Home' Abu Dhabi Tourism : Explore Abu Dhabi 2018 Contents It is especially recommended that visitors
dress more conservatively during Ramadan,
ensuring knees and shoulders are covered
when in public. A strict dress code applies
when visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand
Mosque. Refer to the Ten Top Things section
of this guide for details.
CULTURE & LIFESTYLE
Local culture is rooted in Islamic traditions.
Islam is more than a religion here. It is a way
of life that affects everything from what to
wear to what to eat. Abu Dhabi’s culture and
heritage is deeply linked to Islam and its
commitment to tolerance and hospitality.
Foreigners are free to practise their own
religion, and women are able to drive and
walk around unescorted.
Arabic is the official language of the UAE,
although English is widely spoken and written.
UAE nationals typically wear traditional
clothing in public. For men, this is the
kandura - a full length, white shirt-like
garment worn with a white or red chequered
head-dress, known as a ghutra secured
with a black cord (agal). In public, women
wear a long, loose black robe (abaya) that
covers their usually Western clothes - plus a
headscarf (sheyla). The abaya is often very
sheer with fine embroidery and beadwork
along the wrists and hemline. Sheylas are
becoming more elaborate and a statement
of individuality, particularly among young
Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and
is widely practised. The country’s Constitution
upholds freedom of religion in accordance
with established customs. Non-Muslims
can get an insight into Islam through
complimentary guided tours of the
spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
A strict dress code applies at the Mosque:
Long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers or
skirts for women and men. Women must
wear a headscarf. Abayas and kanduras are
provided for women and men respectively
if necessary. For many visitors, wearing the
traditional dress adds to the experience.
Ramadan is Islam’s holy month, the dates of
which vary each year in accordance with the
Islamic lunar calendar. It’s a time of fasting
during which Muslims abstain from all food,
drink, even smoking from dawn to dusk.
At sunset the fast is broken with an Iftar
feast. All over Abu Dhabi, lively Iftar tents
buzz with people of all nationalities and
religions enjoying traditional Arabic fare.
Shops vary their hours of operation during
Ramadan by closing during the day,
re-opening after sunset, and staying open
late into the night. Food outlets and
restaurants generally remain closed during
the day, opening at sunset for Iftar. Non-
Muslims are respectfully required to refrain
from eating, drinking or smoking in public
places in daylight hours during Ramadan.
You are, however, permitted to eat, drink and
smoke in private. Supermarkets remain open,
takeaway food can be delivered, and major
hotels will have a restaurant available where
non-fasters can dine. Hotel room services will
also operate. In offices and at work,
companies will typically provide an eating
room away from those fasting. Ramadan
ends with a three-day celebration and
holiday called Eid Al Fitr, celebrated with gifts
being exchanged amongst families, friends,
neighbours and charities.
EATING AND DRINKING
Abu Dhabi’s dining options are almost endless
with a huge diversity offered right across the
emirate. Global cuisines mingle with menus
offering a vibrant mix of local flavours.
International hotel F&B outlets are generally
licensed to serve alcohol, although some
locally owned/operated hotels may not.
In addition, alcohol can be purchased at
restaurants and bars not connected to hotels
on Yas Island. Non-Muslims can enjoy pork
in certain restaurants. Any dishes using pork
ingredients will be prepared separately from
non-pork dishes and are clearly marked on
While regular tourist photography is
acceptable, it is polite to ask permission
before taking photos of people, particularly
women, as it is in most parts of the world.
Photographs of government buildings,
military installations and ports and airports
should not be taken. Also, cameras may not
be permitted in public areas designated for
women and children only.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
The emergency services phone number
in Abu Dhabi is 999. Calls are free.
Abu Dhabi Police operates a dedicated
Tourism Police section. They can be
contacted on +971 2 800 2626 and
+971 2 512 7777, or visit
AT A GLANCE
April 13 Al Isra’a Wal Mi’raj –
June 14* Eid Al Fitr
Aug 20* Arafat (Haj) Day
Aug 21-22* Eid Al Adha – Feast
Sept 11* Al Hijri - Islamic New Year
Milad Un Nabi - Birthday of
UAE National Day
* Dates of Islamic holidays are subject to change
in accordance with the moon sighting
Flyboard at the Breakwater, Abu Dhabi city
Image provided by Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi
EXPLORE ABU DHABI 35
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