Dubai's Al Barari steals Palm Jumeirah's ultra-luxury crown

The cost of renting in the lush desert suburb has risen to just under Dh1 million. So what is it like to live there?

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Dubai has no shortage of luxury properties.

But a leafy community in the desert is quietly stealing the crown as the most exclusive pocket of homes in the city.

Real estate firm CBRE's most recent report found the average cost of renting a villa in Al Barari had risen to just under Dh1,000,000 ($270,000), compared to Dh231,397 on Palm Jumeirah.

With that in mind, The National took a trip there to see what it is really like to live in one of Dubai’s most exclusive communities.

We have the greatest quality of life
Véronique Bottero

“We don’t just have a good life here, we have the greatest quality of life,” said Véronique Bottero, who moved to the UAE six months, along with her family.

“We had not planned to even stay this long but now we have no plan to move at all now to be honest.

“We bought our home for Dh11 million ($3m) and spent another million to renovate it to the way we wanted it.”

Ms Bottero, who runs a home restoration company along with her husband, lives in a seven-bedroom villa, with a studio and a maid’s room.

She also owns a similar-sized second villa in the same community, which she rents out to tenants.

“You’re going to have a heart attack (when I tell you the cost of the rent), it’s Dh1.2m,” said Ms Bottero, from France.

“We are so happy here though. There’s a real sense of community living here, when we first moved in one of the neighbours came over with a cake — they are all so friendly.

“We also feel incredibly safe and secure here. My children cycle to the school bus stop and leave their bikes there until they return home.”

She said a number of restaurants and a Waitrose supermarket in the community meant everything they wanted was within a short distance.

A quick Google search of local properties up for sale shows similar sized homes with an average asking price of between Dh16-17m.

It is not hard to see why she is so in love with her home. All of the bedrooms have a bigger space than most people’s entire apartments in Dubai.

We could do very, very well out of selling it but at the same time it would be so hard to say goodbye because it’s so beautiful
Katya Burns

Just when you think you have seen every aspect of the property, she opens a door with stairs leading to the roof where she plans to entertain guests with barbecues and parties, once the weather cools down a little.

With Burj Khalifa in direct view, she will not have to spend too much time worrying about where to watch the fireworks from on New Year’s Eve.

One of the most immediate aspects of life in Al Barari of how green and lush the local environment is.

When Ms Bottero opens her back gate it leads out to a lake surrounded by greenery, with ducks happily swimming around the water with not a care in the world.

“We moved into Bluewaters temporarily when our villa was being renovated during the summer. I was never so happy when we returned,” said Katya Burns, a mother of two from Belarus who also owns a seven-bedroom villa in the community.

“The air feels so different here. There is less humidity and it feels a lot cooler than places that are closer to the sea than we are. I feel like I can breathe again.”

Megan Flook, real estate agent for Haus & Haus, said young professionals or families looking for a quiet life are most likely to move to Al Barari. Photo: Haus & Haus

The 41-year-old, who did not say how her fortune was made, was quick to dispel suggestions she was living in a secluded area miles away from anywhere else.

Ms Burns bought her house six years ago for Dh18m, however she is not worried about making her money back.

“We already have someone who wants to buy our home and has offered to pay a lot more than we did to get it,” she said.

“We could do very, very well out of selling it but at the same time it would be so hard to say goodbye because it’s so beautiful.”

Not everyone who lives in Al Barari is sealed up inside a huge mansion, like any community there is a wide and diverse make-up of the local community.

A typical studio apartment there will set you back between Dh80,000 and Dh90,000 in rent, according to one of Dubai’s leading real estate experts.

However, those looking for a bigger property can expect to have to dig deep into their pockets.

“The rent prices go all the way up to Dh700,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. It's important to point out that these aren't just any old apartments!” said Barry Ryan, lettings consultant for real estate company Allsopp and Allsopp.

“For a villa your base price would be Dh1m and then working up from there. To purchase, the prices start at around Dh2.6m for a one-bedroom apartment up to Dh8.5m for a three-bedroom apartment. The villas start around Dh10m.”

Property prices in Al Barari are likely to remain high in the coming years, he said, due to a number of coming developments including a beach lagoon and more shops and restaurants in the neighbourhood.

“There are four new projects in the community, all of which sold out within days,” he said.

Young professionals or families looking for a quiet life are most likely to move to Al Barari, according to Megan Flook who sells property in the area for real estate firm Haus & Haus.

“My buyers have been pilots, tech entrepreneurs, media and publishing professionals, interior designers, architects, financiers and lawyers,” she said.

If I was in any doubt about the slower pace of life in Al Barari, I ended stuck behind a slow-moving tractor on a narrow road for several minutes, as I made my departure.

Not an experience you are likely to have on the Sheikh Zayed Road …

Updated: October 28, 2022, 5:43 AM