Opulent: Bhavni, Parul and Garg in their apartment in Marina Square on Reem Island Image Credit: Abel-Krim Kallouche/XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: New gated communities – marked by superior security, ample parking, top class facilities and a cosmopolitan milieu – have caught the fancy of affluent expats in Abu Dhabi.

Both newcomers and long time residents are thronging the new developments in huge numbers

Take the case of 43-year-old Kavita Mathur who relocated to Abu Dhabi from India last August. Before moving in, she short-listed a number of communities and finally zeroed in on Aldar Properties’ Al Raha Gardens – just opposite Al Raha Beach. The community comprises over 1,400 units ranging from three-bedroom townhouses to five-bedroom villas. The price of a four-bedroom townhouse is around Dh2.9 million and the rent for a similar property is around Dh190,000 per annum. A Deluxe villa in Al Raha Gardens is currently priced at Dh4.6 million.

Kavita, however, has leased a three-bedroom townhouse for Dh175,000 per annum. She lives with her husband – a pilot, her two daughters and dog Pepper.

“We wanted a community that is pet-friendly and Al Raha fitted the bill. Being a gated community, there is ample security here and we feel safe. In addition, the community is self-contained with plenty of cafés, restaurants, shops and department stores. I don’t have to get out of my community for my day-to-day shopping needs,” she said.

American expatriate Donna Locke, 48, who moved into her 3,200 square foot three-bedroom townhouse in Al Zeina last August, said she chose the place because it came with a lot of recreational facilities including private access to the Al Raha Beach. Al Zeina is Aldar’s mixed-use (residential and retail) development in the Al Raha Beach master development located minutes from Yas Island, Ferrari World and Saadiyat Island. It comprises seven ‘precincts’ with a total of 1,221 units.

Donna is currently leasing the townhouse for Dh260,000 per annum. The purchase price of a three-bedroom townhouse here is around Dh4.15 million.

“The neighbourhood is very friendly. It is also self-contained with supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, community library, day care facility and several gymnasiums within the area. A yoga and fitness centre is slated to open later this year too,” she said excitedly.

For Indian expatriate Seema Kumar, 52, it’s a different story. She bought a Dh1.45 million four-bedroom Al Reef villa for investment purposes and to escape the daily parking nightmare she faced in her previous building on Electra Street.

“Everyday I would wait almost an hour to find parking below my building. It was very stressful. We booked our villa in 2006 when the development was launched. We have been living here for four years now and it is very peaceful here. And yes there is ample parking,” she said.

Developed by Manazil, the self-contained Al Reef Villa community is close to both Al Raha Beach and Abu Dhabi International Airport. It is bang on the road leading to Shahama city and is adjacent to the Abu Dhabi highway. “You definitely need to be independent and drive if you are staying here. But of late, many buses have started plying in the area, making it accessible. There are several malls within close proximity like Al Raha Mall, Bawabat Al Sharq Mall and the Deerfields Mall. Saadiyat Island too is just half an hour’s drive away. I really don’t miss living away from old Abu Dhabi.”

Indian expatriate Parul Garg who has rented a three-bedroom apartment in RAK Tower, Marina Square, said she is on the verge of investing in a property in the area as the returns here are reportedly very promising.

“The rent for my apartment now is Dh180,000 per annum, 20 per cent up from what we paid last year. We are hoping to buy our own property soon as Marina Square is secure and a beautiful community to live in. The Marina promenade is a key attraction in the area.”

Marina Square, developed by Tamouh, is home to an estimated 8,000 residents and is the face of Reem Island. A cluster of high rises, pedestrian-friendly walkways, waterfront views and other amenities is becoming a hit with expatriates.

However, despite the increasing number of expats opting for gated communities, there is not enough supply. According to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), there is a shortage of high quality residential communities in Abu Dhabi as more expatriates want to live in the newer masterplanned areas of the capital.

“There remains a shortage of quality residential stock – in terms of design quality, parking, amenities across different residential properties. There is a limited stock available for purchase in high grade schemes and a majority of stock in investment areas has been absorbed,” JLL’s first quarter report on Abu Dhabi says.

 

Did you know?

In January, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality announced it will issue title deeds for Aldar properties. The Municipality said it has registered Musataha contracts (land development contracts) for Aldar residential units within Investment Zones.

 

You speak:

If you had the money, would you move to Abu Dhabi’s new gated communities or rather stick to familiar environs?

 

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