Like many Abu Dhabi residents, my friends and I are desperate for the capital's new developments to be completed - not for more fine-dining restaurants, but in the hope of finding at least a few middle-priced places to eat.
The bills we get when eating out make us wonder how high they can go. In higher-end coffee shops and restaurants in Abu Dhabi, a cup of coffee can now cost as much as Dh30 (US$8), excluding additions such as caramel or milk.
As someone who grew up in Abu Dhabi, I can tell you that for most of the past two decades even at the lower end of the sector - cafeterias - two cups of tea has always cost just Dh1. Now prices have doubled in some places.
Yet cafeteria owners claim their prices are cheaper than the costlier mini-marts associated with petrol pumps, which charge Dh2.50 for a cup of tea.
"This is ridiculous!" said a disgruntled Emirati, who I had a chat with recently in Al Wahda Mall. "If I want to have a good cup of morning coffee from a well-known coffee chain … I have to pay at least Dh18.
"This is blind robbery because I know that the same coffee chain in the USA doesn't charge more than $3 for the same order."
Many Abu Dhabi residents are enraged at overpriced restaurants, cafes and grocery stores around the capital. Yet restaurants and retailers are continuing to increase their prices, citing rises in the costs of oil, essential commodities, wages and rents.
According to a consumer price index study published by the National Bureau of Statistics, restaurants and cafes have suffered from increased inflation since 2006, reaching as high as 12.26 per cent in 2008.
Inflation slowed from late 2008 but as of February has been increasing again, albeit at a slower pace.
Nada al Ammari, 24, an Emirati friend of mine, is regularly shocked by the high prices at Abu Dhabi restaurants.
"When it's time to pay, sometimes I wonder, 'how much did I eat to end up paying this much?'" Nada says.
"If you want to take guests out or enjoy a lovely evening, you have no choice but to spend over Dh500 in a fine restaurant. There is a lack of middle-priced fine restaurants in Abu Dhabi and I think that's because the population is either very wealthy or not."
Marian Lynch, an American, agrees with these sentiments.
"There is a middle class but a small one, and they can afford high-priced restaurants anyway," Ms Lynch says.
She also noted that a chicken cordon bleu dish at a mall restaurant now costs Dh55, compared with only Dh35 six months ago.
In a meeting held by the Ministry of Economy in March, restaurant owners attributed the increase in meal prices to the higher costs of commodities such as meat, chicken, dairy products and cooking oil, and the high cost of living in Abu Dhabi and increased wages for their employees.
After the ministry received complaints about increases of as much as 20 per cent in restaurant prices, it banned them from making any further rises without its approval.
Yet a Syrian restaurant owner on Muroor Road, who asked not to be identified, said he had to increase the price of a shawarma sandwich from Dh3 to Dh5.
"Distributors increased their prices," he said. "Chicken, vegetables and oil prices, which we pay for delivery, have increased. If I didn't increase my prices I wouldn't be making any profit, and at the end of the day this is a business."
But studies by the Consumer Protection Department revealed even with the rise in the commodities prices, restaurants should still be able to generate a profit without increasing their prices.
Amal Ghanim, a Bahraini resident, suggests that in addition to regulating bread and rice prices in the UAE, fish, meat and cooking oil prices should also be regulated.
"Distributors should be more strictly regulated," Ms Ghanim says. "A good idea is to have government-sponsored coupons to get a discount on necessary commodities.
"People need to afford the price of meat, chicken and other necessary dietary supplements to ensure healthy growth."
Whatever the solution, when it is time to satisfy their taste buds, Emiratis and expatriates alike cannot wait for more opportunities to finally meet in the middle.
Manar al Hinai is a graduate of the University of Leeds and works in Abu Dhabi