There is no doubt that the UAE is home to some spectacular properties. From penthouse apartments to plush villas with sprawling gardens and incredible pools, it’s a real estate haven.
Each week, The National showcases some of the best homes on offer in its Property of the Week. This week, we take a look at a Seaside Estate villa on Abu Dhabi's Nurai Island.
The key details
This six-bedroom, six-bathroom villa comes fully furnished with contemporary designer furniture. Spread across 18,730 square feet, it comes with chef facilities, staff accommodation, private beach, infinity pool and extensive gardens.
Access is via a 15-minute boat ride from Saadiyat Island.
What's the story?
Distance and solitude has been rather forced upon the world during the past year amid the coronavirus pandemic. But when it comes to purchasing property, that can sometimes be the number one request – especially among wealthy buyers who can afford to get away from it all while retaining a high level of luxury.
While Dubai offers Jumeirah Bay Island with its Bulgari Resort, Pearl Jumeirah and the World Islands, which are still in their infancy, Abu Dhabi provides arguably the closest to a desert island paradise that one can find here.
Nurai Island is home to the Zaya resort with its all-villa hotel, swanky restaurants and an abundance of water sports and relaxation options, making it one of the most sought-after locations for a staycation or weekend break.
On the west side of the island is a handful of Seaside Estate Villas, with their grass canopies, uninterrupted views of the sea and screening from neighbours to make it feel like you are on your own island.
The interior of this one is cheerful and airy. Its clutter-free approach helps to clear the mind and instead focus on the views and setting. It's a summer house for all seasons.
The main attention seeker is the tiered living area, which makes its way down towards the sea and features lighting around the base of each step, but this is as ostentatious as it gets.
And, after all, when the weather allows, who would be indoors when that pool deck and beach await?
What the brokers say ...
Is there anything else in Abu Dhabi comparable to Nurai Island?
Truly not! We have some amazing properties on Saadiyat Island, for example, including beachfront mansions but Nurai is something else … People say they really feel like they have been transported to the Maldives.
It genuinely has that luxury private island feel – which is precisely what it is. The boutique hotel, the beachfront restaurants, the sea-view infinity pools, the golf cart journeys through lush landscaping to arrive at a white sand crescent beach. Oh, and you can own your own home here so you don’t have to leave.
Is convenience an issue – you can’t stroll to Waitrose for bread and milk?
Private islands and convenience don’t usually go hand in hand – but that is precisely the attraction for many. Accessed only by boat or helicopter, Nurai harnesses that desert island dream.
The homes are large and luxurious and usually with staff so most homeowners will have a team on hand to keep the supplies stocked and everything catered for – plus there are the hotel services and restaurants.
Would it be best as a holiday home or could you live here permanently?
Most of the homes on the island are second or third homes for wealthy individuals, both local and international. A couple of families do spend the majority of their time there as a permanent residence, but it is appreciated by most as a serene getaway location.
Interestingly, while the pandemic has affected our lives, during 2020, many of the residents spent more time there as a safe haven, able to manage their lives and businesses remotely with the aid of technology.
How many private villas are there? How private are they from the resort / tourists?
There are 12, four-bedroom, 10,000 square feet Water Villas which are dramatic glass homes on stilts built over the sea. They are located on the tip of the island, away from the hotel area, and very well screened with large trees and landscaping from the rear.
The creme de la creme are the 11, six-bedroom, 18,000 square feet Estate Villas. These are located on the other side of the island with the entrances well hidden and with a private section of beach on the other side – not accessible by hotel guests and cleverly separated between the villas to ensure maximum privacy.
Have prices held up or moved with the market during the past few years?
Given the unique nature of the properties on Nurai Island, coupled with the small number of private homes there, it is a very niche market and values tend to hold well. It is true to say, however, that in line with the local property market – and many international markets – prices have reduced over the past few years, creating a buying opportunity now.
- Andrew Covill, director at Henry Wiltshire International