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Abu Dhabi Gay Travel

Is Abu Dhabi gay travel safe? Tips for UAE LGBT safety, plus where to stay, gay life & things to do in Abu Dhabi.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Abu Dhabi, UAE

You may find yourself wondering: should gay travelers visit Abu Dhabi? You may question if it is safe, or if it’s worth your vacation time. In this wolfyy gay travel guide, I’ll give you answers to these completely valid questions.

Abu Dhabi gay travel visitors to mosque
I visited Abu Dhabi during the summer of 2013 with my gay college roommate and a few friends. Without a doubt, we had an absolute blast. Gay tourists in Abu Dhabi must obviously take certain precautions, as I’ll explain later. In general however, you will be perfectly safe as long as you dont look for trouble.
Abu Dhabi gay travel visitors to mosque
mosque visitors with no shoes on
gay tourist visit UAE

My gay best friend in college and I found no shortage of things to do in Abu Dhabi. The city is constantly building one new glitzy attraction after another. We experienced things we never before imagined. The fastest roller coaster in the world, water sport parks, F-1 racetracks…the list goes on. No matter what you like, Abu Dhabi has it.

hotels abu dhabi

As you will read later on in this Abu Dhabi gay travel guide, the gay community in the United Arab Emirates has no rights or protections. You may ask why I would want to visit such a place. Many travelers struggle with this issue: balancing exploration with supporting states that oppress the gay community.

gay attractions Abu Dhabi
hotels abu dhabi

My answer is that I love Arab culture and their language. Although it is sad that LGBT people cannot express themselves freely in UAE, this does not mean that there are not kind and open-minded people in the country.

In a way, I am supporting the government of a country that would never support me. However, I still prefer the experience of meeting locals and understanding gay life in the United Arab Emirates.

Gay Abu Dhabi: Hotels & Where to Stay

I stayed in one of the many standard downtown Abu Dhabi hotels, specifically in the Al Danah district. The exact location you stay in while visiting Abu Dhabi is not very important since the city is quite spread out.

gay tourist visit UAE
gay attractions Abu Dhabi

For most places apart from the downtown, you will need a car to get to attractions. For this reason, location is of less importance and you should place more importance on the quality of hotel for your budget. Abu Dhabi without a car may be quite difficult to navigate. If you have the option to rent a car, it would be more than helpful.

red and green crystals in mosque hanging

Gay Couples Sharing a Bed in Abu Dhabi

Many gay men visiting Abu Dhabi or Dubai with their partner wonder if it is ok to share a bed as a gay couple. The answer is that it depends on which kind of hotel you will stay in. 

If you are staying in a western hotel, then my opinion is that you can share a bed with your boyfriend or husband. Western hotels will have international standards and the staff should have enough cultural training to have no issue with two gay men sharing a bed.

gay couple share bed Abu Dhabi
gay couple share bed Abu Dhabi
gay friendly hotels Abu Dhabi

If you opt for the more local route, this does not apply. Local hotels may not have international standards and so it may not be safe to book a single bed with a gay partner in Abu Dhabi. In this situation, it is best to book two single beds. 

You should probably err on the side of caution in this instance. I’d suggest checking out the fairly-priced Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Al Maryah Island Four Seasons or the Saadiyat Island St. Regis, all internationally renowned western hotels.

gay friendly hotels Abu Dhabi

Remember that police are not patrolling hotels, searching for gay couples to arrest. I have never heard of this happening. It is simply better to avoid any trouble with hotel staff’s personal viewpoint. Since the UAE and specifically Abu Dhabi is quite conservative, it is best to adhere to the local customs while staying in local hotels.

Is Abu Dhabi Gay Travel Safe?

As a gay traveler in the United Arab Emirates, you must take certain precautions. Always respect the local culture, with which you should familiarize yourself before traveling to any Middle Eastern country.

Before heading to the Middle East, and specifically the Arab world, it’s crucial to understand their customs and mannerisms.

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Things to Do in Abu Dhabi

Go to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque as soon as you can, and bring your camera. This pristine place of worship is one of my favorite structures on the planet. You can lose yourself among the plentiful jewels and gold, and the massive domes will make you feel like the smallest spec in the universe.

gay travel tomosque Abu Dhabi

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is an absolute must if you’re in Abu Dhabi. Make it a priority! Also, note the mosque is closed to tourists on Fridays.

gay travel tomosque Abu Dhabi
red and green crystals in mosque hanging

How would you fancy the fastest roller coaster in the world? Head to Ferrari World on Yas Island! An indoor theme park, Ferrari World is perfect to escape the heat and enjoy some thrills. If you really like cars, they have a bunch of sweet Ferraris in a small museum.

mosque visitors with no shoes on

If you have more time, consider checking out Masdar City, headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Masdar is a small planned city being built in phases that relies on renewable energy. There are tours available where you can get in a self-driving magnetic track vehicle to head toward the town’s center.

ferrari world Abu Dhabi theme park
abu Dhabi experiences
ferrari world Abu Dhabi theme park

If you want a break from glamourous shopping, Dragon Mall is a sort of “flea market” where you can find cheaper goods. I stopped by here to pick up a duffel bag so I could store gifts and food I bought.

Although things at Dragon Mall are not high-quality, it can be a cheaper and entertaining place to visit. Since it is not a major tourist destination, you can embrace a little more of the local life.

gay cruising Abu Dhabi
Sightseeing Abu Dhabi by walking the streets can be one sweltering experience. Instead of pounding pavement, you can opt for a bus tour with Big Bus Tours Abu Dhabi and see the city with the comfort of the wind in your hair.

Abu Dhabi Travel Tips

Summer temperatures are brutally high, so I would travel during spring of fall. If it happens to be hot during your travels, you will notice locals avoid the outdoors during the middle of the day. Not to worry in Abu Dhabi though! There are plenty of air-conditioned attractions to keep the gay traveler busy.

gay travel to Abu Dhabi mosque
gay travel to Abu Dhabi mosque
sheikh Zayed mosque ceiling dome

Abu Dhabi is a bit more conservative than neighboring Dubai. If you’re a female tourist, always wear clothing that completely covers the shoulders and knees. Any display of upper arms, chest or thighs will attract negative attention. For men, avoid any graphic t-shirts that could be misconstrued as something offensive.

Many travelers feel much more at ease booking travel to unfamiliar countries when they insure their trip. A provider like Travelex Insurance can offer protection in case of medical issues abroad, theft and even delays or cancellation of your trip! They have multiple plan tiers starting at $20.

Can You Drink Alcohol in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, it is legal to consume alcohol in Abu Dhabi, however local muslims that strictly follow religious teachings do not drink. Instead, you will see local Emiratis smoking flavorful Shisha, as is common in Muslim Middle Eastern countries. 

In the UAE, you will not find street-front bars and pubs. Instead, alcohol is typically served inside of hotel bars or nightclubs that have private entrances.

abu dhabi
abu dhabi

Appropriate conduct, especially in relation to consuming alcohol is very important. Appearing intoxicated out on the sidewalk or in other public areas is asking for a lot trouble, so be responsible.

If you plan to drink a decent amount of alcohol, make sure to do so in close proximity to your hotel, if not inside your own hotel bar.

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Are There Gay Bars in Abu Dhabi?

The United Arab Emirates, and specifically Abu Dhabi is a very conservative Muslim state. As you may have guessed, there are officially no gay bars in Abu Dhabi. Many travelers ask around for underground gay parties in Abu Dhabi. They may exist or they may not, but even if you did find such an event by invitation, it would be quite risky to attend.

gay bars Abu Dhabi

Instead of searching for gay events in Abu Dhabi, stay on the safe side and conform to the local customs. As you will read in the section below, gay life in the UAE is quite difficult. Gay men and women need to shield their sexuality so they can conform to societal norms. The UAE certainly has a long way to go.

gay cruising Abu Dhabi
gay bars Abu Dhabi
sheikh Zayed mosque ceiling dome

Lastly, if you’re seeking to connect with another LGBT individual via gay apps (like Grindr or Scruff), remember that you’ll need a VPN connection to do so. The UAE government blocks various LGBT web content and applications. 

I recommend using NordVPN for a safe encrypted connection. An app like this will allow you to download and use restricted apps and websites.

Gay Life in the United Arab Emirates

Legally, LGBT persons do not have any rights in the Emirates and all relations outside of a heterosexual marriage are deemed criminal. Police are not patrolling the streets looking for gay men, but it bears to mention that the law remains archaic in disallowing any gay rights. 

If you keep to yourself and do not overtly display any affection, there is absolutely nothing to worry about in my opinion.

spice market in old dubai
spice market in old dubai
dubai bars

I’d like to remain hopeful that modern leaders and their royal families in Middle Eastern countries will begin to strive toward providing basic human rights to the LGBT communities in their respective countries. 

We can do our part as fellow LGBT citizens of the world to hold these leaders and governments accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

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Need more ideas for gay vacations? Explore wolfyy’s full list of gay travel destinations.

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