Patricia Boettcher from France at her holiday home on the Palm Jumeirah. Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque/ANM

Many tourists visit Dubai so frequently, they consider it their second home. Going a step further, many of them are now setting up a second home here, a trend that appears to be picking up, considering the attractive property prices.

Patricia Boettcher and her husband Anders from France have a holiday home in Dubai. It was Anders who first visited Dubai in July 2007 as a tourist and he liked the city so much that he wanted to purchase a holiday home here. Within three months the couple decided to buy a signature villa on the Palm Jumeirah.

Their love for the city also inspired Patricia to set up a company, B5 The Art of Living, here. "We also have a holiday home in France, but nowadays I try to spend more time in Dubai because of our business and also because I love Dubai a lot," Patricia says. She finds Dubai charming; it is a city where many nationalities live together and its location is a bonus too.

"The world comes together in Dubai," she says. Patricia feels the city offers her a wonderful lifestyle. She is happy living in a secure community with a private beach, in an excellent location. Moreover, she now has a place of her own to call home, to stay in whenever she is in the city.

Patricia isn't alone in seeing the advantages of buying a second home in Dubai. Peter Eck, a German businessman, travels frequently. Not surprisingly, he tells me Dubai is one of his favoured destinations for holidaying — he visits the city five to six times a year, partly due to business interests. People like Peter can end up spending a considerable amount of money on hotels. It was on one such hotel stay that Peter decided to buy a holiday home - and he also chose a signature villa on Palm Jumeriah. So now every time he visits Dubai, he has a place of his own to stay in comfort. "I love the weather in Dubai. It is perfect during winter and Dubai is a safe and clean city," says Peter. His local real estate consultant Tanja Landsiedel of Fine and Country says Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina are among the most popular destinations for holiday homes.

Peter also owns holiday homes in England and Portugal. Apart from his villa on the Palm, he has properties in Downtown Dubai and Arabian Ranches, which are rented out. 

An attractive destination

Like Peter, a number of tourists, many from European countries, and especially Russia, are now preferring to have their holiday homes in Dubai.

Dubai has historically attracted tourists from all across the globe due to its lovely weather and beach life.

Earlier this year I met Dr Edita Hruba Bortolin, an Italian investor who inspired many of her friends to purchase holiday homes in Dubai. She said more than 70 of her friends had such properties here, most of them in Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina. The main reason why they bought homes here was the sunshine and the central location — Dubai is only about five hours from their home countries.

Also, they managed to save a lot of money that would have otherwise been spent on hotel rooms.

Ross Gardiner of Lannhill Real Estate, a Dubai-based agency, has sold a number of holiday homes to such visitors. He says, "Over the past two years, our company has sold holiday homes to more than 100 people, mostly from Europe."

The criteria for most of the holiday home buyers cutting across the geographical barriers seem to be more or less the same - a spacious home close to the beach, which is why Palm Jumeriah is one of the most sought-after locations in Dubai at the moment. The Palm has just about everything a holiday home buyer is looking for - good-quality properties with a private beach, great location, amenities and facilities and an enviable address.

While a number of factors may be cited in favour of the popularity of holiday homes in Dubai, what makes them particularly attractive currently is pricing. Also, unlike the boom years, nothing is off plan — you have properties ready to move in to, in attractive locations.

Apart from being a second home, such properties could also help earn rental returns. Eventually, current low prices also mean that the owners will gain in terms of value appreciation.

The hospitality industry took a major blow when the global financial crisis struck the market. However, hotels across the country are now showing higher occupancy rates, a clear indicator of a substantial increase in the number of tourists. V.A. Hassan, who owns Flora Group of Hotels, says occupancy in his hotels is 85 per cent and he expects it to increase over the coming days. Many of these visitors are likely to be potential holiday home buyers.

Foreigners can buy properties in freehold areas of Dubai, and buyers are entitled to a six-month multiple entry visa. Meanwhile, a recent cabinet decision entitles foreign property owners to a three-year residence visa if they buy a property worth Dh1 million or more. However, this decision will be implemented only when it becomes a law.