Abu Dhabi Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Abu Dhabi gay travel guide to top hotels, LGBT safety, local gay life, things to do & more.
The Gay Travel Experience: Abu Dhabi, UAE
You may be wondering if Abu Dhabi is safe, or if it’s worth your vacation time. I wondered the same thing. In this wolfyy gay guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know for an epic trip to Abu Dhabi.
Gay tourists in Abu Dhabi definitely need to take certain precautions to stay safe. Generally speaking, you’ll be perfectly fine as long as you don’t look for trouble. I visited Abu Dhabi with my gay college roommate and a few other friends, and we had no issues.
Part of the UAE, Abu Dhabi’s gay community has no rights or protections. You might wonder why I or any other gay traveler would visit such a place. Many travelers struggle with this issue of balancing exploration with supporting parts of the world that oppress the gay community.
My personal answer is that I love Arab culture and language. Although it’s sad that LGBT people cannot express themselves freely in UAE, this does not mean that there are not kind and open-minded people here.
Traveling to Abu Dhabi will give you the chance to experience some serious luxury and epic attractions. Below I’ll share some great places for gay travelers to stay, followed by awesome things to do.
Gay Abu Dhabi: Hotels & Booking Safety
When booking a hotel in Abu Dhabi, gay travelers frequently have a few questions: What will be safe? Can I share a bed with my partner? What type of hotel should I look for?
I’ll cover the answers to each of these along with some specific hotel recommendations for Abu Dhabi gay travelers.
Since Abu Dhabi is not the most LGBT-friendly place on earth, choosing the right hotel will have a big impact on your sense of comfort and safety.
The best option is to choose a hotel that’s part of an internationally well-known brand. The staff should have enough cultural training to have no issue with LGBT tourists or even two gay individuals sleeping in the same bed. In my opinion, same-sex couples can book single-bed hotel rooms at these global chains.
If you’re traveling alone and you’re not so worried about issues related to being identified as LGBT, then there’s no issue with booking a local hotel. Remember though to be cautious with your appearance and mannerisms to avoid any issues.
Below, I’ll recommend some safe hotel options for Abu Dhabi gay tourists.
Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche
The Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is an absolutely gorgeous waterfront luxury hotel. It’s owned by Accor Hotels, which has a trustworthy inclusion policy. Rooms have impressive floor-to-ceiling windows with views looking out over the Persian Gulf.
Abu Dhabi’s Sofitel has two beautiful pools, a chic poolside restaurant, a fun pink-themed rooftop bar, a spa, and access to the nearby beach. And with all this, the price is decently affordable!
Al Maryah Island Four Seasons
I highly suggest the Al Maryah Island Four Seasons, which is right next to Abu Dhabi’s downtown area. The Four Seasons has a clean, elegant, and masculine style that I personally love so much. Everything about this hotel is spectacular. Their large rooftop pool also has a marvelous seaside view.
Novotel Al Bustan
The Novotel Al Bustan hotel is at the southern end of Downtown Abu Dhabi and is also owned by Accor Hotels, so I would recommend it to gay travelers. It’s more affordable than the above-mentioned Sofitel, but still offers an upscale ambiance and amenities.
Novotel is also nearby the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, making a trip there easy and convenient, especially if you want to go multiple times.
St. Regis Saadiyat Island
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island is another must-mention, especially if you’re looking for the ultimate luxury hotel experience. Abu Dhabi’s St. Regis is right on the beach.
The hotel is a massive, private compound containing every amenity you could imagine, a host of beautiful pools, and restaurants with upscale lounge seating. Just about everywhere you are on this property, you’ll almost always have a wonderful view of the sea.
Is Abu Dhabi LGBT Travel Safe?
Abu Dhabi isn’t the safest place for gay travelers, but it’s not necessarily the most dangerous either. Everything really depends on how you present yourself and the places you go.
I have however heard stories of uncomfortable or threatening encounters with other hotel guests (as recently as 2020). For this reason, I recommend the trusted hotel in the section chains above.
In addition to the safety guidelines about where to stay, there are a few other things LGBTQ travelers can do to stay safe in Abu Dhabi.
Familiarize yourself with local customs before traveling to the UAE, or any Middle Eastern country for that matter. It’s crucial to understand local customs and mannerisms. Even within your hotel, you’ll frequently be around locals. To start, learn a bit about how to dress properly in the UAE.
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Abu Dhabi Gay Travel Experiences
Abu Dhabi has some pretty legendary attractions and I found no shortage of things to do. Here are some of the best attractions I recommend you visit.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque first thing. This pristine place of worship is one of my favorite structures on the planet. You can lose yourself among the plentiful jewels and gold. The massive domes will make you feel like the smallest thing in the universe.
Note the mosque is closed to tourists on Fridays, so you’ll want to avoid planning a day trip around the city on this day of the week.
If you really like cars, they have a bunch of sweet Ferraris in a small museum. The entire facility is pretty giant and kept impeccably clean. To save time, grab your admission ticket ahead of time.
Tour Masdar City
Tours are available at Masdar where you can get in a self-driving magnetic track vehicle to head toward the town’s center.
Abu Dhabi Bus Tours
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 Gay Travel Tips
Prepare for Heat
Summer temperatures are brutally high During the warmer parts of the year, you will notice locals avoid the outdoors during the middle of the day.
Grab a few sweat-proof t-shirts to wear if you’ll be visiting while it’s hot. Some elastane, polyester, or nylon material will breathe well to keep you dry.
Female tourists should always wear clothing that completely covers the shoulders and knees. Any display of upper arms, chest, or thighs will attract negative attention. Bringing a lightweight shawl is a great idea if you’re nervous your sleeves aren’t long enough.
For men, avoid any graphic t-shirts that could be misconstrued as something offensive. Avoiding super short shorts is also a good idea. Overall, just dress conservatively.
Rent a Car
Renting a car in Abu Dhabi will make getting around much easier. The city is a bit spread out, so if you prefer not to spend money on taxis, it’s helpful to have your own vehicle.
Consider Travel Insurance
Getting travel insurance coverage before visiting the UAE can come in extremely handy. Trip cancellation protection, lost-baggage coverage, travel delay reimbursements and medical coverage abroad are just a few reasons why you should always have some sort of insurance policy.
Travelex Insurance is one of the easiest providers to use. Their website gives you an immediate quote based on your age, trip cost and a few other factors. They then offer plans in several price tiers.
Alternatively, you can shop among the quotes from a whole bunch of different providers using a travel insurance marketplace service like Aardy.
Does Abu Dhabi Have Gay Nightlife?
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 or gay clubs in Abu Dhabi.
Many travelers ask around for underground gay parties while visiting 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.
Instead of searching for gay events, stay on the safe side and conform to the local customs. Save that for Dubai, if anything!
Using Grindr in Abu Dhabi
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.
Can You Drink Alcohol in Abu Dhabi?
Local Muslims that strictly follow religious teachings do not drink. Instead, you will see locals smoking flavorful Shisha, which is super common in the Middle East.
In the UAE, you won’t find typical bars and pubs. Instead, alcohol is served inside hotel bars or nightclubs that have private entrances.
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 of 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.
Abu Dhabi Gay Life
Legally, LGBT people do not have any rights in the Emirates. All relations outside of a heterosexual marriage are technically deemed criminal.
Police aren’t patrolling the streets looking for gay men in Abu Dhabi, but it’s worth mentioning that the law remains archaic. I’m sure you can imagine how difficult gay life in Abu Dhabi can be for locals.
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. While I don’t discourage any gay travelers from visiting Abu Dhabi, those looking for a Middle Eastern destination that’s much more LGBT-friendly should think about cities like Tel Aviv instead.
I’d like to remain hopeful that leaders will begin working toward providing basic rights to the LGBT communities in Middle Eastern 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.