Moving with Pets to Abu Dhabi, UAE!

Note: the following information may not be current. Check with your pet relocation consultant, relocation facilitator, employer, or another UAE source if you have any questions about moving to and living in the United Arab Emirates with Pets.

Here's another amazing response from another happy customer of ours who is now living in Abu Dhabi, UAE with his pets! If you are planning on pet moving to Abu Dhabi and have pets, this customer gives great comments, opinions and insights into his view of life and times in Abu Dhabi with pets - and the transitioning life of an EXPAT living in the UAE.

Our Pet Relocation Questions we asked and he answered:

Q: How was your experience finding pet care in your new country? Did you have a hard time finding a vet?

A: Pet care in Abu Dhabi UAE is difficult. Vets and especially boarding/grooming are difficult to find. We located two. One is British Veterinary Center - good but expensive and usually accommodation is always taken up in advance. We located NATIONAL VETERINARY HOSPITAL at = email address. Tel = 971-2-446-1628 , Fax = 971-2-446-2548, Mobile = 971-050-446-4910, Ask for Dr. Anwar Shahed, He takes cats, dogs and falcons and provides boarding and grooming. He is located conveniently on 17th Street just off of Airport Road across from the mosque.

Q: How do you get pet food, medicine, etc.? Any other suggestions, good finds or other pet friendly places you have found?

A: Pet food is hard to find, as are pet stores. We found a good pet store just north of New Al Noor Hospital near Kahlifa Street and 4th Street intersection. Medicine can be found at the two veterinary locales above I mentioned.

Q: What's your favorite local hotspot that you've discovered? A good restaurant, a beautiful overlook, a great dog park?

ANSWER Good restaurant is Samurai Japanese Restaurant on Al Mina Road next to Capital Hotel. Another good restaurant would be Jade Restaurant next to Al Mina Daar Hotel. Both are on Al Mina Road. There are no beautiful overlooks but the best vistas are on the sea-walk esplanades north of west of Corniche Road. For Chinese food, go to Shanghai Surprise Restaurant inside Capitol Hotel on Al Mina Road.

Q: What are some things you miss the most about where you came from/the US? Do you miss a certain type of food or activity that you could only do here?

A: Silent Movie Theaters with organs, places for good breakfast meal, NHK TV JAPAN, coffee places that open at 0600 AM or 0630 AM (Starbucks Coffee here opens at 0730 AM now), corned beef sandwich/deli style places, used car dealerships (most here are new cars), trees, museums, aquariums, cultural events, summer concerts. Food missed would be NY style deli. Activity missed would be natural history or art museums or museum of science and industry.

Q: Have you found any good options locally for boarding your pets?

A: Yes. See data above on National Veterinary Hospital. A word of caution as well - take care going thru Customs/Dubai UAE initially. We included our original paperwork for vaccinations along with copies and the Customs officers took our "originals" and not our copies even though they were marked as ORIGINALS. Once the Customs people take the original papers - good luck getting them back again. One is better off not including the ORIGINALS at all in the kennel.

Q: How long do you plan to stay in your new country? Do you plan to return to your country of origin, or do you have plans to move on to another location?

A: 3 to 6 years in UAE planned. Yes I plan to return to my country of origin. Possibly we do have plans to first move to another location internationally - China, Poland or Hawaii.

Q: Any other suggestions or helpful tips for pet owners living in your new country?

A: Yes. Obtaining food is a problem here as is finding pet stores. Before you leave USA, make sure you purchase favorite "toys" because they cannot be found here. Will write you later on pet stores in Abu Dhabi. Also suggest you shave your pets hair when you board them. This helps them adjust to the heat and stay cool and hence they do not gain weight as fast.

Some of his personal views and additions!

1. For Good restaurants in Abu Dhabi:

For Sushi and Japanese fare go to:

Wasabi Japanese Restaurant (formerly Jade Restaurant)
Phone 971-2-677-8415 for reservations
Mobile 971-050-811-8922
At Al Diar Mina Hotel on Mina Road near Salam Street
Has Karaoke singing but must place order of Dhs 400 minimum to secure studio

Samarai Japanese Restaurant (and Barb B Que)
Mina Road, next to Capital Hotel, Abu Dhabi UAE
Tel 971-2-676-6612
Or 971-2-676-9911

  • Look for Orange sign facing Mina Road
  • Good sushi, sashimi and bar b que cooktop
  • Excellent service and best bar b queu
  • Has bento box too
  • prefer this restaurant to the one above

For Fresh Seafood fare go to:

Al Sheraa Al Dahbi Sea Food Restaurant
Tel 971-2-627-7204
Fax 971-2-627-7208
Location Khalifa Street near 4th Street near New Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi Co-op Building at Ground Level next to Hallmark Cards Shoppe and Baskin Robins facing Khalifa Street Good grilled shrimps, lobster, crab, etc at excellent price and very fresh catches of day

For good breakfast fare go to:

La Brioche
Located at Khalifa Street near 4th Street near New Al Noor Hospital in Abu Dhabi Co-op Building at ground level next to teller machines. Get there before 1100 AM as they stop serving breakfast packages at that time. Good omelettes, beef bacon, croissants, poached eggs, cafe, quiche lorraine, etc.

2. For favorite parks :

Go to Capital Gardens Park at Khalifa Street and 4th Street intersection across from National Bank of Abu Dhabi main building. Plenty of trees, fountains, parking, and lots of kids and swings. Has trampolines, air bag type slides, jungle gyms, homeless kitty kats, huka smoker outdoor cafes, gazebos, picnic areas, benches and more. Must pay 1 Dhs to enter. Look for the two big silver teapot fixtures for the main entry. Gets very busy at 0830 PM onward. Excellent for kids of age 2 thru 8.

There are many other city parks in Abu Dhabi UAE, but this is the best one for families and small children of preschool age.

3. Non-Favorite things I have learned that I wish I knew up front:

a. International AAA Drivers License doesn't do you any good at all. What a waste of time and money that was. If you get caught driving with one and no UAE licence on you will be thrown in jail and get black points plus a fine irrespective if you has the AAA Intl License or not. These AAA licenses are useless here even if you try to use them with a Thrifty or AVIS rental car.

b. If your passport is from one country and your current driver's license is from a different country, watch out. You will have real problems obtaining a drivers license in UAE. Fix this before you come to UAE and get a driver's licence that matches same country as your passport. Otherwise you will have to take 12 weeks worth of driver training classes here to obtain your UAE drivers license plus time off of work.

c. Do not parallel park in the lot aisles unless you are perpendicular parked against a curb. You will be ticketed and will have to pay Dhs. 100 fine with time off of work to pay it.

d. To get an apartment you will likely have to go thru a real estate broker for an apartment search service. They charge you 6% of the total annual rent at the time of annual lease execution up front. They require cash and do not take credit. Your company will not reimburse you for this expense. They also require you to pay them up front the setup charge for natural gas and water. You pay thru the broker and it must be cash money. If someone tells you bring only $2000-$3000 and that is all the cash you will need to survive do not believe them. The real estate broker fee alone is $1700-$1800 out of your pocket.

e. Do not buy/purchase any moving boxes or tape or incidentals before moving. Let your Relocation Service handle it all. If you purchase mover boxes or tape or ropes, your company will not reimburse you for your expense.

f. Do not call overseas or make faxes overseas pre-move, or during your employment agreement negotiations. Do it all by PDF file attachments and e-mails. Your company will refuse to reimburse you these telephone and fax expenses later when you fill out your expense reports upon your arrival. Never call your new employer overseas. Everything should be email.

g. Make sure you know who is paying for your cab fare from the arrival Airport into the City. This can run you Dhs 60.00 to Dhs 90.00 depending on the taxi cab. Even with a receipt, your company will not reimburse you this expense. Make sure this is in your contract negotiation up front.

h. Know who is paying for your hotel room and incidentals up front when you arrive. Your company may make it look like they are paying but read the fine print. You will be asked to pay yourself out of pocket and your company will not expense/reimburse you this cost. If the company puts you up in a fancy hotel, refuse it and ask for Howard Johnson's or cheaper. Also, before you sign the employment agreement make sure the company pays for this hotel room and incidentals up front instead of you bearing the cost.

i. Ask about dental and medical insurance up front before you sign your agreement. Many of the Abu Dhabi local dentists and doctors do not take your company's PPO or HMO providers. This makes 80% reimbursement of a dental visit a pain and a real administrative burden on you. Before you sign up for company insurance, make sure your company actually gives you a local Abu Dhabi list of doctors and dentists in the City that use the insurer as a carrier. If they direct you to a website then object. You may be better off with no dental insurance at all. Also check with your fellow employees first - some of them may have formed a group of their own independent of the company and signed up for their own carrier/coverage. This may be a much better deal than your company's remittance but will require you to put down an annual line of credit up front.

j. Check with your CPA in re IRS Tax Laws for expats up front. The IRS taxes have changed dramatically esp with respect to housing allowance and furniture allowance shelters.

Also, the rental housing market here in UAE is very expensive. Small two bedroom apartments are going for (NOW) USD 2300 per ea month rental for a 12 month lease and there is no rent control here. This means the rental rates will increase 25% to 30% each year, year over year, with no landlord rent controls and your company will not reimburse you for the cost of escalation adjustment. Your best recourse will be via the private rental market - get four or five company employees together and go in for a townhouse or villa rental. Stay away from the real estate brokers -their agenda is to maximize their 6% commission and serve the landlords and not you.

k. Working hours - mandatory minimum working hours are 6 days per week, 8 hours per day, 0800 AM to 0430 PM with 30 minute break for lunchtime. Minimums are 48 hours per week mandatory work time. Actual working hours are 07:15 AM to 06:00 PM, 6 days per week however. You will get Friday's off for prayer day. That's it. Forget about personal time for apartment searches, car purchases, bank account set up, time to go to post office and mail something, grocery shopping time, set up of E Vision TV account, set up of Etisalat Telephone accounts, etc. You have no personal time and you will be granted none likely. If you take time off of work, your company will require you to phone in your absence in advance and gain his approval and you will be required to make up the time. Make sure you ask about hours of work before you sign your employment agreement.

l. Ask who buys and reimburses your mobile phone for business use. Most companies in UAE will require you buy your own local mobile phone up front out of pocket and will not reimburse you for it one fils. They will also not reimburse you for GSM setup fees, GSM admin charges, and even the costs of valid mobile phone business calls. Make sure you understand the process for reimbursing of calls - it can be so complex and requiring so much logs and supporting backup of who you called, what was the purpose of the call, what was the time of the call, what was the project accnt code, etc., that you may never be reimbursed. If the supporting forms are not sufficient enough, the finance staff will keep bleeding you with questions until you give up. Your company may not reimburse you for any/all overseas intl calls unless/until their senior mgt approves the call "up front". This means generally that you pay for all your overseas business calls and not the company or the client. A call is your risk, not your companies. Etisalat also requires a AED 6,000 deposit for international roaming charge up front if you envisage you will be out of UAE on business. Don't pay it. Your company will not reimburse you for it and they will not reimburse you for the overseas calls and intl. roaming charges. Make sure your employment agreement addresses this point. Many companies make you foot their bill for mobile phones and for all calls on mobile phones, especially intl. calls.

m. Professional licenses and certifications - get the websites in USA upfront before you leave and notify them of your new address or your new company address if you have no new apartment. This will ensure your licenses do not expire and you can continue payments to the boards in the USA.

n. Professional continuing eduction for licensure maintenance is non-existant in UAE. You will have to make due via web courses over the internet or through your parent company if they sponsor a course but make sure they actually document CEUs and PDUs and LUs and provide evidence of CEUs earned otherwise your State may not recognize the CEUs you earned. If you want to maintain your licence make sure you and your company have a plan to do that before you leave and make it a part of your employment agreement.

o. Make sure your new company makes sure who will pay for company penalties from your former employer. Some former employers will not pay out remaining vacation balance, nor remaining company stock plan bonds for restricted stock plans. This may cost you $40,000 to $50,000 out of your pocket with no remittance from your new employer if it is not part of your new employment agreement up front. Suggest if your current employment agreement requires 60 day advance notice or 90 day advance notice of resignation, stick to it and give them what the contract requires and tell your new employer you will honor it. If you do not, your new employer company will most likely say that this is the employee's problem and saddle you with the financial burden of gaining your early release from your former USA company.

WOW, that was some great insight! Thanks so much for your input!


PetRelocation Team




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