Sitting on a 2,800 square metre plot of land in one of Dubai's exclusive gated communities, a white Dh40 million mansion slants to face Makkah, Islam's holiest city.
The owner of the monolith – Mohammad Shaikh, an Indian who was given Bahraini nationality by the king – designed every facet of the manor.
He tends to his garden at the break of dawn. He has planted every flower and maintains them single-handedly.
Nicknamed ‘Heavenly Haven Middle East' by News Asia, a Singapore TV channel, villa E124 in Emirates Hills, featured in a documentary on Dubai being a sanctuary for wealthy expatriates from around the world.
The house has several stories linked to its orientation and Shaikh, who is the manager of all Geant hypermarkets in the Middle East, shared some of them.
"I've made my home face the Kiblah [the direction of Makkah] so I can feel a sense of attachment to my religion. I like to explain this to my guests and invite them to Islam," said Shaikh.
His neighbours include former Pakistan prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, and the owners of MBC and Habib Bank.
"It's a home, not a palace," said Shaikh. "You live here and want a friendly, easy-going ambience. Kids, women and men can all have their own space this way without actually being isolated."
Shaikh has no need for crystal chandeliers – oversized windows in every room ensure there is plenty of sunlight all day.
But light is not the only purpose of the tall windows, they also serve as a viewing gallery to frame the surrounding green foliage.
"Why decorate your walls with huge paintings when you can have a view like this?" said Shaikh.
His three children, twins Sama and Sana, and Hassan, get an added bonus. Every bedroom is built like a mini townhouse. A flight of stairs and a tiny bridge leads to a study. An attached stone-clad bath is a standard feature of the rooms.
"It is an apartment in and of itself. The children get complete privacy and comfort," said Shaikh.
Guests have plenty of options too. They can look out over the Emirates Hills Montgomery golf course and enjoy the tournaments from the privacy of his home.
In the cooler months, an industrial rooftop barbeque turns into a weekend picnic area for Shaikh's extended family and friends.
For the more reserved visitors, an in-house library beckons the avid reader. The titles are neatly arranged by topic, be it science, religion or business. Businessman by day and painter by night, Shaikh keeps a separate entrance for guests and family and likes to unwind at the end of the day by escaping to his art studio where he indulges a passion for art.
Within the walls
- 15mx11m swimming pool and separate baby pool
- Open deck
- 420 square metres of gardens
- Seven bedrooms with attached baths
- Five living areas
- Industrial kitchen and dining area
- Industrial rooftop barbeque
- Art studio
- Three-car garage