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
Former headhunter Noona Nafousi and her husband bought a five-bedroom villa in the Meydan district of Dubai when property prices dipped during the pandemic.
Having lived in an apartment since moving to the UAE nine years ago, the 44-year-old British-born Iraqi sought somewhere large enough to accommodate her parents.
She also wanted office space for her company, Neo Noor, which provides executive coaching and corporate workshops.
Ms Nafousi now lives at Millennium Estates with her husband Arash, who works in the property sector, their two children, aged eight and six, and four budgies.
She took The National on a grand tour of her home...
Tell us about your home
There is a big hallway as you go in. We have five bedrooms, a maid's room, a driver's room outside – we don't have a driver, but our live-in nanny is there so she gets her privacy.
My kids have a bedroom each, there's a spare room and then there's a big bedroom for me and my husband. My office is downstairs.
Each bedroom has an en suite.
The property is 7,000 square foot. I have three siblings in the UK and they visit quite a lot.
I feel like we didn't just choose this house, it chose us. I feel very protected by it. It felt like it was waiting for us to move in.
Why did you buy your own home?
We were living in a two-bedroom flat in Old Town (in Downtown Dubai), a five-minute walk from my parents who retired here.
We lived there for nine years and it was just getting too small for us. During [the pandemic] lockdown, being in a tiny apartment with two children was far from ideal, and I had set up my own business. Also, we didn’t know if there would be another lockdown.
My mum got really sick with Covid-19 and ended up in hospital and my dad said: “If one of us passes away, one of us is going to want to come and live with you.”
I’d been talking about moving anyway and prices had dropped so much during Covid-19 that we decided it would be the best time to buy. It just made sense.
What did it cost you?
We paid Dh6 million. A similar, neighbouring house is being sold for Dh9 million, so we got in at the right time, which is nice to know.
What made you choose this area?
We started looking in Arabian Ranches. We must have seen 15-20 houses.
My dad is convinced that we put prices up in the market because we kept making offers, and they kept falling through. He suggested we look in Meydan.
The houses where we live in Millennium Estate were built six years ago and are really spacious.
This was five bedrooms, which is more than I wanted, but we saw this, fell in love with it, made an offer and it was accepted.
From our bedroom, you can see Downtown and Burj Khalifa. And then on the other side, there are horses on the land (Meydan Racecourse stables). We’re not overlooked.
It’s only 15 minutes away from my parents. They come around pretty much every day, as we’re a very close family.
Was it a straightforward move?
We bought it in 2021 and the seller had a tenant moving in for a year. The rent was so massive – over Dh250,000 – that it was going to take up some of the purchase price.
Then the tenant after six months wanted to move out – luckily, because I was desperate to get in. We moved in that December.
What facilities do you have?
The community is lovely, really safe, and has its own WhatsApp group. You drive in, it’s very green. It’s well situated, close to everything.
There are lots of lovely parks, so the kids go out. Some people work out together.
They’ve just built a football pitch, which my son is happy about. And next to where we live there’s a Wellfit gym, which has classes for my kids.
There’s a massive Spinney’s. You’ve got The Meydan Hotel nearby and we’re close to Business Bay, Dubai Mall and DIFC.
However, it would be great if there was a pool in the community.
What improvements are you planning?
The kitchen is the only part of the house that lets it down.
Eventually, we’re going to knock it through to the back and have a beautiful island. I want a family room kind of thing.
As you walk in the house, there’s a dining room, a living room and then another living room and they all open onto each other, but then the kitchen is in the corner, so we’ll open that up.
How have you personalised the villa?
My best friend is an interior designer and flew over from the UK to help me decorate. We went for a Bali-esque feel.
I turned one of the bedrooms into my office.
Other than furniture, which we hand-picked, we spent about Dh25,000 doing up the garden. It’s really big and goes around the house.
Do you wish you had stopped renting sooner?
Actually, the apartment that we lived in belonged to my dad. He bought it in 2008 when everything crashed.
We’re very lucky my dad was my landlord. We paid him the rent money, he invested [in the stock market] for us.
And then, when it came to buying this house, he gave it back…the best father in the world, I have to say.
Had you bought before?
We are just selling a villa in Living Legends that we’ve been renting out for about five years.
It was a distress sale, an investment property. The profit we’ve made on that has been incredible.
We are thinking of buying something for short-term lets, but we’ll wait for the market to drop before we buy.
Will you live in Meydan for a while?
It’s our family home, our forever home. We know that we’re going to be here for a really long time.
Once the kids leave the nest, I can picture them coming back from uni with their friends.