You really can fix things around the house yourself

Yes you could call. But if you want to get handy and reap the rewards, read on. DIY is doable in Abu Dhabi


When it comes to acronyms, DIY is definitely not one of the most well used ones in the UAE.

We understand. We really do. Most of us live in flats. We don’t have access to a garage. Power tools are expensive and if you move, you’d just end up selling them anyway. It’s just easier to call someone else to fix this or build that.

Okay, fair enough. DIY and expat living do not necessarily go hand in hand.


But wait! It doesn’t have to be that way.

What if we told you that you don’t necessarily need a garage to be handy? It will cost you less than you think and will almost certainly lead you to saving money in the future. You can also start with a very basic tool kit that can increase as your tinkering and pottering instinct evolves.

Not nailed down the desire to DIY just yet?

Then note that it can help boost your brainpower with active problem solving and lead to some illuminating self discovery as you (hopefully) uncover some natural talents you didn’t know you had. Also, knowing you can rely solely on yourself – even if it is just for the odd job around the house – can boost self-esteem.

“Doing things yourself and making things is fun,” Ismael Touq, general manager at creative community hub and facility TechShop Abu Dhabi, tells Abu Dhabi World. “You can solve your own problems without having to depend on someone else.”

“The benefit of DIY is also that it allows you to just be creative, to bring ideas that you have to life and learn more about materials and tools.”


The knowledge gained and experience of being able to solve problems with a few tools is something that’s been an essential part of human development over centuries.

“It’s in our nature to be makers. It’s in our DNA, it’s what sets us apart from other animals: we make things, we use tools and we create,” adds Ismael.

“In the industrial environment we live in, lots of things are mass produced and we’ve lost the sense of how things are made, we’re out of touch and it’s good to bring back the relationship we have with materials and be involved in making.

“We can play with materials, and the more you work with materials and tools the more you understand about the work that goes in to making products and there’s so much more satisfaction when you make something than to just go somewhere and buy it.

“So why wouldn’t you want to try it?” asks Ismael.

Getting started

You could go it alone. Or you could learn from the experts. Here are some options:


Tech Shop in Al Zeina is a great place to start. Even during the summer the team is running a host of exciting classes. Some are more on the expert end of the scale with laser cutting and etching, as well as 3D printing, but there are plenty that will help start you down the road to DIY dominance. For instance, we like the sound of the basic metal workshop; starting project – a bottle opener. Want to know how to build your own shelf, before installing it yourself? The hand tool basics workshop, which is being held throughout August, is perfect for you. Visit:

The Knowledge Academy, which has a location in Al Bateen, offers an extensive range of interesting courses in everything from change management to beginner magic. For those who have developed a passion for metalwork and want to take it to the next level, the welding course will safely teach you the basics. The centre also runs courses in woodcarving. Visit:

If you want to damage it yourself (only at first) in the privacy of your own home there are a host of great online courses that you can sign up to. We love the practical plumbing course at, which was launched in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Western Union. Syrian refugee Safa’a Sukkariah teaches you how to fix a sink with simple tools. Udemy runs many more courses that will help you dial in your DIY skills including how to paint your house like a pro. Visit:

But a website that can’t be beaten for everything you need to know is How about starting with the How to Build Your Dream Workshop course and then take it from there? Why not try the Handy Home Hints or the free 12 Handy Hints demo?

The popular Make YouTube channel has as many as 1.5 million subscribers and covers a range of topics including working with metal, wood and electronics:

Lastly, the Steve Ramsey YouTube channel is another great place to pick up tips on things like woodworking and much more

Getting tooled up

A good toolbox is essential for any handyman or handywoman.

So if living the expat life means you want to keep the bare minimum, here is what the experts advise should be in your starter toolbox:


Claw hammer 

A good claw hammer is essential for hammering in nails and for pulling out crooked or bent nails from wood, walls and more. Hammers with rubber, plastic or vinyl handles also have better shock absorption and grip than those with a wooden handle.


Adjustable spanner (wrench)

Perfect for loosening and tightening bolts, plumbing fixtures and so much more. A good quality adjustable pair will be adaptable to a large number of jobs meaning you don’t have to buy a set.



This versatile tool can help lock something in place or even be used as a substitute wrench or pair of wire cutters depending on the job. It’s also worth purchasing a pair with rubber or plastic handles for better grip.


Screwdriver set

Ideal when you need to access battery compartments, build furniture or even open a tin of paint, a selection of different-sized flat and Phillips-head (cross-shaped) screwdrivers are handy. If possible look for screwdrivers with magnetic tips that make it easier to use screws.


Tape measure 

Essential when preparing to cut wood, assessing space and size, a tape measure is one of the most used tools in a toolbox. A measure over twelve feet will be suitable for most jobs but the bigger the better just in case you need to measure a room.


Spirit level 

Helping you to avoid a slanted shelf or a crooked piece of furniture, a spirit level will help you to create a flat surface. Feeling high-tech? You can even download a spirit level app for your smartphone these days that’s as accurate as the real thing.


Stanley knife 

Perfect for opening boxes, marking wood, cutting plastic and more, a sharp blade will come in useful for a large number of tasks around the house. Just make sure your toolbox is inaccessible to children or lockable to avoid any accidents.



A full size saw is necessary for cutting pieces of wood when building or repairing but a small hacksaw will do for cutting pipes and small pieces of wood. The size of saw will depend on the size of the jobs you intend to do.

shutterstock_245685232 copy

Electric drill 

Probably the most borrowed tool of them all, an electric drill is a great help when making holes in wood when building, in walls for pictures and shelves or even removing screws. They’re not cheap but more often than not they’re worth the investment.



It’s pretty easy to put up some flat pack furniture when all you need is an Allen key but what about something a little more challenging?

Fixing a hole in drywall

If a door handle has made a dent, a nail has left a hole or a little one accidently damaged your wall, it can be relatively simple to fix. All you need is the right materials including sandpaper and some plaster, plus a little know how. Check out the guide to fixing walls here:

Putting up a shelf 

Got some books to put on display or just want some more storage space? Solve it with shelves. You could build them yourself or buy in, but either way, you’ll need to put them up. First you’ll need to decide where to put it, do some measuring and get your toolbox ready but before you start drilling. And if you really don’t know where to start, visit:


Over a lifetime, you can save a small fortune if you know how to sew. Whether a button pops off your favourite top or maybe you’re making a Halloween costume for your child, you can quickly put it together with a needle and thread. Visit and you’ll be on your way in no time.

WORDS Colin Armstrong

Posted in Features, Great Reads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By joining our mailing list you agree to our Terms & Use and Privacy Policy

Get the best of Abu Dhadi straight to your inbox