I’ve spent my life in and around the UAE’s real estate sector, both due to my family’s involvement in DAMAC Properties and, more recently, my uber-luxury venture, AHS Properties. I’ve witnessed numerous changes within the prime and super-prime sectors, but which – if any – trends have stood the test of time, and what are likely to be the next big trends?
Among the primary considerations for any uber-luxury buyer are privacy and position. Understandably, buyers in this segment also want something with the ‘wow factor’, and with a wealth of unique vistas, high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) living in the UAE can choose from stunning beachfront or waterside residences, golf course villas, mountain backdrops or penthouse views of our unique city skyline.
For expats and entrepreneurs who choose to make the UAE their home, our nation has more to offer than stunning scenery alone. Several advantages come with this territory. The new golden visa scheme, for example, provides security for visa holders and their families, who can enjoy 10-year renewable residences (Golden Visa) with a host of other benefits. Visa flexibility is a must-have for those looking to relocate to a new country.
World-class travel links are also high on the priority list for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), as choosing a well-connected location makes it hassle free while travelling for business and visiting family. With that in mind, Dubai is ideally positioned as a travel hub, with the world’s busiest airport, Dubai International (DXB), on its doorstep. Amazingly, one-third of the world’s population lives within a four-hour flight of DXB, and two-thirds are reachable by an eight-hour flight. It’s easy to see why our Emirate is the location of choice for skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovators alike.
When investing in uber-luxury real estate, bespoke spaces are king. Buyers at this end of the market are looking for properties that truly encompass their lifestyle requirements, with one-of-a-kind features to make their properties unique and reflective of their personalities. Indoor pools, personal libraries, bowling alleys, or even full-sized golf courses are just a handful of ways that uber-luxury buyers have customised their spaces.
On top of this, it seems the global pandemic shifted the mindset of buyers towards wanting a greater degree of flexibility from their plot. No longer do these spaces fulfil a sole function as residences; they must also become offices, sports clubs, and wellness centres. A home that can not only provide the highest standard of household living but also deliver many of the amenities that you would usually seek elsewhere really does speak to purchasers at this level, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To protect themselves, their families, and their investments, ultra-luxury real estate investors have begun to place greater emphasis on security. Companies such as Oppidum are building secure underground residences (panic rooms) with an ultra-luxurious edge. Imagine a subterranean ‘bunker’ equipped with fully kitted-out lounges, bedrooms, and perhaps even a luxury spa or indoor garden space. Of course, the UAE is one of the safest places to live globally (perhaps another reason for expats to relocate here!), so the practical applications for such spaces are limited. Nevertheless, these installations are an impressive addition to HNWIs.
Those with close-to-unlimited budgets can create uber-luxury homes that are constructed to the highest sustainability standards. In doing so, they can drive positive change within the broader real estate industry.
Innovative and sustainability-focused technologies are increasingly in demand among high-end investors in Dubai. The addition of solar panels, electric vehicle infrastructure and water recycling systems to a property increases its desirability among eco-conscious investors who want to secure not only the future of their investment but of the planet too.
While the finer details of these factors are always fluid, location, customisation, and sustainability are likely to remain constant within the uber-luxury segment. Fortunately, how these elements are achieved will vary infinitely between developers and investors, enabling a greater degree of flexibility and choice for the buyer.
After all, making the place your own will never go out of style.
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