The UAE offers some of finest waterfront developments in the world. It is becoming a global hub for an ever-growing portfolio of exclusive projects set adjacent artificially created canals, lakes, beaches and marinas.
The waterside communities are a hot favourite among the elite, holiday home buyers and investors who desire a sense of seclusion in their luxury waterfront homes, and yet have all the amenities of leisure, comfort and lavish living.
Many waterfront communities all over the UAE provide residents with an urban lifestyle and the conveniences of retail shops, dining outlets, yacht clubs, sporting facilities and several other recreational and cultural activities.
PW looks at what makes the UAE’s premium waterfront developments so desirable to residents, investors and tourists.
In the capital, developer Aldar is catering to this demand with its vibrant residential offerings in Reem Island, Al Raha Beach and Yas Island. Talal Al Dhiyebi, chief development officer of Aldar Properties, says, “Each of our destinations embodies the ideal balance between stunning views of the waterfront, beautiful landscapes, a range of community amenities, and proximity to the main facilities.”
Reem Island, located adjacent to the central business district on Al Maryah Island, is five minutes away from the city centre. It offers convenient access to excellent facilities and stunning views of the Arabian Gulf. Al Dhiyebi says, “The 2.4km Reem Island canal, which opened in April, now flows alongside 35 plots within Aldar’s master-planned community. It brings waterside views, promenades, seating and areas for exercise and socialising to the island’s steadily growing population, as well as visitors from other parts of the city.”
Al Raha Beach is built on 5.2 million sq m of natural beachfront, situated next to the main highway linking Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It offers a mix of premium residential, commercial, cultural, entertainment and public amenities. Al Dhiyebi says, “The diverse precincts are all residential and mixed-use developments with an array of facilities, including an exclusive clubhouse, retail outlets and swimming pools. With its abundance of dining choices, landscaped lawns and peaceful water fountains, Al Raha beach offers a welcoming ambience to residents of Al Bandar, Al Hadeel, Al Muneera and Al Zeina, as well as guests.”
Set across the tranquil blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, Yas Island is a serene sanctuary away from the bustle of Abu Dhabi’s urban environments.
“While enjoying dramatic views of the capital’s central business district skyline, residents here enjoy quality lifestyle experiences,” says Al Dhiyebi. “These include relaxation on manicured beaches, access to exciting water sports via Yas Marina, rounds of golf on the world-class Yas Links course and fun at Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World amusement parks, all within the comforts of the neighbourhood.”
Andrew Covill, director of Henry Wiltshire International, says waterfront homes anywhere in the world are considerably more valuable than an inland equivalent. There is at least a 20 per cent differential for any water view compared with a non-water view, says Covill, and that could increase dramatically if the property is located directly on the sea or has beachfront access.
Although Abu Dhabi city is surrounded by water, it has relatively few true waterfront homes. “In Al Raha Beach, developments such as Al Muneera and Al Zeina have good sea views from many of the apartments, but some of the properties in Al Bandar have balconies directly over the sea,” says Covill. “While the price is somewhat higher, we believe that over the long term the investment value will be greater as the rarity value of an absolute waterfront home, as it is known in the business, will increase the value exponentially.
“Al Hadeel is also due to be completed later this year, which is located adjacent to Al Bandar with great sea views and some apartments located very close to the water. We recommend buying apartments or villas as close to the water as possible if you cannot buy directly on it. The long-term investment will be worth it.”
On Yas Island, the first new residential development, called Ansam, will be delivered this year. “An Andalusian-style design of white apartment buildings overlooking the Yas Links golf course and the sea beyond, the units are sure to be in high demand [with the] stunning views [and] all the leisure and hospitality [amenities] on Yas Island,” says Covill. “Mayan is a contemporary development on Yas Island, which is under construction and will be delivered in 2019. It is a mid-rise building with large amounts of glazing looking out to sea across the golf course and beach.”
Saadiyat Island has high-end villas with a range of luxury hotels, beach club, golf club and the forthcoming Cultural District housing the Louvre, Guggenheim and other museums. The island features Saadiyat Beach Villas, which Covill says is a mature villa community that is highly regarded and popular among high-ranking executives and VIP buyers.
“Hidd Al Saadiyat, a resort-style development of contemporary villas, will begin delivery of their villas in the coming weeks,” says Covill. “The absolute beachfront homes were snapped up when the project was first launched, and only a few have made it to the resale market as they are such a unique product in Abu Dhabi.
“Studies show that beachfront property around the world can be worth 60-100 per cent more than an equivalent property inland, but the current resale units in this development are only priced at around a 20 per cent premium, making them a secure long-term investment. The five- to seven-bedroom homes are priced between Dh15 million and Dh20 million, with the largest specialist villas valuing up to Dh50 million.”
Nudra, the new beachside villa development on Saadiyat Island, is the only gated development in Abu Dhabi with its own private beach for the residents. “It boasts only 37 land plots and villas within landscaped gardens with other key facilities like a beachfront clubhouse with gym and infinity pool overlooking the turquoise ocean,” says Covill.
Master developer Nakheel’s famed waterfront and island projects such as Palm Jumeirah, The World Islands and Deira Islands have put Dubai on the world map as a popular place to live and visit.
“Twenty years ago, Dubai’s coastline was just 70km long,” says Aqil Kazim, chief commercial officer of Nakheel. “Palm Jumeirah and other waterfront developments have added more than 300km to that coastline, paving the way for the development of seafront homes, resorts and leisure attractions that have become the envy of people across the world.
“[Palm Jumeirah] is home to Al Ittihad Park, a 1.1-million-sq-ft green oasis surrounded by a 3km jogging track, the high-end Golden Mile Galleria mall, Club Vista Mare beachfront dining complex and the 11km Boardwalk seafront promenade, which runs the entire length of the island’s crescent.”
Nakheel is also building Palm 360 and The Palm Tower — luxury high-rise hotel and residential projects on the Palm. Other projects are Nakheel Mall, The Pointe waterfront restaurant and retail complex and the Palm West Beach/Palm Promenade interconnected beach, park and promenade.
“Waterfront living in Dubai remains exclusive, yet is growing in popularity as it offers better value for money and better return on investment than in other key parts of the world,” says Kazim. “Also, new attractions and facilities, such as the West Beach/Palm Promenade, are being added to existing waterfront communities, enhancing their popularity.”
The World Islands is a collection of 300 man-made islands shaped into the continents of the world and will have exclusive underwater homes along with lavish resorts and leisure experiences. Deira Islands consists of four man-made islands, adding 40km of coastline, including 21 kilometres of beaches. It will have beachfront hotel resorts, residential communities, a creek marina for large yachts and other marina facilities, shopping mall, waterfront night market and a large amphitheatre.
The Dubai Water Canal is the latest gem added to Dubai’s waterfront grandeur. The 3.2km-long waterway starts from Business Bay, through Safa Park and Jumeirah district into the Arabian Gulf. It will have luxury housing, hotels, hundreds of restaurants, a shopping centre, walkways, cycle paths and private marinas.
Umar Bin Farooq, CEO of One Broker Group, says, “Dubai Canal has some unique and luxury projects to offer. The Canal is expected to have about four hotels and 450 restaurants. Which means the footfall in the area will be high and this will attract a lot of visitors.
“The market has welcomed positively all the projects that were launched in the recent past on the Canal since there are not many water-fronted plots available, so the advantage of investing in this real estate will be high. These projects include Al Habtoor City, which offers unparalleled amenities, including the Dragone show, a world-class tennis academy and very impressive boutiques and cafes. [It is also] a walking distance to Safa Park.”
Dubai Properties Group’s Marasi Business Bay is another remarkable project along the Dubai Canal, covering a 12km area that will have water homes, floating restaurants, retail options and palm tree-lined marinas. The place is set to be the region’s first purpose-built yachting destination. The residential development, built on water with boat access, will create an exceptionally new living proposition for Dubai’s real estate market.
Overlooking the Dubai Creek in Culture Village, Dubai Wharf is another luxury mixed-use waterfront development. It offers waterfront luxury residences and attractions such as retail, dining and entertainment outlets.
Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding are jointly developing Dubai Creek Harbour at the Lagoons, best-known for The Tower, which is set to achieve a new record in height. The future-centric, mixed-use development consists of waterfront eco-resorts, a marina and yacht club, commercial and retail space combining with cultural, leisure and educational amenities. The development will include shopping malls, luxurious hotels, museums, world-class resorts and marinas.
The other waterfront projects that are poised to become popular tourist destinations include Al Seef, which recently opened in Bur Dubai, Jewel of the Creek, Marsa Al Arab, Bluewaters Island and Bvlgari Resort.
The established waterfront developments like Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residences and Jumeirah Lakes Towers continue to be among the most desirable destinations for the visitors and residents. These areas offer some of the most ultra-luxurious penthouses and lavish apartments. Dubai Marina also offers the prestigious leisure strip, The Walk, housing leading retail, hospitality and entertainment options.
The UAE’s premier waterfront developments are not confined to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Prominent developments are also found in other emirates. The Address Fujairah Resort + Spa is a luxury hotel and residential development that was recently launched in Fujairah by Eagle Hills. Ras Al Khaimah’s waterfront concepts include Al Hamra Village, Mina Al Arab and Al Marjan Island.
Sharjah’s manmade Al Majaz Island and Al Majaz Waterfront on the Khalid Lagoon serve as tourist and leisure hubs that play host to major events. The popular destination also has apartments, world-class hotels, retail outlets, restaurants, cafes, leisure, entertainment, recreational zones, mini golf areas and cultural spots.
Al Zorah in Ajman is a lifestyle destination spread over an area of 5.4 million sq m and bordered by 12km of seafront. The development will have hotels, resorts, serviced apartments, residences and commercial spaces.