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What is the difference between Abu Dhabi and Dubai for tourists?

В чем разница между городами Абу-Даби и Дубаем для туристов?

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are considered popular destinations for almost every travel company. Any of these emirates is great for holidays and travel in its own way, and also has interesting places for tourists. To determine what is the difference between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and choose an emirate for yourself, let’s compare them according to the main criteria.

What’s the difference?

Abu Dhabi is considered the largest and richest city in the UAE. It is localized on a bulk island in the Persian Gulf and is connected to the mainland by three automobile bridges. The business center is so modern that it is often compared to Manhattan. Here you will hardly be able to find the infrastructure for budget travelers.

Dubai is in the top 10 most popular tourist cities in the world. New tourist routes are being opened daily in the emirate, the infrastructure of public beach areas is developing, interesting places are being created and opened. On the territory of the city stands the tallest tower in the world – Burj Khalifa. There is also the largest shopping center with singing fountains – Dubai Mall.

As a result, the difference is that Abu Dhabi is suitable for wealthier people, and Dubai is able to offer vacation options for different budgets.

Much easier to get to

Dubai traffic

Transport accessibility is almost the same in both cities: airports, charters of tour operators constantly bring tourists. The difference is that there are more direct flights to Dubai and their cost is lower. There are also 2 air harbors on its territory at once. The distance to the main one is 15 kilometers – an hour by bus, 12 minutes by private car. You can also rent a car.

In Abu Dhabi, the airport is located further from the emirate – 32 kilometers away. There is also a confusing traffic pattern and there is no subway. Plus, there are rarely traffic jams on the territory.

The most profitable way to buy tickets is considered to be Air Sales – on the website you can compare the price tags of airlines, on the basis of which you can choose the most suitable one.

Where the sea is cleaner and the beaches are better

There is order on the beaches in every city. Both emirates are equipped with a large number of sun loungers, showers, changing cabins and other amenities. The sand is clean everywhere, without stones. But a beach holiday in Abu Dhabi is better – there are more coastal areas, and there are not so many people on them, so everyone feels comfortable. Most beaches belong to hotels, but there are also public ones. 

On the territory you can find wild beach areas without infrastructure. There are few people there – mostly they are chosen by connoisseurs of free solitary rest.

The water in the sea is clean and warm in both emirates. 

Where are the sights more interesting

Burj al Arab

Dubai has theme parks and water parks, high-rises, shopping malls, restaurants, observation decks, fountains. At night, discos are held here, celebrities perform – everything is for young people.

Dubai’s main attractions:

  1. Burj Khalifa is the tallest skyscraper in the world with a viewing platform.
  2. Palm Jumeirah – artificial islands.
  3. Burj al Arab is a 7–star luxury hotel in the form of a sail. One night in a room costs from $1000.
  4. Singing fountains.
  5. The Park of Wonders is a large garden of flowers (up to 50 million representatives).

In Abu Dhabi, cultural norms are stricter. But it has more museums, there is the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the Al-Husn Palace. On the island of Yas outside the city, you can visit amusement parks (Ferrari World and Warner Brothers) and have lunch in a cozy institution.

Another attraction is Masdar City — the city of the future. On its territory, scientists are working on the embodiment of the most daring innovative fantasies.

Where are the best excursions

Desert tours are considered the most popular in Dubai. As part of the program, you can ride camels, ATVs, cars. There are also sightseeing options around the city – tourists are taken by bus to famous park areas, to high-rises and other interesting places.

In Abu Dhabi, they often go to see cultural centers, historical buildings, and a museum. 

Tripster and Sputnik8 are considered to be the most reliable sites for buying excursions online.

What is better for a holiday with children

Umm Al Emarat Park

In Dubai, you can go to a theme park, a water park, visit an oceanarium and a dolphinarium with children. Almost every shopping center has children’s entertainment rooms with play areas.

In Abu Dhabi, you can walk and sunbathe with a child. With more active children, it is worth visiting the Umm Al Emarat Park – there is a huge playground and a botanical garden.

Where are the best hotels

There are more expensive and simpler hotel options in both emirates. Such a variety allows you to choose a room according to your desires and budget. In Abu Dhabi, prices are slightly lower, but the quality of service is at the same level.

What’s cheaper

Cheaper accommodation in Abu Dhabi. You can also have fun here for free and inexpensively, for example, take a walk in parks, visit museums. Food is also cheaper compared to Dubai. Life in the latter will be more expensive, since rich people come to the resorts more often. 

The cost of a tour in any of the emirates is about the same – small fluctuations in prices will depend on the category of the selected hotel. Proven tour operators:

  1. Travelata.
  2. Level.Travel.
  3. Onlinetours.

Comparison of holidays by month


Despite the fact that Dubai is localized slightly to the north, in summer the difference is not noticeable. Both cities are hot, there is practically no precipitation, the air is dry.

If you live in a cool country and are not used to hot weather, then it is better to postpone the trip until the colder months. 

From October to March, the weather is the most pleasant here. In winter and early spring – +27 ° C, and the water temperature in the sea – +19 ° C. Sometimes there is a strong wind, so it’s better to take a jacket.

Since April, the air begins to warm up to +32 °C, and in June, July and August it already becomes too hot.

Where is it safer to rest

Due to the small flow of visitors and stricter mores, Abu Dhabi is considered a safer emirate. It is better to take out insurance before traveling. If a tourist is harmed, the insurance company will pay for his treatment. Medical services in the UAE for foreign citizens are very expensive, and insurance will cost 500 rubles for 7 days.

You can buy it on Cherehapa, Sravni, Polis812. Tripinsurance is considered the most reliable and expensive.

So which is better – Dubai or Abu Dhabi?

Abu Dhabi

Now you know what is the difference between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Here you can choose a modest or luxurious vacation – everyone decides for himself what suits him best.

Some people prefer a quiet beach, others – endless walks around the city and sightseeing, others – hangouts, parties.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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