That’s right, the city of Abu Dhabi and in fact the whole country of the United Arab Emirates have no numbered street addresses as we know them in the west. 123 Elm Street just doesn’t exist. Everyone has post office box numbers in lieu of addresses. How mail gets delivered is a subject for a future post.
So how does one navigate the bustling city? By landmarks. Let’s say one wants to find a certain Chinese restaurant, the first task is to find the phone number. The phone books have numbers only so that is an easy task. Then you have to call the restaurant and hopefully get an English speaker to give you verbal directions. Have a pen and paper available to take notes. You may get something like this: Go north on 18th street until you get to Elektra street, turn right and take the second exit on the third roundabout, look for a mosque on the left then go two more blocks until you see the ADNOC gas station. We are in the building next to that on the second floor….you can’t miss it!
The absence of numbered street addresses does make things difficult at times, but fortunately most taxi drivers are familiar with the major destinations. If you are on your own, a good GPS unit, map and Google Earth will be your friend. These challenges can be overcome and just add to the uniqueness of Abu Dhabi!