Where to rent in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 2015

The UAE’s property rental market will be cooling off this year, to the relief of tenants across the country. Here’s a look at the prospects for some neighbourhoods in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Downtown Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National
Downtown Dubai. Sarah Dea / The National

There is finally some good news for those wanting to rent property in the UAE – but only if you know where to look. After years of skyrocketing rents, prices began to stabilise last year, in a trend some expect to continue this year.

Rents in Abu Dhabi’s freehold areas, for example, were up by just 2.7 per cent during the first nine months of last year, following a 9 per cent rise in 2013, according to the property consultancy Cluttons.

The Dubai rental market has also cooled, with prices forecast to have risen by 7 per cent last year, compared to the 24 per cent hike in 2013, according to CBRE.

Michael Lahyani, the chief executive of propertyfinder.ae, says the delivery of almost 20,000 properties in Dubai could drop prices further this year.

“There is a possibility for rents to dip in 2015. However, this slowdown is not bad news, as we see tenant demand continuing to remain strong,” he said.

But while this year is tipped by some to be a good year for tenants, trends will vary from area to area. So follow our guide to renting property in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with tips on areas to watch, at a budget that suits your bank balance.

Abu Dhabi

1. Saadiyat Island

Some of the UAE’s costliest rental properties can be found on Saadiyat Island, home to the upcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi. Three-bedroom townhouses on the island cost more than Dh300,000 a year to rent, while a luxury six-bed villa could set you back as much as Dh875,000. Ben Crompton, a managing partner of Crompton Partners estate agents in Abu Dhabi, expects Saadiyat to top the league of Abu Dhabi rent increases in 2015, partly driven by demand for places at the nearby Cranleigh School, which opened this year. “As Cranleigh School ramps up and accepts more and more pupils, there will be greater pressure on the very limited housing stock,” he said.

IDEAL FOR: Uber-wealthy families

TO RENT: Six-bedroom villa with pool – Dh875,000/year (Edwards and Towers)

2. Reem Island

Situated closer to downtown Abu Dhabi, Reem Island is in easy reach of the Corniche, as well as the neighbouring Al Maryah Island, home to Abu Dhabi’s new financial district. Rents of mid-range apartments increased by almost 6 per cent during the third quarter of last year (2014) alone, marking the highest increase in all of Abu Dhabi, according to Cluttons. Two-bedroom apartments now rent for between Dh120,000 to Dh150,000. But the opening of several new buildings on Reem Island could temper further price increases in 2015, agents say.

IDEAL FOR: Young couples; professionals

TO RENT: Two-bed, three-bathroom apartment in Marina Square – Dh130,000/year (Aster Properties)

3. Al Raha Beach

The Al Zeina area of Al Raha Beach will offer the best bargains for affluent renters in 2015, according to Mr Crompton. New four-bedroom duplex apartments rent at around Dh190,000 a year. Property owners are trying to rent the units quickly – hence the relatively low prices, Mr Crompton said: “They’re modern, with a good layout, and there’s a beach there … they’re the kind of thing that expat families are looking for more and more.”

IDEAL FOR: Price-conscious families

TO RENT: Four-bed duplex apartment with sea view, access to private beach – Dh190,000/year (Cluttons)

4. Al Reef

For those prepared to live further away from Abu Dhabi island, Al Reef development – located the other side of Abu Dhabi International Airport, towards Dubai – offers cheaper villas. Rentals start at Dh115,000 for a two-bed, rising to around Dh180,000 to Dh190,000 for a five-bedroom property. Despite the relatively low prices, Mr Crompton said he expects “significant” rent rises at Al Reef in 2015.

IDEAL FOR: Those working in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi

TO RENT: Mediterranean-style two-bed villa – Dh115,000/year (Master House Properties)

5. Downtown and Khalidiya

The older districts of downtown Abu Dhabi and Khalidiya are likely to get lower rent rises in 2015 compared with newer areas of the city, according to Mr Crompton. The two on-island areas include many older apartments – typically with no outside space – but also newer developments such as the developer Aldar’s Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid, the city’s tallest tower. Rents for two-bed apartments vary widely, from about Dh100,000 to Dh160,000 a year.

IDEAL FOR: Access to the Corniche

TO RENT: Two-bed apartment with sea views at Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid – Dh150,000/year (Henry Wiltshire)


1. The Springs

One of Dubai’s most desirable villa communities has always been popular with families, though rents at The Springs have fluctuated greatly in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. According to the Dubai government rental calculator, in 2015 tenants should be paying between Dh120,000 and Dh135,000 a year for a two-bedroom villa, and up to Dh200,000 for a three-bed property. “Over the next six to seven months we do not envisage any significant rise or fall [in rents]. Any change will be by a few per cent,” said Ryan Mahoney, the chief executive of Better Homes.

IDEAL FOR: Families with children

TO RENT: Four-bedroom villa with lake view – Dh200,000/year (Edwards and Towers)

2. Downtown Dubai

The area around the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall is one of the top pieces of real estate in the world – and has prices to match. The guide price for studios is Dh70,000 to Dh80,000 a year, while a three-bed will set you back up to Dh280,000. Apartments in the landmark Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – go for even more. Mr Mahoney says the area is popular among expats wanting easy access to the Dubai International Financial Centre, Business Bay and Sheikh Zayed Road.

IDEAL FOR: Singletons, high-flying professionals

TO RENT: Three-bedroom apartment in Burj Khalifa – Dh400,000/year (ERE Homes)

3. The Palm Jumeirah

The Palm Jumeirah is another of Dubai’s iconic developments – and renting property here does not come cheap either. Rents range from Dh180,000 to Dh230,000 a year for a two-bedroom apartment, and up to Dh500,000 for a four-bedroom villa, according to the government rent calculator. While prices are undeniably high, Mr Lahyani says rental increases are likely to cool off next year because of new projects in the pipeline by the developer Nakheel such as Azure Residences, Club Vista Mare and Palm Views. “Given the supply coming on board on The Palm, residences in the area are likely to offer good value for money,” he said.

IDEAL FOR: A slice of Dubai “bling”

TO RENT: Four-bedroom beachside villa – Dh450,000/year (ERE Homes)

4. Motor City

Rents in Motor City, a district sandwiched between Dubai Sports City and Arabian Ranches, went through a massive 30 per cent annual increase in the third quarter of 2014, according to Colliers. Ian Albert, the regional director at the consultancy, attributes this to high prices in prime areas forcing tenants to relocate to cheaper locations – a trend he sees continuing this year. The guidance rental price for a two-bedroom property in Motor City is Dh100,000 to Dh120,000, but many units are priced above that range.

IDEAL FOR: The budget-conscious

TO RENT: Two-bed apartment – Dh130,000/year (Alliance Real Estate)

5. Dubai Marina/Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR)

The high-density Dubai Marina and JBR areas could go through further rent rises in 2015, said Erik Volkers, senior consultant at CBRE. “[We] expect to see continued demand for well-established and good-quality locations,” he said. The guide rental for a two-bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina is Dh140,000-Dh190,000, while prices are generally a little lower in JBR. Dubai Marina is more suited to singletons or couples without children, while JBR’s larger living spaces and amenities make it perfect for families, says Mr Mahoney.

IDEAL FOR: High-rise living

TO RENT: Two-bedroom apartment in JBR with partial sea view – Dh145,000/year (AA Properties)


Published: December 29, 2014 04:00 AM


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