Areas and suburbs in Abu Dhabi
There are plenty of places for expats to find accommodation in the United Arab Emirates capital. Each area and suburb in Abu Dhabi has its own unique redeeming qualities, and of course, its own personal flaws as well. Expats moving to Abu Dhabi will certainly want to learn a little about each part of the city before securing property.
Starting with the city centre, the areas and suburbs guide below works its way out to the mainland.
Downtown Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi's city centre is a vibrant collection of shops, shisha bars, malls, five-star hotels, restaurants and odds and ends. The neighbourhoods that make up this capital city heartland are home to young singles and families alike, though most accommodation is found in low- and high-rise residential towers.
Expats who crave the frenetic energy of city life will find themselves in the perfect place; every imaginable amenity is within reach and there are countless opportunities to socialise, entertain and dine out.
Furthermore, there are good school and healthcare options in this part of the city. However, residents will have to sacrifice space and learn to deal with the congestion caused by crowds and traffic, especially on weekends.
The Tourist Club Area and Al Markaziyah
The Tourist Club and Al Markaziyah are two cosmopolitan areas offering a number of attractions, such as the Abu Dhabi Mall and the Corniche (waterfront). Abu Dhabi Mall is the second largest shopping centre in the city and packed with high-street brands.
The Corniche has appeal for those expats who enjoy outdoor pursuits like jogging, cycling or even just leisurely walking. This area also has a vibrant night life scene as the numerous hotels are filled with bars and clubs.
Housing in the Tourist Club and Al Markaziyah is limited to high-rise apartments; expats who choose to live here will have to compromise space for access. Parking can also be a problem, and some landlords will charge thousands extra for a space.
Young, up-beat areas in Abu Dhabi
Lying just outside the city centre, these areas bustle with life but are slightly quieter and more spacious. Traffic is bad during rush hour and weekends, and finding parking can be difficult. It normally takes 10 to 15 minutes from these areas to the city centre on a quiet day, 30 to 45 minutes during rush hour.
Madinat Zayed is close to the city centre and generally quieter and less congested than those districts found in the very heart. Properties in Madinat Zayed are slightly older than those in the city centre, although prices are much the same.
The Co-Op in Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre is good for buying groceries, while the vegetable/meat market and Gold Souk make the area ripe for those interested in a taste of Middle Eastern culture.
Al Whada is slightly further out than Madinat Zayed and traffic is lighter and parking easier to come by. Al Whada Mall has a great range of shops and a large Lulu supermarket for groceries. Getting a cab here is particularly easy because of the presence of the local bus station.
Khalidya is a bustling area with a large Western community. Khalidya Park is great for kids and a family picnic. There are also lots of Internet and shisha cafés that are popular among young expat teenagers. The Corniche is within walking distance for those who want to visit the popular waterfront.
Abela supermarket is nearby, while Spinney’s is but a short drive; both offer a good range of products and Spinney’s even has an off-licence (although it’s expensive).
Family-friendly areas of Abu Dhabi
These areas have large expat communities and are good for families because of their proximity to a number of schools; the British School Al Khubairat, for example (popular among Western expats). Housing mainly consists of villas.
Karamah is quiet, with two villa compounds that house a large expat community. The compounds come complete with gyms, swimming pools and additional facilities. Stand-alone villas and small-rise apartments are also available.
The closest place for food shopping is Al Whada Mall’s Lulu supermarket.
Traffic is light and parking spaces are plentiful.
Al Rowdah and Al Mushrif
Al Rodwah and Al Mushrif are quiet suburban areas perfect for family living. While there are a few corner shops, expats will have to travel to Al Whada or the large Carrefour, which is slightly further out, to do any food shopping. For those expats who wish to continue to practice their Christian faith, Saint Andrews Anglican Church and St Joseph’s Cathedral are nearby, two of the few churches in Abu Dhabi.
Traffic is light and parking spaces plentiful, while getting a cab is easy for the most part.
Decently priced villas and close proximity to good schools make Al Muroor great for families looking to avoid the frenetic pace and congestion of the city centre. While parking spaces are plentiful, getting a cab is difficult at times.
The Health and Fitness Club and the Equestrian Club are both in the area; perks for people wanting access to a gym or swimming pool. These sports clubs also offer activities such as tennis, squash and martial arts lessons.
The New Corniche is within walking distance and offers a great stretch for those who want to go running or cycling. This part of Abu Dhabi is also quite green, making it good for picnics and outdoor activities.
Abu Dhabi’s mainland
Khalifa City is an up-and-coming suburb of Abu Dhabi. Streets are quiet and parking spaces and taxis are plentiful. As it’s still a developing area, houses are well-spaced apart. While rental prices are rising, it’s still possible to get good deals on the villas. The only downside is that it takes roughly 40 minutes to get to town by car.
There are some nice cafés and small shops nearby and an Abela supermarket for food shopping, which saves on having to make a long trip into town for groceries.
Al Raha mainly consists of villa compounds, but apartments are also available. Al Raha Mall has a Lulu supermarket, and new shops, schools and hotels are adding to the attraction of this area.