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
Ben Harvey, the chief executive of digital and creative solutions company Zuru Group, bought his penthouse on Dubai Creek Harbour about two years ago.
The 41-year-old Briton, who moved to the UAE three years ago, says he got a good deal on his high-rise home, which reminds him of living in New York and his view of Manhattan from Brooklyn.
Mr Harvey showed The National around the home he shares with his wife, Tallulah, and their four dogs in one of the city’s most desirable new districts.
What can you tell us about your home?
It’s a penthouse with three bedrooms, plus a maid’s room. It’s about 2,800 square feet, on the 34th floor.
We have one long balcony that goes around. And it’s front-facing so we can see the Creek in front of us, the Burj Khalifa and the whole of Downtown. On a clear day we can see the Burj Al Arab and Museum of the Future.
It’s like being close to the city, but on the creek where you’ve got a nature reserve in front of you. I wake up every morning and can see flamingos.
We have three French bulldogs and a chihuahua-pug. They like to sunbathe on the balcony.
The living space is what makes it a ‘wow’.
It’s as you’d expect of penthouse living; huge, open-plan and floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. It feels really spacious and with this panoramic view of Dubai.
What made you buy a property?
The first year in Dubai was really about deciding whether this is somewhere we can make our long-term home.
We got married in September last year and we started to ask the question; what does life look like when we have children and where would we want to bring up a family?
It comes down to quality of life. And Dubai came out on top.
We both run businesses that allow us to be flexible about where we live. And Dubai just seemed like it had everything; the weather, safety, education. It has really progressive leadership.
It’s the first place we’ve owned in Dubai. It will be two years in December. I paid Dh5.8 million.
Why choose this place?
We were looking at Downtown. Emaar said: “You should come and have a look at this new development, Creekside 18 on Dubai Creek Harbour.”
I got into the apartment, opened the door and walked straight on to the balcony and saw the view.
My wife was walking around the apartment and by the time she came back I’d said I’d buy it. I looked out and said: “I want to wake up to this every single day.”
What facilities do you have?
You have everything you would expect with a new apartment in Dubai. We have the reception concierge, a swimming pool and a gym.
But more than that, it’s really about the community.
You have the idyllic harbour looking on to the Creek. Over the last couple of years, a number of new restaurants, cafes, patisseries and even hotels have opened. We had Vida Dubai Creek and now the Address.
Vida Creek Beach is open and there’s a fourth hotel opening. We’ve got a Spinneys now.
It’s really starting to become a destination – people come on weekends. It’s an amazing place and a really self-contained neighbourhood. We just love it.
We have something called Central Park. Within that you have a huge oval which is a picnic area, you have gardens, an outdoor fitness area and a running track. There’s also a dog park, which is very helpful.
Where were you living before?
We lived for one year at West Beach, on the Palm.
I’m paying significantly less to live in a penthouse here, in terms of finance we’ve got against it, than I was paying to rent a small penthouse on the Palm.
What other benefits are there to owning?
For me, buying a home here was really about turning around and saying: “We’re not going to just be a typical couple. If we’re going to do something, let’s really commit to it.”
So I’m launching a fintech company here and we’ve really thrown ourselves in and made Dubai our primary home.
For British people to buy a home, it’s part of our culture, part of our DNA. As a young man, you dream about buying your first home, meeting your wife and starting a family. I’m very traditional in that respect.
Those values are what I aspire to. That’s why we decided to get married, buy a home and, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, be able to start a family.
What financial advantages does owning bring?
Renting here is almost harder than owning because you hear all sorts of stories about landlords putting up rent.
We thought the market was buoyant and when you look at other countries, with the tax benefits that you get in the UAE, Dubai is probably a great long-term investment.
[Our home] is worth somewhere between Dh7.5-8 million now and the last time I checked, people were asking for Dh350,000 to rent a penthouse in the building.
Have you added anything to the property?
I put decking on the balcony, some artificial grass and have set up a little lounge area out there. I’ve tried to turn our balcony into a tranquil garden with lots of plants. It’s a super relaxing space.
I’ll go out in the morning for a coffee and almost every evening watch the sunset.
How is access to the area?
Al Khail Road takes us back up to Business Bay so I can get to Downtown for dinner in maybe 15 minutes with no traffic, or to my office just outside DIFC, very quickly. I dropped my business partner back to the airport today and that took no more than 15 minutes.
It’s really convenient.
Is this your dream home?
When I bought it, yes. But with the expectations or hope of starting a family in the next year or two, we will start considering what we would like for our family, and we’ll probably look at a villa at some point.
But for me, right now, it’s 100 per cent my dream home. I love apartment living.