Why foreigners choose Abu Dhabi to live and work

Top reasons why foreigners choose Abu Dhabi to live and work. Why Abu Dhabi is profitable for real estate investment

Abu Dhabi was ranked in the top 20 cities for expat life in 2021, according to the InterNations Expat Insider survey. The emirate took 16th position in the report that stated that the UAE offers a good quality of life and a high level of security. The emirate scored 93% in this subcategory. A thriving economy, job opportunities and numerous landmarks make Abu Dhabi a top destination for expats. We have prepared an article with 10 of the main reasons why expats choose to live and work in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Economy and job opportunities

The biggest emirate in the UAE, Abu Dhabi, holds about 95% of the country’s oil reserves, and around 55% of the emirate’s GDP is composed from the hydrocarbons industry.

The Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 initiative creates many opportunities for international and local investors in different sectors. The long-term plan for the transformation of the emirate’s economy includes the following goals:

  • Improve and expand the infrastructure and transport networks of Abu Dhabi.
  • Reduce the contribution of the oil and gas sector to the GDP to 36% by 2030.
  • Further, diversify the economy by creating business opportunities in other expanding sectors.
  • Optimize government operations.
  • Improve environmental sustainability.
  • Develop the social and human resources of Abu Dhabi.

Many companies establish their headquarters and offices in the capital of the UAE, which leads to numerous job opportunities for local and foreign workers in Abu Dhabi. Big companies situated in the emirate include Deloitte, PwC, Accenture, KPMG, Schlumberger, Honeywell and many others.

Due to the stable economy and job opportunities within the emirate, expats often purchase residential property here. The advantages of buying a property in Abu Dhabi include the possibility of obtaining a residence visa, choosing from a wide range of property and projects, competitive real estate prices, high ROI and good infrastructure.

Higher salary and a tax-free income

The average basic salary in Abu Dhabi is around AED 99,000 (USD 27,000) and can reach AED 315,000 (USD 85,800) per year. The lowest-paid jobs in the emirate are Support Functions & Translation professionals at AED 70,000 (USD 19,000). Executive Management & Change professionals are the highest-paid specialists in Abu Dhabi, with annual salaries of around AED 573,000 (USD 156,000).

The most popular occupations include being a Civil Engineer, Accountant and Mechanical Engineer. First Abu Dhabi Bank, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Etihad Airways are the most popular employers in Abu Dhabi.

The biggest advantage of working in the emirate is that it has a tax-free income. There is no income tax in the whole of the UAE. This rule also applies to freelancers and self-employed individuals, who must be residents of the country to make the most of this advantage.

The warm and sunny climate

The emirate of Abu Dhabi has a hot desert climate. Sunny blue skies are expected throughout the year and there is virtually no rainfall. The extremely hot and humid months are June, July, August and September, with maximum temperatures averaging above 41 °C. For the rest of the year, the weather is pleasant and warm. The average annual temperature is 27.9 °C.

Residents of Abu Dhabi can enjoy the outdoors almost all year round. There are numerous beaches in the emirate, the best and most popular of them include Saadiyat Public Beach, Nurai Island, Yas Beach, Radisson Blu Beach Club, Al Bateen Beach, Beach Rotana Club and many more.

Note: Here you can read about why Abu Dhabi is the best place to invest.

Safety and security

People feel more secure when walking at night in the UAE than anywhere else in the world, as stated by Gallup’s Law and Order 2021 report. The UAE is also the safest country for women in the region as well as in the whole world, according to The Women, Peace and Security Index published by Georgetown University.

The government of the country is investing heavily in police and security services to ensure a high level of safety in the state. For instance, the emirate of Abu Dhabi established the Higher Committee for Crises and Terrorist Acts Management (HCCTAM) in order to increase the resilience of the UAE against attacks. The emirate’s Urban Planning Council issued the Abu Dhabi Safety and Security Planning Manual (SSPM) for enhancing safety and security aspects. The manual combines 3 disciplines of physical, personnel and information security in order to create ‘defense in depth'. The SSPM also includes different strategies for reducing the risk of crimes occurring.

Work-life balance

Despite the fact that Abu Dhabi is a major hub for trade and business, the emirate offers a wide range of retail malls, cafes, restaurants, parks and resorts and so on.

For families with children looking for things to do on the weekend, the following places are perfect:

  • Wadi Adventure action-packed sports park with water and aerial activities.
  • Al-Ain Zoo with 4,000 animals.
  • Ferrari World theme park with the fastest rollercoaster in the world – Formula Rossa.
  • Wadi Adventure with water rafting, kayaking and surfing activities.
  • Kidz Factory entertainment center.

The capital of the UAE is home to many huge retail malls. Some of them are:

  • The Mall at World Trade Center
  • Abu Dhabi Mall
  • Al Raha Mall
  • Al Wahda Mall
  • Marina Mall
  • Yas Mall

Abu Dhabi offers an excellent nightlife scene for a multicultural and diverse society. Premium nightlife entertainment options in the emirate comprise Relax @ 12 bar, The Legends Night Club, The Exchange nightclub, PJ O’Reilly's, Ray's Bar, Cooper's pub, Sax Club, Manhattan Lounge and many more. In addition, Abu Dhabi offers rooftop restaurants with upscale cuisine and breathtaking panoramic views.

Religious tolerance

The UAE has several international initiatives to promote security and peace throughout the country. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and the state has a policy of tolerance and respect for other faiths. Although the influence of Islam still prevails in the social and professional context of daily life, residents and tourists alike must therefore also respect the religious beliefs of local citizens and observe a number of rules regarding behaviour and appearance, especially during religious holidays such as Ramadan.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces ordered renaming the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Mosque in Al Mushrif to 'Mariam, Umm Eisa'. In Arabic, it means ‘Mary, the mother of Jesus' "Peace be upon them". This example demonstrates the principle of tolerance in a practical application.

Back in February 2016, the UAE government established the post of Minister of Tolerance. The main task of the Minister is to establish values of tolerance and pluralism in the country. At the moment, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan holds this post.

Diverse community and culture

Representatives of different nations constitute the population of the UAE, as about 89% of people in the country are expats or tourists, which leads to the ethnic and cultural diversity that drives the social, economic and intellectual development of the country. Cultural diversity also brings together all members of the community and promotes peace. The total number of different nationalities living and working in the UAE is over 200.

The most common languages in the country are Arabic (official), English, Persian, Hindi and Urdu. It is easy to live in the UAE without speaking the local language because English is widely spoken between the population and is used in conjunction with Arabic in most businesses and government departments. Despite the fact that all documents must be prepared, translated, and presented in Arabic, most establishments (businesses, banks, hospitals and universities in both the private and public sector) use English.


Due to cultural diversity, the emirate of Abu Dhabi offers numerous restaurants of different cuisines such as Caribbean, Italian, Lebanese, Japanese, Pan Latin, Indian, French, Asian and so on. The most popular cafes and restaurants in Abu Dhabi include Alkalime (vegetarian), Antonia (Italian), Beirut Sur Mer (Lebanese), Kingston 21 (Caribbean), Tamba (Indian), Toro Toro (Pan Latin), and many more.

The capital of the UAE is also a good place to try local cuisine with aromatic and flavourful Emirati dishes. The most famous restaurants of local cuisine in Abu Dhabi are the Al Dhafra Dinner Cruise, Al Arish, Al Fanar Restaurant and Café, Al Mrzab and Seven Spices. In addition, a wide variety of restaurants are available at the new Yas Bay Waterfront. To read an overview of the best establishments in this entertainment area, click here.

Tourism and entertainment

Abu Dhabi is home to some of the world’s most well-known landmarks and tourist attractions. The emirate was recognized as one of the best cities for tourist trips and holidays in the world, according to the Capital Cities Index by Bounce. The capital of the UAE ranked second place due to its thematic parks and its endless days of sun throughout the year. Most recently, the emirate of Abu Dhabi was chosen for the hosting of the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup in February 2022.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the major tourist attractions in the country. The largest mosque in the UAE is able to hold 40,000 worshippers, welcoming all people of all nationalities and faiths inside The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has a vast library inside as well, and there are regular free guided tours here.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is the most spectacular museum in the Middle East. The permanent art collection is located in 12 galleries, while several temporary exhibitions are staged every year. Louvre Abu Dhabi is located on Saadiyat Island.

The Ferrari World theme park offers 40 thrilling rides for visitors and often holds different Ferrari-inspired shows as well. The world’s fastest roller coaster and the highest non-inverted loop in the globe are situated here. . Visitors also can find several dining and shopping options within the site.

Yas Marina Circuit is situated on Yas Island. The landmark holds the city's biggest annual event – Abu Dhabi's Formula One Grand Prix. Visitors can go on regular guided tours of the circuit, while Formula One fans can see the track up close. Guests also can book a variety of driving experiences on the track as well.

Travel opportunities

The UAE has a strategic location as it sits between the airways of Europe, Asia and Africa, which means the emirate of Abu Dhabi is highly accessible to most parts of the globe. There are a large number of available flights, and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) flies to almost every capital city in the world.

How can we help?

Metropolitan Capital Real Estate LLC is a licensed broker in Abu Dhabi and works exclusively with reliable developers in the emirate, such as Aldar, Imkan, Reportage and many more. With an extensive portfolio of off-plan and ready-to-move-in residential and commercial properties, our experienced agents can help you choose the right project in the best locations in Abu Dhabi, whether you are buying to live, invest or run your business. As a full-service company, we will ensure that you are supported at every stage of the transaction, including assistance in obtaining a mortgage loan and ensuring a personalized approach to each and every client. In addition, our experts will help you find a property available to rent based on your needs and preferences, and take care of the preparation of all documents and contracts to ensure that they comply exactly with UAE law.