Located on an island in the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi is the dynamic capital city of both the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. It has a highly diverse and international population — 80 percent of its inhabitants are "ex-pats," coming from some 150 countries around the globe. Reflecting that diversity, NYUAD faculty and staff themselves represent 49 countries, speaking many languages and coming from varied backgrounds and experiences. They are a cosmopolitan workforce in a cosmopolitan city.
Much like any cosmopolitan metropolis, both street and pedestrian traffic are lively in Abu Dhabi. Locals and ex-pats alike frequent shopping malls, restaurants, sports facilities, and the waterfront area known as the Corniche. English is widely used in Abu Dhabi, and signs for roads, shops, restaurants, and most businesses are written in both Arabic and English. The city has great beaches and there are many parks. Boating and water sports are very popular along the Gulf coast.
Abu Dhabi has a wide range of international private schools catering to the needs of its very diverse global population. In addition to two American schools, there are also Canadian, British, French, and Indian international private schools. Between Abu Dhabi and its neighboring emirates, shopping opportunities abound, from the traditional date and fish markets to the most contemporary of shopping malls that carry many recognizable brands of food, clothing, electronics, and more. All of these destinations are easily accessible via the city's network of inexpensive taxis. Many people also buy or lease cars.
Recent additions to Abu Dhabi's growing cultural scene — a classical music season, an annual film festival, and an annual international art fair, for example — contribute to a comfortable and fulfilling lifestyle for members of the NYUAD community.
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Abu Dhabi translates literally to "father of the gazelle," in reference to an indigenous type of deer said to have inhabited the area. To this day, a particular species of native Arabian gazelle is referred to as "dhabi" in Arabic.
The climate of Abu Dhabi is hot and arid. From June to September maximum temperatures average above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is high. During the cooler months, from November to March, average temperatures range from 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit) to 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). There is very little rainfall in Abu Dhabi; February is generally the wettest month, with an average rainfall of 42 millimeters (1.65 inches).
Abu Dhabi is considered conservative but tolerant when it comes to dress code. Given the diverse nature of the population, one can see many different types of dress in Abu Dhabi (jeans, saris, business suits, dishdashas, and abayas). Visitors are free to wear the same clothes that they would wear at home, but both men and women typically refrain from wearing excessively revealing clothing out of respect for the local culture and customs. For most of the year, lightweight summer clothing is suitable. Warmer clothes are needed during the winter months, especially in the evening.
The UAE's population is about 8.3 million and it is one of the most ethnically diverse in the Middle East. Roughly 11 percent of the population is Emirati; with other major demographic groups including South Asians, other Arab nationals, East Asians, and Western expatriates.
The currency of the UAE is the dirham, which is divided into 100 fils. The UAE dirham is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of 3.67 dirham to the dollar.
The UAE is in Greenwich Mean Time plus four hours, or nine hours ahead of New York in Standard Time. During Daylight Savings Time, Abu Dhabi is eight hours ahead of New York.