. This mountainous terrain nurtures a unique wildlife different from anything found anywhere in the world.
Situated on the same side of the country means both cities have a similar set of climatic conditions round the year. Thanks to the Persian Gulf, these cities get a sufficient dose of a fresh breeze from the sea. Furthermore, it also cools down the temperature by one or two degrees.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are surrounded by the expansive sandy desert- both cities offer extreme heat most of the year.
However, the average temperature in Dubai ranges from 20 °C in January. 36 °C in August and the same in Abu Dhabi around 18 °C in January as well as 35 °C in August. Pleasant weather is the guest of wintertime, in these months, both cities see a huge surge in the number of tourists during winters.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai never experience much rainfall. Average rainfall in Dubai is approximately 80 mm and Abu Dhabi records 40 mm yearly. Both cities’ places are extremely dry.
One of the significant reasons to shift your base to a foreign city is to lead a better life. When we discuss the living conditions, both cities can compete effortlessly along with global giants such as Sydney, New York, London, and many.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also recognized for their path-breaking technology, extraordinary architecture, as well as swanky lifestyle. However, what shocks people is the comparison to other super cities.
However, the average cost of living in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are almost the same. In order to maintain a similar standard of life, there is a need of AED 16,000 monthly in Dubai. Whereas, the cost is around AED 15,050 monthly in Abu Dhabi and both the costs include rent too.
Consumer Prices in Abu Dhabi are 9.85% lower than in Dubai. If you add rent, it’s 5.94% lower in Abu Dhabi as compared to Dubai. Surprisingly, the Local Purchasing Power in Abu Dhabi is 2.42% higher and grocery prices in Abu Dhabi are also 2.43% higher than in Dubai.
Both cities don’t levy any income tax on an individual which means the ex-pats can save huge by working at both places. However, if we compare these cities, Abu Dhabi may help you to save more rather than what you save in Dubai.
Money plays an essential factor when looking for a new destination in a foreign country in order to move in. Now the question arises, how much you can earn and what’s the salary package is offered to you to take the final call.
You’ll be surprised to know that there is no income tax applicable to incomes in the UAE. You should not forget, an actual salary package varies from the list depending on the educational qualification, expertise skill, and work experience of the candidate. If we take a look at the above list of salaries offered in both these cities, you’ll find a higher slab in every field in Abu Dhabi.
Be it Dubai or Abu Dhabi, both cities allow you explore a huge range of career opportunities. It’s interesting to see that how both cities have got something for every sector. The UAE have designed a special immigration policy in order to encourage more and more skilled professionals to live and work in their country.
However, it’s not all that simple to find the job opportunity in a city as the calculation involves multiple statistics. Keep in consideration, COVID-19 pandemic has significantly hit the job market. Therefore, the data from 2020 can seem seriously depressing. If we compared the both cities, Dubai is a better place in terms of getting a job as compared to Abu Dhabi. For incoming expats, it would be best to look for a job in Dubai.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are known for their excellent infrastructure. The buildings, roads, as well as amenities are comparable to the best cities in the world. We can also say that there is no major point of differentiation as both are extremely well developed.
If we discuss about the security, both cities have ranked high on global safety indexes. However, Abu Dhabi is slightly ahead here as compared to Dubai. Abu Dhabi is also considered as number one safest city in the world in 2021. Dubai is on a slightly lower position on the list of safest cities in the world.
The strongest motivation behind shifting a person’s base from one homeland to another city or country is to ensure better living standards. Settling down to a new city is easier if the crime rate is low there.
If we compare the crime rate data from major cities, both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the safest places for living a peaceful life.
According to the recent statistics, Dubai’s Crime Index is hovering around 16.35 whereas the Safety Index is standing at 83.65. For the last 3 years, the overall increase in criminal offenses is 40.44 which is again quite low as compared to other cities.
Data obtained from Abu Dhabi is really encouraging too. Being the capital of UAE, the city enjoys best-in-class security facilities from the government. It is surprising to know that, the Crime Index of Abu Dhabi is 12.11. The overall Safety Index is 87.89. however, this data is enough to make sure that living has enough peace of mind.
Population density significantly influences access to civic facilities, living standards, healthcare benefits, as well as traffic on road. When you are into peaceful and private life, both Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be on the top of the list of less-crowded cities with the best living standards.
If we talk about the population density of Dubai, its 860 per square km. Abu Dhabi has even lower at 43 people per square km. These numbers are far behind the data from other major cities such as New York, Hong Kong, London, and Berlin. Still, Dubai offers the best standard of living being the most populous city in the UAE. On the flip side, Abu Dhabi is less populous. But living in Abu Dhabi guarantees more peace as there is less noise in your ears.
Migrating with school-going children requires more attention because you have to secure better education to your kids. Education systems throughout the UAE are a priority. Several authorities have come together in order to maintain world-class education standards in educational institutes.
Both Abu Dhabi and Dubai allow public and private schooling. Many institutions follow international curriculums to build a multi-national ambiance. In these cities, there is no shortage of good schools and colleges but the only downside is- kids of foreign citizens are not allowed free public schooling.
If we compare among both cities, Dubai is dominated by private bodies. However, the annual fees at top schools are huge. On the flip side, school fees are less in Abu Dhabi. You can opt out of a school but overall cost of private schooling in Dubai is on the higher side.
Although Dubai has more weight compared to Abu Dhabi for the environmental aspect, it’s tough to decide which city is better in terms of entertainment. Considering flexible options for entertainment and luxury hotels, Dubai is a better place for tourists. However, Dubai is somewhat more expensive to relax.
On the flip side, Abu Dhabi is more traditional, religious, and ultimately strict in terms of dress codes and nightlife options. These restrictions may annoy some of the expats but still the city’s uniqueness.
However, both cities are extremely safe, even these emirates are also ranked as the safest cities globally. In tourist places, the restaurants are quite expensive but reasonably priced options are also available everywhere as the city is becoming more and more international. There is a great need to know that, drinking alcohol is quite expensive. In order to serve it, the vendors must need to obtain a license.
UAE have a mild and mostly hot climate- the environment falls into humid summers. Likewise, the atmosphere depends on summer temperatures. If we compare among Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Dubai is an environment-friendly city to visit. The city has two seasons, winter and summer. The other city has a hot climate. June- September are extremely hot and no one likes to survive in harsh physical condition.
In contrast to this, if you are thinking to move over to Dubai, experience the summer season of April to October. Another essential point to notice is- the greenery of a city is boosting the environment. Abu Dhabi has a desert climate- virtually no rainfall.
The lifestyle in both cities has a strong link with the dress code. Fashion is a way of life. There is a great need to know that, UAE is officially a Muslim state. However, it is lenient on dress code as compared to other nations in the Middle East. But it doesn’t mean that you can walk around in whatever dress. Most of the women in Dubai and Abu Dhabi wear abayas and headscarves.
Expats found some differences in lifestyles of both cities. Abu Dhabi is stricter than Dubai as well as more religious, cultural, and traditional. Moreover, there is no enjoyable nightlife for the people of Abu Dhabi.
Both cities have a high cost of education that must be considered by expats before moving. Comparing both emirates, the Abu Dhabi is much calmer and traditional. Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi also has a good work-life balance. The tourists love to visit for fun and relaxation.
Keep in consideration that an effective and efficient public transport system is essential to make living simple. It reduces the time to reach your destinations. Dubai’s public transport system is extremely upgraded. You are allowed to choose from multiple modes of transportation such as bus, taxi, monorail, metro, ferry as well as a water taxi. The best thing is, that transportation costs to roam around Dubai is pretty reasonable. Due to well-maintained vehicle routes, Dubai doesn’t take much of time to access the desired destination.
Abu Dhabi is also featuring multiple modes of public transport to avoid any hiccup to get around the city. The public transport majorly depends on ferry services, water taxis, e-scooters, local buses, bike rentals, as well as intercity buses. Abu Dhabi lacks railways.
When deciding between Dubai vs Abu Dhabi, accommodation is one of the significant factors because the UAE is quite a costly country to live. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi are not known as budget-friendly destinations. It can be challenging to find hostels; however, you can find more affordable hostels in Dubai as compared to Abu Dhabi.
In terms of hotel accommodation, you’ll find cheaper options in Abu Dhabi rather than Dubai. Dubai hotels are popular for its opulent luxury with unique design, lavish pools, and glittering facades. These luxury hotels may range upwards of $1000 per night that too much expensive than Abu Dhabi which costs $400 on average.
Dubai offer the most entertainment options for all ages. The city is home to dancing fountains, aquariums in malls, water parks, as well as the tallest building in the world. In Abu Dhabi- there is a great entertainment complex on Yas Island including Ferrari World. With its state-of-the-art attractions, sweeping-clean beaches, excellent kids’ clubs, atmospheric bazaars, exotic restaurants, and natural and man-made attractions, Abu Dhabi attracts a large number of people. This Emirati capital will not disappoint you, if you are visiting with your family.
In Dubai, there is something for everyone. If you are adventurous, you can skydive over the city. If you are tired of the heat, you can also visit snow world in the middle of desert. Shop till you drop. Moreover, if you want some relaxation, visit the marina. It is fascinating to know that Dubai is hands down one of the top family destinations.
Abu Dhabi is home to the stunning Marina Mall shopping center. With sprawling malls, rustic marketplaces, traditional Arabic open-air market, and affluent jewelry store- Abu Dhabi is coming up as one of the top shopping destinations.
The shopping scenes in Dubai are super amazing. You’ll be glad to know that- the city of gold hosts an annual Dubai Shopping Festival in January. Aptly- the King of Shopping, Dubai boasts malls and flavorful bazaars. The malls are the size of a small city. With amusement parks, art galleries, theatres, exclusive designer stores, child minding centers, fine-dine restaurants, and even mosques are also located inside the mall.
Both cities- Dubai and Abu Dhabi offer a bevy of cultural attractions to attract the travelers. You can find everything from historic buildings to modern construction, museums, theme parks, and much more.
Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa- the single most iconic building in the Emirates as well as the tallest building in the world. Burj Khalifa includes an impressive observation deck providing panoramic views of the entire city and ocean below.
The city is also home to luxury hotels practically unheard of outside of the Emirates. The Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai is one of the world’s most elite hotels in the world. If you can’t stay there, it’s worth a walk by to see.
In terms of theme parks, you’ll find that the city of gold is unrivaled when it comes to these types of attractions. As far as water parks, Dubai has some of the top destinations. In the category of themes- Dubai is home to multiple smaller cultural attractions.
Abu Dhabi- the wealthiest city in the Emirates, is no slouch when it comes to architecture and beautiful buildings. The most famous Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is the most visually striking mosque in the entire world.
It is fascinating to know that Abu Dhabi is home to a selection of athletic venues along with their impressive architectural designs. Some of the venues are Al Jazeera Stadium, Yas Marina Circuit, Zayed Sports City Stadium, as well as the host to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Along with this, there are also theme parks and water parks in Abu Dhabi. The most popular are indoor Ferrari world and Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi. For the museum lovers, Saadiyat Island is an ideal destination that become more popular as it continues to be developed. Abu Dhabi is also the home of the largest art museum in the Arabian Peninsula.
Both cities- Abu Dhabi and Dubai are subjected to the same extreme temperatures during certain times of the year. When it’s not summer you can easily find plenty of outdoorsy activities. Water-based activities in Abu Dhabi due to the virtue of its island location are quite popular. But Dubai is no slouch with Palm Jumeirah as well as its activities.
If you really want to enjoy any water sport you can think of, there is no better destination than Dubai. You can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, banana boat ride, windsurfing, and many more. There are multiple cruise options to enjoy the vibrant waters around Palm Jumeirah at your leisure. Moreover, cycling enthusiasts love the opportunity to explore Jumeirah Beach. For those looking to explore the greater natural world of Dubai, a desert safari tour is an amazing option as well as a thrilling way to enjoy the sand dunes.
Abu Dhabi is home to the Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park- an outdoorsman’s paradise. You’ll love to explore these gorgeous waters, by a boat tour. Yas Island is one of the places to enjoy the water in Abu Dhabi. Take a sightseeing cruise allowing you to relax and spend time in swimming, too.
Moreover, you may also have attractive sunset options for couples. A camel trekking tour is a unique thing to do in Abu Dhabi. The Arab activity is often on several bucket lists. You can also select from a desert safari tour in order to get a deep dive into life.
In Abu Dhabi- Soaking up the sun while enjoying the blue Gulf waters seems is an ideal way to enjoy Abu Dhabi vacation. Along with this, luxury hotels have their own private beachfront. Abu Dhabi offers many public beaches with free entrance. Some of these beaches are:
While in Dubai, the beaches have very strict rules for women and men. But they are pretty enjoyable too. Some of the beaches are strictly private, while the others are public. These beaches are:
Moving from your hometown to a new city may come with uncertainties and worries. Some people find it difficult to get accustomed to new people. Getting homesick is the first hurdle the people had to overcome while moving to a new city.
If you are looking to shift to Dubai or to Abu Dhabi, both these cities offer innumerable attractions in order to minimize this struggle. Both places are known as two of the most celebrated travel destinations. Let’s discuss some of the best things to do and see.
Both cities know how to keep visitors glued. However, Dubai gets more points for its countless attractions as well as plenty of things to do.
Both cities- Dubai and Abu Dhabi offers too much to entice the traveler. From food and culture to entertainment, you’ll find it all at these destinations. However, there are some significant differences.
You’ll find more eco-friendly things and nature-oriented activities and to do in Abu Dhabi. Due to an island location, the city has plenty of cruises. On the flip side, you’ll find more high-end things in Dubai. You have countless options from shopping and dining to theater. It’s the flashier city if you are looking for top-notch entertainment.
Dubai is the more popular destination for Westerners. So, you’ll find a greater familiarity with tolerance of Western habits. However, Abu Dhabi has much to offer curious travelers interested in exploring the cultural side such as mosques, museums, and falcon hospital. This city is a bit quieter making a very peaceful getaway for everyone.
This article has compared almost all the differences between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in order to help you decided which city you want to visit. The UAE is one of the most romantic places for couples, kids, as well as adventure lovers.
Dubai is a larger city as compared to Abu Dhabi, but Abu Dhabi has greater land size. Dubai is well known as a tourist destination and international business. However, Abu Dhabi has great significance in terms of culture, politics, and art.
Dubai offers a lot of activities for the kids and big as well as adults with a vast array of dining, entertainment, and shopping. There is variety of accommodation options to choose from according to your budget. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi has few hostels but the hotels are bit cheaper than Dubai.
Abu Dhabi is also more traditional, more romantic, and less chaotic. The city has better beaches and parks. However, Dubai is popular amongst the majority of visitors to the UAE. Abu Dhabi is a completely underrated gem, that you must explore on your next visit.
Go to Dubai over Abu Dhabi if: your budget is higher and looking for entertainment, shopping, glitz and glamour.
Go to Abu Dhabi over Dubai if: you want cheaper accommodation, a quieter pace, as well as want to visit mosques, museums, beaches, and learn about Emirati culture.
If you only have time for a quick visit UAE but don’t have enough time for both destinations, then we hope this guide will help you a lot in deciding between Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates is made up of seven emirates. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are two completely separate emirates/ cities with separate rulers.
In terms of land size, Abu Dhabi is larger than all the other emirates. Dubai is the second largest emirate but the most populous one.
The distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is 140 km taking around 90 minutes to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are two completely independent emirates making up part of the UAE. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE as well as home to the ruler of the UAE- Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Sultan Al Nahyan.
Abu Dhabi is actually the wealthiest emirate in the world. The reason is, because Abu Dhabi is home to one of the largest and accessible oil reserves in the world. The ruler of Abu Dhabi has invested a massive amount of money into the city’s infrastructure.
Abu Dhabi has been ranked one of the safest cities globally. However, both cities are very safe places with high standard of living and low crime rates across the board.
Yes, there’s a greater emphasis on religion, tradition, and culture in Abu Dhabi that means it is more conservative than Dubai. Moreover, in different parts of Abu Dhabi, it’s the norm to dress more conservatively.
The UAE is officially Muslim, it’s more lenient on its dress code as compared to other Middle Eastern nations. However, that doesn’t mean you can walk around in any dress and expect a warm reception.
Men should wear trousers, button-down shirts, as well as shoes at all times. Women should wear dark-colored dresses covering the shoulders. It’s not mandatory to cover your head outside of mosques. You’ll most women wearing headscarves in UAE.
Yes, once you enter the UAE, and obtain your visa on arrival, you are allowed to visit both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Deciding between Dubai vs Abu Dhabi for your visit can be a difficult decision. Both destinations are same as well as different in many ways.
Abu Dhabi is a traditional city but Dubai has a western touch. It is a cosmopolitan state in the UAE. Dubai is a hub of entertainment for the tourists, and it’s an ideal choice for those looking to vacation in UAE. Abu Dhabi is the best choice to live in, and it is a thriving vacation destination.
Both cities- Abu Dhabi and Dubai have similar prices for food and taxis. However, hotel accommodation in Abu Dhabi is cheaper than Dubai. Along with this, flights to Dubai are also cheaper than Abu Dhabi.