The culture of the UAE is defined by its diverse and multicultural society. It's an Islamic country, and Islam is the source of much of dominant culture. The UAE is culturally liberal, however expatriates moving to the UAE for a teaching job in Abu Dhabi or Dubai are advised to take into account local cultural sensitivities and behave themselves accordingly. While the UAE is not Saudi Arabia and you can wear shorts and drink alcohol, it's a good idea to educate yourself on Islamic culture and its customs -public affection with the opposite sex is not recommended, and for instance kissing in the street is very much not done. In Arab culture it's considered very disrespectful to show the soles of your feet, and when eating or handing something over you are expected to use your right hand (the left hand being 'the dirty hand').
Woman in the UAE are not required to wear the abaya, and are free to dress as they please as long as it's not too revealing. While there are no laws governing the dress of woman, dressing appropriately will be greatly appreciated by the locals and you'll have a much better time interacting with them if you respect the local customs. Another thing to consider - while skimpy clothing is culturally a bad idea, exposing your skin to the scorching sun is an even worse one. Wear light-coloured clothing that covers your shoulders and neck and stave off a nasty sun burn. The same of course goes for men.
The constitution of the UAE guarantees freedom of religion, and besides mosques there are many other houses of worship around the country. Anyone who comes to work in the UAE is free to practice their own religion as they please. Arab and Bedouin culture have strong and ancient traditions of hospitality - when invited to dinner or a gathering by locals, go with it and you'll be treated to a great experience and new friends. Etiquette is an important part of public life in the UAE, and visitors are expected to show manners.
Since 2006, the weekend is now Friday and Saturday as a compromise between the Islamic weekend on Thursday-Friday and the Western weekend as we know it. Other countries in the region may maintain the traditional Thursday-Friday weekend. During the festival of Eid, which marks the end of the Ramadan, most businesses and government offices (and schools) will close down to allow for a week of feasts. This is a great time to get outside your comfort zone and make friends with the locals - the festival involves large amounts of food and traditional treats and any visitor will be treated to a great experience.
If you're thinking about teaching in Abu Dhabi, we highly recommend you read up on the local customs, culture, festivals, foods and everything that encompasses the culture of a country. There is much more to be discovered about Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates than can be listed on this website and we hope you'll be as fascinated by this exotic land as we are.