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At this year's Cityscape, developer Damac Properties has dared visitors to take in the view of Dubai, balancing on the rim of the 78th floor of its future hotel at Aykon Dare in Aykon City once the project is ready.
''Dubai is very much into seeking thrills,'' says Ziad El Chaar, Managing Director, Damac Properties. ''Here, you will have views of everything, including the Dubai Canal, the Arabian Gulf and Burj Khalifa. We expect to have wedding ceremonies and proposals there, just like the Empire State Building. It's a tradition to go there on the Valentine's Day, and people also get married there.''
Aykon Dare is set to be one of Dubai's newest tourist attractions. Visitors can walk on the glass-floored viewing box and take in amazing views of the city.
While the developer is also showcasing all the other components and investment opportunities in four towers in Aykon City, it is stopping short of revealing details of the remaining two towers, directly overlooking the Dubai Canal and Safa Park.
''It is like getting the chance to build in Hyde Park. As an extraordinary component, these [towers] will be showcased hopefully next year,'' says El Chaar.
While the land has obviously not come cheap, the developer got the cost advantage by purchasing a huge plot. The location's desirability as a freehold option, however, justifies the value.
''We actually present some smaller units,'' he says. ''Many people would like to live there, smaller families, couples and singles. This product wasn't available, so our launch was a big success, and we are offering more during Cityscape.''
The developer expects to hand over close to 800 villas and 1,500 apartments post summer in Akoya in the first phase. It will reveal new concepts for the remaining 150 villas, which are still on the drawing board.
''We have 2,350 villas under construction, and the 400,000-sq-m park and golf course are done, all developed from sand within three years,'' he adds. ''We plan to open the Golf Club in December, while a grand opening is scheduled for the beginning of next year.''
The RTA is busy improving the road network in the area. Hessa Road was connected to Akoya by the end of August and the Academic Road from behind the Arabian Ranches will eventually lead to Al Ain Road by 2025, according to the developer.
Roads are already leading to Damac's other community, Akoya Oxygen, where, besides working on the existing components, it is working on some new concepts for villas as well as apartments, some of which are more affordable than others.
Focusing on luxury
El Chaar, however, makes it clear that Damac is a luxury developer and it will not simply take the affordable route, offering units for Dh800-Dh900 per square foot, regardless of its location in Dubai.
''You have to build in every area of Dubai to satisfy property buyers in this emirate, but I would not call any of our projects, whether in Akoya Oxygen, JVC and IMPZ or Dubai South, affordable housing,'' he says.
''We're also building more affordable projects but they are still luxury properties compared to other affordable housing projects in the same area, presenting features you can only find in a high-end project, such as big gyms, pools and saunas.''
Luxury in Dubai
''The average real estate price in Downtown Dubai is Dh1,500 (£300) per square foot,'' says El Chaar. ''This is cheap, compared to London's downtown, where it would cost you £2,500 for a square foot.
''I, however, don't think there is a five-to sevenfold difference in quality and specs.
''There is still a lot of value in what we're selling in Dubai. This is why investing in Dubai's real estate is one of the best options today. Demand is stable and building up,'' he adds, conceding there has been a drop in demand for very large luxury properties upwards of 5,000 square feet.
''That's why most developers today are doing 3,000-3,500-square-feet sized properties on the high side.''
Damac has major launches every 18-24 months, says El Chaar. So the next one wouldn't be due before 2018. ''The focus of a company of our size is definitely on major projects as we have the capability to develop and market them.
''We're always looking at land, as more you are selling the more you are depleting your land; so you have to replenish your land bank, or else your value will go down.''
The launch of future projects depends on the availability of freehold land, which, he says, is in short supply.
El Chaar explains the rationale for Damac's penchant for golf communities: Demand is high for green and safely gated communities, and they present financial barriers of entry in terms of competition.
''We always try to find a feature that has economic value for the project's investors and residents, such as Aykon Dare,'' he says.
''As a tourist attraction, the project's name will become known to everyone. Additionally, you will have everything you need to live and work, along with opportunities for entertainment.''
Find out how Dubai realty is game for the theme park ride
Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly