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Things to know before you go to Abu Dhabi

Before you head off to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ensure you have thought of everything to guarantee a safe and comfortable experience at Race Week.

When visiting Abu Dhabi, it’s important to bear certain things in mind to ensure you are respecting the culture of its residents. In general, the city is a lot more conservative than other parts of the world and decency laws and regulations can impact many aspects of daily life.

This article will give you an overview of what you can expect from the culture, as well as provide you with key information about travelling to the city, visa regulations and local currency.

Dress code

jeans, jacket, bag, watch and shoes laid out on a wooden floor

Even during the races, it’s important to bear in mind the dress code in Abu Dhabi. Women should dress modestly, with shoulders covered and skirts ending below the knee. This applies to any public space in Abu Dhabi. At the after-show concerts, women should ensure their shoulders are covered to and from the venue.

Both men and women visiting a mosque or other religious building need to ensure their knees and shoulders are properly covered before entering.

Culture

The culture in Abu Dhabi has its roots in Islamic law. Visitors should be aware of how they conduct themselves in public to ensure they are complying with decency laws and customs, which are stricter than in other areas of the UAE, including Dubai. Be aware that displays of affection are strictly forbidden in public places in Abu Dhabi and are punishable by law.

These laws are particularly strict in regards to unmarried couples. If you are unmarried and you are found kissing or hugging in a public space, you could face legal action. In addition, holding hands in public is usually only permissible if you are married.

Although the law dictates that unmarried men and women cannot be alone together, most established hotels won't have a problem with booking you into a room if you and your partner are unmarried. To be cautious, some visitors will find it preferable to refer to their partner as their spouse.

Visa requirements

page of a passport with stamps on above an American passport

Before you book your Abu Dhabi Grand Prix charter, it’s essential you research what visa requirements apply to you. Rules differ between nationalities and some visas and entry permits need to be obtained ahead of the booking process.  

Below are some key points surrounding the requirements, but check on the UAE government’s website or ask your charter broker to make sure you follow the correct procedure.   

  • Citizens of GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman) do not require a visa or permit
  • Citizens of the United States, EU countries and a number of other countries do not need to apply for a visa to enter the UAE in advance. They will be able to obtain a visa on arrival free of charge. In all cases, the traveller’s passport should not expire within six months of the expected time of arrival in the UAE.
  • Citizens of countries who need pre-arranged entry permits are required to make arrangements before they travel and will need someone to sponsor them

Flights

planes lined up on the runway at Abu Dhabi International Airport as dusk falls

Yas Island is conveniently located near two major international airports. The closest is Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) which is only a 20-minute drive away from Yas Marina and serves over 100 destinations in more than 50 countries. With excellent shopping and great lounge facilities, it is very popular for private jet charters too.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) is the world’s busiest airport and is located a little over an hour away from Yas Island. Taxis are available at both airports without needing to pre-book.

Those arriving by private jet can also choose to fly into Dubai World Central (DWC) airport - also known as Al Maktoum airport - which is located closer to Yas Island and has particularly luxurious facilities, with art installations and prestige cars on display. 

Hotels

a woman's hand raised over a bell on a hotel reception desk

If you have booked a Yacht Hospitality package or you need to spend a few nights in a hotel before or after your yacht charter, Abu Dhabi is home to some superb hotels. Guests will find it simplest to stay on Yas Island within easy reach of all the action. Yas Viceroy is ideally located as it is built on to the race track and offers a great selection of accommodation options.

Alternatively, Yas Island Rotana and Crowne Plaza are within a short distance of the marina, and there are plenty of transport options to make it simple and convenient to access the race circuit. Read our guide to finding around Yas Marina to find out how to navigate the area during the races.  

Local currency and money

UAE Dirham bank notes and spare change

The local currency in the United Arab Emirates is the dirham (AED), and the exchange rate between the dollar and the dirham is fixed at 3.7 dirhams to 1 US dollar or 1 dirham to 0.272 US dollar.

The dirham is subdivided into 100 fils. Notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 dirhams.  

There are plenty of banks and money exchange bureaus around Abu Dhabi. Thanks to the country's diverse population, visitors will have no trouble exchanging money in all major currencies.

Typically, the best rates can be found at money exchange bureaus and there are plenty to be found in the malls - savvy travellers will avoid the bureaus located at the airport or at most hotels.

It’s common practice to tip waiters, hotel staff, taxi drivers and valets 10% for good service. Some restaurants will add this gratuity for you so be sure to check your bill.


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By Katia Damborsky   Last Updated 21 November 2018

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