Neighbourhood guide: Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi

Khalifa City has blossomed into an off-island suburban hub. Thousands of homes have been built, along with schools, shops and leisure facilities, and Khalifa City has transformed itself from a place to have a home into a place to truly live in.

Apartments with views across Abu Dhabi Golf Club; below right, a villa in Garden Plaza, Khalifa City. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
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As Abu Dhabi's population has grown and demand for housing has become greater, ­Khalifa City has blossomed into an off-island suburban hub. Thousands of homes have been built, along with schools, shops and leisure facilities, but it's only recently that Khalifa City has transformed itself from a place to have a home into a place to truly live in.


The affectionately named “pink shops” are a row of buildings with stores on both sides. The urban myth is if you’re looking for something and can’t find it here, it’s not available in Abu Dhabi. For food options, there’s Miss J Cafe, Cone Zone serving Indian fare and Sea Shell offering shawarmas and juices. You will also find pharmacies, dry-­cleaners, hardware stores and Najma ­Stationery, which stocks a treasure trove of supplies.

In the past couple of years, shopping options have steadily increased in Khalifa City. Spar is a large supermarket, and inside the foyer there’s a florist, phone shop and pizza delivery place. Emirates Post Office is next door. There’s also a Géant supermarket nearby, and last year, ­Spinneys opened in the Al Forsan leisure and housing complex.

Towards the airport, Etihad ­Plaza has multiple cafes, as well as dry-cleaners, money exchanges, a small supermarket and an Etisalat office.

Garden Plaza is a small shopping development at the back of Raha Gardens with a supermarket, pet shop, a branch of ­Mothercare, fast-food outlets, the popular Jones the Grocer restaurant and Circle cafe.


A restaurant with a difference, 1868 has a distinctive, well-designed interior, outdoor space, a first-floor art studio, a creche area and a room for private parties. La Brioche cafe, on two floors next to Al Hilal Bank, serves a range of pastries and food.

At Etihad Plaza, Mugg & Bean is a well-established part of the landscape. Bubo Barcelona Cafe, near Al Forsan, has a modern feel and serves Spanish dishes.

Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the Westin hotel are on the outskirts of Khalifa City. Cafe 28 at the golf club has a great view of the course, while The Grille and the ­Championship Lounge give alternative casual and fine-dining options. The Westin is a popular Friday brunch venue and the venue, Fairways, offers an international buffet. There’s also Sacci, an Italian Restaurant, and The Retreat, which serves bar food.


Al Forsan International Sports Resort has an equestrian centre at its heart, which welcomes riders of all abilities all year round. There are also paintballing and shooting facilities, plus a lake for wakeboarding. You can pay-as-you-go or join as a member.


Schools are a significant part of the infrastructure of Khalifa City. Raha International School was recently named one of the top schools in Abu Dhabi. It offers the International Baccalaureate curriculum.

Al Yasmina School stands at the opposite end of Al Raha Gardens compound. This Aldar-owned school offers the British curriculum.

Gems American Academy offers the International Baccalaureate and American curriculums from a large site opposite Al Raha Gardens.

The International School of Choueifat – Khalifa City is part of the Sabis school network and offers its own curriculum.

Al Shohub Private School teaches a British curriculum.

There are also many nurseries for preschoolers, including Humpty Dumpty, Noah’s Ark, Little Smarties and Redwood Montessori.


In recent years, access to Khalifa City has been upgraded and the traffic flows relatively smoothly, even during rush hours. Navigating is still by landmarks and the old street system of road numbers and sectors. Onwani has numbered many of the buildings, but new street names are still to follow.

There are regular bus services into the city centre and to Yas Mall. Green cycle paths have been added along the stretch of road by Al Forsan. There’s also a wide path for walking, running and cycling that runs parallel to Al Raha Gardens.


Al Raha Gardens

This development consists of well-designed town houses and villas with three to six bedrooms. Designed to keep as cool as possible in the summer months, they boast good living spaces and gardens. Some of the larger properties have private swimming pools. Annual rent ranges from Dh180,000 for a three-bedroom town house up to Dh260,000 for a five-bedroom villa with a pool.


Khalifa City has a wide range of villas. Properties tend to be well-proportioned and spacious, and often individually designed. They also offer good value for money. In some properties, you will find lifts, as well as separate accommodation for maids and drivers, and even, in some cases, a second, outdoor kitchen. Rent starts from Dh145,000, but most are available for about Dh175,000. Much larger villas are available for up to Dh600,000. Al Forsan Village is a major new landmark and luxury residential development. Annual rental for villas costs from Dh210,000 for three bedrooms, while six-bedroom villas are Dh450,000. All around Khalifa, there are small compounds – some with pools and facilities, others without. Liwa Oasis is a compound of 32 villas. Spacious four-bedroom villas with small gardens cost from Dh205,000 a year.


Al Rayyana is a mid-rise development set back from the road next to Abu Dhabi Golf Club. There are one-, two- and three-bedroom units, all with balconies. One-bedroom apartments rent from Dh92,000; prices rise up to Dh165,600 for three bedrooms.

Other information

A note of advice for those seeking extra value in Khalifa City. Subdivided villas offering cheap studios and living space may be illegal. Always check that you will be able to establish Tawtheeq in your name before signing on the dotted line.