The mute colours of the buildings in Abu Dhabi will soon be gone. They must now reflect sunlight according to a new law issued by the Municipality. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: All major residential property developments in the capital will have to set aside rental options for the middle-income group, according to a new policy put in place Tuesday by the Urban Planning Council (UPC).

According to the policy, which comes into effect this month, the rents will be set between Dh25,200 and Dh88,200 per annum, or 35 per cent of total annual household income.

The units on offer will include studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments of 40, 50, 70, and 90 square metres. The developer will determine the distribution of units within the project.

Availability of units

"The plan is applicable to developer-driven planned districts that are more than 75,000 square metres, such as Yas, Reem, Lulu, and Saadiyat. The ‘affordable' units will be in the multi-family structures and will not include single-family homes or villas. Units should be available throughout the city," Michael White, senior planning manager at the UPC, told Gulf News.

Housing units will be earmarked as affordable for a minimum of ten years.

"A family can stay for one year and move elsewhere. However, that unit will still have to be offered as ‘affordable' for the next nine years. The affordability goes with the unit, not the tenant," White said.

Individuals can apply directly through the landlord and/or the management company of the projects.

"The UPC and the Abu Dhabi Municipality (ADM) will keep track of which developments will contain the units," White added.

"Also, the developers will market the units as part of the programme. The policy is effective as of July 2010."


"The master developer and management company must initially verify the income to determine eligibility. The UPC is currently working with the ADM on the monitoring and enforcement of the programme," White said.

The forms required to be completed at each stage of the development approval process are available on the UPC's website www.upc.gov.ae under the middle-income rental housing policy link.

Options available

Below are characteristics of middle-income rental housing:

  • Studio 40 sq m 10%
  • 1 bdrm 50 sq m 30%
  • 2 bdrm 70 sq m 50%
  • 3+ bdrm 90 sq m 10%