Dubai’s most sought-after district

As Mohammad Bin Rashid (MBR) City’s gigantic master plan progresses, several communities within and around the Meydan racecourse are already offering comfortable living. While most residential communities close to central Dubai are apartments, MBR City is teeming with villas.
“Most of the other communities within 6km of central Dubai are apartments, says Riyas Merchant, CEO of Realty Force Real Estate, a broker specialising in rental and sales in the area. “So the closest existing villa communities can only be found within Meydan and MBR City’s District One. You’re still in a quiet setting and only a few minutes from the hustle and bustle, with a quick escape out of the city. In terms of off-plan villa buys, [the] beautifully planed Dubai Hills also in MBR City comes into play, but it will take time to become a liveable community by 2020 or 2021.”

MBR City is popular to those who want to live in villas close to central Dubai
Lewis Allsopp, CEO of Allsopp & Allsopp, says the location and the planned amenities are among the top reasons people should buy into projects in the area.
“The first [reason to buy here] is the real estate adage, location, location, location. It’s going to be the closest mixed residential community to Downtown Dubai, and centrally located to everything,” says Allsopp. “Added onto this is the sheer amount of leisure, retail and entertainment facilities that are to come. Not only does it promise to be one of the best places to live in Dubai, it should also prove to be an excellent investment.”
MBR City District One: from beach to snow
The most exclusive and unique has to be Meydan-Sobha’s District One: an urban beach life style thanks to the Crystal Lagoons, with the upcoming Meydan One mall with its ski slope offering an interesting contrast.
District One’s first phase, comprising 180 four- to six-bedrooms villas, have already been handed over. The villas come in three types: contemporary, Arabic modern and Mediterranean.

An Arabian-themed mansion in MBR City District One
“Price points are at the higher end as this is a premium location in this area,” says Merchant. “However, they are great value for money; this is the first community in the Middle East that has the Crystal Lagoons — it looks beautiful. The money and time spent by the developers to build this justifies the value.”
The Lagoons are now around 80 per cent complete, and with sun beds and umbrellas in place already, the beach could already be used, accessible via the sale centre.
“Homebuyers look for views of a water body, or golf course, and an address,” he says. “This project is an address and it has the water.”
The villas, all with a private pools, are attractively priced. A four-bedroom unit could be had for around Dh9.5 million-Dh10 million. “You could even get one for Dh9 million. Prices have gone down compared to when they were launched in 2013 during the mini-boom. A four-bedder back then was Dh11 million-Dh11.5 million, so there’s about a million or million and a half drop per unit across all unit sizes.”
Many of the buyers are end users, of which around 40 per cent have moved in. “Others have placed their units back into the market for rent or sale,” says Merchant.
Rent stands at around Dh360,000 for a four-bedroom villa. “For the investors, it’s a 3.5 per cent return on investment, which is reasonable,” opines Merchant.

Many of the homebuyers have moved into their residences
Although he isn’t sure about the upper ceiling, an appreciation of the current market pricing in the future was certain. “The premium segment right now has taken a big hit; the mid-market is selling. But it’s an interim situation,” he reasons.
Phase two
The second phase of District One with 280 villas is currently under construction. “The seven- and eight-bedroom mansions will be ready in April, and the rest of the second phase by end of next year,” Merchant says.
“The master developers have taken into account not to disturb existing residents by creating barriers and staying within construction time frames. The first phase is manicured and completely sectioned out. Phase two is a construction site, which you won’t realise from inside the community. Only, if you’re on the edge will you notice mansions are still being built, but it affects no more than a handful of villas, although we have difficulties selling and renting them.”
Millennium Estates: value for money in Meydan
The community lying closer diagonally to one side of Meydan racecourse features 198 five-bedroom villas with three different layouts.
“This development is the best value for money today generally because of the unit sizes under the Dh10 million mark,” notes Merchant. “The pricing here has held firm, about the same than a year ago. A lot of end users bought, who would re-mortgage them thanks to their value.”

Villas in Millennium Estates have a contemporary design
The largest villa, Type A, which spans 7,370 sq ft with a 3,000-sq-ft garden area, goes for around Dh8 million and leases close to Dh300,000. The smallest villa, Type C, is 5,223 sq ft and has a garden area of around 2,000 sq ft.
“The villas are all contemporary; each layout is so different,” says Merchant. “Type A faces the park and is more premium. Families like and want to purchase Type C, of which only 40 were built. They are mostly occupied by their owners or rented out.”
The community also offers plenty of parks. “It’s a very closely knit community, and they keep improving it, now with a tennis and basketball court,” Merchant points out.
While there is no pool or gym, Merchant says that the master developer has plans to build a huge paid pool and gym by end of next year.
Polo Residences and Townhouses
Adjacent to Meydan, the Polo Residences’ 28 mid-rise apartment buildings are already enjoying popularity. A one-bedder in this tranquil community can be had for Dh85,000-Dh90,000 per year in rent. “It’s the only apartment community that is ready. Most are either in the process of being or already handed over. It’s a large rental market as people want to move to Meydan because of accessibility into the city, schools nearby,” says Merchant. “It’s the up-and-coming zone.

There are 102 four-bedroom town houses in the community
“Polo Residences has units left to sell and rent, as investors have bought dozens of units at once, and are putting them back in the market. Pricing has held up as there is good sales demand.”
Schools nearby include those in Sobha Hartland. The Polo Residences will also feature the first convenience retail opportunity in the area with Spinneys, which will come online by year-end.
Meanwhile, the Polo Townhouse community has 102 three- and four-bedroom residences. Residents can avail of a clubhouse with a guest lounge, play area, pool and gym. “Most of the town homes are either occupied by the buyers or rented,” Merchant remarks. “You might not even have eight units for sale there in total.

Polo Residences has units left to sell and rent, as investors have bought dozens of units at once, and are putting them back in the market. Pricing has held up as there is good sales demand.
Riyas Merchant

“The homes are good value for money with good sizes. Pricing here has held as it’s a small community and there isn’t anything else around there, so you take it or leave it. The average pricing today is Dh1,150 per square foot; before it was Dh1,200.”
Up and coming communities
The only other ready community is Meydan Heights, reserved for aircraft crew at Emirates, in District 11 of MBR City.
Anyone wanting to get into the area today would have to look at the new communities springing up. District 11 will be home to G&Co.’s Cassia, Jade and Viridian at The Field, the same developer behind the Millennium Estates.
Then there is Sobha Hartland, which is being constructed in phases and includes villas and apartments, and Ellington’s Wilton Terraces. Developer Azizi is spreading its wings wide with its Riviera project and Oriental Pearls. A Chinese developer is building the Royal Pearls apartments, selling at around Dh1,000-Dh1,250 per square feet.

A show villa in Sobha Hartland
“There hasn’t been that much competition in this zone, but now all of a sudden Meydan has become a hotspot and the various districts, not to forget Dubai Hills also within MBR City, are areas to look at if one is after high-end independent villas with modern designs set in well-planned urban communities,” says Merchant.
The developer behind the Polo Residences is also building MAG Eye, adding a new large town house and apartment community close to Meydan to the mix.
“MAG as a developer is very thoughtful, has a good reputation and has delivered whatever it has promised. And their quality is something to look forward to. They have seen the pulse of the market with how fast their Polo Residences sold,” remarks Merchant.
Looking at the current makeup of buyers in the area, Merchant says there are a lot of Indian and Pakistani buyers as well as Arab investors from Yemen, Iraq and Jordan. “They are probably setting up base here and feel this is the right community for them, with big villas for big families.”
Existing residents are mostly business owners, professionals working in Dubai International Financial Centre, as well as doctors and the likes, Merchant says.
“Villas in Jumeirah are getting older with maintenance issues, so people want to move into brand new villas in Meydan. It’s a trend and this is where a lot of the buyers and tenants are coming from.”
The raison d’être for investing
“Real estate investment is a long-term perspective, which may be easier said than done,” says Merchant. “[What is] the purchase intention? Is it capital appreciation? How long can investors hold on to it and do they want to live in it themselves? I would choose high-quality units to live in, and smaller cheaper units to buy and sell, or rent out, as they attract a higher capital appreciation,” says Merchant.
While Meydan already provides a number of amenities, including a racecourse, hotel, golf course and a tennis academy, the area is far from complete. “You’re really buying into a very exciting future,” says Allsopp. “Currently there isn’t really anything in terms of community centres and facilities etc., but there is an incredible amount on the horizon. The first part of the crystal lagoon will be open soon, there is going to be a huge mall, a ski slope, an adventure zone, restaurants, café’s and so on.”

You’re really buying into a very exciting future. Currently there isn’t really anything in terms of community centres and facilities etc., but there is an incredible amount on the horizon.
Lewis Allsopp

Merchant adds: “You need to look at Meydan as a community from a future perspective.”
And there is another a good reason to choose an area that is still developing: prices are cheaper and sure to appreciate.
“The area tops others in terms of accessibility, modernity and affordability,” says Merchant. “The price per square foot at Dh1,100-Dh1,150, apart from the more prestigious District One villas at Dh1,350 -Dh1,400, probably equals everything else that is being built around Dubai.
“Real estate is the driving factor of this market; if it does well other businesses do well and right now they are waiting for real estate to pick up. Three or four years from now people who invested in Meydan/MBR City won’t regret it, everything will fill up.”

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