There is life beyond the island

Abu Dhabi's urban vision is becoming a reality in suburbia.

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Some say that the best laid plans go to waste. They may not have been to Abu Dhabi. The emirate's vision of urban development, as laid out in its 2030 plan, is far from complete but much of it is becoming a suburban reality. While construction and crowded housing on the main island has caused traffic jams and high rents for residents over the last few years, many newer properties in outlying suburbs are now on the market, as we report today.

"With increasingly more supply delivered on the mainland, we are starting to see a population shift from the traditional areas of the Abu Dhabi main island towards the mainland that offers better value for money options, especially in terms of villa developments," said Elaine Jones, chief executive of the real estate firm, Asteco. Apartments and villas in areas such as Al Reem, Yas Island and at Al Raha Beach have faced delays to the frustration of some in the property market, but the units that have recently gone on-line are already easing prices and improving lifestyles for Abu Dhabi's residents - and not just off the island. As the population becomes more diffuse, traffic will become less congested.

More residents are moving to outlying areas than ever before. This marks the "start of a flight to quality that is widely predicted to continue and accelerate as further new, better-quality supply is delivered to the market over the coming months", as Asteco reported. Costs of villas on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi are much lower than those on the island. But while these unfinished projects may yet have teething pains, there has been some method to it all. Ensuring that infrastructure was in order - roads, sewage and water networks and telecoms - before properties were handed over, has certainly eased the way.

The projects are making the distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi smaller. And while the livability of areas such as Dubai's Marina and its beach-cafe culture are difficult to beat, more housing and more affordable options in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are increasingly available, to the benefit of many in the property market.