Just a short hour and a half drive away from the hustle-bustle of Dubai, Abu Dhabi is the city where the local Emiratis prefer to live. The city is quite similar to Dubai in its architectural design and manmade beauty but is very different in terms of the vibe it offers. The pace of life here is slow and subtle, unlike Dubai, which is the tourism capital of the country and receives around sixteen million visitors annually. Residents and long-term based digital nomads prefer living in Abu Dhabi over Dubai for its more local lifestyle, and fewer crowds. If you are in the heart of the downtown or away from the shadows of the skyscrapers on a natural or manmade island, Abu Dhabi promises to be a culturally rich and not-so-crowded destination with old souqs, chic cafes, cozy bookstores, and Michelin-star restaurants.
Abu Dhabi was designed by Japanese architect Dr. Takahashi and was originally built to accommodate only 40,000 people. The neighborhoods were later expanded and new islands were created as an extension of the city. Today, Abu Dhabi is home to over 600,000 people and major expansion projects are in place to accommodate the rapidly growing population of the city.
Yas Island is the main entertainment hub of Abu Dhabi. The 25-square-kilometer manmade island was the first of its kind in the city that was solely created to attract more tourist footfall from Dubai. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is one of the most popular attractions on the island, featuring the world’s fastest roller coaster while the adjacent Yas Marina Circuit sees crowds swooping in during the F1 championships. The adventure continues at the Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, the world’s only waterpark that offers the Pearl Diving Experience.
For remote workers in Abu Dhabi, Yas Island makes a good home for its eccentric vibe and plenty of foreign tourists and workers in the area. It’s easier to make friends while also making the most of the popular activities the island offers by working at the popular coworking spaces like CloudSpaces and Yas Creative Hub. The Illy Cafe and Ground Cafe are within a walkable distance which is great for remote work with cozy interiors and an assortment of Arabic bread and desserts like Logma, Ma’amoul and Basbusa.
Yas Marina offers the perfect leisure time from dining in one of the many sea-facing restaurants to the luxury yacht and boat tours to catch the sunset over the marina. Surrounded by mangrove forests and the Arabian Sea, living at Yas Island does promise a slice of nature. The small area of the island makes everything very accessible by foot or electric bicycles. There are also several free shuttle spots across the island which makes mobility more convenient than ever during the hot summer days.
A large-scale residential community with its own malls, stores, schools, and hospitals in the suburbs of Abu Dhabi, Khalifa City is a part of the three-cities plan for affordable housing. The neighborhood is ideally located along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway, which makes it an ideal place to live for those who frequently have to travel to Dubai for work. The affordable and spacious apartment model of the city works best for short and long term foreign workers and digital nomads looking for an upscale lifestyle away from the tourist crowds of the city.
The Khalifa City Golf Course and Al Forsan International Sports Resorts in the community are the most popular spots for the residents to hang out. There is a wide variety of fun activities at the Sports Resort including paintball, shooting, horseriding, and watersports too, like wakeboarding and kayaking. For a relaxing evening stroll and daytime picnics, the 27-acre Khalifa Park is never too crowded to host families residing in the area.
The land where the Khalifa City sits now was once used to be a part of the many small fishing villages depending on the seafood from the Arabian Sea for their sustenance. Honoring the old traditional culture of the Emirates, Bu Tafish offers the fresh catches of the day cooked in local Arabian spices. To cater to the many foreign residents of the community, McGettigan’s at Al Raha Beach Hotel is a famed Irish Pub that gets quite busy during the sunset. Circle Cafe and Cone Zone Cafe in Etihad Plaza are the highest-rated coworking cafes in the area.
A five-mile stretch across the Arabian Peninsula, the Corniche is Abu Dhabi’s most happening strip and the everyday hangout spot for the locals. From food trucks, street performances, and ice cream carts, the area is lively from the noon on to the late hours of the night. People love to walk, cycle, and chat on the long waterfront strip facing the Arabian Sea.
Being a center of many fun activities, there are plenty of new hotels built around the area, but it still does not get as busy with tourists as Yas. It does get quite busy in the winters when the temperature drops to a more pleasant range. The Abu Dhabi Food Festival takes place at the Corniche with other concerts and open-air shows on the public beach across summer, but most of the activities happen when the weather gets cooler. To avoid the crowd, there are private beaches for families and couples at the Corniche with a small entrance fee.
A short stroll away from the buzzing strip is Servcorp Coworking space and Haibu Space Coworking which is open around the clock. After you put in your daily hours, you can walk down to the Corniche where there is a plethora of cafes and restaurants of all kinds on the strip. The Lounge Cafe, Cafe Bateel, and Milestones Coffee Corniche are open from morning to midnight and are the most suited for remote working for their chic interior and waterfacing locations.
Al Reem Island
Among the many manmade wonders of the city, Al Reem Island is a natural island 600 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi. Connected to Abu Dhabi by three bridges, this neighborhood is a buzzing residential, retail, and commercial community where a majority of the wealthier locals reside. Built vertically, All Reem has an elaborate skyline and with more skyscrapers underway, it is becoming the central hub for the city’s tallest buildings.
The most iconic towers are the Gate Towers, a flame-shaped trio of buildings that take much inspiration from the Marina Bay Resort towers in Singapore. Home to the head offices of some of the biggest corporate giants in the country, the Gate Tower has residential and commercial apartments, and remote working offices too. Both WeWork and Cloud Spaces have offices on the island and more are set to open in the future.
Living at Al Reem Island offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle experience. There are plenty of local and international cafes and boutique restaurants like The Smoking Doll and La Brioche, and retail options to shop from that one would not need a reason to drive to the mainland. With Cove Beach opening before the end of the year, Al Reem will have a first of its kind luxury beach club on the island. To indulge in nature, Al Reem Central Park is the perfect place for the residents to walk, kayak, and unwind on the coast of the Arabian Sea.