The vibrant community of Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) has been our home for the last five years. One of the fastest developing residential communities in Dubai at this hour, it is pretty much self-sustainable with a variety of supermarkets, eateries both franchised and homegrown, schools and vocational institutes, renowned fitness centres, medical facilities, etc.
We moved out of Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and the bustling Dubai Marina as we wanted to be close to our elder daughter’s secondary school in the nearby Academic City. Our younger daughter, who attends primary school in Oud Metha, will move into the same premises in a year’s time. I had my initial reservations in moving out of JBR as I loved being close to the sea. My husband, however, was very confident that our family would love living here. He was right. DSO provided a loving, energetic and pet-friendly neighbourhood for our family consisting of two daughters aged 15 and 10 years, a nanny from the Philippines and two full-grown Labradors whom we rehomed four years back.
We moved into a brand-new villa in the safe haven of a gated cluster. Being one of the earliest tenants in the cluster, we were fortunate that we could choose any villa we wanted. We chose a villa that was close to the cluster gate and the children’s park. It allowed easy commute to the bus stop during summer and gave my younger daughter easy access to the park.
The joy of gardening
We built our garden from scratch and while doing so, were inspired by the community landscaping. Today, our garden is our absolute pride — plants like bougainvillea, jasmine, frangipani, petunias are in full bloom all the year around, while trees such as Gulmohor or the flame tree and the fragrant Millingtonia tower above the two-storeyed villa, creating a screen of privacy from the neighbouring villas. An avocado plant from Philippines, a Bengali lime tree planted lovingly by my mother-in-law, lilies from Sikkim gifted by a friend, bhut jolokia, the hottest chilies in the world brought by my husband from one of his travels from north-east India, and many other such plants adorn the garden space. Sparrows, hummingbirds, parrots, pigeons and woodpeckers flock to the higher branches of the trees during the early mornings and afternoons, while butterflies nestle into fragrant flowers throughout the day. As the climate cools down, we grow herbs in pots and garden fresh mints, basils or corianders continue to make our family meals special. Beyond our own garden, the garden spaces in the community are filled with large neem trees, which have huge medicinal value, as well as many indigenous plants like ghaf, acacia, henna, sidr, desert thorn, etc.
The DSO authorities have plans to plant thousand ghaf trees across the community during the Year of Tolerance. Another remarkable community initiative within DSO is the Community Farm, where residents are given a plot of land to grow fruits and vegetables during the winter season.
An immersive community
There has been a lot of development since the initial years when the community was centred mostly around the Semmer Villas and Cedre villas. While Semmer Villas was mainly reserved for pilots of Emirates Airline, today both villa communities are available for rent to outsiders. Each gated cluster has round-the-clock security, children’s play areas, landscaped lawns, temperature-controlled swimming pools with lifeguards, fenced courts for basketball, badminton, tennis and other such amenities. For those living outside these gated villa communities, there are other public parks that are meticulously maintained. When we moved in, there were only a few supermarkets and a handful of small groceries and a limited number of eateries. Today, there has been a mushrooming of small groceries, supermarkets, neighbourhood eateries and cafeterias.
Being well connected
DSO gives us the freedom to commute by public transport as well. RTA has launched frequent bus services and new routes to the area. The drive time to other popular destinations in the city isn’t that challenging. My husband’s office is in DIFC and it takes him about 20 minutes to drive on a regular day. It takes about 30 minutes to reach anywhere in Bur Dubai-Karama-Meena Bazaar or the Jumeirah and Umm Sequim area. Although road congestion has increased considerably in the area as compared to before, there are roadwork plans under way to upgrade the Dubai-Al Ain Road to keep pace with the development of the area.
When fitness is a community mantra
DSO as a community encourages every resident to partake in an active lifestyle. Most pavements along the main roads have ramps for the ease of cyclists and have distance markers for walkers and joggers. In fact, children cycling down to the nearby Gems Wellington Academy is one of the most pleasant sights in the mornings. There are also a lot of open areas where cricket tournaments take place regularly during the weekends. The Viljoen family from South Africa — André, his wife Janet and daughters Francis and Hannah — have pursued their passion for running and cycling in the community. While on most days André runs around the community, he cycles for about 80km on Fridays. “We walk and run for about three to four times a week for a stretch of 5-7km. A lot of emphasis is being placed on making the paths accessible with ramps and there are more parks now,” said Janet. “There’s no dearth of fitness centres or lack of choice, be it gym, yoga, kick-boxing, etc. While my husband walks twice daily around the community, our daughters and I attend the yoga lessons at a nearby studio. DSO also organises events and activities within the community.”