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Frustrated in Abu Dhabi, renters flock into Dubai

A large disparity in rental rates between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is encouraging a growing number of people to move from the capital and commute to work.

ABU DHABI // A large disparity in rental rates between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is encouraging a growing number of people to move from the capital and commute to work, estate agents say. Several agents say they have found homes for Abu Dhabi clients in developments such as Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Discovery Gardens. One person who recently made the move said he was saving almost Dh100,000 (US$27,000) in annual rent.

A one-bedroom flat in a tower in the Dubai Marina, for example, was offered this week for Dh75,000, and a studio apartment in a different building on the 26th floor for Dh60,000. By comparison, studios in Abu Dhabi are hard to find at less than Dh90,000. Residents have pointed to a lack of parking space and growing traffic congestion in Abu Dhabi as other reasons to relocate. The National reported this week that more homes in Oman, too, were being occupied by former residents of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. That residents are willing to endure a three-hour round trip between emirates reveals the sense of frustration at the capital's sky-high rents.

While rents in Dubai have returned to manageable levels in the last six months as new units are built, the cost of renting a villa or an apartment in Abu Dhabi has barely shifted from last summer's peak. In early 2008, Abu Dhabi rents shot up by 80 per cent from the year before. Paul Preston, the branch manager of Sherwoods Independent Property Consultants in Abu Dhabi, said the annual rent for a one-bedroom flat in the capital would cover the cost of some three-bedroom units in Dubai. He mentioned a client who had paid Dh180,000 last year for a one-bedroom apartment in Abu Dhabi but who recently obtained a three-bedroom flat for Dh175,000 on the 26th floor in Dubai Marina.

"I'm referring a lot of clients to our Dubai office, as many as eight a week," Mr Preston added. Philip Smith, a 26-year-old Briton, said he was moving to Jumeirah Lakes Towers at the end of the month after discovering that the rent for his home in the Tourist Club Area would go up 65 per cent to Dh230,000. He will pay Dh150,000 for his new two-bedroom apartment in Dubai, saving almost Dh100,000. "I just wasn't willing to pay these people that sort of money," Mr Smith said.

rditcham@thenational.ae Tales of two cities, page pf6

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