Abu Dhabi: A cosmopolitan milieu and vibrant community living has made Reem Island one of the most preferred localities for western expats in Abu Dhabi.

“I find it easy to live here as a westerner. There are so many of us around, and it is a very urban setting,” said Natalie Cantini, an Italian-Austrian teacher who moved to Abu Dhabi a year ago.

Gloria Stephen, a British housewife said: “It is more like a gated city within a city. We have all amenities that make it a beautiful place to live, work and have fun.” Stephen said she goes to Geant or Waitrose for her grocery shopping; visits the Boutique mall for a dine out. Her two-year-old daughter attends a newly-opened nursery in the mall.

Reem Island is one of the fastest growing communities in Abu Dhabi due to its easy accessibility, world class facilities and urban setting.

It takes just a five-minute drive from the commercial district of Abu Dhabi to reach this residential and commercial development. Shiny glass structures dot the skyline, while lush landscapes, waterfront living, a plush shopping mall and an eclectic dining scene make Reem a vibrant urban community.

Natural island

Resting on a natural island 600 metres off the Abu Dhabi coast, Reem is spread over 6.5 million square metres. It is the first free zone in Abu Dhabi, where foreign nationals can buy property. Developed by Aldar, Tamouh and Reem Investments, the commercial and residential development at the island, when completed in 2023, will cover a total built-up area of 110 million square feet and will be home to 200,000 residents.

Marina Square, developed by Tamouh, is home to an estimated 8,000 residents and is the face of Reem Island. This cluster of high rises has pedestrian-friendly walkways, waterfront views and all other amenities. A long-delayed Paragon Bay Shopping mall, which when completed will have 85 retail outlets and as many as 25 food outlets.

Shams District, developed by Aldar, is a fast growing area. The recently opened 245-metre Gate Towers is an iconic landmark and includes the world’s highest penthouse bridge structure connecting three towers. The bridge has 21 penthouses, all at least 4,000 square feet, most with their own swimming pools and gardens.

Another landmark, the Sun and Sky Tower with the Boutique mall sandwiched in between, is almost fully occupied. The 74-storey Sky Tower consists of residential and commercial units, while the 65-storey Sun Tower is residential.

The neighbourhood boasts the best healthcare facilities, top class schools, beauty salons, restaurants and cafes, parks and state of the art gyms and gleaming swimming pools. British curriculum school Repton opened its campus in Reem last year. It is also home to the recently completed Paris-Sorbonne University campus.

For many, easy accessibility to the city and ample parking are big attractions. Two bridges, one from Abu Dhabi main island and another from Al Maryah Island, connect Reem to Abu Dhabi’s central business district.

“The city is just a hop away. It does not cost more than Dh10 to reach the Al Wahda Mall or Abu Dhabi mall,” said Zainab Kashi, a Lebanese American resident.

Shwetha Menon, a Indian sales executive, said basement parking, gyms and swimming pools for all buildings and 24-hour security attracted her to Reem. “I think the price we pay is worth it for the facilities and lifestyle we enjoy.”

Menon shares a two-bedroom apartment with a friend, and pays an annual rent of Dh105,000.