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Dubai or Abu Dhabi: Which is the one for you?

By LLM Reporters on 3rd February 2020

With the incredible opportunities to work in the United Arab Emirates you may be considering a move there, or perhaps you haven’t yet been and are wondering what all the fuss is about. Famed for its super luxury style, best of the best attitude and incredible selection of activities to partake in, there are many reasons why you should give this country some serious consideration.

When you don’t know a great deal about a country it is easy to assume the major cities are pretty much carbon copies of each other, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, especially when comparing the two more well-known cities of the UAE: Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Though famed for their luxurious quality of life, the two cities are separated by a mere 90-minute journey but there plenty of differences between the two, and these differences might determine which location is the right one for you, whether as a tourist destination or as a potential home. Here’s a look at some of the most essential distinctions between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is located on an island that protrudes into the Persian Gulf and contributes around two-thirds of the entire country’s economy. Image credit: Patryk Kosmider/Bigstock.com

The city is located on an island that protrudes into the Persian Gulf and contributes around two-thirds of the entire country’s economy. The city’s rapid development has contributed to the fact that Abu Dhabi is the country’s centre for industry and culture with the island being well connected with large bridges to the mainland.

The capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is also its centre of government. Seven emirates (political territories) form the country and this city is the also the capital of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi so it is no surprise that this is also the country’s centre of politics.

Dubai

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Best known for lavish hotels, exquisite shopping and for housing the tallest building in the world, Dubai is the biggest in terms of population. Image credit: Creative Family/Bigstock.com

Best known for lavish hotels, exquisite shopping and for housing the tallest building in the world, Dubai is the biggest in terms of population. The capital of the Emirate of Dubai, this city is located on the southeast coast of Persian Gulf, further north along the coastline than Abu Dhabi, with islands being created for the extravagant resort, Atlantis, The Palm which holds marine animal and water parks.

Accommodation and amenities

There are several luxurious accommodation options in each area. As the commercial hub of the country and the wider region, Dubai is traditionally the smart choice for those who work in business, while Abu Dhabi would be the ideal venue for someone involved in international relations.

The Bayut guide to Dubai accommodation reveals a lavish array of possible homes for new arrivals to the UAE. There are almost 6,000 luxury villas available for rent, with several obtainable for less than 200,000 AED per year. Even though Dubai is regarded as the busier city, these villas allow residents to have their own little world away from the hustle and bustle.

Abu Dhabi tends to be slightly cheaper for accommodation, but residents in Dubai have far greater access to luxury retail options in their immediate neighbourhood. Dubai is famed for being one of the great shopping hubs in the world, whereas Abu Dhabi is comparatively limited. However, you’ll still find plenty of the world’s biggest brands in both emirates.

Entertainment

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Dubai is generally considered to offer a more energetic and varied nightlife, which can prove appealing for young professionals looking to let loose at the end of a working week

Dubai is generally considered to offer a more energetic and varied nightlife, which can prove appealing for young professionals looking to let loose at the end of a working week. Conversely, Abu Dhabi has a relaxing environment more conducive to raising a family or for those who prefer a less hectic lifestyle.

The geography of these two places naturally creates similarities, including the warm weather and the ability to facilitate a range of water activities. Abu Dhabi has more to offer in this category, given that it is located on an island. Sightseeing cruises or kayaking trips are a must when visiting the capital – Trip Advisor provides a list of the best water activities around Abu Dhabi.

If Abu Dhabi trumps Dubai in natural entertainment, then Dubai edges it in man-made activities like theme parks. This may be more advantageous for tourists than potential residents, although having attractions like the IMG World of Adventure or LEGOLAND Dubai on your doorstep, does ensure there are easy entertainment options all year round.

Architecture

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Abu Dhabi can’t match the size of the Dubai skyline, but the white-domed Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is a beautiful building with a rich heritage having been constructed using materials from all over the world. Image credit: oleggawriloff/Bigstock.com

Dubai boasts several stunning structures with dramatic designs and dizzying heights, most notably the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world. Abu Dhabi can’t match the size of the Dubai skyline, but the white-domed Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is a beautiful building with a rich heritage having been constructed using materials from all over the world. Architecture in Dubai reflects the big and busy way of life in the city, while Abu Dhabi’s more refined taste emphasizes the different priorities in the area.

Image credit at the very top of the article: Patryk Kosmider/Bigstock.com