As the Emirate of Abu Dhabi covers 80% of the United Arab Emirates' land mass, teachers can be placed in a variety of locations. Teachers will work in Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain, or municipalities of Al Gharbia.
Fast Facts about the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- The UAE prides itself on being a tolerant and open-minded society.
- Religious freedom is enshrined in the UAE constitution.
- 80% of the UAE’s population is comprised of ex-patriots from around the world. The remaining 20% are Emirati Nationals.
- Although the standard of living is very high, there exists a large income gap between the rich and the poor.
- Crime in the UAE is relatively low.
- Social programs such as free education and health care have helped in the creation of highly literate society with a relatively high life expectancy.
- Women in the UAE represent the majority of students at universities and play a substantial role in the country’s workforce.
- Although a safe place to live and work, practice caution by using common sense and respecting the customs of your host country.
Abu Dhabi: City, Island and Emirate
Abu Dhabi City, not to be confused with the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, is the second largest city and the capital of the UAE with a population of just over 1 million. Although primarily composed of coastal islands, Abu Dhabi City has a mainland feel. Teachers’ housing may be anywhere within the city, but teachers will most likely find themselves living in the central part of Abu Dhabi, often referred to as Abu Dhabi Island. Although technically an island, in that it is surrounded by water, do not expect an island in the traditional sense of the word.
Considered an international and cosmopolitan city, in just 50 years Abu Dhabi has become the country’s centre of culture, entertainment, and shopping. Picky eaters and lovers of haute cuisine will have no trouble satisfying their cravings in Abu Dhabi. From international delicacies to the convenience of fast food to tasty local dishes, food in Abu Dhabi is delicious, cheap, and not hard to come by.
Music-lovers, theater-goers, and film buffs will be pleased by the number of musical and artistic events organized in the city. Both the Emirates Film Festival and the Middle East International Film Festival hold yearly screenings in Abu Dhabi City. For those who like to stay active, sporting options range from the familiar (golf and water skiing) to the unique (sand skiing and space walking).
When it comes to nightlife in Abu Dhabi, you’ll have your choice of night clubs, bars, and live music venues to frequent. Depending on where you plan to spend your evening, drinks can range from cheap to very expensive. Non-Muslims are permitted to drink in Abu Dhabi, but will be expected to carry with them a license for the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Being home to a large majority of the UAE’s gas and oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is now considered the richest city in the world, and is arguably the most expensive region in the UAE.
Al Ain: The Garden City
Al Ain is also located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and is only a 90-minute drive away from Abu Dhabi City. With a lower cost of living and a population of over 300,000, Al Ain has all the conveniences of Abu Dhabi without the big city feel.
With less traffic and more greenery, Al Ain is the location of choice for families or singles who prefer a more relaxed city atmosphere. Temperature-wise, Al Ain is hotter than Abu Dhabi City, but due to significantly less humidity, it is more tolerable and thus a popular vacation spot with people from the big city. With its abundance of greenery, proximity to the mountains, and a natural oasis located in the city centre, Al Ain has been nicknamed “The Garden City”—an ideal location for those who like the outdoors. Water lovers will be happy to know that nearby Oman is home to beautiful beaches and famous snorkelling spots. Boasting the largest aquarium in the Gulf region, the Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium is another popular spot for nature enthusiasts.
When it comes to local customs and age-old traditions, smaller, more remote locations often provide the most authentic experiences. For those who teach overseas to truly dive into and learn about a new culture, living in smaller desert towns could not be a better choice.
Al Gharbia is the western region of the UAE, and due to a landscape made up largely of desert, takes up 71% of the country’s total land mass. With rich traditions from its Bedouin origins, Al Gharbia allows teachers to experience the ancient customs and rich cultural traditions of their host country. With plenty of personal space, very little traffic, and a whole lot of peace and quiet, Al Gharbia is a great place to create a home away from home. As members of a small community, foreign teachers are usually well known and warmly welcomed in their new community.
Read on: Abu Dhabi FAQ