Home Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi vs Qatar – The Best Choice for Expats?

Abu Dhabi vs Qatar – The Best Choice for Expats?

Abu Dhabi vs Qatar - The Best Choice for Expats Revealed | The Vacation Builder

In this age of globalization, people are moving in and out of their country more and more to fulfil their quest of securing better living conditions and grabbing a promising career opportunity. Shifting your base to a whole new place is never that easy. This is where our face-off article could be immensely helpful to you.

If your next destination is the Middle East, then Abu Dhabi or Qatar has already caught your attention. Before taking that giant step towards a promising future, you must be in a dilemma about which one to choose? This classic Abu Dhabi vs Qatar face-off article can be your answer.

We found Abu Dhabi to be better for expats than Qatar because of its impeccably impressive living conditions when we compared both these places on the scales of location, topography, weather, cost of living, salaries, career opportunities, things to do, crime rate, education, population density and public transport.

Let’s check out in detail, what Abu Dhabi and Qatar have in store for expats.

Location Comparison

Location is our first pick to start this head-to-head comparison between Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Let us tell you that Abu Dhabi is a city and capital of the Abu Dhabi emirate, one of the seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates.

Additionally, Abu Dhabi is the national capital of the country. Yes, it is Abu Dhabi not Dubai which many of us conventionally think as the capital of the UAE.

The city of Abu Dhabi occupies most of a small island, just off the Persian Gulf coast in the west of the UAE. The city is connected to the mainland by a short bridge.

On the other hand, Qatar is an independent country located on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. Doha is capital city which is known for a hoard of futuristic skyscrapers and ultra-modern architecture.

Qatar sits right on the face the Arabian Peninsula stretching into the turquoise blue water of the Persian Gulf.  It shares its land border with Saudi Arabia to the south while rest of its border is flanked by the Persian Gulf. A short arm of the Persian Gulf separates it from Bahrain.

If you wish to cover the distance between the capital cities of Doha and Abu Dhabi, you will be travelling about 550 kilometres by road.

To reduce the travel time manifold, you can choose a flight journey which will take less than 90 minutes to reach Abu Dhabi from Doha and vice versa.

Abu Dhabi offers more international flights to other major cities compared to Doha. The close proximity to Dubai also is a crucial factor for Abu Dhabi to score better than Qatar for its overall location.

Winner: Abu Dhabi


Now we are going to throw some light on the topographical characteristics of Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Both these places show plenty of flat as well as barren landscape with almost no traces of elevation.

Qatar’s terrain is sandy and it rises gradually from east to the central limestone plateau. The Dukhan anticline emerges as a chain of hills (up to a maximum height of 100 metres) from the west coastline. A few of low cliffs can be seen at the northern end of the east coast. Sand dunes is surely one of the most splendid creation of nature that you can spot in Qatar.

In general, Abu Dhabi is mostly made of arid land with massive sand deserts. Topography of this emirate is a blend of oasis, rocky mountains, sand dunes, valleys, mangroves and salt plains. Therefore, landscape of Abu Dhabi looks a little better than that of Qatar.

As both these places are located along the gorgeous coastline of the Persian Gulf, there is no dearth of amazing coastal beaches in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. Soaking up the famous tropical sun and looking at the azure blue water of the Persian Gulf is the greatest USPs of beach vacation in both Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

We will surely give some extra points to Abu Dhabi because the topographic variations of this place create lots of opportunity for holiday makers.

Winner: Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi and Qatar are not far from each other and both these places are nestled on the same side of the Persian Gulf. This actually allows these two places to share more or less similar set of climatic conditions. Sun shines bright all through the year and therefore winter months are pretty weak in marking their presence both in Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

The best part of sharing border with the Persian Gulf is receiving plenty of cool breezes from the sea. This is the primary reason that you see a significant drop in the temperature as soon as the sun disappears.

As both Abu Dhabi and Qatar are surrounded by arid and sandy desert, day-time temperature soars high for most of the time of the year.

In Doha, summers are sweaty, arid, sometimes cloudy and long. July marks the hottest month of the year whereas January is the coolest one. Average temperature in June is 42 °C which drops to 15 °C in January. Coastal area experiences round-the-year highly humid conditions.

When you are in Abu Dhabi, there is not much difference in overall climatic condition that you see in Qatar. Summers are as usual uncomfortable and winters are pleasant. Average temperatures in Abu Dhabi reach around 18 °C in January and 35 °C in the month of August. No wonder why foreign tourists prefer to flock to the city during the winter months.

Both Abu Dhabi and Qatar don’t receive much rainfall. Doha witnesses most rainfall in March with an average of 10 mm while July remains the driest month of the year with zero precipitation. Yearly average rainfall is 62 mm in Doha whereas Abu Dhabi receives 40 mm of rainfall in a year.

Abu Dhabi’s weather is a little less extreme than Qatar. Therefore, Abu Dhabi is more suitable to live particularly for expats.

Winner: Abu Dhabi

For More on Abu Dhabi Weather

For More on Qatar Weather

Cost of Living

If you compare the cost of living in these cities, it might be quite surprising for you to see that both Abu Dhabi and Doha (capital of Qatar) offer exceptionally good standard of living at a much cheaper rate. Although both these cities are known for the luxury lifestyle, ground-breaking technology and matchless architecture, that doesn’t inflate the cost of living here.

Living in Abu Dhabi or Doha is less expensive than any other major cosmopolitan giants like London, New York or Sydney. If you choose Doha to live, then your cost of living will go down further compared to Abu Dhabi.

You have to shell out approximately AED 21,000 per month in Abu Dhabi to enjoy a decent living standard and you will need around AED 17,250 per month in Doha to maintain the similar living standard. Both the expenses include average rental costs.

As per the data found on Numbeo.com, Rental Costs in Doha are around 39.42% lower but Consumer Price are almost 9% higher than in Abu Dhabi. Surprisingly, Local Purchasing Power in Doha is more than 13% higher than Abu Dhabi. Fine dining is also more expensive in Doha.

After considering all major expenses that one needs to bear to live in these cities, we found than Doha is cheaper than Abu Dhabi.

Winner: Qatar

Abu Dhabi vs Qatar – Salaries

Both Abu Dhabi and Qatar are often described as ‘expat heavens.’ Why is it so? Because you can earn handsome and save huge as both these places don’t levy any income tax on earnings!

This is the primary reason that people from all across the globe are heading towards Middle East countries in hope of increasing their savings in an unimaginable way than anywhere else in the world.

We are listing below the average annual salaries for the most common and sought-after professions in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. All salaries shown here are in AED (currency of UAE). Qatar pays in the Qatari Rial. We have converted Qatari Rial in AED so that you can compare the salaries just by looking at the figures.

Note: Diving the AED amount by 4 (for USD) and 5 (for GBP) will give you a rough idea of what these salaries would look in the USA and Britain.

ProfessionSalary in DohaSalary in Abu Dhabi
Accountant125,600 AED172,000 AED
Civil Engineer177,400 AED224,000 AED
Electrical Engineer184,400 AED259,000 AED
Business Development Manager282,000 AED397,000 AED
Teacher137,000 AED187,000 AED
Administrative Assistant99,000 AED129,000 AED
Graphic Designer110,000 AED158,000 AED
Air Traffic Controller208,500 AED267,000 AED
Mechanic71,000 AED88,700 AED
HR Manager282,000 AED399,000 AED
Petroleum Engineer197,000 AED252,000 AED
Nurse141,800 AED198,000 AED
Doctor443,000 AED674,000 AED
Dentist424,000 AED619,000 AED
Hair Stylist83,600 AED107,000 AED
Occupational Therapist236,000 AED318,000 AED
Bar Manager126,000 AED168,000 AED
Real Estate Agent164,000 AED228,000 AED
Web Developer155,000 AED229,000 AED

Note: The salaries mentioned in the table for respective professions in Doha and Abu Dhabi are derived from SalaryExplorer.com.

You must not forget that salary packages offered for any particular job depends on the educational qualification, prior work experience and area of expertise of the candidate. So, you can see slight variations in the figures that we mentioned here.

When you compare the annual salary packages offered in Abu Dhabi and Qatar, Abu Dhabi is a clear winner.

Winner: Abu Dhabi

Career Opportunities

Be it any part of the world, there is no reason to venture out to a foreign land if the range of career opportunities are limited. Thankfully, both Abu Dhabi and Qatar come with a variety of job sectors, creating amazing scope of new employment.

It is not that easy to weigh up the career opportunities that one can explore in Abu Dhabi or in Qatar. It requires several factors to be taken into account. But to give you a fair and simple idea of the scenario, we picked up the Unemployment Rates from both these places.

Unemployment Rate is a lame man’s guide to gauge the chances of grabbing a job in a country or in any particular city. We are deliberately avoiding the data from 2020 because the year was badly hit by Corona Virus pandemic situations. So, the data from this particular year can be really discouraging which is not the actual reality.

 QatarAbu Dhabi
Unemployment Rate  
20190.12%6.90 %

Although Abu Dhabi job market looks more flouring and promising than Qatar to many but the fact is something different. This might be due to the high competition that you must face to get a job in Abu Dhabi. In addition to this, Qatar is still working on their financial growth and development which is why they need more people to reach that goal.

For a more in depth look into the economies of the UAE and Qatar, check out their 2019 economic reports.

UAE 2019 Economic Report

Qatar 2019 Economic Report

Winner: Qatar

Abu Dhabi vs Qatar for Things to Do

Abu Dhabi vs Qatar - Where is Best for Expats | Things to do | Pearl of Qatar | The Vacation Builder
Pearl of Qatar

Leaving your native place and moving to a new city is a tough decision to take and tiresome job to execute. People look for diversion to get accustomed with the new place, new culture and a completely new vibe.

To keep the boredom away and beat the homesickness, it is important to look for things that can keep you engaged and entertained to ease out the process of relocation.

Thankfully, both Abu Dhabi and Qatar has got plenty of things to do and see around. But which place offer more and better in this category? We are here with the best of things to do in Abu Dhabi as well as in Qatar.

Summary of Things To Do and See in Abu Dhabi

Summary of Things To Do and See in Qatar

Both Abu Dhabi and Qatar are blessed with hordes of things to do and see. But Abu Dhabi is getting some extra points for offering wonderful tourist opportunities and facilities. If you consider the variety, both places offer plenty to explore.

Winner: It’s a tie

Crime Rates

One of the most common factors that motivates people to head for a foreign land is to enjoy better living conditions. When you are shifting along with your family, then it becomes mandatory to ensure their safety at all cost.

Good thing is, both Abu Dhabi and Qatar come with very low Crime Rate Index compared to most of the global cities around the world. The whole Middle East region shows a very low Crime Rate and that could be because of the strict (and somewhat cruel) law enforcement. Whatever be the reason, we don’t mind when common people are safe and sound.

Crime Rate Index of Abu Dhabi is 12.08 with a Safety Index of 87.92. Both the data look quite impressive. Being the capital city of the UAE, Abu Dhabi has been bestowed with best-in-class safety and security standards. So, living in Abu Dhabi is literally very safe and peaceful.

Now, let’s take a look at what Qatar has to offer in these segments. With a Crime Index of 13.74 and Safety Index of 86.26, Qatar is not far behind Abu Dhabi. Increase in the number of crimes in the past 3 years is 38.58 which is low.

If you are still not convinced how safe both these places are, then here comes the Crime Index of global cities like New York (47.06), Sydney (33.66) and London (53.22).

Note: The data we mentioned here are collected from Numbeo.com. This website can be an useful guide for expats to decide which country or city to head for by comparing the data for cost of living, healthcare, crime rate, pollution index, job opportunity, quality of life and many more.

Winner: Abu Dhabi


When you are migrating to a different country or a city with kids, it may give you a tough time to secure quality education for them if you don’t have any prior knowledge about the education system in your new base.

The biggest downside of living in Abu Dhabi is non-UAE residents need to pay school fees for their children whereas UAE residents can enjoy free schooling for their kids. Abu Dhabi’s education system consists of both public and private schooling. Overall standard of the schools is very high here.

On the other hand, schooling in Qatar is free, irrespective of your kid’s passport. The Qatari education system is working hard towards adopting a more modern and western approach to schooling but still there are lots to improve. Schools teaching only in Arabic are common in Qatar.

Although schooling is free at Qatar but we recommend schools in Abu Dhabi for quality education. However when factoring in cost, we cannot pull the two apart.

Winner: Tie

Population Density

If you hate to move into a city which is crowded and chaotic, then both Abu Dhabi and Qatar can be your saviour. As population density directly influences the healthcare benefits, civic facilities, pollution level and traffic on the road, it is better to settle for a place where crowd is not too much to handle.

Abu Dhabi’s population density is about 1,600 people per square kilometre whereas Qatar’s is 248 people per square kilometre.

If you only consider the same for other major cities across the globe, it looks like the below:

City NamePopulation Density
London5,701 persons per sq. km.
New York38,242 persons per sq. km.
Berlin4,227 persons per sq. km.
Hong Kong6,804 persons per sq. km.

It’s pretty obvious from the table that why life in Qatar and Abu Dhabi is sounds so peaceful and idyllic than rest of the world.

Winner: Qatar

Public Transport

We will end our head-to-head fight between Abu Dhabi and Qatar with the public transport segment. When your goal is to opt for a better life in another country, then you simply can’t deny the importance of an effective public transport system.

Both Abu Dhabi and Qatar has designed a public transport system which is far better than many of the global giants. Taxi and public bus fares are cheap and they are easy to grab. In addition, metro and rail lines makes the job even cheaper, cleaner and more comfortable.

Abu Dhabi also runs Visit Abu Dhabi shuttle buses free for local and international tourists. Commuting via Abras or ferries are also an effective transportation link. Travelling the city by length and breadth is not a hardship for daily commuters.

The Qatar Integrated Railways Project certainly elevates the public transport standard in the region. It covers metro lines in Doha, West Bay tram routes, Lusail high-speed route and the dedicated freight airways. Doha High-Speed Metro is one of the highest speed driverless train networks in the world that the city can brag about.

But overall public transportation mode is certainly more versatile, cheap and easy in Abu Dhabi.

Winner: Abu Dhabi


We have covered the major factors to consider while you are moving to Abu Dhabi or Qatar. As per our analysis, Abu Dhabi wins most of the segments but we understand that different people have different core values and personal goals when shifting to a new destination. So, it has to be your decision to take that final call where to move in.

Hopefully, this article will help you in picking the right destination!

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