Meeting new people, in a new city, can be daunting – as can boosting your social circle when your mates have moved back home. Fortunately Abu Dhabi has plenty of groups, meet-ups and societies to help.

Here’s What’s On’s guide to 28 ways to get out there and make friends…



1. The Club

the club

Older than the UAE and situated on land gifted by Sheikh Zayed, this private members club is an Abu Dhabi institution. Key benefits are its extensive facilities and the low food and beverage prices. You need to be an UAE resident and, ideally, you’ll also require three existing members to sponsor you.

Membership details available upon request

2. St Andrew’s Society

st  andrews abu dhabi

This might be a Scottish society on the surface, but not a drop of Scot’s blood is necessary to join. The group meets on the first Tuesday of the month at Le Meridien and holds regular formal balls complete with whisky majlis.

Dhs100 per year, Dhs400 for lifetime membership. 

3. Aussies Abroad

As with the St Andrew’s Society, Aussie’s abroad welcomes non-Australians with open arms and holds regular social events, and brunch gatherings, as well as coffee mornings at the Dome, Al Wahda Mall on the third Wednesday of the month.

Dhs100 per year, Dhs150 for families

Others to try

4. The Indian Cultural and Social Centre Abu Dhabi

5. Abu Dhabi Irish Society

6. St David’s Society


7. Abu Dhabi Strollers Football Club (ADSFC)

Based at Zayed Sports City, this amateur football club is focused on the love of the game and plays all year round.

8. Raha Cycling


Raha’s weekly organised rides are an ideal way to make friends. But the rides are not for beginners, with distances ranging from 60km to 100km and higher.

9. Abu Dhabi Cricket Club

Abu Dhabi Cricket Club’s facilities, including all-weather pitches are first rate. The venue is home to 70 local sides.

Dhs3,000 (Dhs200 registration fee)

Others to try

10. Dragon boat racing


11. Abu Dhabi Golf Club


12. The UAE Business Strategy Networking Group

uae business networking

This is one of the most popular Abu Dhabi-based business-focused networking groups on Meetup, and there is always wisdom in crowds.

Membership free

13. International Business Women’s Group

international business women's group

This organisation aims to promote and support professional working women of all nationalities making their way in the UAE capital. With regular events and
guest speakers, there are plenty of opportunities for members to gain valuable insights and contacts.

Dhs300 per year

14. After Work Drinks

Set up by an expat from Liverpool in the UK, this is a more informal hybrid networking and social group for those who prefer to schmooze with a drink in their hand.

Others to try

15. American Chamber of Commerce Abu Dhabi

16. Business in Heels

business in heels

17. LinkedIn Abu Dhabi Networking Group (to find, search the group name once you’re logged in).


18. Roller Derby Abu Dhabi

roller derby

A contact sport on skates for women that mixes fitness, fun and social activity, Roller Derby is a worldwide phenomenon. The AD team meets 6.30pm-8pm every Wednesday at Zayed Sports City.

Free to try

19. Adopt a cat

feline friends

Fostering one of Abu Dhabi’s stray cats from a local charity such as Feline Friends or Sandy Paws can be rewarding. These charities also hold social events.

20. Words with Friends

This popular word game app can match you up with players in your area and even boasts a chat function so you can get to know your opponent. And if you hit it off you might even decide to meet up too.

Available for free (with ads) via iTunes, Google play and Facebook.

Others to try

21. Adopt a Camp

22. Beach Yoga


23. Abu Dhabi Women’s Group

An excellent information resource and support network, the Abu Dhabi Women’s group runs regular coffee mornings, events and outings, and even a ladies’ golf league! Members also have access to a range of discounts with outlets around the city. And, despite the group’s name, men are also welcome.

Membership free

24. Abu Dhabi Mums

Started by four mums in Abu Dhabi back in 1994, Abu Dhabi Mums now has over 600 members and offers a range of mixed-age and age-specific playgroups as well as numerous activities, including pony club for children aged 0-6. Dads are welcome too.

Dhs150 per family per year

25. Real Housewives of Abu Dhabi

real housewives abu dhabi

This is less of a social group and more of a magazine-style blog for women living in Abu Dhabi, married or otherwise. However, it is a great information resource for new arrivals and events for those looking to get out more (and they do occasionally hold events).

Others to try

26. Abu Dhabi Woman

27. Moms Guide AD

28. Women in Abu Dhabi

INTERVIEW: How to make friends and influence people


Sometimes it’s hard to know what to talk about with new people. Farah Bushnaq is the founder of End Small Talk, a series of events for people who want to make new friends that take place at TwoFour54

What kind of topics do you talk about?

The topics vary from existentialist, philosophical questions to ordinary questions you might not have thought of before. We avoid topics on religion or politics, but the aim is to go outside your comfort zone and question the things you think you know. The first hour or so [you] meet different people and go through questions on your own, then we bring everyone together for a group discussion towards the end on a pre-chosen topic. For our first event the topic was about happiness, and the second event was about love… so they are definitely topics everyone can relate to.

What are your biggest tips for starting a conversation with strangers?

I guess our biggest tip would be to be bold. And not be afraid to ask a meaningful question, especially to a stranger… you’d be surprised at how positive the reactions would be, and it is sure to make your outings more memorable. We’ve even created small “convo cards” (small enough to fit in your pocket or purse) with deep questions printed to encourage people to keep having meaningful conversations and spread the movement outside of the event.

When is the next End Small Talk due to take place?

Our next event takes place on Saturday September 19.