A ‘riviera’ to take shape between Dubai and Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi developer drops anchor on 370-hectare spread to build by-invitation only homes

Dubai: A stretch of coastline between Dubai and Abu Dhabi city is being turned into a weekend retreat and much more. Set over 370 hectares and a 3.4 kilometre beach in the Ghantoot areas, the design is along the lines of a riviera — think of the French Riviera or the Amalfi coast — and where buyers can have their “second home” away from the city.

And by the way, the 290 plus villas will be sold “by invitation” only. Prices will be between Dh3 million to Dh25 million.

On whether that’s pricey enough by Abu Dhabi standards, Walid Al Hindi, CEO of Imkan, the developer, said: “It’s not about the prices, but about the sheer exclusivity. We are delivering on the exclusivity with the “Al Jurf”.”

Imkan, which currently has seven projects in Abu Dhabi, said the Al Jurf and the “Sahel El Emarat” (which means riviera in Arabic) will be built over three phases. Construction of the first phase, which features the villas, will begin in Q2-19 and see completion in 2021.

A developer pushing the “second home” concept in the UAE is relatively new. Wealthy resident investors tend to have multiple properties in their UAE portfolio, but relatively few maintain two homes within relatively short distances.

Al Jurf thus aims at those buyers who wouldn’t mind maintaining a home for their own use and which they can use for relatively short breaks.

Imkan, which is owned by Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG), couldn’t have come across a more pristine location. The land was owned by ADFG, but much of it still retains the natural cover. There is an old palace, which will go through refurbishment and be made a museum.

As for the indigenous flora and fauna (gazelles and turtles among them), they will have a purpose-built nature reserve at Al Jurf.

“We will preserve as much of nature as possible,” said Al Hindi. “We are twisting things around with the Al Jurf — villa buyers in the UAE are used to big properties and small plots. We will have it the other way around.

“It needs to be a proper escape from having to see skyscrapers and with all the density and height that come with them. The UAE has enough of the tallest, widest and thinnest towers — we plan to deliver a “coastal ranch” and that’s a first.” (The roads too will sport the difference — there will not be any asphalt, but made of compacted gravel to give that feeling of being away from it all.) The formal launch will happen at Cityscape that opens Tuesday (October 2), but the properties will not be put up for sale immediately. In fact, there will be 10 private screenings at the site, to give potential owners a feel of what they will be buying into.

Developers in the UAE are, where possible, moving away from delivering just another high-rise or a sprawling community. They are going after more defined buyers, such as the millennials, and coming up with homes and offices that suit their persona. In short, no more of the plain-vanilla designs.

With Al Jurf and Sahel El Emarat, Imkan is taking the personalised touch a lot further. Across 3.4 kilometres of beachfront, to be precise.

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