Meydan Sobha's District One Mansions are properties to inhabit, not just invest in, says Alex Matchett
Despite a recent slowdown, London's resilient property market continues to attract considerable foreign investment, especially at the high end. However, it's not the only city looking to establish itself as a global hub for keeping capital in bricks and mortar.
On Friday the Dorchester saw the launch of Dubai's latest residential venture: Meydan Sobha's District One Mansions. 'This is the first time that you have a freehold villa development in the heart of Dubai,' says sales vice president Joseph Al-Sharif, pointing to a detailed map of the city and highlighting the mansions' proximity to the Burj Khalifa. 'For us it's all about location, location, location.'
Being so close to the heart of Dubai is a major selling point for One Mansions, especially as they won't be impacting on the skyline: 'We're speaking about 60 per cent open spaces, only 30-35 per cent of the development will be built up,' says Al-Sharif. 'It's a very low density if you compare it with any international city.' It will also be much better served in terms of leisure that pretty much any international city, with a kilometre-long indoor ski slope and a 300-metre-long artificial beach next door at the newly announced Meydan One complex.
Such a set-up means it's unlikely the mansions will suffer the fate of many international investable properties: bought but uninhabited. 'It's a great destination for people to come and live,' says co-chair of the project PNC Menon of Sobha Developers. 'They will use the home, it's not an investment home.'
With the majority of phase one and phase two of the development already sold, the hope is the lateral, low-rise layout of the Mediterranean, contemporary and modern-Arabic-styled villas and mansions on offer will attract high-rise apartment dwellers not just from other cities but from Dubai itself.
However, the marketing strategy is certainly internationally minded. Menon points to Dubai's geography: '[It's] the best place between East and West. A lot of people on the Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Middle East, CIS countries, Russia, China want a second home… London is a second home for the whole world, Dubai is going to be a second home for all these geographies.'
But could Dubai go one better and usurp London in becoming the world's second home – or at least see a reciprocal flow of property investment from the British capital? Given the heights the UK domestic market has reached it wasn't surprising to see several property agents working for London-based UK clients busily networking among the elaborate scale models, one of whom confided she already had a number of very interested potential British buyers.