The Life: There is beach for the big-pocketed but the vision of wandering out of your villas on to white sands to admire the Arabian Sea stretching far into the distance is, for now, a dream.
Where to live for Abu Dhabi beach life
Whenever I talk to someone relocating to Abu Dhabi, the wish list goes something like this - "pool, garden, oh and I want to live by the beach". Well why not, Abu Dhabi city is an island after all.
Saadiyat Island has two premier residential locations the Saadiyat Beach Residences (apartments) and the Saadiyat Beach Villas despite the fact that there is only one public beach on the whole of Saadiyat.
So are they anywhere near the beach?
Actually some of the villas by the Monte Carlo Beach Club do look out over the public beach (from the top floor) and are even within walking distance. For most of the villas however you will still need a car, no view of rolling breakers for you. To rent a view of the ocean here will cost you Dh450,000 a year, for an admittedly massive five-bedroom villa with garden, albeit a sandy one.
Al Raha Beach consists of three areas (more are planned) of which Al Bandar is the oldest and most expensive but has no beach (only a marina).
As we head eastwards Al Muneera comes next, with a beach, and we finish off with Al Zeina and its 500 metres of golden sands. So where is my villa? Muneera has an abundance of "townhouses" that look out over a canal of water barely 50 metres wide, but they are very close to the beach and have their own plunge pools - to rent one will cost you Dh330,000. .
And now for Abu Dhabi island. Miles of pristine sand have been released to the public in recent years, mostly on the Corniche stretching from the Marina Mall breakwater all the way to the bottom of 26th street with more on the way.
What price a villa in walking distance of the Corniche? Not as much as you think.
Around Dh250,000 will snare you a decent four-bedroom Khalidiya pad, Dh400,000 will throw a garden in and for Dh650,000 you can get a pool and your own bit of beach in the super exclusive Royal Marina behind Marina Mall.
If we take a step further out the next beach, if we sweep past the private beaches of the various hotels including Emirates Palace and the InterContinental, isn't until Saada Street (19th Street) on the southern shore by the glorious "bridge to nowhere".
This is an excellent and woefully underused strip opposite the empty island of Hudariyat and flanked by the Western Mangroves and the highly desirable Al Gurm Resort. A villa near this beach? There are none on the beach but within walking distance they are rare but reasonably priced at about Dh300,000 for a five bed. No sea view though.
"The Hills" are not in the least bit hilly but set opposite the underrated Officers Club they do have their own beach. It won't win any prizes as the view is out over water only as far as the Palaces of the Al Muzoon district, but it counts.
A five-bed villa here with a "beach view" will set you back Dh320,000. The beaches of Mangrove Village and Seashore afford an enviable view of Mussafah barely 500 metres away, but again it is sand and in Mangrove village you get a dishevelled five-bed, pool, garden and a view over water for Dh330,000.
So there is beach for the big-pocketed but the vision of wandering out of your villas on to white sands to admire the Arabian Sea stretching far into the distance is, for now, a dream.
More beaches are planned, particularly for Reem Island but these will just be stretches of sand looking out at Abu Dhabi city or its surrounding islands.
For now those who can afford it will just have to brave a stroll to the beach and content themselves with glimpses from afar.
Ben Crompton is the managing partner of Crompton Partners Abu Dhabi real estate agents. He can be contacted at email@example.com