At the peak of the boom in Dubai, as rents skyrocketed, many people could only dream of living in a good location in the city. Jordanian, Dr Ahmad Bader, who holds a PhD in computer systems and networking, was one of them.
On landing in Dubai in 2007 from Ukraine, where he had lived and worked for many years, Ahmad found the most difficult thing to get in Dubai was not a job, but a home: "Finding an apartment was a nightmarish experience," he recalls.
Although he eventually secured accommodation in Sharjah, the traffic in the area and the long commute to work made him miserable. It was one of his friends who suggested he look at Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) — an up-and-coming community in those days and therefore more affordable than other locations in Dubai at the time. "When I moved into my current residence, the rent was Dh58,000 per year, which was more or less what I was paying in Sharjah," says Ahmad. "But this apartment is bigger than the Sharjah one."
Today, despite the change in global financial circumstances and the increased availability of housing in other areas of Dubai, Ahmad still lives in DSO with his family — wife, Tanya and 10-year-old son, Fuad. He says he is happy to have chosen somewhere that is both so close to his place of work and removed from the chaos of the city.
When Ahmad's family first moved into DSO, it was not the perfect place to live. "When you move into a new home you primarily look for the availability of services such as supermarkets, groceries, malls, restaurants, laundries and so on, but DSO had none of these when I decided to live here," says Ahmad. Most of the buildings were still under construction at the time the Bader family were looking to move but, optimistic that the area would soon get built up and impressed by the location, Ahmad and his family settled on an apartment.
Happily, the development of the area has met Ahmad's expectations: "A number of shops have come up. There are laundries, a pharmacy, book shop and coffee shops," he says. "There are a few supermarkets such as Spinneys, Choithrams and Green Park Supermarket, which also provide home delivery services." Located close to Emirates Road and Dubai Bypass Road, DSO offers easy access to other emirates. For Ahmad, the traffic-free Dubai Bypass Road is a boon, enabling him to reach his office in Dubai Healthcare City in about 15 minutes — and it is doubly convenient as his son, Fuad, attends Healthcare City's Rashid Al Saleh School. Unlike many other communities in Dubai, there are no bottlenecks anywhere in DSO and today it still has the appeal of a calm and peaceful neighbourhood.
DSO is well-placed for shopping and Ahmad says that during the weekends he and his family spend a lot of time at the nearby malls, which include Mirdif City Centre, Etihad Mall and Arabian Centre. Eating out is another pastime Ahmad enjoys from his DSO base: "I love to taste cuisines from different parts of the world and there are many restaurants around DSO," he says. One of Ahmad's favourite is the Al Arrab Restaurant, which serves Arabic cuisines and sheesha. However, at present, there still aren't many restaurants actually located inside DSO.
The Bader family loves swimming, and the building in which they live has a pool and a gym. Keeping fit outside is another option as DSO has some green spaces and a jogging track.
While Ahmad is happy with the community he is living in, he feels there are some areas that need immediate attention from the authorities. "There is no proper sewage system in place. Sewage is collected daily from every community," he says. Ahmad also points to the absence of a fully fledged community centre and a shopping mall. There is a community centre in Cedre Villas but Ahmad says it has limited retail facilities.
Despite the down-sides, the affordable rents and burgeoning community mean DSO works for the Bader family. With more amenities and services in the process of development, Ahmad believes DSO is set to witness a lot of demand.