The new face of urban Dubai

The new face of urban DubaiThe Villages / Image Credit: Dubai South

Its developers call it the new face of urban development in Dubai, in line with a vision to transform the emirate as a home to happy, creative and empowered people. The Villages will comprise five villages and offer a total of 20,000 residential units. Located in Dubai South (formerly Dubai World Central), the master plan development that is expected to accommodate around one million people, the Dh25-billion The Villages project will mainly target the middle-income segment.

''As Dubai's flagship urban project, we are redefining the way the emirate lives, works and invests,'' says Mohammed Al Awadhi, Vice-President of Real Estate at Dubai South. ''It places individual happiness and wellbeing at the heart of urban design.''

The Villages will be built across 145 sq km of land close to the Al Maktoum International Airport and World Expo 2020 site. Construction of the first phase is scheduled to commence in the first quarter next year, wherein around 6,000 apartments will be launched for delivery in 2019.

- Why was Dubai World Central renamed Dubai South?

Dubai World Central was renamed as Dubai South to draw a line of distinction between Dubai South, the 145-sq-km city, and Dubai World Central, the administrative authority for Dubai South. We wanted to highlight the significance of the project, give it a clear identity and highlight its geographical direction to which people can easily relate to.

- Dubai South is already famous for Al Maktoum International Airport and being the site for the World Expo 2020. What else can one expect?

As the project matures and more of the city's residential and industrial components materialise, the project is being fine-tuned, which is a good thing. We are not scaling back the project in any way. We are constantly responding to evolving market dynamics, which has also led us to broaden Dubai South's scope. We are giving investors unprecedented flexibility to run almost every kind of business in more parts of the city, and doing away with pigeonholing businesses into dedicated logistics, aviation and commercial districts.

This will allow for greater flexibility and cross-leveraging of industry verticals. Reinventing the free economic zones is a priority, as we seek to raise the bar on enabling customers to operate with more ease and speed than ever before.

- Can you elaborate on the theme of The Villages?

The concept itself is path-breaking and draws inspiration from the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who calls on Dubai to become a city of happy, creative and empowered people. In line with this directive, the mission of The Villages is to deliver life solutions in three key areas: education, wellness and time.

The residential component of each village will be wrapped around a community core, which will comprise exclusive assets such as a well-reputed and recognized K-12 school, a civic centre, a health and wellness complex, high street and retail outlets.

Bringing these essential features within convenient proximity will not only enable residents to save time, but also make them more inclined to walk and bicycle on dedicated pathways. This will reduce their reliance on cars, reduce pollution and noise, and enhance tranquility in the neighbourhood.

Another essential component of Village life will be the greenhouse, which will have a botanical garden and farms that will allow residents to grow or buy locally grown produce. The greenhouse will also have indoor walking trails, enabling people of all age groups to pursue outdoor activities in a climate controlled environment.

- When will you start construction?

The first village will start towards the beginning of 2016 and will be completed in 2019, by which time the first residents will move in. There will be several types of properties in the first phase, including residential, offices, hotels, shops, restaurants, even a greenhouse with organic café, civic centre, library, and mega health and wellness facilities. Each village will have approximately 6,000 residential units. Development of additional villages will start after the completion of the first phase.

- Have you already collaborated with any other developers who will be developing in Dubai South?

We have partnered with key developers, the latest of which is Emaar for the Golf District. Ideally, we are targeting developers that have other projects in Dubai that have been delivered, where they have an established track record. We would also be interested in developers that will implement and deliver sustainable buildings.

- Is Dubai South focusing only on mid-range properties?

Dubai South is not focusing only on building midrange properties, which will be one of the product offerings to ensure that people are not forced to pay more than 30 per cent of their income for rents, including utilities and transportation costs. The majority of properties in Dubai cater to an upmarket crowd with just a handful of areas being considered affordable. Moreover, we will be offering a wide range of products to cater to different segments. Our definition of midrange is that the majority of the working population in Dubai South can live within our community.

- What will be the price range at Dubai South?

Price will be available with the launch of the development. We believe that our pricing will offer great value to our customers.

- Dubai South announced a rent-to-own scheme for The Villages. How does this work?

We will be offering a rent-to-own scheme as one of the payment options available. Rent-to-own is simply a real estate agreement that is structured like an option contract. It gives the tenant an option to purchase property at a fixed price within a specific period. If tenants decide to avail of this option, a portion of the monthly rent will count towards the down payment on the property.

- Anything else you wish to highlight?

The Villages seeks to have the lowest energy bills for residents of any place in Dubai. We will achieve this goal with a comprehensive programme of efficiency, conservation and sustainable design. Residents and businesses will be financially rewarded for energy-efficient practices.

Get to know the developer who seeks to 'redefine' affordable housing

Source: Hina Navin, Special to Property Weekly


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