Moving to... Dubai's Damac Hills

Originally published on Nov 24, 2020 | The National

This sprawling, leafy suburb is one of Dubai's biggest 'desert suburbs' - and falling prices have seen a recent surge in new arrivals

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Only a few years ago, this once sleepy corner of the desert was home to sand dunes and the occasional wandering camel train.

Now, spread across 390 hectares of manicured landscapes and gardens, Damac Hills is an option for city dwellers looking for a little extra space in a quiet corner of Dubai.

Four years on from the first residents moving in, this blossoming development is close to completion.

More than 75 per cent of the vast desert community is occupied and a Radisson hotel is almost ready for business.

The district is distinguished by lush greenery with palm-lined private link roads. With plenty of amenities, it is a good place for growing families.

And as with most communities in Dubai, property prices have dipped – making the once-exclusive villas far more affordable.

Joe Chiffi, 24, an estate agent with Allsopp & Allsopp in Dubai, said demand for property in Damac Hills has gone up since the start of the pandemic.

“It is a bit further out than some of the more established communities, but it has great link roads such as Hessa Street and Al Qudra Road, so it is easy to get anywhere in Dubai from Damac Hills,” he said.

“Demand for properties there has changed completely in the past six months.

“It is not just because of the area, but also because of Covid-19. Villas there are very competitive in price and the amenities are almost second to none.

“People want to move out of apartments into villas with outdoor space and nearby amenities, and Damac Hills has plenty to offer.

“The value for money is great and demand has gone up for every type of property we have.”

Studio apartments rent for about Dh30,000, while a five-bedroom villa can cost anything from Dh150,000 to Dh295,000, depending on the layout and location.

There are many plus points of moving to this emerging corner of Dubai, although the only “hills” in sight are the dunes in nearby Remraam desert.

Because it is a mere 20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Dubai or the Marina, thanks to excellent travel links, people are waking up to emerging residential opportunities in new desert communities – others include Akoya, Mira and Mudon.

With pools, cycle tracks, supermarkets and sports facilities – including the 18-hole Trump International Golf Club – Damac Hills has plenty to offer.

Many of the villas, townhouses and apartments have pleasant views, and individual gated communities provide security.

The community’s versatility is proving a strong selling point, according to Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president of Damac, the community’s developer.

“It’s the amenities at Damac Hills that really distinguish the neighbourhood and the resident feedback we are getting is great,” he said.

“They love the place and feel part of a community that has everything they need.”

From studio apartments to five-bedroom villas, there is something for everyone.

Estate agents said no three-bedroom villas are available right now, but with more properties edging closer to completion that is likely to change in the coming months.

Damac estimates about 8,000 people live in the community, and this is expected to grow as more completed units are handed over.

The 2018 completion of Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan Al Nahyan Street was a game changer, opening up new transport links from Damac Hills to other major roads and cutting travel times around Dubai.

What makes it a good community?

Eldelene Bester, from South Africa, lives with her family in a three-bedroom corner villa in Richmond community.

The community feel of the district, with residents quick to help each other out or offer a friendly morning wave, is one of the reasons she insists they will stay put for a while.

“With two young children it is so safe, just perfect for us,” said Ms Bester, who has lived in Damac Hills since 2018.

“Having the big garden during the restrictions was a huge bonus.

“I have friends who live in Mira and Town Square, but Damac Hills feels very different – I don’t think we would live anywhere else.

“It feels like a grown-up play park. The park is a beautiful, serene setting. With the lakes, dams and streams it is a lovely place to walk around.”

There are plenty of amenities for children, including a cycling track in the park, the petting zoo, a dog park, skate ramps and an outdoor synthetic ice rink.

Work is ongoing on the park’s artificial beach, the first inside a residential community in the UAE. Malibu Bay is a place where adults can relax while children splash and play in the water park, which comes complete with a wave pool.

Food trucks and a barbecue station are also planned once the beach is fully open.

For sports lovers, there is a football pitch, running track, tennis courts, cricket field, volleyball and basketball courts.

While apartments can be rented directly from the developer, Damac, villas are privately owned and can be rented only from private landlords.

Ms Bester said she and her husband were able to pay monthly, rather than in a single cheque, and with rents falling across Dubai she expects to negotiate a new rate with her landlord soon.

“We are very excited about the Malibu Bay beach opening up. The kids are going to love it,” she said.

“My husband works at the Expo site, so it is just a 10-minute drive for him.

“There is a real sense of community and I have made some of my best friends here. We are very fortunate.”

How well connected is it?

Damac Hills is also easy to reach by car via Hessa Street or Al Qudra Road.

Hourly public buses connect Damac Hills with Dubai Studio City, Arabian Ranches, Mira Oasis, Sports City and Dubai Production City. The community has about 11 bus stops.

A 20-minute bus ride also carries passengers to the Mall of the Emirates, which has a metro station.

Kiwi e-scooters can be collected and dropped off across Damac Hills for travel inside the community.

Location and landmarks

The community surrounds Trump International Golf Club, an 18-hole international course, nine-hole, par three course with a huge practice area.

With easy access to the city’s major road networks off Umm Suqeim Road, motorists can reach The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa within 25 minutes.

Other attractions within a 15-minute drive include Global Village, Dubai Butterfly Garden and IMG Worlds of Adventure.

Dubai International Airport is about 35 minutes away and it takes less than 25 minutes to reach Al Maktoum International Airport from Damac Hills.

Dubai Marina and The Walk JBR are both within 25 minutes by car, and the beachside attraction La Mer is a 30-minute drive away.

Rentals

Studio apartments start from Dh30,000 to rent and about Dh477,777 to buy, while one-bedroom properties are available for Dh53,000 or Dh645,000.

A two-bedroom apartment costs about Dh80,000 and for an extra bedroom the price is Dh90,000.

Villas are only available to rent through private landlords, but Damac has three-bedroom villas on sale from Dh1.45 million, four-bedroom villas for Dh1.77 million and Dh4.37 million for a five-bedroom property.

Three-bedroom villas can rent for anywhere from Dh95,000-Dh110,000 for about 190 square metres (2,050 square feet), with larger 230sq m (2,500 sq ft) three-bedroom villas moving for up to Dh130,000.

“A villa here would be similar in price to an apartment on The Palm, but in Damac Hills you’re getting a big garden and driveway,” said Joe Chiffi, an Allsopp & Allsopp estate agent specialising in the community.

“As a community, it is gated, with plenty of pools, a pet farm, fake beach, stables and a huge park – it is on par with anywhere else.

“There are nice new villas in a good community for a fraction of the price of what you would pay elsewhere, such as The Springs or The Meadows.

“If the location works for you, there is no reason not to live there.”

Facilities

In villa sub-communities, four common pools can be used by the residents and there is a gymnasium in the community centre.

For apartment buildings, each block has its own pool and gymnasium. There is a mosque in the Silver Springs community and five children’s playgrounds are spread across the site.

Its several food trucks offer an array of takeaway options, and there is a barber shop and women’s hair salon.

A fishing lake, stables and a garden centre are also within the community.

Schools and hospitals

CreaKids Nursery opened in 2019 and follows the Norwegian curriculum. It has a spacious basement play area.

Jebel Ali School on Hessa Street is just minutes away from the community. It follows the National Curriculum for England.

Emirates Hospital is eight minutes away. Mediclinic Hospital and Medcare Medical Centre are approximately 13 minutes and nine minutes away respectively.

Aster Clinic (eight minutes), Symbiosis International Poly Clinic (26 minutes) and Miami Autism Rehabilitation Centre (nine minutes) are also close to Damac Hills.

Supermarkets and shopping centres

Damac Hills has Carrefour and Spinneys supermarkets. There is also a pet shop inside the community centre.

Major food delivery companies, such as Kibsons, include Damac Hills in their routine drop-off schedule for fresh produce.

An ATM cashpoint can be found inside the Carrefour supermarket.

Restaurants and places to eat

Inside the golf club, the Stoke House restaurant, bar and grill offers plenty of special offers on food and drink and a quiz every Tuesday night.

Several food trucks operate on the edge of the park near the Carrefour supermarket, including Lucky’s Pizza, Bob’s Fish & Chips, Big Misteaks and Alpha Burgers.

Bakericious cafe, serving hot food and sandwiches, is at the Piccadilly Greens Pool area.

Water and electricity

Air-conditioning must be paid for individually inside apartment buildings and is not included in the annual rent.

Average monthly Dewa bills for a three-bedroom villa in summer are about Dh1,500-Dh2,000 and in winter between Dh1,000-1,500.

Home cleaning services and maintenance

The approved and licensed cleaning company for Damac Hills is Whitespot, which charges a one-off fee of Dh125 for a one-bedroom apartment or Dh460 per month for a weekly service. That rises to Dh365 for a three-bedroom apartment for a one-off service, or Dh1,275 a month.

The approved maintenance company is Apex services.

Residents can get a maintenance or cleaning company of their choice by providing Community Management with the required documents for a three to six-month permit.

Before moving out, an email must be sent by the tenant to the community management team a minimum of 48 hours before, along with the certificate of no objection received by the owner.

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