Abu Dhabi VS Dubai

Cris, typing…

Craving for some serious Arabian nights?

Can’t decide between the two most famous United Arab Emirates?

The eternal question, Dubai or Abu dhabi?

Let’s see if, after this article, you will have a clearer idea.

All the “empty spaces” were filled with us chilling at the Jumeirah Ethiad Towers, cos let’s face it, it would be a waste not enjoying its magnificence – and it’s kinda part of your “luxurious Arabian experience”.

Us in front of our Hotel
Us in front of our Hotel

OUR EXPERIENCE. We spent 5 nights in Abu Dhabi, lazing off in an amazing hotel, and from there we tried to get our way around.

Our Itinerary:

  • 3 Days around Abu Dhabi 
  • 1 Day in Dubai
  • 1 Afternoon/evening Desert tour.
View from the Hotel
View from the Hotel
At the great Mosque
At the great Mosque
Now that's a lot of sand
Now that's a lot of sand
Burj Khalifa - so tall we couldn't take a picture of it :P
Burj Khalifa - so tall we couldn't take a picture of it 😛
Madinat Jumeirah - still baffled at this 55 restaurant, micro-city "resort"
Madinat Jumeirah - still baffled at this 55 restaurant, micro-city "resort"

ABU DHABI

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the UAE, therefore is more about political buildings. Think about Canberra in Australia. I mean, nothing against it, but let’s face it, there isn’t much there, aside from the fact that it looks like a perfect city created in The Sims. But it DOES look pretty hey!

PROS:

  • Quiet
  • Family Friendly
  • Real Modern Arabic Feel
  • Friendly People

CONS:

  • No Metro (yet)
  • Not walkable – Distances too big between POI
  • Not too many attractions
  • No Uber or other apps

MUST DOs and SEE:

  • 24 Karat-Gold topped Ice-cream or Cappuccino at the Emirates Palace
  • Thur/Fri Arabian Sunset at 360 Observatory at the Etihad Towers
  • Free tour at Sheikh Zayed Mosque (Private path- super advised!)
  • Louvre Museum (allow 2-4 hours-totally worth it) 

DUBAI

If I had to find three words to describe it, I’d say Dubai is bustling, tall, futuristic.I thought Singapore was the future, but -clearly- I hadn’t seen Dubai yet. A huge metropolitan city with the tallest and most creative skyscrapers I’ve ever seen (and actually the tallest in the world).

PROS:

  • Fast and cheap Metro
  • Many POI and attractions
  • Great Shopping
  • Nightlife

CONS:

  • Malls are entire cities, it takes more than 30 minutes  fast walk from one end to the other
  • Does not feel much Arabian
  • Absurd traffic (better take the trains)

MUST DOs and SEE:

  • Burj Khalifa (if you want to go up, you must book in advance or the tickets are super pricey on the spot)
  • Spices, Clothes and Gold Zouks – Lots of fun Bargaining!
  • Gondola tour at Madinat Jumeirah
  • Dubai Mall (and find the largest suspended aquariums in the world at the Ground Level.)
  • The world Greatest dancing fountain -outside the Burj Khalifa.

IN GENERAL:

Whether you are going to Abu Dhabi or Dubai or both remember these things:

  • FB Messenger or Whatsapp: Call/Videocall are illegal and disabled.
  • Dress up! Some places have a dressing code.
  • Check dress code BEFORE heading to a Mosque
  • Check OPENING DAY and TIMES before heading to places- sometimes they are closed for prayer time or prayer day
  • SATURDAY is the new SUNDAY. Weekend is actually Fri- Sat, Sunday is their Monday.
  • Do NOT kiss in public places. You could get a very high fine AND go to jail.
  • Bring your International Driver’s Licence to rent a car.
  • 90% of Taxis DO NOT accept CARDS – Yes, even the airport ones.
  • Wi-Fi is Free in hotels and shopping malls.
  • It’s HOT (I can never stress this point enough)
  • Drink lots of Water. Follow the Camels!

HOW MANY DAYS?

If I could arrange it again, I would do at least 3 nights in Dubai and 2 in Abu Dhabi.
Being so hot, you need to take it easy exploring, so try to plan some lunchtime in the shade and/or near the water. Trust me, You don’t want to sightsee in the burning desert sun.

IS IT EXPENSIVE?

Dubai is slightly more expensive than Abu Dhabi, both both cities have reasonably high prices.
Many hotels offer Breakfast and Dinner packages. Do it. It is totally worth it (and most likely, delicious- they cook so well!!).
You can always save some money in shopping by bargaining in the Zouk!

HOW FAR IS DUBAI FROM ABU DHABI?

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are h1.30 distant.

If you don’t have a car, catch the comfortable, cheap, air-con provided bus between the two cities: Every half an hour or less, Dhs25 per person, and you can pay Cash, Card, RTA Nol Card (Local Transport card).
Just ask your hotel reception how to get to the relevant bus station.

A taxi ride instead, will be around Dhs200 daytime and Dhs300 night time. (but again depends how far do you live).

GETTING AROUND DUBAI and ABU DHABI
It’s HOT.  No wait, IT REALLY IS. Like, no kidding.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
✔ efficient and cheap

CAR
✔ Easy to drive, large roads
✔ Best Option in Abu Dhabi.
✘ A lot of traffic in Dubai, better park it and than get the train

LUXURY CAR
✔ Looking sharp
✘ Around $2,000/day for a Lamborghini, cool, BUT 300 km is the daily limit, which means you can’t even get to Dubai and back without being overcharged.

MOTORBIKE
✘ They do not rent Motorbikes or Scooter or anything on two wheels unless you want to get a 40 km taxi ride and get them. Even so, they strongly discourage it.  

BIKE
Large distances, Hot 
✔ 
Good for exploring Corniche Area in Abu Dhabi

TAXI
✔ Ok prices
✔ Good to get around Abu Dhabi
✘ Avoid them in Dubai City, you will get stuck in traffic    

Or sell your friends buy a Camel, low maintenance, eco-friendly and also actually friendly!

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