Life in Madinat Zayed, Western Region

The City of Madinat Zayed was established by the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nayan back in 1968.  He had become ruler of the Abu Dhabi Emirate in 1966 and one of his main priorities was to use his Emirate’s oil revenues to benefit his people.

sheikh zayed

It is well documented that healthcare and education were at the top of his list and these were easy to offer in the established cities of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.  However, how do you provide hospitals and schools for the Bedouin tribes who were scattered over many hundreds of square kilometres of desert?


The answer was to establish new cities and so Sheikh Zayed sent his men to search for some suitable places in what is now known as Al Garbia, the Western Region. (Note that in the UAE, all conurbations with schools, clinics and a variety of shops are known as cities, regardless of size.)

The area had been surveyed for hydrocarbon deposits in the 1950s and although there were some oil and gas installations nearby, notably at Bu Hasa, Asab and Sahil, the area in general was undeveloped with few roads.


Madinat Zayed (also known as Bida Zayed) was where the surveyors located a good source of clean water and soon after, a small hospital, a school and a mosque, as well as 30 houses were built.  The city became the administrative centre for the Western Region and today the full range of Government Offices, such as the Emirates Identity Authority and Department of Economic Development can be found here.


It is still a relatively small population – just over 29k in 2005 – but when you compare it to the small towns in Scotland, whose high streets are decimated by out of town developments and e-commerce, the shopper is very well provided for here. I am constantly amazed how many things you can buy in Madinat Zayed; I have found the best shwarma/falafel shop, a Pakistani bread bakers and an excellent car repair shop as well as plenty of supermarkets (more about these later).  I find myself looking for goods in small local shops whereas back in Al Ain, for example, I would always head to Carrefour if my printer ran out of paper; as a bonus I find the staff friendlier in the small shops!

That being said, some of the major shops and chains are opening up here, such as Fuala, which have the best coffee chocolates in the world!


As one would expect, the pace of life is slower here and as a resident I find myself far more aware of the weather, beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the environment in general.

How long would I like to stay here?  Forever!  But in reality, it will be the success or otherwise of my upcoming business which will dictate my future – keep your fingers crossed for me!



  1. Hi I enjoy your blog very much. I as a family love camping and planning to go to the peninsula near sila this weekend. Will be much appreciated if you could share your favorite spot? Thank you.

  2. mohammed Gaffari says:

    I am an Indian doctor living in UK. I have been offered a consultant post in Madinat Zayed Hospital. I like quiet places but this seems very remote. any advice regarding family life in Madinat Zayed area. I have young children and would like to know if there are any good schools and play areas for them.
    Many thanks

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello Mohammed – MZ is a lovely city but you are right, it is extremely remote, albeit 1.5 hours drive from abu dhabi via the recently improved E11 highway. There are some schools, but I guess you would want your children to follow the British Cirriculum if they have already started in the UK, and I do not believe this is available in MZ. There are Indian schools and also the ADNOC schools which delivers the American Cirriculum. There are parks in the city, but very little else. The mall is being doubled in size and by 2020 should boast a cinema and bowling alley. It’s a place for outdoor lovers who can cope with the extreme summer temperatures (50C and some days it is humid too). If I were you I would hop on a plane and come out for a few days to make sure your choice is the right one. Good luck!

    • madinat zayed has private schools that follow british and/or american curiciulem. i was a local in madinat zayed and have sent my youngest daughters to school there, then we went to america. and their studying hasnt changed by much. there are also fun family places, and very friendly neigborhoods. i hope you like it there!

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Emily sorry just seen this – my favourite is Cafe Shams Al Douq, just up fromthe ADNOC in the middle of the city!

  3. Hello, I am with my family should move from Abu Dhabi city to madinat zayed city I’ve heard it’s just a desert( could you tell what entertainment they have? And how it is there. I tried to do research didn’t find much. Thank you

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hello Nargiza
      Sorry just found your comment. Hope you have got settled in MZ!

  4. Zira BASIRAN says:

    Hi there. Im a new teacher with the MOE and my placement is Al-Khamael school in Madinat Zayed city. I wonder of you could recommend where to live that’s cheap enough and not far from the school as I don’t hv a driver’s license yet and not really planning to own a car.

    • Marina Bruce says:

      Hi Zira
      I am sorry I don’t know this school. Perhaps one of your colleagues can suggest some places. Good luck!

  5. Hello,
    Greetings, I am working for one of the oil company projects in BAB field. Since I am from contractor’s side, I will have to move to site. But I am planning to get my family. I have two daughters
    Elder one is 1st grade in India and younger one is just 2 years.
    I am in Abu Dhabi now, and by next year will have to move to site.
    Could you please advise, how’s life in MZ city?
    How my family will feel there? How’s schooling and other social life?

    • Marina Bruce says:

      MZ is a small quiet city. Compared to Abu Dhabi it does not have many schools, but some like ADNOC are very good. There is at least one school following the Indian Cirriculum but sorry i don’t know its name. If you like picnics, walks and just relaxing it is a lovely place. The mall has recently been extended and there is going to be a cinema and bowling alley, originally scheduled to open this summer but who knows when they will be operational now. Suggest you head down there and stay in an AirBNB (a local Indian restaurant owner has one) for a couple of nights to see what you think. Good luck!

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