Drawn by the promise of unprecedented luxury living, the mega-wealthy are snapping up properties within Al Barari, turning the development within the royal area of Nad Al Sheba into Dubai's answer to billionaires' row.
"We have more billionaires per square metre than anywhere else," Zaal Mohammad Zaal says with a smile.
He is chairman of Al Barari, the developer behind the $6.4bn real estate project of the same name located off Emirates Road in Dubailand.
We are bringing plants from all over the world. When other developers talk about sustainability and greenery we are actually practicing it.
Open space is something the development has in abundance too.
Over 300 secluded villas surrounded by trees and lakes are spread over 14.2 million sq ft, making Al Barari the lowest density development in the region with over 80 percent un-built area.
Added to this tranquil landscape are open spaces, botanical gardens, waterways, walking and jogging tracks, dedicated outdoor yoga areas as well as recreational and community facilities.
Phase one of the project, which is 75 percent complete, is made up of 300 villas.
Infrastructure and earthworks will start at the end of the year on phase two, which includes a six-star boutique hotel, 32 villas, a spa and resort, a healing haven of alternative medicine, apartments, shopping areas, gardens, a grand mosque and a cultural village.
Al Barari, which translates from Arabic as ‘The Wilderness', is the brainchild of Zaal, a charismatic Emirati with an uncompromising vision of how he sees the development unfolding.
"When I went to my consultants and bankers five years ago with this idea of gardens and lakes and quality of life with everything within walking distance, they said to me ‘Zaal you're putting 300 villas in 10 million sq ft of land, you are out of your mind.
We love you but this doesn't make economic sense. Do like Emaar, Nakheel, turn these boxes out on a conveyor belt and you'll make a fortune.' And I said ‘no thank you.'
"I walked away and took a risk and never looked back, for the very simple reason I knew there were customers who want this kind of life and are willing to pay for it," says Zaal.
Not only has he got his way, but with 200 villas already sold from phase one and demand high for phase two, his approach has been vindicated.
‘Exclusive' and ‘luxury' are superlatives often overused by Dubai real estate firms eager to promote their new developments.
But even by Dubai standards, Al Barari is unashamedly high-end. However, Zaal insists it will more than meet expectations.
Infinity swimming pools, hanging gardens, home theatres and private home spas feature within the apartments labelled the Billionaire Collection.
A personal chef and butler is provided for each of the guests staying at the 120-suite hotel in phase two, while the 55 secluded spa villas all have private treatment pavilions and swimming pools.
"The unfortunate thing is everyone is calling their development ‘luxury', it's really an overused and abused word," continues Zaal.
"I personally look at every single detail of a plan as I know what I want and I know what my customer wants. This is the driving force, I don't compromise on quality. I would rather pay the extra, absorb it myself, and have the smile on my customer's face.
Al Barari has finalised a deal that will see Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), Burooj Properties and Oman Emirates Investment Holding Co SAOG (O&E) each taking a minority stake in its flagship project, the US $1.8 billion (AED6.6 billion) Al Barari residential development at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai.
ArabianBusiness.com staff writer , Saturday, 18 August 2007, ArabianBusiness/News
A manmade oasis in the middle of Dubai's desert, the high-end botanical Al Barari development is the vision of the Zaal family. fmME talks integration, sustainability, delivery and operations with FM manager Robert Hunter and senior landscape manager Robert Rye.
ArabianBusiness.com staff writer , Wednesday, 08 July 2009, ArabianBusiness/Interviews