Abu Dhabi is a city without gradient, built where the desert meets the sea. But the flat landscape is set to soon change — at least on Reem Island.
The recently announced Reem Hills development, an Dh8 billion ($2.1bn) gated community covering an area of 1.8 million square metres, is to be built upon a man-made hill — a first for the UAE capital.
The project will emerge as “the most outstanding development of its kind”, said Majed Odeh, chief executive of Q Holding, whose subsidiary Q Properties is developing the project.
The man-made hill will be formed using “natural local materials which are compacted in layers to create stability and permanence”, Mr Odeh told The National.
“The hill will feature an aesthetically designed gentle slope from ground-level to peak,” he said.
“This will enable us to achieve a firm gradient [that] will retain its shape naturally as it leads up to the building plots without any need to incorporate structural elements, which could affect the scenic perspective from the properties, while supporting the construction of roads and ancillary public services.”
The idea is that the higher elevation will offer 360-degree views including over the sea — a perk usually reserved for high-rise apartment blocks.
“Reem Hills is a truly unique project as it is being designed to take into account the fragile balance in the region’s ecology and environment, and mitigate the known issues raised by adopting a commitment to sustainability,” Mr Odeh said.
“All this is being achieved while allowing residents to indulge their senses in a luxurious environment, which not only provides an escape from the pressures of today’s fast-paced life, but also incorporates authentic sustainable living solutions that will help shape the growth of Abu Dhabi.”
Reem Island is a popular location for property hunters, with cheaper units spread across dozens of towers. Public beaches and parks have been introduced in recent years while Reem Mall is expected to open soon to complement the already existing Boutik Mall.
Aside from a cluster of 42 villas in a development called Nalaya Villas, which opened in 2016, the island is home to only apartments and a few townhouses.
“While previous developments have led with apartment blocks, we see Reem Hills as a major breakaway from such a narrow concept — no other community has such a diversified mix of architecture and design, and our initial phase consists of independent villas, semi-detached or twin villas, as well as townhouses,” said Mr Odeh. “A full range of apartments are planned for one of the later phases.”
UAE megaprojects 2022
Each development is subdivided into smaller gated communities, or zones, and each zone will feature individual landscaping and public art. A club with a fitness zone, steam room, sauna and pools will also be included, along with restaurants and retail outlets, a school and mosques.
Property sales prices have been rising in Abu Dhabi amid a strong market rebound across the UAE after the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The market has also benefitted from the country's widespread coronavirus vaccination programme, which has kept cases relatively low.
“Residential sales market activity continued on strong footing in the first three months of the year, with high levels of demand for new off-plan villa projects, as well as completed villas, particularly within well-developed communities,” said property consultancy Asteco in its first-quarter market report.
“As such, sales prices for high quality villas on Saadiyat Island and Yas Island increased by up to 4 per cent to 7 per cent over the quarter and up to 15 per cent compared to the same period last year.”
Q Properties is aiming to take advantage of the surge of interest.
“As we consolidate our exit from the constraints, both physical and fiscal, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become apparent that one of the first beneficiaries of the newfound economic confidence is the property market, especially at the higher end,” said Mr Odeh.
He said that while the development leans towards the higher end of the market, every taste and price-range is catered for in Reem Hills, with homes ranging from four- to seven-bedroom independent and semi-detached villas, two- to three-bedroom townhouses and a variety of apartment configurations.
Q Properties has appointed Abu Dhabi-based Royal Development Company to manage Reem Hills.
RDC, the property management unit of business conglomerate Emirates Stallions Group, will manage the entire project, from planning to implementation, including the design management and supervision of all contractors, ESG said in a statement.
The first phase of the project is due for completion in December 2024, said ESG, itself a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company.