Early life, family and professional career
Born in Sliema in the Northern Harbour District to George Abela (President of Malta, 2009–2014) and his wife Margaret (née Cauchi), Robert Abela grew up with his sister Marija in Għaxaq and Marsaskala in the south of Malta. Their mother, Margaret, worked in the administration of the Old University in Valletta and later managed the family's law firm. Robert attended the Sisters’ School in Santa Luċija and St Francis primary school in Bormla, to then continue secondary school and sixth form at St Aloysius' College.
A football player in his youth, he played in goal for the national youth team. Abela also practised bodybuilding, competing twice in the national championships in the late 1990s.
Abela studied law at the University of Malta, where he met his future wife Lydia. He graduated in 2002.
Following his graduation, he worked in the family's Abela Advocates law firm, specializing in industrial and labour law.
His law firm's contract with Malta's Planning Authority predates Labour's election in 2013 and has been renewed yearly since. Abela has been criticised for benefiting from direct orders for legal services for public entities, including Enemalta and Transport Malta. In 2018, Robert Abela said that no conflict of interest arose from his acting as legal representative of Air Malta while his father, former President George Abela, was the mediator and chief negotiator in talks with its pilots.
In 2008, he married Lydia Abela (neé Zerafa), who later took the role of secretary of the Labour Party executive committee. They have a daughter, Giorgia Mae, born in 2012.