Signs You're Truly at Home in Abu Dhabi

NYUAD celebrates the 44th UAE National Day on the Saadiyat Campus on November 25, 2015.

NYU Abu Dhabi students, faculty, and staff come to the UAE from all over the world to live in a sprawling city that's strange at first, but quickly becomes home away from home. We're all from different parts of the planet but find commonalities in everyday things like ethnic food, hot weather, and giant malls. So, how do you know when you've become a true Abu Dhabian?

1. You can’t make small talk about the weather because the weather hardly ever changes.

Sunny. Clear skies. In fact, you still fondly reminisce about the the craziest thing that’s ever happened to Abu Dhabi weather: the light drizzle of February 2008. On the bright side — pun intended — at least the lack of clouds makes the skies perfect for stargazing.

A view of the Abu Dhabi skyline as seen from the Breakwater Corniche.
2. You've become a shawarma connoisseur.

The warmth of fresh pita, the fragrance of tahini, the chicken peeping shyly out of its folds: you can recognize a great shawarma before you taste it. In fact, you’re so passionate about shawarma that you’ve broken close friendships during heated debates about whether Foodlands’ shawarma is better than Lebanese Flower’s.

Shawarma from Foodlands is a favorite meal for many students.
3. You’ve run out of space for stamps in your passport — for the second time this year.

Year-round travel discounts, the proximity of Abu Dhabi to three different continents, and an airport system called E-Gate that allows residents to skip long queues. All great reasons to book an impromptu trip to Georgia!

A woman looks at her passport while waiting at an airport gate.
4. You step out of your building and you’re instantly blinded by foggy glasses.

Who needs cloudy skies when your glasses do a great job creating illusions of fog? In fact, you're now able to tell exactly what percentage the humidity levels are at, correct to two decimal places, based on how long it takes for the fog on your glasses to disappear.

Glasses get foggy in the Abu Dhabi humidity.
5. Your wardrobe contains an assortment of sunglasses, cardigans, sun hats, and wooly shawls.

Thanks to the efficiency of Abu Dhabi’s air conditioning units, indoor spaces can be freezing. Thanks to the efficiency of Abu Dhabi’s sun, outdoor spaces are like ovens. To survive, you must equip yourself with apparel for temperatures from 0 to 40 degrees Celsius.


Students along the High Line.
6. You hoard small change for taxi fare.

Change is hard to come by, so when you procure a 5 or 10 dirham note you lovingly place it in a box under your bed. And when you take taxis, you offer to pay for your co-passengers — not out of the generosity of your heart, but because you don’t want to give away your precious dirhams.

A view of downtown Abu Dhabi.
7. You truly appreciate the importance of shopping malls.

Abu Dhabi malls are more than shopping centers: they sustain us. They give us food, shelter, social life and even protect us from the heat by bringing nature indoors; whether it’s skydiving, sports or theme parks, you can get a taste of nearly every outdoor activity at your nearest mall.

The road to Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi.
8. You haven’t stepped outside in weeks, thanks to cost-efficient delivery.

Your phone is filled with food delivery apps, and is one of your favorite websites. Craving fried chicken at 1am? No problem, it’ll be on your doorstep in 30 minutes. By now, even the security guard to your building knows to send all the pizza deliveries to you.

Students socialize as they eat their lunch at the Student Center Marketplace on NYU Abu Dhabi campus on Saadiyat Island.
9. You’ve become so much more knowledgeable about the world.

In Abu Dhabi, an Ethiopian restaurant sits between a Pakistani restaurant and a Kazakh restaurant. In one taxi ride, you learn about the political turmoil in the taxi driver’s country. 11 different languages are spoken around you at the food court. It’s truly impossible to live in Abu Dhabi without becoming acquainted with cultures, traditions, and people from across our world.

Students relax and socialize as they catch up with other students around the NYU Abu Dhabi campus on Saadiyat Island.

Supriya Kamath, Class of 2019, is from Mumbai, India and blogs for #myNYUAD, a growing collection of stories by students about life at NYU Abu Dhabi. As an aspiring psychology major, she spends much of her free time doing personality tests. She also enjoys reading humor, and meeting Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams is at the very top of her bucket list.