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Holborn Compares Living in Abu Dhabi vs Dubai

United by Growth

Where would you rather live? Abu Dhabi or Dubai? The backwaters of the UAE or the front strip? Or is that putting it a little too simply? Abu Dhabi and Dubai have much wealth and beauty in common, despite Dubai being seen as the brasher of the two in character. What unites Abu Dhabi and Dubai is that they are both growing spectacularly fast. When you’re caught up in the middle of energetic UAE living, you don’t see the constant growth happening around you. But how about this for a prediction? Over the next ten years, the populations of both Abu Dhabi and Dubai will grow by a half again, which is over a million people each. Abu Dhabi’s population is expected to increase by 54% on a 2015 value of 2.38m. And Dubai’s population is expected to increase by 50% on a 2015 value of 2.57m The UAE Government is right behind developing the two key emirates in a way that is sympathetic for expats, because it wants investment. It needs investment. There is a harsh economic reality facing the UAE Government: that oil reserves are likely to run out in the next 50 years. To reduce the country’s dependence on oil money, the UAE Government has diversified national revenues with great success; 70% of UAE GDP already comes from business sectors outside oil. (Statistic tweeted by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Prime Minister, in January 2016) And this underlying oil challenge means that a friendly welcome will (hopefully) always be extended to expats and the businesses they work for, whether in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. If you’re working in Dubai, it’s unlikely that you’ll choose to locate in Abu Dhabi — unless you fancy a 320km daily grind on the roads. But the capital city enjoys a rivalry with Dubai that can only happen because Abu Dhabi, although outshone, matches Dubai in so many areas. It’s worth a visit! And when you get to know the two of them at first hand, see if you agree with our brief round-up of the differences between the two emirates:

Abu Dhabi vs. Dubai – Key Facts

Abu Dhabi Dubai
Overall Less brash than Dubai, the capital emirate is nonetheless the richer of the two emirates, holding almost 10% of the world’s oil reserves and 5% of the world’s gas reserves — Abu Dhabi holds 95% of the UAE’s oil and 92% of the UAE’s gas. The UAE city best connected to the rest of the world in many ways; through transport, culture, business — and, of course, us expats. Dubai is a 24 hour metropolitan global legend with 92% of the population being either expats or migrant workers.
Located where in UAE? On an island in the Persian Gulf just North of the mainland. On the shores of the Persian Gulf north-east up the coast from Abu Dhabi.
Population 2.57m (2015) 2.4m (2015)
Population growth expected over ten years 54% (that’s over a million more Abu Dhabi residents expected by 2025) 50% (that’s over a million more Dubai residents expected by 2025)
Average House Price £313,878 (2015) Abu Dhabi has shown average house price growth of 12%, making it the 10the fastest-growing property sector in the world in 2015.   £348,969 (2015)
Average Rental per Month £1,698pcm (2015) £1,485pcm (2015)
Cost of Living iMercer 2016 Ranking 25th most expensive city in the world. 21st most expensive city in the world.

Abu Dhabi vs. Dubai – Quality of Living

Abu Dhabi Dubai
Atmosphere Quieter and more traditional than Dubai. A more natural feel — has 60,ooo m2 of wild mangrove swampland. Excitement rules one way or another in Dubai, whether it’s business or pleasure: 24hrs is not enough time in the day!
Heritage Scenes for the Star Wars film were shot at the stunning Emirates Palace. See the Aladdin-esque Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The Heritage and Diving Village in Shindagha.
Islands Abu Dhabi features a number of small natural islands: Yas: home to an array of attractions, including Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping centre, the Yas Mall, the Yas Links Abu Dhabi golf course, Ferrari World, the Yas Marina F1 circuit and the Yas Marina. Sir Bani Yas: desert island safari! “Home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals.” (visitabudhabi.ae) Saadiyat: a concentration of culture with the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi – as well as beach, golf and hotel leisure. Al Maryah: Abu Dhabi’s new Central Business District, featuring The Galleria shopping centre and Sowwah Square. Delma: get to it by ferry from Jebel Dhanna and enjoy some pearl-diving heritage. Reem: home to the Gate Towers and the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Nurah: elite paradise retreat. Al Maya: weekend party island. Dubai features man-made islands. Two key constructions are The World and the 3 Palm Islands (of which only one is complete): The World: An archipelago of islands showing the world in miniature. So big you can see it from space, The World is now rumoured to be sinking (theinertia.com). The 3 Palm Islands: 1. Palm Jumeirah (construction finished) Palm-tree shaped. Now home to mansions, malls and hotels. 2. Palm Jebel Ali (construction not finished) Amongst other features, set to spell out poetry by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, including the line: “It takes a man of vision to write on water.” 3. Palm Deira (construction not finished)
Beaches The centrepiece Corniche Beach, supported by over 1100 parking spaces, has been awarded Blue Flag status for the excellent quality of its water. Check out the 14km cushioned running track that runs along Jumeirah Corniche.
Dunes Abu Dhabi hosts the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter), which is the world’s largest expanse of sand. Here is the Tel Moreeb, a 300m-high sand dune (perhaps the world’s tallest) and venue for the annual motorised Moreeb Hill Climb Event. Star Wars Episode VII (2015) was filmed in the Abu Dhabi desert. Plenty of dune-bashing outfits operate out of Dubai. And there’s plenty of desert!
Culture 450,000ft2 Guggenheim Abu Dhabi approaching completion on Saadiyat Island. Set to host Expo 2020.
Sport venues Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit. More golf courses than Abu Dhabi.
Gig venues The main one is the outdoor Du Arena on Yas Island. The main one is the outdoor Media City Amphitheatre (located close to Jumeirah and Dubai Marina).
Theme parks Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld top the list, with a $1bn Warner Bros theme park set to open on Yas Island in 2018. IMG Worlds of Adventure just opened in August 2016 – with another three parks set for opening in October 2016 as part of a development by Dubai Parks & Resorts.
Nightlife Ray’s Bar on the 62nd floor of the Jumeirah Etihad Towers hotel is typical of the sort of modern sophistication you can now expect in Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai. Famous for it! Bars and clubs galore, mostly in hotels. Kicking out time latest at 03:00.
Traffic Never stops, day or night, in Dubai!
Green credentials Boasts the developing Masdar City, planned to be “the world’s most sustainable eco-neighbourhood” (masdar.ae) but now facing an uncertain future. Rooftop solar power planned for every home in the emirate by 2030 (guardian.com). Construction of the Palm Jumeirah created ecological controversy, with claims that the ecosystem of the Persian Gulf has been permanently altered by the epic scale of the earthworks.

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