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The lure of Al Wasl

High-stakes projects, including freehold apartments, are bringing new transplants to this otherwise unassuming community

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The Dubai Water Canal has made living around Al Wasl Road a lot more appealing
Property Weekly

The launch of the Dubai Water Canal and Box Park has marked the rebirth of Al Wasl Road as a hub of its own and a popular destination for residents. Running parallel to Jumeirah Beach Road and Shaikh Zayed Road, it offers easy access to old and new Dubai as well as numerous public and private beaches.

Shereen Shabnam, a luxury lifestyle journalist who lives in City Walk, is among those who were drawn by the community’s great location and emerging vibrant urban lifestyle.

“I used to live in Mirdif, but as a journalist attending press conferences all over the city I needed to be somewhere central with easy access to all parts of Dubai,” Shabnam, a Fijian expat who moved to the neighbourhood four years ago with her husband and daughter, tells Property Weekly. “I love the fact that I can walk to three different supermarkets, have access to so many restaurants, my bank, and I’m a spa junkie so having lots of choices within a five-minute radius helps.”

Advantages

For Hadil Moufti, a long-time resident of Jumeirah who moved to Umm Suqeim 1 a year ago, being close to the beach is the biggest draw of her new neighbourhood. “It’s a five-minute walk from the beach; that’s the most important thing for us. It’s also quite central,” Moufti tells Property Weekly. “Although I find Jumeirah more charming because it’s slightly older, it was a bit far from the newer parts of Dubai. Umm Suqeim is a great compromise — it’s quiet and residential, close to the beach but not too far from places like Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah.”

The low-rise residences make Al Wasl less dense than other parts of Dubai

On the flip side, her family of four finds it tricky to walk the dog due to the lack of pavements in the vicinity, and the few streetlights make it uncomfortably dark at night. “Jumeirah was a lot better in that regard,” says Moufti, who used to live in the UK. Still, she prefers Umm Suqeim when she found a better-maintained four-bedroom villa at a more competitive rent.

Like most houses in this non-freehold area, Moufti’s villa is owned by a local landlord, which is a major advantage for tenants, according to Aida Ibraimova, leasing agent manager at Sky Land Realty.

“Many people prefer to deal with local landlords because they rarely give a notice to leave the house and they attend to maintenance requirements,” says Ibraimova, who assisted Moufti in finding both their first and second house. “This is one of the reasons Umm Suqeim and Jumeirah are so popular; locals own a lot of properties here.”

Around 90 per cent of people moving to Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim are Europeans, Canadians and American, she adds. “They like this area because it’s close to the beach, shops, schools and kindergartens.”

Low-rise, contemporary

While most properties around Al Wasl Road are villas, a few offer apartments such as City Walk and Dar Wasl. Located next to Safa Park and the Dubai Water Canal, Dar Wasl is a mixed-use complex with residential and commercial units. Developer Wasl Properties released the villas in the Andalusian-inspired community in 2016 and 112 apartments last year.

“Dar Wasl is popular because the apartments are facing the main Al Wasl Road, while the villas are at the back,” says Ibraimova. Further along the road towards Jumeirah 1, City Walk offers the only freehold apartments within the area through 34 low-rise buildings.

Rajiv Ghanekar, senior broker at Keller Williams Real Estate, says City Walk is sought after primarily for its connectivity and low-rise buildings. A low-rise apartment complex implies fewer units per floor and quiet surroundings, so overall a better living environment.

“I have been active in City Walk for almost a year. From a lease perspective, the demand is good,” says Ghanekar. “I receive on average eight leads a month, so about 80 leads a year.”

“And that’s only one agent. What’s driving the demand is firstly the contemporary finishing — people like brand new properties. They also like the open-kitchen concept.”

Ghanekar says the tenant profile in City Walk is very similar to that of Downtown Dubai — people working in Dubai International Financial Centre or around Shaikh Zayed Road, although more families choose City Walk, he says. “People who move here typically want to live in Jumeirah, Downtown or DIFC. These are the areas that compete with each other.”

Besides the residences, City Walk is also home to dynamic leisure and entertainment destinations.

“New projects like Dar Wasl are popular but many more developments are coming up,” says Ibraimova. “These areas will always be among the best in Dubai.”

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