My Own Home: Dh10m Al Bada'a villa is tranquil space surrounded by ghaf trees

Cyba Audi bought her first Dubai property after 15 years in rented accommodation

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My Own Home takes you inside a reader-owned property to ask how much they paid, why they decided to buy and what they have done with it since moving in

Cyba Audi, a communications strategist, award-winning business news anchor and founder of Saba Consultants, bought her first home in Dubai back in 2015.

She’d spent 15 years in rented accommodation, but after getting married she and her husband wanted somewhere to call their own.

It was just after the city had won the bid for Expo 2020 and it had become a race to find the perfect location before it got snapped up.

She eventually fell in love with a Dh10 million space in Al Bada’a, which they have spent almost three years renovating through the pandemic, working hard to make the house a home.

The National takes a tour.

Please tell us about your home

It’s a beautiful house in the sense that it has this fantastic energy and everybody feels that when they walk through the front gate and into the garden. It’s very uplifting, very positive, you immediately feel oxygenated.

We saw the house about three times before we chose it … and the nice thing about it, which I didn’t actually think was nice when I first saw it, is that the garden is at the front, so the house is pushed to the back of the plot.

It has these massive, mature ghaf trees in the front – they look very romantic. And we’ve added some palm trees as well alongside a walkway down the middle of the garden. It really gives the house character.

It was probably built in around 2000, but it’s a solid house.

How did you choose your area?

It’s an independent house on a short street with only four other houses on it.

We’re right in the middle of the city, just opposite City Walk and behind Shangri-La Dubai, but you wouldn’t know it because it’s so quiet and so lush and green.

I walk to work every day – it’s a half-hour walk to DIFC and the airport is 20 minutes away.

Why did you want to own your own home?

I lived in the Dusit Thani for a good 15 years before I moved here.

We wanted to have a space to call our own. We wanted it to be ours, we wanted the security and familiarity, something to grow in and grow with. The permanency of owning that gives you a bit of comfort and grounds you.

I have friends who have spent 20 to 25 years in rented accommodation and I do not understand that. For me, it’s knowing that I have a base that gives me the opportunity to build a life.

And also being on the ground – we lived in a flat before in a tower and now we’re on the ground and that makes a world of difference.

What renovations have you done inside the house?

When we bought it, it had four bedrooms upstairs and a bedroom downstairs. We turned two of those rooms and bathrooms into the master bedroom, which is gigantic. Downstairs, I started using the bedroom as a gym, but now it’s more of a quiet room.

We’ve basically opened up the whole house, tore down a lot of internal walls and there are very few doors in this house that shut completely.

There was also a massive staircase that went across the whole centre of the house. It was a very old fashioned, sweeping staircase with a very ornate bannister. It was horrible. So, the first thing we did was to take it out and we gained all this space underneath it. We put in this Z-shaped staircase on the side and now we have a sitting area here.

The windows were also quite small, so we opened them up and now it’s very light. We wanted to bring the outside in.

What changes did you make outside?

We had this small, almost kidney-shaped pool up front, but we took that out and put in a lap pool – or perhaps a dipping pool is a better description. It’s 11 metres long, so we can get a few strokes in there.

How much did the renovations cost?

We did it in the pandemic, so it took longer than it could have, I think it took us maybe three years to finish, so it ended up costing up to Dh4 million.

What was your experience with the contractors?

It was a difficult one, to be honest. Back then, not a lot of renovations were happening in Dubai.

It was hard to find contractors that did medium-sized jobs, so we had difficulty finding a company that could do it.

We also had to stop the project one or two times and find new people to do the job with us. We didn't get to the point of courts, but it was pretty close.

What interior design choices have you made?

Overall, it's a little bit of Art Deco, a lot of old-world elegance and modern functionality.

I wanted somewhere we could hang up our art and enjoy it, somewhere we can entertain family and friends. We found the dining table long before construction was finished, because we found it in an antique place in Al Quoz.

It seats 12 and we have a large family and we wanted them to be able to come for dinners with their future partners and future children.

That’s what we had in mind when we were selecting furniture and decorating the house.

Updated: June 05, 2024, 4:34 AM