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Fri 24 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Luxury living

The managing director of Dubai Lifestyle City talks about establishing high-end property in Dubailand.

Arif Rahman, managing director of Dubai Lifestyle City, tells CEO Middle East about establishing high-end property in Dubailand.

Could you describe the project and what it involves?

The project itself is at Dubailand and it is classified as an ultra high-living property by the media. It is one of the first on the market in the UAE and globally to identify itself through an international brand (JW Marriot).

Others have a homegrown brand but we want to promote this as an international brand, so it is going to be called the JW Residence.

It is not just the property but also the living experience that we want to provide to the residents. It has everything to do with art living, which involves all the best things in life, such as cuisine, wellbeing and sport.

Within the property we have a state-of-the-art multi-usage theatre with 600 seats. It will have programmes and events throughout the year, which is another aspect of art living. We can host anything from sports such as judo or boxing to shows, dramas, plays and fashion shows.

How much demand is there for these very high-end luxury properties?

We are not yet pushing to sell all the properties, as we are preparing model homes that will be ready in the next few months and we want people to come and see them. There has been lots of interest and more than 50% of the properties have already been sold.

When we launched the properties last year, the smallest apartment was 3,000ft² and that went for some AED6million, but today the prices have more than doubled. There has been an actual appreciation on the property, but also cost escalation with contractors for materials. All that is reflected in the prices going up.

How does luxury property in the UAE compare with that in other regions across the globe?

The way we positioned our residences was for use as a second or third home; a holiday home for people. We have had buyers purchasing them as secondary homes, but not as many for primary use.

The luxury business is certainly catching up here because we have all the luxury brands of the world in the UAE in terms of retail and fashion, sports, cars and yachts. The high life is really taking shape here.

Expats living by the sea, for example, are already living in luxury, so what do your apartments offer that is different?

We have purchased an island on The World and ours is Madagascar. We are providing for the residents of that community a members club, a yacht club and a marina. We are offering seaside living in homes and condos, as well as a marina walk and beach. There will probably be a JW Marriot hotel on there as well.

Some property companies have formed partnerships with sports celebrities and design companies. Will you follow suit?

Not really, because in our case it just happens that Maria Sharapova was a prodigy of the IMG Academies and joined at the very young age of eight before developing into a world-class tennis player.

We also have Paula Creamer, who is the youngest lady golfer, the number one in the world, and she also happens to be from IMG Academy. We are not looking at celebrities as such.

We have rich content and it's not just within the home - it is also in the community. We have an active, vibrant community with sports academies, a theatre, a mall and a spa, so it is very active and not just a home within the home.

When will the project be complete?

We hope to complete the project by March 2010, so the end of the first quarter, and that's when we'll be handing over keys.

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