An Introduction to Abu Dhabi for Tax Professionals

abu dhabi skyline sunset

Every year the United Arab Emirates (UAE) welcomes thousands of expatriates who have come to live and work in the region. Out of the seven Emirates (districts) that make up the UAE, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the most sought after locations. 

One of the biggest attractions for expatriates towards Abu Dhabi is its stable economy and political environment along with rich prospects.

Abu Dhabi’s rapid development and urbanisation coupled with the relatively high average income of its population has transformed it into a large but open metropolis. It is a popular base for many international organisations which has, in turn, created an extremely diverse culture that makes for a fascinating experience.

So, if you’re thinking of relocating to Abu Dhabi, here is a quick introduction to the capital Emirate.


arabian gulf map

Abu Dhabi forms part of the United Arab Emirates at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, having land borders with Saudi Arabia, Oman and marine borders with Qatar and Iran.


Abu Dhabi’s culture has deep roots in Islam and a nomadic lifestyle, yet the Emirate is a progressive country that has accepted western ideals. Abu Dhabi is a mixing ground for old traditions and new theories and styles, creating an enriching culture.

History tells us the land was first settled around 3000 B.C, with the first inhabitants being nomadic that either herded or fished.


The local currency of Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, is the Dirham, often abbreviated as AED, Dhs or Dh. The subunit of a Dirham is a fil and 100 fil’s equal 1 Dirham. The Dirham has been pegged (held) to the US Dollar at an exchange rate of US$1 = AED 3.671 since 1997.

Most major credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club are all widely accepted in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates.

It’s also worth noting that if you carry more than Dhs 40,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency, you must declare it to airport customs control on entry. This works out to around £8,750, US$10,890 or €10,440.

Weather & Climate 

abu dhabi desert at night

Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical, arid climate that is renowned for its sunny blue skies and high temperatures which can be expected most of the year.

In the summer (April to September), temperatures in Abu Dhabi range between 38-48°C (100-118°F) in the daytime while at night it will vary between 26-30°C (79-86°F) with high humidity levels.

The city’s facilities are all air-conditioned, so even on the very hottest Arabian Summer’s day inhabitants of the city are comfortable.

In the winter (October to March) the days are sunny and pleasant with an average of 26°C (79°F), while nights are cool with an average of 15°C (59°F).

Rainfall is rare in Abu Dhabi, only really occurring during the winter months; the Emirates averages around 12cm of rain each year.

For live and up-to-date Abu Dhabi weather information, including summary’s and forecasts, you can visit

Health & Safety

Abu Dhabi is consistently named as one of the safest cities in the Middle East and Africa regions, being virtually crime-free. Despite that, you should always use common sense for personal safety.

For the emergency departments in Abu Dhabi, you can use the following numbers:

  • Police Department: 999
  • Ambulance Department: 999 or 998
  • Fire Department: 997

Dress Code

Abu Dhabi is a place full of tradition and culture. Dress is important and expatriates should respect Emirati culture and values by dressing modestly, even in the hotter months.

Shoulders and knees should be covered by women, especially in public places such as malls and hospitals.

Water & Electricity

The electricity supply in Abu Dhabi is 220/240 volts at 50 Hz. British style square, three-pin sockets are standard.

Tap water is perfectly safe to drink in Abu Dhabi, but if you prefer the taste of bottled water, locally bottled mineral water is readily available in supermarkets and grocery stores everywhere.

Business Hours & Public Holidays  

abu dhabi business meeting

The weekend in Abu Dhabi falls on Friday and Saturday, leaving the working week as Sunday – Thursday.

Normal hours for most government offices are from 0800 to 1430, with most private companies working an 0800 to 1800 day.

Public holidays in Abu Dhabi include:

  • UAE National Day (2nd December)
  • Zayed’s Accession (6th August, celebrated only in Abu Dhabi)
  • Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr (date varies each year)
  • Islamic New Year (date varies each year)
  • New Year’s Day (1st January)
  • Christmas Day (25th December, for non-Muslims)


The UAE (therefore Abu Dhabi) is a tax-free region, meaning there are no personal income tax deductions in salaries and no forms to fill or claims to make.


UAE politics

Each of the seven Emirate’s that make up the UAE is ruled by a President. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (pictured) is the 16th Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and succeeded his father, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in November 2004.

His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan is also the President of the United Arab Emirates and the Supreme Commander of the Union Defence Force. Because the President of the country is chosen out of the seven monarchs who rule each Emirate, there are no political parties in the UAE.

Postal Mail

Unless something is couriered, postal mail does not get delivered to home addresses.
For regular mail, a P.O box is required. Most expatriates will typically have items delivered at work or get a P.O Box assigned to them through their employer.


ramadan abu dhabi

Ramadan is a special month of the year for over one billion Muslims throughout the world. Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان) or Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic (Hijri) calendar and the month in which the Quran was revealed. The exact timing is determined by the sighting of the moon and varies with the lunar calendar. Ramadan for 2017 is between May 27th and June 25th. Marking the end of Ramadan is the public holiday Eid-al-Fitr. In 2017 it falls on Monday 26th June.

Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and the month is spent by Muslims fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. Ramadan is a time of prayer, intensive worship and inner reflection, and Muslims spend more time praying than at other times.

For expatriates, Ramadan is a very interesting experience and cultural sensitivity must be observed.

In Abu Dhabi and indeed much of the Middle East, working hours are reduced for Muslims and non-Muslims in most workplaces. The city tends to be very quiet during the day and comes alive at night. Many buildings are decorated with bright coloured lights each evening.

Most shops are shut in the afternoon and re-open after sunset, closing at around midnight. There are often price reductions during Ramadan.

It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours during Ramadan. This includes drinking water. The law also applies to anyone travelling by car, taxi or bus.

Cafes and restaurants are closed during the day and at hotel pools and beaches the no eating/smoking/drinking rule applies.

Larger hotels usually have some restaurant facilities for non-fasting guests hidden from public view. It is still possible to get meals delivered by room service and cooking in the privacy of your own home is allowed. Supermarkets will remain open, with reduced hours.

For those residents with a liquor license, the shops selling alcohol do not close during Ramadan, but many will close during Eid Al Fitr.

There is no music or dancing allowed during Ramadan, so nightclubs are closed. Pubs and bars usually open around 7:00 pm, but there is no live music. This also means that residents are not allowed to play music in their homes or private vehicles.

ramadan fasting Iftar meal

Iftar (the meal where the fast is broken) is a huge daily celebration. Diners sit at the table waiting for the call for prayer to announce that fasting is over. Typically, someone who is fasting will sip water or juice and eat a couple of dates, then perform a short prayer before starting a big Iftar meal.

Restaurants all over the city offer good value fixed-price Iftar buffets. Alcohol is often not available with Iftar buffets.

If you are interested in relocating to Abu Dhabi or anywhere in the Middle East and would like to speak to Kingpin International about our current International Tax job opportunities, please contact a member of the team.

Thinking about relocating? Discover more about living in the Middle East.