It’s funny the road life takes you down. As I sit here typing this, I’m in my apartment in the outskirts of Abu Dhabi City, having just welcomed a single friend to my relatively new stomping-ground. Though my husband Nathan made the move with me, he’s spent over two of the last six months back in New Zealand working, leaving me to navigate the city by myself.
Having recently spotted a post in a Facebook group querying the safety of visiting Abu Dhabi as a single woman, and reassuring friends (and at times, indirectly, their families), I thought it might be time to put a post like this together.
Though I’d been pining my hopes on a move overseas for a number of years, I must admit that moving to the Middle East was never really even a small part of our master plan… Regardless, here we find ourselves (well for a few days longer, just me).
I remember telling my mum for the first time that we were thinking about moving to Abu Dhabi and, for the most part, was met with concern. Would I need to cover myself in public? Are women allowed to drive? Is it safe there, with all that’s going on in the world?
Though I had done a fair bit of research by that point (and knew a few people who had/were living here), I too was relatively unsure as to just what I would meet upon arrival in the UAE.
The truth is, at no point in time have I felt unsafe. Sure, the driving here can be a bit scary (today our taxi driver thought it appropriate to make a video call as he was driving us home on the motorway… seriously?!) but that’s got nothing to do with my personal safety and the fact that I’m still comfortable driving here myself means it’s generally not that bad.
I catch taxis by myself at night and walk freely down the road, probably all whilst feeling safer than I did at home in New Zealand (and let’s face it, Aotearoa is, relatively speaking, an incredibly safe country).
I’m mindful of what I wear and do my best to show respect to the beliefs that many of the people living in this part of the world hold dear, but I think that’s all a part of being a global citizen – it’s not hard to be mindful of the values other people hold, especially when I’m a guest in this country.
As with any overseas travel, it’s a good idea to read up on any laws that are significantly different to your homeland so you’ve got an understanding of what is and is not appropriate, but that’s just common sense. For all of the differences in law here, there are very few (if any) that impact the manner in which I live my daily life.
Since arriving, we’re travelled throughout the United Arab Emirates, Oman and also Jordan; always feeling safe and welcomed. Granted, our travel has been as a couple rather than as a solo female traveller and the Middle East is a large place, but I’m learning that it’s not necessarily the place that the Western media can portray. I’m of the belief that media coverage in New Zealand is pretty well-rounded, but I know that’s not the case in many parts of the world.
With all that said, of course something could go wrong here – the truth is, issues can (and do) arise the world over. Don’t let that sway your decision to visit this region though. Research, check travel advisories, read blogs, join travel groups on Facebook, ask questions – just don’t rule an amazing experience out due to prejudice, as in doing so, you might miss out on an opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another.
If you are planning to visit the UAE and would like more information, please leave a message below – we’re more than happy to help in any way we can.