Be a capital city slicker with more than 40 excellent time, effort and stress saving tips
Whether you are fresh off the boat or an Abu Dhabi lifer, this comprehensive list of tricks tools and lifestyle sleights of hand will ensure that you make the most of this city and live as stress-free a life as possible.
App to the task
Be a smart citizen, avoid rush hour and save big with these smartphone apps.
Sallatna – Be a savvy consumer with this app from the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi, which helps you check various price brackets and make sure you are not being ripped off.
City Guard – Being a caring and helpful member of society has never been easier with this app for all Abu Dhabi residents that allows you to instantly report incidents to the authorities with photos, videos or audio.
Waze – This community-based app gives pretty accurate publicly-powered real time updates on traffic. You shall pass! Another great option is Darb. This government app also offers live traffic updates.
YasHUB – Heading to Formula 1 this year? Download this app and be almost as fast as the drivers at keeping up with what’s going on and where to go.
The Entertainer – A must have for any UAE resident, offering buy-one-get-one-free deals on meals, plus wellbeing and spa vouchers and even hotel stays abroad.
Onwani – While many rely on sending a map pin on Whatsapp, Onwani is another option with unique QR codes identifying addresses.
Abu Dhabi may be one of the world’s most expensive places to live but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a smart spender.
Booking flights – A regular occurrence for us globe trotting expats. Do you love those flight checking websites? Visit them often? Make sure you clear your cookies regularly or the price might mysteriously and gradually increase.
Credit cards – Play the game – responsibly. Take one month and look at your common expenses. Are you careful to always buy organic food and therefore your food bill is relatively high? Maybe you are a cinephile and your spare cash goes on back-to-back new movie marathons. Chances are whatever you fork out on regularly, there is a card with a points system based around it, or even deals such as two-for-one Vox Cinema tickets. Check with your bank for deals and discounts, and don’t forget to pay off your bill in full every month.
Keep the bill – Supermarket chains such as Carrefour often print exclusive deals for shoppers on receipts. Save them and save more.
Loyalty can also pay off. Sign up to the Alshaya Privileges Club card and app and earn for shopping and dining at Alshaya stores and restaurants with prize draws as an added bonus. With over 80 international brands under the firm’s umbrella, rewards can rack up fast. There are many more loyalty schemes of note, including the Club Apparel app, which is great for the fashionista as it can be used in 700 stores across the UAE. Consider where you spend the most cash and check for loyalty options.
It’s not just retailers offering discount clubs. Hoteliers such as Rotana run membership programmes that can offer particularly compelling discounts on dining, stays, day passes and fitness memberships.
Hotel stays – It can pay to be a resident as most hotels offer special rates for GCC residents, helping you to beat the tourist trap while popular attractions such as Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World often offer similar deals.
Expat life – Instead of the supermarket, head over to Mina Zayed to Abu Dhabi Vegetable Market and the Mina Fish Market for some great deals and lively haggling over prices.
When house hunting, if you have your heart set on a particular area it can pay to walk around and get to know the security guards. On rare occasions they may be able to introduce you directly to the landlord. They may even let slip how many apartments are empty – a valuable bargaining chip if demand is low.
Lastly, remember Abu Dhabi is a transient place, so the market for second hand goods is vibrant. If you don’t need to get it new, then head online to Dubizzle or Abu Dhabi Marketplace on Facebook, or FreeCycle Abu Dhabi on Facebook for the ultimate steal.
An automated life
If you are money rich but time poor, these services will supercharge your life.
Laundry – Download the Washmen app, arrange a pick up and expect a next day delivery. Starched bliss.
Transport – Want to drive but can’t be bothered with the costs of car ownership or rental fees? Ekar to the rescue. This app-based pay-as-you-go, hourly and daily car rental service is an environmentally friendly alternative.
Errands – No time to pick something up or drop it off.A few taps on the Fetchr app and your errands will be taken care of.
Bills – a necessary evil in life. At least you can make them hassle free with most banks including NBAD, now offering automated fee payment through their online banking services portal. No more payment kiosks or lengthy queues.
Summer life hacks
Surviving summer is no mean feat in these Middle Eastern climes.
When the going gets hot, hit the road – to Oman. With lower temperatures in some places, especially in the mountains, a trip to Oman can offer welcome respite on a budget. Jebel Al Akhdar has three lovely hotels and you can go hiking, cycling or chill in your hotel’s pool. At roughly 25 degrees and raining in the summer, it is a delightful respite from the Abu Dhabi heat. What’s more, professional hiking operator UAE Trekkers runs excursions throughout summer in Ras Al Khaimah and Oman, where it’s cooler.
Heading out on the water, with some extra wind, shade and cooler temperatures, is a nice way to spend a day when it is sweltering. Capt Tony’s offers a range of tours that you can book with family and friends, but if you are new to Abu Dhabi and want to get a real feel for the nature here, the mangrove eco boat tour hosted by marine biologist Arabella Willing is a great idea. Visit: captaintonys.ae
The summer holidays are coming to an end but if you are here for many years to come, you might want to request to join the Surviving Summer in AD group. They are a creative bunch who are always on the look out for the best value entertainment and activities for a 50-degree summer in the capital with kids. Search for the group on Facebook.
Productivity in overdrive
Finding more than 24 hours in a day.
Ever feel like there are not enough hours in a day? Ever feel like you need a personal assistant? Well, that is where my-pa.ae comes in. The Dubai-based service also works with Abu Dhabi clients on a remote basis after an initial meeting. This service lets you outsource small tasks such as admin so that you can focus on the major and important tasks.
AskSunday.com is a tried and tested virtual assistant service that can do pretty much any task that doesn’t require their physical presence. With assistants in different time zones who can work around the clock, the service means you can turn your eight hours of work a day into 24 hours of productivity.
Does the idea of public speaking leave you trembling? Instead of forking out for an expensive public speaking course, join Toastmasters and learn and practise this vital business and leadership skill in the comfort of a friendly group of like-minded individuals. There are three clubs of the international group based in Abu Dhabi, so you are spoiled for choice. Visit: toastmasters.org
If you’ve got a few hours to kill or just like filling every hour of the day, here are some fun and chilled ways to beat boredom.
Flight delayed at the airport? Visit the Go Sleep sleeping pods in Terminal 3 for some shut eye. Starting from AED 50 per hour. Visit: gosleep.aero
The problem with fitness: if you want to stay fit, you have to keep working out. Potential for repetitive boredom? High. Enter Guavapass, which allows members to try an unlimited number of different fitness classes around Abu Dhabi. Visit: guavapass.com
Riding a bike is becoming a more popular pastime in Abu Dhabi. Join the fun for less by downloading the Cyacle app, which lets you locate the nearest bike borrowing station, view the number of available bikes and docking points, map out a route, view ridership statistics, share your rides with friends and more. Visit: bikeshare.ae
Every minute counts, so save yourself some time with these handy tips.
Now, traffic in Abu Dhabi is nowhere near as bad as it is for our far-too-hectic-for-its-own-good neighbour, Dubai, but the following areas are best avoided at rush hour: Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street near Eastern Mangroves, Airport Road, around Hamdan Bin Mohammed St and also near the Al Falah Plaza and Madinat Zayed areas.
Queuing time can sometimes make visiting Etisalat mall centres a pain. Never fear: take a number. On the bottom, there are instructions for how you can be sent a text message when it is nearly your turn. Off to the coffee shop we go.
Picking someone up from the airport? Minimise waiting time with the Abu Dhabi Airport app, which gives flight arrival details, delays and more.
Plus, if you are leaving for the airport from downtown Abu Dhabi, the City Terminal allows you to check in and drop your bags before you even hail a taxi. Check abudhabiairport.ae for whether or not your airline applies and other specifics.
WORDS Julian Pletts