House Hunting in the United Arab Emirates: A Solar-Powered Palace in Dubai
A Six-Bedroom Villa in the Heart of Dubai
$4.1 MILLION (14.9 MILLION DIRHAM)
This six-bedroom house is one of 189 clustered like petals around green space in the Dahlia section of Al Barari, a 351-acre oasis and eco-friendly community about 20 miles from the Persian Gulf in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
The two-story, 12,713-square-foot villa, built in 2011 on a quarter-acre lot, is the only solar-powered family villa in Al Barari. Its green-energy system “saves 40 percent a month” on electricity and water, said Carina Bou Ali, an associate director with Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty, which has the listing.
The two-story, 12,713-square-foot villa, built in 2011 on a quarter-acre lot, is the only solar-powered family villa in the commuity of Al Barari.Credit…Luxhabitat/Sotheby’s International Realty
The formal entrance, tucked down a path beside an attached three-car garage with an electric-vehicle charger, has double wood doors with a starry design and glass inserts. The ornamental pattern is repeated on the balustrade leading from the foyer up a staircase rising two levels to the second floor.
“The houses have very high ceilings to prevent humidity accumulation,” and allow the “cold air to drop,” Ms. Bou Ali said.
Floors in the formal areas and on the staircase are marble and limestone, while the bedrooms have wood floors. The 11 bathrooms are tiled in four different designs.
A center hall, with a powder room to one side and a seating alcove under the stairs, leads to the formal dining room, which opens to the rear garden through two sets of folding wood-trimmed glass doors. To one side, the formal living room has a coffered ceiling and a fireplace with a gel fire feature. Wall-to-wall folding doors overlook a pool and Jacuzzi in the rear garden.
The family dining room, open to a den, has a picture window separating it from the main kitchen, which has SieMatic cabinetry, a granite center island and a porcelain plank floor. A service kitchen and a laundry room are beyond the main kitchen.
All the bedrooms are en suite. The primary suite, off the center hall, opens to a side garden. Upstairs, a second suite opens to a large terrace overlooking the pool and Jacuzzi.
Alongside the solar panels, staff quarters on the roof include two rooms and a bathroom accessed via a garden staircase. Maid’s quarters, including a kitchen, bath and living room, are on a mezzanine level reached by steps from the foyer.
The garden and pool area have new lighting and irrigation, a large wall with a water feature, an outdoor shower, chaise longues, and other seating and dining areas.
The house is a seven-minute golf-cart ride to restaurants, salons and other shops beyond Al Barari’s gate. The community offers themed gardens, naturally landscaped lakes and freshwater streams, as well as a spa, health club, playgrounds, kids club, barbecue areas and an open-air cinema. Downtown Dubai and its beaches are a half-hour drive. The 17-mile drive to Dubai International Airport takes 25 minutes.
According to Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2022, released in January, Dubai — the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai — was the world’s top-ranked growth destination for prime and luxury properties in 2021, with luxury prices increasing by 44 percent year over year.
Chris Whitehead, the managing partner at Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty, explained the lure this way: “Dubai offers an excellent lifestyle, with little to zero crimes, no personal income tax, ease of business operations, health care, multicultural restaurants, various shopping options, and sunny weather all year round.”
Before the onset of the pandemic, the market in Dubai was still recovering from a slump that began in late 2014. “Negative sentiment, coupled with a huge supply of new developments, had led to prices falling consistently during that period,” said Andrew Cummings, a partner and head of prime residential in the Middle East for Knight Frank.
Following a strict but short Covid-19 lockdown, the city reopened to tourists in July 2020 and the market followed suit, with activity increasing “as buyers re-evaluated their lifestyles and, generally, sought to move to bigger homes,” Mr. Cummings said.
“It was really the start of 2021 that saw the market take off,” he continued, with the year-end total of about 52,000 apartment and villa transactions, totaling 114.2 billion U.A.E. Dirham ($31.1 billion), outstripping the total for the two previous years combined.
According to Knight Frank’s Q1 2022 market report, released this week, house prices across Dubai climbed by 10.6 percent in 2021 and a further 2.6 percent in the first three months of 2022, marking the highest rate of year-over-year growth since January 2015.
“The positive market sentiment, driven by the government’s world-leading response to the pandemic, coupled with the successful hosting of the World Expo, the reopening of travel corridors and Dubai’s global safe-haven status continues to underpin the market’s rebound,” said Faisal Durrani, a partner and head of Middle East research at Knight Frank.
He added that “values are still, on average, about 25 percent below their 2014 peak.” But demand remains at record levels, with international and domestic buyers searching for larger homes.
At the high end, Mr. Cummings said, more than 30 sales have been recorded over $10 million so far this year, a number that, with the exception of 2021, would be a record for a full year. Recent changes to visa laws enabling buyers to obtain Golden Visas for pre-construction purchases are also likely to have a positive effect on the market, he said.
But even as sales have soared at the high end, pre-construction buying has kept a check on prices in the prime market, which contracted by 6 percent during the first quarter of 2022, for an average price of $1.22 million, according to Luxhabitat/Sotheby’s recent Dubai Prime Residential Market Report.
Topping those are pre-construction branded residences, said Mr. Whitehead, with prices up to $1,851 a square foot. The 28 luxury residences at the upcoming Four Seasons Private Residences are sold out, he said. And The Atlantis the Royal Residences, expected to be completed later this year on the man-made Palm Jumeirah island, will have 231 apartments. Prices start at $1.96 million.
In all, 50,000 residences are expected to be completed by the end of the year, and 100,000 by the end of 2025, though only 25 percent are planned as villas, said Mr. Durrani of Knight Frank.
Available properties range from two-bedroom apartments in Dubai Marina and Downtown Dubai for under $1 million. Villas in popular areas trade between $1.5 million and $2 million, Mr. Cummings said. Luxury villas and penthouses begin at around $5 million and go “exponentially higher, with Dubai’s most expensive home ever recorded this year for $76 million.”
At Al Barari, villas range from $3.5 million to $47 million, Ms. Bou Ali said. And Jumeirah Bay Island, where a 50,000-square-foot plot recently sold for more than $40 million, is the priciest new hot spot.
For affordable living, Business Bay, on the outskirts of Downtown, is promising, and there are new townhouse and villa developments on the outskirts of the city in Dubailand, Mr. Cummings said.
Who Buys in Dubai
Since the onset of the pandemic, a wave of European buyers has descended on Dubai — mainly Germany, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, agents said. Traditionally, buyers are mainly local or from other Gulf countries, with more from India, Pakistan, Russia, Britain and China.
Because it is a buyer’s market, “a lot of Americans and South Americans started to see Dubai as an investment,” said Mohab Samak, managing director of the Engel and Völkers Market Center in Dubai.
There are no restrictions on foreign buyers in the Emirate of Dubai, Mr. Whitehead said, noting that fees vary from 6,000 to 10,000 AED ($1,633 to $2722), plus a 5 percent value-added tax.
Though residents can get a mortgage for up to 80 percent of the “loan to value ratio,” many local banks “find it too risky” to issue mortgages to foreigners and reduce the loan-to-value ratio to 65 percent for international buyers, Mr. Samak said.
Real estate commission runs 2 percent of the purchase price for the buyer and 2 percent for the seller, plus a 5 percent value-added tax, Ms. Bou Ali said For foreign owners and tenants, the Dubai Municipality charges an additional 5 percent housing fee for its services, paid in monthly installments, she said.
Dubai government: dubai.ae
Dubai tourism: visitdubai.com
Al Barari neighborhood albarari.com
Languages and Currency
Arabic; United Arab Emirates dirham (1 dirham = $0.27)
Taxes and Fees
The annual community service fee paid on this house is 81,490 dirham ($22,186).
Buyers pay a 4 percent fee to the Dubai Land Department and a 2 percent brokerage fee on purchases. The 2 percent is often waived for buyers purchasing from pre-construction plans for new developments, Mr. Cummings said.
Carina Bou Ali, Luxhabitat/Sotheby’s International Realty, 011-971-600-545-451; luxhabitat.ae
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.