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Abu Dhabi Gay Travel

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

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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 don’t 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

The United Arab Emirates gay community has no rights or protections, which I’ll cover later on in this Abu Dhabi gay guide. You may ask why I would want to visit such a place. Many travelers struggle with the issue of 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

Before booking a place to stay in Abu Dhabi, two questions typically come to mind: what is the best area to stay? And what kind of hotel should I look for?

red and green crystals in mosque hanging

The exact location of your hotel is not super important since the city isn’t that dense. Generally, hotels in the downtown Abu Dhabi area are most popular.

As an Abu Dhabi gay traveler however, the specific hotel you choose is very important.

gay tourist visit UAE
gay attractions Abu Dhabi

Booking Abu Dhabi Hotels as a Gay Traveler

Remember that Abu Dhabi is not the safest place in the world for LGBT travelers. Choosing the right hotel can have a huge impact on your sense of comfort and safety.

The safest options are always the most well-known international hotel chains. The western hotel chains especially will surely adhere to the highest of standards. 

Sofitel hotel Abu Dhabi rooftop bar

Accor hotels has a trustworthy inclusion policy, so the Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche and the Novotel Al Bustan are worth a look.

Sofitel hotel Abu Dhabi rooftop bar

If you’re traveling alone and you’re not so worried about issues related to being identified as LGBT, then by all means, go for the local hotel experience. Be cautions however, with your appearance and mannerisms to avoid any potential issues.

Abu Dhabi Gay Couples Sharing a Bed

Many gay men visiting Abu Dhabi or Dubai with their partner wonder if it is ok to share a bed as a gay couple. As explained above, this again depends on the type of hotel you book.

In my opinion, you can share a bed with your boyfriend/husband are girlfriend/wife in the internationally known chains. The staff should have enough cultural training to have no issue with two gay individuals sharing a bed.

st regis abu Dhabi
four seasons rooftop pool Abu Dhabi
st regis abu Dhabi

While they’re not the cheapest options, I suggest checking out the fairly-priced Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Al Maryah Island Four Seasons or the Saadiyat Island St. Regis. They’re all internationally renowned western hotel brands where you’ll certainly have an amazing experience.

four seasons rooftop pool Abu Dhabi

Conversely, if you choose a local hotel, the same does not apply. They may not have international standards. These types of places 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. 

gay friendly hotels Abu Dhabi

Remember that police are not patrolling hotels, searching for gay couples to arrest. 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, however typically more expensive, hotel chains above.

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

Since the UAE and specifically Abu Dhabi is quite conservative, it is best to adhere to the local customs regardless of where you’re staying. You’ll likely be among locals no matter which hotel you’re in, and they will appreciate respect for their culture.

Is Abu Dhabi Gay Travel Safe?

In adition to the guidelines about where to stay in the sections above, there are a few other things you 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. 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 thats are overlooked in Dubai will not be tolerated in Abu Dhabi.

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Abu Dhabi Gay Travel Experiences

Visit 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

Head to Ferrari World on Yas Island and experience the fastest roller coaster in the world! 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

Consider checking out Masdar City if you have more time, the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Masdar is a small planned city being built in phases that relies on renewable energy.

Tours are available at Masdar 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 glamorous shopping, Dragon Mart 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 Mart 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 Gay Travel Tips

Without a car, Abu Dhabi may be difficult to navigate. The city is a bit spread out, so if you prefer not to spend money on taxis, it’s helpful to rent a car.

sheikh Zayed mosque ceiling dome

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.

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

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. For men, avoid any graphic t-shirts that could be misconstrued as something offensive.

Traveling to unfamiliar countries can be a little nerve-wracking for some. Insuring your trip with a provider like Travelex Insurance can offer protection in case of medical issues abroad, theft and even delays or cancellation of your trip!

Just $20 can get you started with their lowest tier option.

Do Abu Dhabi Gay Bars Exist?

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. Save that for Dubai, if anything! 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

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.

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 tips
abu dhabi tips

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.

United Arab Emirates Gay Life

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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