As the largest Western expatriate community in Dubai, British citizens make up a significant share of those renting and buying properties in the most populous demographic of the United Arab Emirates. Among this expat community is an increasingly growing number of millennials, who with them have brought a surging new demand for accommodation that is tailored to their lifestyle.
Over past decades, foreigners looking to buy, sell and rent at their own discretion in Dubai was problematic. This was until May 2002, when the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, issued formal legislation known as the Freehold Decree, through which the Emirate state became the first to open its doors to foreign property owners.
This decree has led to more and more UK real estate agencies marketing international properties in the UAE, specifically for expat clients or those seeking to buy a second home overseas. The appeal of Dubai is undeniable, according to Christian de Meillac, New Development Consultant at Harrods Estates in London. Harrods Estates customers see Dubai as one of the world’s leading centres of commerce, luxury and culture.
“There is no place like it with a city on the sea, where high-rise luxury apartments have views of the bright blue sea, white sand and a bustling city with some of the world’s finest service on your doorstep”.
“Harrods Estates is launching their Harrods Luxury Property project later this month. The launch is in partnership with Omniyat and Andermatt Swiss Alps, two companies selling properties exclusively in the UAE and Switzerland respectively. De Meillac states that his clients depart “from all over Europe, CIS and as far as Canada, looking for a mixture of investment and lifestyle”.
Seafront apartments valued at £2,500,000 each might sound like a solid investment to high-profile clients, but they will not be suited to younger foreign professionals, or families staying in Dubai in the foreseeable future. Managing director of haus & haus James Perry says Dubai is “still regarded as one of the world’s most luxurious hot-spots in terms of residential property, but it is increasingly becoming more attainable to the masses with several high-quality, affordable developments such as Town Square by Nshama”.
Inaugurated in September 2017, Town Square is a residential community the size of eleven football pitches. It is conveniently located at the intersection of Al Qudra Road and Emirates Road, in the proximity of just ten minutes from Dubai International Airport. Surrounded by green areas, cafes and shops, it claims to be suited for a variety of lifestyles: for young professionals, growing families or established Dubai residents.
Certainly, it offers some assorted solutions in meeting potential client needs. Prices start from Dh525,000 for a one-bedroom apartment – a little over £100,000. Shocking, right? You’d unlikely get your hands on anything more than a houseboat for the same price in London. The inconvenient part is that this place doesn’t exist yet. The entire site is off-plan and will take approximately ten years to complete. So where should younger buyers go in the meantime? The needs of this market niche are catered for by KOA, a Dubai-based premium property developer whose slogan reads “building communities and homes for modern, urban lifestyles”. But what does this mean? The answer is KOA Canvas. Due for completion in June 2018, the estate is located twenty minutes away from the city. As the name may suggest, KOA Canvas provides future residents with a minimalistic yet stylish space they can make their own.
In an interview with Harpers’ Bazaar Arabia, CEO and founder of KOA Mohammad Zaal stated:
“I want to give [the residents] something they would design for themselves if they had the opportunity.”
KOA Canvas aims to redefine residential living with young, Dubai-based professionals in mind. Designed by T. ZED Architects, there are seventy available residences spread across two buildings. Prices range between Dh1,000 to Dh1,200 (£195 to £230) per square foot, which isn’t quite as cheap as Town Square, but may become more affordable through a mortgage.
Your best bet lies with a reputable financial institution, ideally a large international bank where, as a foreigner, you might be able to access the services you need. You should plan to be able to extinguish a mortgage in twenty-five years, which is the maximum length of a mortgage plan in Dubai. You might no longer be a young professional by then, but you’ll always be a Millennial.