A smart, contemporary flat in Al Reef

Property insider Al Reef: Apartments that look smart and contemporary and offer a good amount of space for the money.

The well-finished building is in an area that is still a work in progress, but nearby residents say there is already a sense of community.
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Two-bedroom apartment in Al Reef Downtown, Abu Dhabi (one of several similar apartments available, due to be handed over from November onwards).

Dh808,243 including transfer fee and commission.

Second floor, European-style kitchen open to living/dining room, 106 square metres plus nine square-metre balcony, two bathrooms (one en suite), separate laundry/storage room, newly completed low-rise building.

The two-bedroom apartments ? consist of an entrance foyer area leading into the large living, dining room area and open kitchen. The master bedroom is also of a good size, complete with an en-suite bathroom. The second double bedroom offers a roomy and light relaxing sleeping space and a separate bathroom just across the hall .... This fabulous green and lush development offers a range of leisure facilities all within walking distance offering a convenient and relaxed lifestyle ?

What a pleasant change to see an estate agent's blurb that doesn't drip with hyperbole (despite the description of Al Reef as a whole still being a long way from reality). As a result, stepping into the apartment was a very pleasant surprise. The main living area is as light and almost as spacious as its equivalent in a much higher-priced development I recently visited in the capital. The floors throughout are an attractive pale creamy-grey and the walls are clean, pure white. The kitchen is smart, well laid out and nicely finished, with contemporary-style dark wood cabinet doors, brushed metal handles and black granite worktops, one of which has a breakfast bar extension facing the living/dining room. The bedrooms are comfortably sized doubles with enough space for wardrobes and dressers. The bathrooms look fresh and contemporary, painted a chic and calming sage-green colour to offset the white fittings. A separate storage-cum-utility room is a real bonus in a flat of this size.

The refreshing absence of 1980s-style beige and brown means that you don't have to factor replacing all of the tiles into your budget: the look is crisp, modern and very liveable - especially given the light and sense of space. Although Al Reef seems a bit isolated now, the newly opened link to Khalifa Highway brings the Corniche within 20 minutes' drive. For an owner planning to let the property, the expansion of the airport in particular (and the capital as a whole) will mean a ready demand for rental apartments of this size.

The obvious minus is that much of Al Reef is still a work in progress, so there's the inevitable construction dust (although surprisingly little noise) and the major amenities are yet to be completed. Until the retail area opens (in April next year, according to the developer's schedule) it's a long drive to the supermarket.

The developer, Manazel, has done a nice job of building apartments that look smart and contemporary and offer a good amount of space for the money. The finish is just as good as on some UAE properties that are priced considerably higher. While the construction of Al Reef is significantly behind its original schedule (presumably due to the economic downturn) the pace seems to have picked up and there's now a real sense of getting the job done. Given that residents who began moving into the first phase of villas earlier say that already there's a great sense of community, the outlook for the rest of the development is good. A parallel could be drawn with the way Arabian Ranches in Dubai originally seemed raw and isolated yet has become a vibrant community. Al Jar Properties, Abu Dhabi; 02 550 2271; www.aljarproperties.com