Learning a new language is always challenging, but when you have to learn a new alphabet before you can even read the language, it always adds a new twist to the challenge. When I taught in Guatemala, my Korean students enjoyed teaching me their alphabet and it was fun to use the Korean characters to write messages in OTHER languages to make a code for certain things (like when they did gift exchanges.)
Getting around in Abu Dhabi, especially in the city, isn't looking like it will be too difficult for several reasons, even without knowing much Arabic.
* English is a MAJOR language here. That doesn't mean life wouldn't be easier knowing Arabic, too- just that not knowing it isn't as big of a handicap here as in some places. One of the places where knowing Arabic would be especially handy is when speaking with the taxi drivers.
* The majority of workers (and people in general) here are from the Philippines or India... both of which have a large English-speaking population. Only about 18% of the population is Emirate. The rest are foreigners.
However, it would be a linguistic waste of an international experience to not try to absorb as much Arabic as possible while here. Though, Arabic isn't the only language. Though church is in English, most of the people there speak Tagalog/Filipino as well... so who knows what languages we'll get to learn!
If you would like to see some common Arabic phrases with the English pronunciation beside them, check out: Linguanaut.