The capital of the entire United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi often exists in the shadow of neighbouring Dubai. However, that makes the city all the more appealing. Its glistening skyline suggests that Abu Dhabi is a modern city where the Emirate’s past has been forgotten, although there are numerous sites where traditional Arab culture is still strongly embraced. Driving through the city, you’re just as likely to find a traditional souk or market stall as you are to see a massive skyscraper, state-of-the-art sports venue or boutique hotel with views of the Gulf. As you might expect from a city surrounded by sand dunes, the weather here is mostly sunny, even during the winter, so remember to drink plenty of water.
Fuel is cheap in the UAE, while the road network is sophisticated enough for just about any vehicle. One with sufficient power like a family saloon will be sufficient for most trips.
Driving in Abu Dhabi
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
It is illegal to drink alcohol before driving in Abu Dhabi. Be sure to bear this in mind when coming to the city.
Drivers in Abu Dhabi should drive carefully at all times, as road traffic accidents are surprisingly common despite the excellent road network.
It’s possible to take a U-turn at just about any single traffic intersection in the city, but do so with care if you need to.
Highlights & Hotspots
Sports fans are taken care of here. Formula One fans can visit the Yas Marina Circuit to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, golfers can tee off at a few major golf clubs while the Dubai International Rally, a major motorsport event, takes place every year here.
Tours of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE, are available between Saturday and Thursday on mornings. Here, you’re able to marvel at the intricate work that went into making such a large place of worship.
The Corniche, the city’s waterfront, goes on for a few miles. Some of the attractions here include the Marina Shopping Mall, Mina Zayed Port and activities including go-kart racing, playgrounds and open-air theatres where performances occasionally take place.
The Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre is the place to visit if you want to take part in workshops, view various art exhibitions or take the kids to do something they might like. You should book in advance for some activities though.
One of the busiest airports in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi International Airport is roughly two miles from the city centre. It has three main passenger terminals for flights to and from just about every continent and major world city.
The airport is accessible by the D89 Airport Road, which takes you northbound towards the E11 highway and southbound onto the E311 which goes towards the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.