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It isn't only birds building their nests in the abundant greenery that will eventually encompass 80 per cent of Al Barari. The developer is building nests for families who want to live with nature.
The Nest, a sprawling community of more than 2.4 million sq ft, comprises 99 four-bedroom villas ranging from 6,300-7,000 sq ft on plots as large as 9,000-15,000 sq ft. The project offers a new size and price range for villas in Al Barari, with units starting at Dh7.7 million.
''Our objective has always been for everyone to enjoy the Al Barari dream, to walk through our gardens and experience the whole story here,'' says Mohammed Bin Zaal, CEO of Al Barari.
The first villas to come online were at The Residences, comprising 189 five- and six-bedroom units, and The Reserve, where custom seven- to 10-bedroom mansions are being built on demand. Due to their large price tag these homes were out of reach of many.
Last year, the developer launched an alternative: apartments in Seventh Heaven, Living Wall, which is an interconnected building property with 157 units, and Ashjar, which has 300 homes in several low-rises nestled within trees by the water.
''We had everything from a starting price of about Dh2 million for a one-bedroom apartment to a Dh75-million mansion, but there a sector between The Residences and the apartments [suited to] young families was missing,'' says Zaal. ''That's why we started The Nest. It is the next evolution in Al Barari.''
The villas offer luxury finishes, private infinity pools and spacious landscaped gardens. Located next to The Reserve, residents can enjoy views of Dubai's skyline, including the Burj Khalifa.
The design is being undertaken by the developer's in-house team, led by Zaal's sister Kamelia Zaal, Al Barari's Creative Director, while the family's construction company, Sustainable Developers, is building the project. As with other projects within the more than 18-million sq-ft Al Barari master development, the design has been thought through in detail, taking nature into account. The villas come in slightly different layouts with solar panels on the roofs, among other sustainable offerings.
''We integrated the concept of a nest even in the design. They are sort of U shaped with kind of a central courtyard. When you walk in you realise it's a family home,'' says Zaal. ''Contrary to our previous villas, with lots of rooms for different uses, these are very much open-plan properties, apart from the bedrooms of course. The ground floor is very interconnected.''
The contemporary architecture also sets The Nest apart from The Residences. ''Things have to be different within Al Barari. It's a huge development and we need each community to have its own character so it doesn't end up being monotonous, while the beauty is that each can benefit from all the amenities within.''
The villas are also abundant in light, thanks to floor to-ceiling windows. ''You have huge amounts of natural light coming in on both sides of the property. The indoor-outdoor relationship is amazing,'' Zaal says, adding that he might even leave his mansion to move into The Nest himself. Around 70 units are already on sale. ''The villas are pretty much already gone. Some wanted to buy three villas, but we're limiting the number to two units per person. It's a trust and speculative matter. People see the potential [as the villas] are well priced and very suitable for renting out.
''I am estimating [rents] at around Dh450,000-Dh500,000, a fantastic return on a high-end property.''
Al Barari is offering two payment plans: a construction-linked programme for those new to Al Barari and a discount scheme for buyers who pay more upfront. ''We won't sell everything to existing clients, as we want new faces in the community. Clients tell me they find their new best friends here as they meet people all the time. However, it doesn't really matter who the owner is as [they] will rent them out.
''The Nest will have a very strong rental market.''
The second batch of around 30 villas will be launched for sale as construction starts, says the developer, which expects all units to be completed before the end of next year.
''Upon delivery of these villas we'll also have completed Seventh Heaven, the Living Wall and Ashjar,'' says Zaal, adding that the three projects are in the same area, separated by a water canal. Residents moving in will enjoy amenities such as The Farm restaurant, Body Language health club and Heart & Soul spa. Aside from the lush greenery, Al Barari also has 16.4km of waterways, freshwater streams, cascades and lakes. The developer will also build 700,000 sq ft of retail, including restaurants and cafés, in Seventh Heaven, and 300,000 sq ft of convenience stores and food and beverage outlets at the community centre in The Nest.
Zaal says they are now preparing another project he calls the ''heart and soul of Al Barari'', which will be a new leisure destination that includes more water features, themed gardens, a floating market, a luxury boutique resort, food and beverage outlets, a retail village and a mosque.
''The destination really pulls everything together, and will also bring in day visitors to Al Barari, because what we've created here is really something unique and people need to see it.''
The project's design, developed jointly between Al Barari and 10 Design, is complete. Construction is expected to start before the end of the year and will take a couple of years to complete.
''I do see a lot of more growth potential here, because of all the new components. You have many communities around Dubai, which have more or less reached maturity, but this is still a new area,'' says Zaal.
''As far as I'm concerned, we're basically giving the homes away, starting at around Dh1,300 a square foot for villas and up to Dh1,800 at the Ashjar apartments. I know it might sound expensive, but it isn't in the context of everything we're creating here. That's why we retain a substantial amount of units in each project, because we see their potential in a few years' time.
''Our project has a different market compared to anywhere in Dubai. It has been very stable and is relatively cheap to buy.''
Al Barari has sold out 70 per cent of The Reserve's 28 plots, and 70 per cent of Ashjar, but it is in no hurry to sell all its units.
Not all for sale
''Products such as Ashjar will not only appreciate but their potential will be seen. It is hard to explain the concept off-plan, despite the existing gardens and show homes, but when they see it, I have no doubt that people will be impressed. So we're trying to hold on to some as well.''
While Al Barari also attracts international clients, around 90 per cent of Ashjar buyers are UAE residents, most of them new clients.
The development is already serving as an impressive showcase of the Zaal family's expertise in green design, landscaping and building.
''Everything is really moving in the right direction and we're reaching the end of this development,'' says Zaal.
''Everything is planned and set in terms of construction and delivery dates, so we're saying 'let's look at new places'. We have a very good foundation and are actually looking at other plots seriously now, both in Dubai and Oman.''
Read more on why The Nest completes Al Barari
Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly