Street No 2 in the Hattan 2 district of the Lakes community in Dubai is known informally as the city’s Bankers’ Row.
The quiet cul de sac at the back of the city’s Emirates Golf Club contains the sort of creamy brown three-storey villas that seem to appeal to those in the city’s growing finance industry – presumably because they are the only people who can afford them.
“In most villas of this sort in Dubai, the houses are spread so that you get big houses next to smaller ones," says Clementine Malim, senior client manager at the property broker Ascot & Co. “But here all of the villas are of equal size and value."
As Ms Malim rattles off a list of clients, a clear pattern begins to emerge. There’s a Dutchman, an Englishman and an Australian who owns two. All of them have families, all of them work in finance and all are wealthy.
Certainly, with its stark white walls, polished marble floors, airy high ceilings and large swimming pool, the five-bedroom villa she is currently marketing fits the pattern. Belonging to a Swiss banker and his family who are looking to relocate somewhere with a larger garden, the recently renovated house is on the market for an eye-watering Dh14.9 million.
For that you get a 6,124 square feet villa, which alongside the five en-suite bedrooms also includes separate formal and family living rooms, a dining area, a study with en-suite bathroom, an open-plan family living area and external self-contained maid’s room and two-car garage.
The Swiss owners have spent the past five years upgrading and extending the original “hattan"- style villa and adding things like mature olive trees in the garden, a fancy SieMatic kitchen and LED lighting.
Outside, the villa stands in a nearly 8,000 sq ft plot which includes a landscaped garden, custom design Belhasa swimming pool with integrated Jacuzzi, and an outdoor BBQ station.
“Yes, you could spend this sort of money and buy something in any of Dubai’s golf developments," Ms Malim says. “But this is a much more established neighbourhood right in the middle of the city."
Q&A with Clementine Malim, senior client manager at property broker Ascot & Co
What is The Lakes?
The Lakes forms part of Emaar’s Emirates Living master plan of villa communities which stretch between the Sheikh Zayed Road and the E311 in Dubai. As one of the closest to central Dubai, the Lakes is located at the back of Emirates Golf Club just a few minutes’ drive from Dubai Marina. Traditionally, the Lakes is seen as the second best neighbourhood in Emirates Living after the super-pricey Emirates Hills.
Why would anyone want to live there?
The Lakes is known for being particularly green, which in Dubai is a fairly tough call. It’s a gated community and has facilities including two nurseries, a gym and the Reform Social & Grill restaurant, which is popular with expatriates.
What is “hattan"?
The word “hattan" is Arabic for light rain or drizzle – something which presumably sounds much more picturesque in Arabic than it does in English. Confusingly, “hattan" is used by Emaar to mean both three specific neighbourhoods in the Lakes – Hattan 1,2 and 3, as well as a style of villa – the big brown boxy Arabian-looking ones you can see in developments including Arabian Ranches. More confusingly still, all of the villas in the Hattan neighbourhoods are indeed “hattan"-style villas.
What’s the market like at the moment?
Agents say that the Lakes has suffered less than other parts of Dubai because of the recent market downturn owing to the fact that it remains high on the hit list for Dubai’s wealthiest. Nonetheless, they say prices have been affected by up to 15 per cent since the market peak.
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