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Abu Dhabi Gay Travel

wolfyy’s Abu Dhabi gay travel guide to top hotels, LGBT safety, local gay life, things to do & more.

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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 Abu Dhabi experience

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 as well as Dubai with my gay college roommate and a few other friends, and we had no issues.

gay Abu Dhabi experience
visiting Abu Dhabi
visiting Abu Dhabi

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.

abu dhabi hotels

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.

abu dhabi hotels

Gay Abu Dhabi: Hotels & Where to Stay

Downtown Abu Dhabi hotels and hotels on Saadiyat Island are generally the most popular. However, the exact location of your hotel isn’t super important. Abu Dhabi isn’t that dense, so it’s easy to move around. And as you may have guessed, there’s no gay neighborhood.

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.

downtown abu dhabi hotels

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. 

Abu Dhabi gay traveler
downtown abu dhabi hotels

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?

Abu Dhabi gay traveler

In my opinion, same-sex couples should book single-bed hotel rooms at globally-known hotel chains. These are always the safest option. Two men booking a room with a single bed isn’t the best idea.

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. Still, remember to be cautious with your appearance and mannerisms to avoid any issues.

Abu Dhabi gay hotel

Here are some safe Abu Dhabi gay friendly hotels I recommend.

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 gay hotel
Sofitel Corniche Abu Dhabi hotel
Sofitel Corniche Abu Dhabi hotel

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. 

This Four Seasons hotel has a clean, elegant, and masculine style that I love. Everything about it is spectacular. Their large rooftop pool also has a marvelous seaside view.

Four Seasons Abu Dhabi
Four Seasons Abu Dhabi
Novotel Abu Dhabi

Novotel Al Bustan

Novotel Al Bustan 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 Abu Dhabi

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. 

Abu Dhabi gay hotel
Abu Dhabi gay hotel
St. Regis Abu Dhabi

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.

St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Is Abu Dhabi Gay 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.

gay couples visiting Abu Dhabi

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.

being gay in Abu Dhabi
gay couples visiting Abu Dhabi

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.

being gay 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.

Keep in mind that Abu Dhabi is much more conservative than neighboring Dubai. Many common western behaviors that are overlooked in Dubai will not be tolerated in Abu Dhabi.

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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

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.

Abu Dhabi gay safety
Abu Dhabi gay safety
sheikh Zayed grand mosque

You can book a Private Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Tour which is best for spending a longer time at the mosque, or visit as part of an Abu Dhabi city tour.

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.

Ferrari World

Head to Ferrari World on Yas Island and experience the fastest roller coaster in the world. It’s so fast, you have to wear clear goggles to ride! An indoor theme park, Ferrari World is perfect to escape the heat and enjoy some thrills.

ferrari world Abu Dhabi
ferrari world Abu Dhabi
race car in ferrari world

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

Masdar City is worth checking out f you have more time to spend in Abu Dhabi, the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Masdar is a small planned city being built in phases that relies on renewable energy.

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.

Masdar city
Masdar city Abu Dhabi
Masdar city Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi Gay Travel Tips

Bringing PrEP & Other Medications into Abu Dhabi

All travelers entering Abu Dhabi or anywhere else in the UAE should have a record of any prescription medication they are currently taking.

Traveling to Abu Dhabi with PrEP, PEP, or any other pre or post-exposure prophylaxis medication is not recommended. If you can go without these, it’s best to leave them at home.

sheikh Zayed mosque ceiling

While the government does not specifically prohibit travelers from bringing these medications into the country, you may be subject to scrutiny or face other unforeseen consequences if they are questioned.

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. 

Abu Dhabi gay guide
sheikh Zayed mosque ceiling

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.

Abu Dhabi gay guide

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.

Abu Dhabi gay travel tips

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.

Abu Dhabi gay travel tips
abu dhabi experiences

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.

Abu Dhabi gay bars

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!

abu dhabi experiences
precautions visiting Abu dhabi
Abu Dhabi gay bars

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.

precautions visiting Abu dhabi

I recommend using NordVPNuVur0U&bids=572706 for a safe encrypted connection. I use this app myself, which makes it possible to download and use restricted apps and websites.

Can You Drink Alcohol in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, it is legal to consume alcohol in Abu Dhabi, however, there are a few special rules to follow.

abu dhabi traveler

Local Muslims that strictly follow religious teachings do not drink. Instead, you will see locals smoking flavourful 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.

abu dhabi attractions

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.

modern building Abu Dhabi

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 Middle Eastern destinations that are much more LGBT-friendly should think about cities like Tel Aviv instead.

spice market in old dubai
spice market in old dubai
modern building Abu Dhabi

I’d like to remain hopeful that leaders will begin working toward providing basic rights for 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.

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Explore more of the Middle East with wolfyy’s gay guides to Dubai, Tel Aviv, Kuwait City, and Beirut.

For more inspiration, explore wolfyy’s full collection of gay travel guides.

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