A Tale of Two (Middle Eastern) Cities: Dubai vs Abu Dhabi

If visiting the middle east is on your bucket list, chances are you’ll be looking at the stunning cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. While both incredible destinations, they’re quite different and so the best choice for you depends on what you want from your trip. Glittering and glamorous Dubai is the fastest growing city in the world, focused on tourism meaning there’s plenty to do. But that doesn’t mean Abu Dhabi should be overlooked, this quieter and more traditional destination has plenty to offer too. Here are some comparisons to give you an idea.



Dubai attractions include the Aquaventure waterpark and Wild Wadi Waterpark if you want to make a splash. You can visit Dolphin Bay or the aquarium and underwater zoo to set sight on some incredible animals. You could take in the Dubai fountains, the ‘miracle garden’ and the beaches if you simply want to relax and take a stroll. There are city tours and opportunities to go sight seeing which you won’t want to miss, as Dubai’s architecture is simply mindblowing! To get a dose of history and culture in this fascinating city, there are museums and temples to explore too. Abu Dhabi on the other hand is a little less tourist focused, so there aren’t quite as many attractions. However, there’s still plenty to see, do and explore. It’s well known for its Yas Marina Circuit where the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, an f1 motor race is held. There are city tours for you to take in the awesome architecture, desert safaris and parks to stroll through. And again there are museums as well as some mosques which are open to the public too.


Dubai truly is a foodies dream, here you will find exotic cuisine from across the globe. There are tons of luxury and high-end establishments for you to really treat yourself and enjoy the glitz and glam of the city. As with Dubai, there’s no shortage of stunning restaurants to choose from in Abu Dhabi with all kinds of dishes served. The local cuisine is inspired by Asian and middle eastern dishes, while there’s no pork on the menu in Dubai or Abu Dhabi due to them being Muslim areas, you could get adventurous and try the camel which is a popular dish. Lamb, beef, and chicken are also on offer if you’re feeling less brave! For more casual fast food in both cities, shawarma is a popular choice and one of the street food dishes to try. This is layers of spicy meat cooked on a spit sliced and served with salad and bread


Known for its incredible shops, if you want to splash the cash, then Dubai is the place to do so. There are over a thousand shops in the Dubai Mall alone and over a hundred other malls on top of that. With their imaginative designs and huge range of shops, the malls are also incredibly popular in Abu Dhabi. During occasions including Eid and Ramadan, malls are venues for special events such as dance and cultural shows. Haggling is accepted and even encouraged in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But even at full price, items are likely to be a lot less expensive than elsewhere in the world. So save space in your suitcase to bring your bargains home!

Which of these cities appeals to you most?

Post your thoughts

Connect with us on Facebook