DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ñ Aug 5: View of the Villas at Meadows in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) *** Local Caption ***  PS013- MEADOWS.jpgPS013- MEADOWS.jpg
Two bedroom villas in The Meadows are priced between Dh200,000 and Dh280,000 a year.

Villa lifestyle slipping out of reach

The chances of renting a modestly sized house in Dubai for less than Dh200,000 a year has all but ended, putting the emirate's idyllic villa lifestyle out of many people's reach. Two-bedroom villas in popular communities such as Arabian Ranches, The Springs and The Meadows are being priced by estate agents and on online forums at between Dh200,000 (US$54,440) and Dh280,000 a year.

With three and four-bedroom houses typically renting at more than Dh300,000 and Dh400,000 respectively, it now costs about Dh100,000 per bedroom to afford the house and garden lifestyle that many residents seek, the same price a two-bedroom villa rented for almost two years ago. Many couples planning to start a family or who have young children say they have no choice but to adjust their expectations and seek accommodation in apartment complexes such as International City, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

Medhad Ibrahim, an Egyptian living in Sharjah, who will soon get married and plans to raise a family near where he works in Dubai, said: "I don't want to bring up my children in an apartment. I want to let them have a garden to play in, but I have no choice. Not all of us are on monthly salaries of Dh20,000." Vincent Easton, the sales director at Sherwoods Independent Property Consultants, highlighted a case where a newly arrived family in Dubai had expected to secure a villa, but soon realised that their Dh120,000-a-year housing allowance fell Dh100,000 below the amount required.

The view of Dubai as an essentially villa-based community has given way to an acceptance that life in an apartment is the most feasible option, added Ryan Mahoney, the managing director of Better Homes. Mr Mahoney said the average rent for a two-bedroom villa in Arabian Ranches had climbed 241 per cent since 2005. Although rent increases in Dubai are capped at five per cent, there is no restriction on increases for contracts with new tenants. The Dubai Government has yet to announce next year's rent cap law, but there are rumours it will set benchmark rates throughout the city.

Despite the lofty rates, Dubai's limited number of small villas are still in strong demand, indicating that prices still have not reached their peak. "We've got a few [two-bedroom] villas in The Springs for Dh200,000, but you need to move very quickly for them," said Mr Easton. A search on the website for yesterday's listings of two-bedroom villas for rent in Dubai revealed only six available properties, two of which were priced just below Dh200,000 a year.

Although local estate agents each listed dozens of villas for rent, very few were below the Dh100,000-a-bedroom figure. Two-bedroom villas in The Springs typically started at Dh220,000 and were priced from Dh250,000 in Arabian Ranches. Although villas were available in Al Barsha, Palm Jumeirah, Green Community and Jumeirah Islands, they were mostly larger and more expensive. Only the completion of hundreds of villas and townhouses at Nakheel's Dh5 billion (US$1.36bn) Jumeirah Village project is expected to ease the supply shortage of modestly sized houses.

The continuing upwards pressure on rents comes despite reports that the Dubai housing market is going through its first period of trauma since foreigners were permitted to buy freehold property in 2002. Average villa rentals in October were 11 per cent higher than in June and climbed the highest in Downtown Burj Dubai, which saw a 25 per cent rise, according to a third-quarter report published by the property services firm Asteco.

The company said the average price in October for a four-bedroom villa was Dh375,000 and Dh465,000 for a five-bedroom home. However, there were minimal rental increases in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim due to there being no new supply and little tenant movement. "Analysts keep saying the market is falling and prices are dropping virtually 50 per cent, yet you can't find accommodation at a realistic rent," said Mr Easton.

"This reinforces our view that the market is healthier than is being reported and is merely suffering short-term jitters as investors get caught in the turmoil of the international credit crisis. "If prices do correct, it should follow that the rental prices correct at the same time but we're seeing no sign of that, simply because demand is still outstripping supply." Companies will be unlikely to increase salaries or allowances during the global economic slump to make villas affordable to a wider selection of people, said Mr Mahoney.

According to research by Better Homes, the rental rate for a two-bedroom villa in The Springs has climbed 166 per cent since 2005 when the average price was Dh65,198. A two-bedroom villa in Arabian Ranches rented for Dh66,667 on average in 2005 and has since climbed 241 per cent, the company said.

What is cystic fibrosis?
  • Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs, pancreas and other organs.
  • It causes the production of thick, sticky mucus that can clog the airways and lead to severe respiratory and digestive problems.
  • Patients with the condition are prone to lung infections and often suffer from chronic coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
  • Life expectancy for sufferers of cystic fibrosis is now around 50 years.

Engine: Supercharged 3.5-litre V6
Power: 400hp
Torque: 430Nm
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh450,000


Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Anxiety and work stress major factors

Anxiety, work stress and social isolation are all factors in the recogised rise in mental health problems.

A study UAE Ministry of Health researchers published in the summer also cited struggles with weight and illnesses as major contributors.

Its authors analysed a dozen separate UAE studies between 2007 and 2017. Prevalence was often higher in university students, women and in people on low incomes.

One showed 28 per cent of female students at a Dubai university reported symptoms linked to depression. Another in Al Ain found 22.2 per cent of students had depressive symptoms - five times the global average.

It said the country has made strides to address mental health problems but said: “Our review highlights the overall prevalence of depressive symptoms and depression, which may long have been overlooked."

Prof Samir Al Adawi, of the department of behavioural medicine at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, who was not involved in the study but is a recognised expert in the Gulf, said how mental health is discussed varies significantly between cultures and nationalities.

“The problem we have in the Gulf is the cross-cultural differences and how people articulate emotional distress," said Prof Al Adawi. 

“Someone will say that I have physical complaints rather than emotional complaints. This is the major problem with any discussion around depression."

Daniel Bardsley

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates 


The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE. 

Read part four: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part three: the age of the electric vehicle begins

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Seven tips from Emirates NBD

1. Never respond to e-mails, calls or messages asking for account, card or internet banking details

2. Never store a card PIN (personal identification number) in your mobile or in your wallet

3. Ensure online shopping websites are secure and verified before providing card details

4. Change passwords periodically as a precautionary measure

5. Never share authentication data such as passwords, card PINs and OTPs  (one-time passwords) with third parties

6. Track bank notifications regarding transaction discrepancies

7. Report lost or stolen debit and credit cards immediately


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others


Created by: Darren Star

Starring: Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park

Rating: 2.75/5

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Most Read
Top Videos

The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today