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Your Ultimate Guide To



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Welcome H

aving lived in Dubai for more than 30 years, I’ve seen the city develop, from being centred around the oil industry to it becoming hugely diverse in every possible way. In the past, most expats rented their properties because they were here for the short-term only and they didn’t feel invested in their homes. These days, expats are planning to stay longer, plus there is a young generation of locals, long-term and multigenerational expats, who feel vested in the city. It means an increasing shift towards home ownership, with more people remodelling and customising their properties. And as a result, a whole industry has developed around it. What’s more, Dubai is now very multicultural, with distinct personalities, rather than a series of homogenous, cookie-cutter communities – see page 8 for our pick of best new neighbourhoods. Having lived in Jumeirah, with its beach vibe and central location, most of my life, I’ve seen it become much more accessible – prices have fallen due to the increase in new properties, there are a lot more rental properties on the market and there are many more flexible landlords, who are willing to negotiate. Plus, City Walk offers the first freehold opportunity for expats in Jumeirah. So really consider the kind of neighbourhood you want to live in, whether it’s family-oriented, has a buzzy nightlife or offers plenty of daytime activities.

Founded in 1986, Betterhomes is the Gulf’s largest and most reputed real estate agency. It has the best selection of property in the region: selling, leasing, and managing more properties than any other agency.

And if you’re brand new to Dubai or you’ve lived here for years and are switching location, Betterhomes is here to guide you through the setting up home process. We’ll help you tackle every consideration, from getting your move-in/out permit (page 12) to maintenance issues (page 24) and summerproofing your home (page 30), so you can get on with making the most of your home and living in this exciting city.

Ryan Mahoney CEO at Betterhomes LLC, Dubai




A COVETED ADDRESS The best new neighbourhoods in Dubai


GET UP AND RUNNING Make your next move fuss free


DOING IT ALL One-stop-shop locations to know


HAPPY, HEALTHY HOMES Ensure your property is well maintained

Photography & vector credits: Shutterstock, Phocal Media, and Produced in collaboration with HOT Media Publishing. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Your Ultimate Guide To Setting Up Home In Dubai.


SAFE AS HOUSES Your house is your castle so keep it safe


HOME COMFORTS Make sure your home is in top condition from the get-go


MAKE YOUR HOUSE A HOME Choose a UAE-inspired artwork to decorate your space


CHANGING ROOMS Design the Dubai home of your dreams


WHY NOT BUY? Put down some Dubai roots


SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? Streamline your exit strategy


ESSENTIAL CONTACTS All the names and numbers you need, at your fingertips

All information within the guide is correct at the time of going to press, but may be subject to change. Tel: +971 4 364 2876 Fax: +971 4 369 7494


Welcome home Make a note of those all-important details you won’t want to forget Address: Building name/unit number: Move-in date: 10-digit property number: Plot number: Period of tenancy / Title deed issue date: Ejari contract number and registration date: Security deposit paid: Cheque dates: Sevice fee payment dates (for homeowners): Developer contacts:

Moving company name:

Letting/sales agent name:

Landlord/landlady name:




Vehicle numberplate:

Location and time zone:

Preferred maintenance company:

DEWA account number:

Du account number:


DEWA premises number:

Etisalat account number:

Makani number (10 digits):

Building and home contents insurance

Size of property (sqft/sqm):


All vectors made by

Unit type:

Policy number: Swimming pool maintenance company:

Private PO Box number:

Policy date: Building/compound security: Contacts:



A coveted address Our guide to the best new neighbourhoods in the city 8

NEW NEIGHBOURHOODS Whether you’re relocating in Dubai or looking for a new place to call home, there are always fresh places to lay your hat in this city. We’ve rounded up a selection of the neighbourhoods that should be on your radar…

The Sustainable City Named the Happiest Community in the Gulf Real Estate Awards, organised by the Dubai Land Department, as well as Best Residential Development in the Middle East at the International Property Awards this year, The Sustainable City is the first net zero energy development in Dubai, innovatively designed for sustainable living, work, education and recreation. The community’s abundant greenery is designed to help keep it cool and to purify the air, with 2,500 trees running along its periphery and a park running its length. The park contains 11 biodome greenhouses for growing herbs and salads (a voucher system for residents allows each household to receive eight planted pots a month, and there’s a WhatsApp group where images of the herbs are shared). Located on the Al Qudra Road, its residential area of 500 townhouses and courtyards are inspired by Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood. These are grouped into five clusters connected to the park. The villas feature solar panels and a hot water tank, which means reduced energy bills for its residents. While garden villas have garages attached, shaded communal parking areas are close by and there is a network of electric buggies for residents. All water from the community is recycled, which means everything that is collected from shower and



Opening page: Townhouses in The Sustainable City Opposite: Centrally located City Walk Below: Affordable housing in Mira

basin drainage gets treated and goes back into watering the landscape. There’s composting on site for residents to deposit their own green waste, and pretty community vegetable gardens and personal plots for planting food, while the Arabian Beekeeping Association is based here, with some of its hives, along with a small flock of chickens and ducks.

Mira Designed by leading developer Emaar Properties, Mira townhouses in Reem are ideal for families seeking a relaxed environment away from the bustle of the city. It’s currently the most popular locale to move to within


the district of Dubailand, which offers more affordable housing than in more established areas, such as Dubai Marina, yet has loads of modern features. On top of its retail plazas, mosques and local schools in a landscaped environment, Mira features a desert botanical park, camping facilities, sand surfing and camel riding trails, a gokarting track, dune buggies, a rock climbing wall, and a skate park. It’s also close to Arabian Ranches Golf Club, Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club and Global Village. The townhouses offer plenty of privacy and promote an outdoor lifestyle, with dedicated cycle paths and walkways that lead to the local facilities. All properties

have spacious balconies, modern fittings and features, driveways and courtyards.

Culture Village Situated on the historic Dubai Creek, Culture Village pays tribute to the rich heritage of the emirate through its architecture. Divided into residential, commercial and retail zones with hospitality and entertainment areas, this neighbourhood features wide open spaces, traditional wind towers, cobble stone walkways, air-conditioned bridges crossing waterways, creekside souqs, boutique-style restaurants and cafés. Living up to its name, it is also developing into a destination for art lovers,

with art and craft galleries, rare book shops, an amphitheatre for live performances and cultural festivals and other cultural spots, such as schools for arts, music and dance. The community is also home to luxury hotels, including Palazzo Versace Dubai, and designer boutiques, with Dubai Festival City and its ample facilities, plus schools and hospitals located close by. The residential community includes traditional low to mediumrise buildings offering a wide range of apartments – some buildings have a traditional artistic exterior, with a contemporary interior, while others look modern from the exterior but have traditionally themed interiors.

City Walk Known for its variety of restaurants, murals from some of the world’s biggest street artists, designer shops and central location, it’s no wonder that family-friendly, pedestrianised neighbourhood City Walk is a desirable spot to live. Boasting tree-lined avenues, covered shopping areas, water features and children’s play areas, it has a smart, European feel. Located north-west of Downtown Dubai, City Walk offers the first freehold opportunity for expats in Jumeirah, a district traditionally only open to GCC buyers. This allows expats to move from renting to purchasing in a

neighbourhood that’s often very familiar to them. You’ll mostly find open-plan apartments, with en-suite bathrooms for every bedroom as well as a powder room, plus separate maid’s quarters in all two- and three-bedroom apartments with direct access to the hallway for convenience. The apartments are fitted with SieMatic kitchens and Parador wood flooring throughout, for a contemporary look and feel. City Walk is the perfect spot for those who want to be part of an integrated community in an exciting urban destination, with great connectivity to the major roads and close proximity to the beach.

City Walk offers the first freehold opportunity for expats in Jumeirah


Get up and running

Settling into a new home in Dubai invariably comes with its own set of challenges, but knowing what to expect is half the battle. No idea about move-in permits, or clueless about Ejari? We’re here to help…

Get a move-in permit Most Dubai communities and building owners require you to obtain a moving-in permit. Check with your real estate agent, or building security, what paperwork needs to be completed in advance, as it can take up to five working days to come through. The process can vary, but may require you to fill out a Move-In/ Move-Out form and to hand over a copy of your tenancy contract or title deed, your passport and visa, and proof of settlement of any community service fees. You may also need to provide the details of your moving company.


From Chris Humphrey, Easytruck Removals & Storage,


CHOOSE WISELY There’s a long list of moving companies in Dubai, so do your homework. Check out online forums for recommendations, as well as getting the lowdown from those who’ve been through the process. Draw up a shortlist, then look at reviews before getting in touch for a home survey.


CREDENTIALS CHECK A valid trade license and insurance are non-negotiables. It’s also essential that the staff aren't outsourced, as building security will usually ask to see Emirates IDs before allowing access.



COST IT OUT Great movers aren't cheap, and cheap movers (generally speaking) aren't great. The majority of big name companies in Dubai offer an online quote so comparing prices is easy. That said, for moves larger than a one-bedroom apartment, it's always best to get your home surveyed to get the most accurate price.


HANDS ON… OR OFF How much or how little involvement you have in the physical move is up to you. Many people choose to pack only their valuables and leave the rest up to the moving team who can dismantle furniture, put your freezer goodies in an icebox, and even pack your socks.



SPECIALIST SERVICES From a trusted pair of hands to reconnect your washing machine, to an on-call handyman to sort out pesky light fittings, and partnerships with storage companies or short-term accommodation providers for a mid-move stay, opting for added extras can make all the difference.


ON TRACK Relocating from overseas? It's always good to move with a company that has offices in your destination country, so they are in control throughout the process. Thanks to state-of-the-art IT systems, you can easily track your consignment as it crosses borders.


IN AND OUT Professional movers usually work in three to 15-person teams (depending on the scale of the move and package). The general rule of thumb is one crew member for every five cubic metres. A one or two-bedroom apartment can be packed, relocated and unpacked in a single day and an entire four-bedroom villa turned around in 48 hours.


Book your move on a Monday or Tuesday to avoid the weekend relocation rush


END RESULT The worst part of a move is the dreaded unpacking, but a door-to-drawer service takes the sting out of the experience and frees you up to do the all-important finishing touches.




The UAE has two main telecommunications companies: Etisalat and Du. Both offer a wide variety of home solutions. Some buildings only work with one provider, however, so check with your agent or building maintenance team first.

Etisalat ( Go: To any one of the six main customer service centres. Take: Emirates ID or passport (original and copy) and valid residency contract/title deed. Remember: You can only apply for services once you have a UAE residency visa and you need to know your full building address for the application. Next steps: Wait four to seven days for the application to be processed. A home visit will then be scheduled with a technician. Du ( Go: Send an email directly to specifying the package you want, your contact telephone number, full address and attach copies of your Emirates ID (front and back), valid tenancy contract/title deed and Ejari. Remember: You can only apply for services once you have a UAE residency visa. Next steps: Wait 24 hours for the application to be processed and a technician home visit will be scheduled within seven days. Phone home A home landline is probably your best bet for affordable international calls and both Etisalat and Du offer a variety of packages for fixed line and mobile. Etisalat’s Unlimited International Calling plan works with all current home phone services with a monthly fixed rate and unrestricted call


access (fair usage policy applies) to a single country of choice (mobile or landline numbers) with zero contractual obligation. Du’s International Savings Offer for prepaid mobile customers gives you pay-by-the-second access to over 100 countries, with no hidden fees or additional charges. Virgin Mobile (part of the du family) is another option (

Screen time Skype and FaceTime are not currently available in the UAE but screen time is possible with VoIP apps, including BOTIM and C’Me, which are available through Etisalat and Du for a monthly fee.

You’ve got mail The UAE doesn’t have a regular postal delivery service and instead uses PO Boxes. Register online for a private PO Box through Emirates Post ( and select from a number of options, including mail collection from your own box in the nearest post office, through to twice-weekly mail delivery to your home (villas in selected areas only). Or, have your post sent to your work PO Box. Suitable for letters and small package deliveries. Cost? Dhs70 for new registration, plus a Dhs250–1,250 annual fee.


How to register with Ejari Good to know Local landline to landline calls are free in Dubai

Meaning ‘My Rent’ in Arabic, Ejari is the mandatory registration of your tenancy contract, and is designed to offer full protection of rights to all parties within the tenancy agreement. It is easily obtained: Visit: Go to any one of the 10 official Ejari-approved centres listed on the government portal (, +971 4 203 0541). Take or submit: Passport copy, UAE visa, tenancy contract, Emirates ID, a recent DEWA bill or receipt of DEWA connection application, title deed of the property and a copy of either the landlord’s passport or Emirates ID Pay: Dhs195 Wait: Up to two working days to receive your Ejari number and for your contract to be sent to you via email. Alternatively, apply online and pay Dhs688 via



SET UP YOUR UTILITIES There’s no longer any need to queue at a Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) Customer Happiness Centre to sort your utilities connection. It takes just a few minutes to complete the online application form (English or Arabic) and pay the requisite fees at


What documents/personal details do I need to provide? Your Ejari number, property title deed (for owners) or tenancy contract (for renters), Emirates ID and passport number along with your DEWA number (if you're an existing customer) and 10-digit premises number (which is located on a mounted wall plate next to your front door).


How much does it cost to set it all up? Activation charges include Dhs100 for a small meter connection (Dhs300 for large meters), Dhs10 for registration, and

Dhs20 knowledge and innovation fees. You will also need to pay a security deposit of Dhs2,000 for an apartment or Dhs4,000 for a villa.


How soon will the service be activated? Within 24 hours of registration and security deposit payment.

Can I do this at a DEWA customer centre instead? Absolutely. You just need to fill out a printed form, pay the security deposit at the payment counter, collect your receipt, and the service will be activated within 24 hours.

EMPOWER AS YOUR PROVIDER? If you live in a community where Empower (empower. ae) chiller services registration is required, you’ll need to do this in person at one of four customer service centres. Property owners should take along the title deed, passport copies with visa page and Emirates ID, fill in a form, and pay the security deposit of Dhs2,000 (apartment) or Dhs3,000 (villa). Plus, for first-time landlords only, a onetime connection fee of Dhs2,000 and Dhs1,000 administration charge. Tenants will also need an attested Ejari contract and tenancy contract copy.


Gas and water delivery There is no mains gas in Dubai and many high-rise apartment buildings do not permit the use of gas cylinders (some newer buildings may have centralised supply systems). If you’re in a villa and gas is your cooking fuel of choice, individual canisters are the answer. Dubai has a long list of cylinder companies that deliver to your door and who will also connect and replace new or empty cylinders. There's a one-off connection fee/ deposit from Dhs500, while refills cost from Dhs83-285 depending on cylinder size. Tap water in Dubai is drinkable although it isn’t particularly flavourful. Virtually all of the local brands you see in the supermarket also offer home delivery (see page 54) and will install a water cooler for a fee. To cut back on plastic consumption, you could install a Liquid of Life water filter ( for perfectly potable tap water.


STORAGE SOLUTIONS Moving in together, downsizing or renovating? Storage is the short-term solution



Everything, including the kitchen sink, and canned goods, but it’s a no to anything perishable (including plants) or flammable.



Storage spaces and units range from minipods and 10 sqft boxes up to 500 sqft (apartment-size) units, housed in air-conditioned warehouses to prevent deterioration or damage.



Self-storage couldn’t be easier, from classic storage lockers in a 24/7-accessible warehouse to firms that deliver storage pods to your door for you to fill before they’re transported to a drive-up warehouse facility. For a big move, hands-on packers are usually part of the package.

Shop and ship it

Aramex offers a shop and ship service with a one-time registration fee providing you with local mailing addresses and affordable shipping rates from over 80 international destinations.




Full-time facility security should come as standard, but do check. Individual units may come with built-in locks that allow you to create your own passcode or you may need to provide a padlock.



Leasable from as little as a month. There’s a variety of configurations to choose from. Shop around so you only pay for the space and time that you need. A security deposit is the norm.



Check whether insurance is included in your storage agreement, as not all facilities offer this as standard. If the amount is less than the value of your possessions, additional cover may be required.

Home help Maid services in Dubai are generally very affordable and there are plenty of companies out there ready to scrub, tidy and polish your home to gleaming perfection. If you choose the live-in route, you will need to legally sponsor your maid and arrange for her UAE residency visa. On top of paying her salary, costs include a medical fitness test, a deposit and non-refundable fee for the visa, Emirates ID, health insurance, an air ticket home as per the contract and (depending on nationality) a refundable security deposit payable to the embassy of the maid’s home country. If you use a recruitment agency, there’s also their fee to factor in.



Get an alcohol licence HANDLING LANDLORD DISPUTES Renters: By law, your landlord is obliged to hand over a property in full working order. Do a thorough check of the physical state of your new home before you start the big move. Have the walls been painted? Does the toilet flush? If possible, ask for a clause in your tenancy contract that gives you at least 48 hours to report any issues immediately after moving in, so the management company/landlord can rectify problems without delay. It is also prudent to check there are no outstanding DEWA bills or service charges before signing your lease. If you do find yourself facing a reluctant landlord, your next move is to seek recourse through the Dubai Rental Disputes Centre. Homeowners: Garden not landscaped? Sloppy snagging? If it’s a new property, the developer will arrange for access to conduct a snagging check before you collect the keys (and


hand over any final payments), with the contractor required to make good on any issues as per the Defect Liability Period. If it’s an older home, then you can ask for an inspection contingency clause in the purchase contract. If all else fails, the Amicable Settlement Centre (ASC) at Dubai Land Department (DLD) is your go-to mediator. As a last resort, given the time and costs involved, a case can be filed with DLD/Dubai Property Court.

WHAT IS RERA? You’re sure to hear the acronym RERA bandied around at some point. The emirate’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority, RERA is the regulatory arm of Dubai Land Department. Its most commonly used service is its regularly updated rental increase index, a useful resource for tenants wanting to check if they are paying a fair price for their rented home. The body is also responsible for licensing and regulating all real estate activities in Dubai.

Fancy a tipple? As a (nonMuslim) resident in the UAE aged 21+ years and earning a minimum salary of Dhs3,000, you need to obtain a liquor licence in order to be able to buy and consume alcohol, either in the privacy of your home or out at a bar. It’s a simple process... 1 Pop into any MMI* or African & Eastern liquor store to pick up an application form. 2 Complete the form and get it stamped by your employer. 3 Bring the completed form and copies of your passport/ residency visa, a passport photo, copy of tenancy contract, and employment contract to the store. When will I get my licence? Processing usually takes two to four weeks and costs Dhs270. The store will call you when your liquor licence is ready for collection. *MMI offers an online application service.

HAVE A HOUSE WARMING GIFT ON US! Enjoy AED 100 discount when you apply online


Use Code BETTER18

Did you know? Whether you're hosting a dinner party in your new home or enjoying a drink in a restaurant to celebrate, you’re legally required as a Dubai Resident to have a liquor licence. Don’t take the risk! For any queries, please feel free to contact our dedicated licence team by emailing or by phone 04 304 0332

*T&C apply. Subject to eligibility requirements



In terms of setting up your home, there are a couple of key one-stopshop style locations at which you can take care of pretty much every essential. One such place is Dubai Municipality's Al Manara Center Atlantis TheAtlantis The Palm, Dubai Palm, Dubai (working hours 7:30am–2:30pm) where you can complete your EJARI registration, connect with DEWA and telecommunication providers Du or Eitisalat, apply for your UAE driving license and ultilise visa and real estate services. Dubai Land Department primarily performs real estate services for homeowners but is also home to Ejari registration and the Dubai Rental Dispute Centre. If you're based in that part of the city, DEWA's head Customer Happiness Centre is Sky Dive Dubai Sky Dive Dubai the best place to avail of its full range PALM JUMEIRAH PALM JUMEIRAH of services.


Burj Al ArabBurj Al Arab Jumeirah Jumeirah

Public Beach Public Beach JEBEL ALI 2


Public Beach Public Beach









Mall of the Emirates Mall of the Emirates


AL BARSHA 1AL BARSHA 1 Al Barsha Al Barsha AL BARSHA 3 AL BARSHA 3 Pond Park Pond Park Jebel Ali Jebel Ali RacecourseRacecourse




















Key Government Building Metro red line stop Metro green line stop



Burj KhalifaBurj Khalifa PEARL JUMEIRA



Jumeirah Beach Jumeirah Beach





















Dubai Creek Dubai Creek NAD AL SHEBA 1










Happy, healthy homes Avoid any major hiccups by ensuring your home is well maintained We’re all used to being responsible and paying for utilities, rent or mortgage, insurance and living expenses, but what about the general maintenance, repairs and replacement costs that come with living in an apartment or villa in Dubai? How do you know what things need to be done, what you are responsible for and how regularly, as well as how much you should pay and who to call to get the job done? We get the lowdown from those in the know…



What should What home maintenance services be included in rental should be considered? contracts regarding Mohamed Ayad, managing maintenance? director at Fixperts: A house that “Responsibility for maintenance should be is maintained rigorously by a included in the contract and should be as professional company generally specific as possible. If there is a maintenance attracts more value than other dispute that cannot be resolved between properties. Tasks, such as the landlord and the tenant, the tenant routine servicing of heating, may open a case at the Rental Dispute ventilation and air conditioning Settlement Centre DLD (fees/costs (HVAC) units, electrical and apply),” Richard Waind, Director plumbing components of the of Brokerage, Betterhomes house and regular touch-up painting to avoid a major paint overhaul will help maintain a feel-good home. a trade license and relevant Raashi Pachisia, director of services listed marketing at HomeGenie: ● Ensure staff has a valid There are three types of home residency visa, under the maintenance services: preventative company sponsorship services that ensure there aren’t ● Ensure the company has the any unplanned breakdowns, correct insurances, including a such as a regular A/C service; third party liability insurance, in reactive to ensure that if there is a place to cover any eventuality breakdown, then the issue is fixed ● Do a quick reference check on i.e. water leakage; and routine the company to ensure that they maintenance, which includes have been in business for a while, cleaning services, like general and are not a “man with a van” cleaning and water tank cleaning. ● A good quality website and an It is important to have all these in active social media page is also a place to keep your home in order. good indication of the company’s credibility in the market How do I choose ● Don't get lured by advertised a maintenance company? attractive starting prices – they Raashi: Due to the extreme are often misleading, while weather in the Middle East, homes recommendations on social media require regular professional can often be fake maintenance. Simultaneously, the maintenance industry suffers Mohamed: There is no standard from a highly transient population. pricing. However, the rates for Therefore, here are a few things each company are based on the to consider when choosing your skillset of its staff and the ability preferred company: of the in-demand company to be ● Ensure that the company has able to give a reasonable response


time. The more experienced and skilled the staff, the more they are paid; and the easier it is for them to diagnose and resolve the issue swiftly and without any inconvenience. This allows you to avoid inaccurate charges you will have to bear if you consider a company with lower rates for maintenance – paying a little more for quality means greater savings in the long run. Always ask about the skillset of in-house staff – no company can be an expert in all services so subcontracting is common. History and references are a plus point – ask if the company has worked on properties in the same community as yours. Is it worth investing in an annual maintenance contract (AMC)? Mohamed: An AMC is becoming accepted as a norm in Dubai. People are more aware of the advantages of having a professional service provider always available when needed, particularly with A/C and leakage issues common to this part of the world. Routine maintenance and a reliable response time for call-outs

Going green If you haven’t had a recycling bin installed in your community just yet, expect one soon: Dubai municipality intends to add about 10 neighbourhoods to its list per year.

are being considered a real value, as people cannot wait extended amounts of time without a cool home. As the Dubai real estate market is moving more towards the tenants favour, the only way to acquire higher rents in a community of 1,000 similar villas is to have a well maintained home, with a history and job record of a professional company, along with providing a maintenance contract with the tenancy. Raashi: Signing an AMC has some benefits. However, it is well recognised that AMCs increasingly fail to deliver, based on the following reasons: ● Potential drop in eagerness to serve and in service levels, as soon as the customer is tied in ● Reduced flexibility for customers to get alternative estimates, due to AMC contract terms ● Sometimes more expensive than paying per service, as prices charged are generally higher for parts and labour ● Unused AMC spend during years in which there isn’t any major maintenance required

Go for solar power Dubai has set an ambitious goal to increase solar capacity to 7% by 2020. If you want to do your part to get us all to this sunny standard, check out Shams Dubai ( ae), DEWA’s first smart initiative for connecting solar energy to buildings, which offers guidelines for installing solar panels at your home. Electricity generated is for your own use and any excess is fed back into the grid, for which you can be credited for on any future energy bills. You can estimate your potential electricity production and savings on electricity bills that can be achieved, using Shams Dubai Calculator.


Safe as houses Your home is your castle so keep it safe Dubai is a very safe place to live but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to protecting your home. Whether it’s contents insurance, fire and safety or preventive maintenance, it pays to take charge

Smoke signals The UAE is planning to implement the Hassantuk 24/7 smart monitoring, alert and control fire alarm system to connect more than 150,000 buildings across the country by 2019, but don’t wait to take action. New laws are being ratified to make smoke alarms mandatory, but if you need to arrange installation yourself, it is essential to have one alarm for each bedroom, hallway and kitchen, with at least one per floor. There are different types of smoke alarms for sale, but a combination of heat sensing and optical alarms is highly recommended (see page 28).

Security screens Guard against intruders by installing safety screens on glass doors and windows. While no security solution is 100% effective, a physical deterrent on a villa will make someone think twice about breaking in. “Invest in screens made from robust materials that will last in the UAE’s extreme environment, and ensure they comply with internationally recognised security standards and the knife shear test,” says Katrina Wilton, Safety Screens ( “Check they come with a quality latch and lock system that little fingers can’t easily figure out, and choose a product that offers a multi-year warranty.”



Get a home safe Neighbourhood watch Villa residents concerned about security may want to consider a CCTV camera system. Call in the experts to assess your home before splashing out. You can sign up for the free Dubai Police home security service, which offers free driveby home security checks when you’re travelling (available on iTunes and Google Play). Step it up a level and purchase a surveillance camera from Dubai Police's partner Du, from Dhs1,000, or sign up for the Transguard security system for Dhs649 (includes cameras, sensors and smoke detectors), plus Dhs195 per month for customer training. Both systems connect to police central command.

Door locks If you’re renting, chances are the landlord won’t replace the locks prior to you moving in. There’s no legal requirement as such, but if it’s non-negotiable, be prepared to pay. Landlord’s permission is a must. If you are planning to change the locks, there are several options, from a simple and affordable master key system to a retrofit key system (which swaps the old cylindrical lock in favour of a hi-tech access system with an electronic key fob) and a smart lock system for keyless entry, with a little help from your smartphone (see Hartmann Tresore, right, which specialises in home security).

Only invest in a home safe certified by VdS, ECB-S or other recognised international institute (see the reverse of the safe door for a certification label) as these will have passed rigorous testing for burglary and fire protection. “Opt for an electronic lock versus a mechanical key lock – you can always misplace a key (the latest safes use biometric fingerprint locking),” advises Reiner Kaltenbach, Hartmann Tresore ( “Think about what you plan to put in your safe and the space you have to accommodate it before making a purchase. The average family home safe weighs around 85kg (and up to 300kg).” Consider having a customdesigned safe if you have a lot of valuable jewellery (with special designed compartments) or expensive watches (with built-in watch winder). It’s costly but provides peace of mind. Plus, make sure your safe is fireproof, so the contents are well protected.

Get insured Annual premiums for home contents and personal possessions insurance roughly equate to 0.5% of the total coverage value, so it’s a security investment no-brainer. Building insurance is a legal requirement for homeowners and covers structural damage, plus fire, flood, natural disasters, malicious damage and theft, as the major considerations. If you’re a landlord, it also covers tenant liability issues. Tower dwellers should also buy a policy for their apartment, separate to any overall building policy (plus home contents and personal possessions). Annual premiums for building insurance start from as low as 0.1% of the rebuild value of the property.



Wills in the UAE “Despite the majority of long-term expats claiming they have assets in Dubai, only slightly more than 10% have a will registered in the UAE,” says Louise Wright, senior associate at Mahmood Hussain Law Firm. Do homeowners need to have a will drawn up locally? Home country laws of inheritance may not apply to movable and/ or immovable assets in the UAE and the UAE Law of Inheritance could be applied after your passing; this can even affect the guardianship of children. To avoid the issues surrounding local laws, non-Muslims are strongly advised to secure a will. I rent my home – is there any point in having a will? Article 27 of Law No. (33) of 2008 Amending Law No. (26) of 2007 Regulating the Relationship between Landlords and Tenants in the emirate of Dubai states that a tenancy contract does not expire upon the death of the landlord or the tenant. The contractual relationship continues with the heirs, unless the heirs of the tenant wish to terminate such relationship, provided that termination comes into effect no less than 30 days from the date of notifying the landlord of such intent or the expiry date of the tenancy contract, whichever comes first.


3 must-have security gadgets The durable First Alert Onelink Smoke & Fire Alarm, Dhs999, is equipped with a 10-year lifetime, sealed battery to give you the relief of no battery replacements.


997 in the event of a fire

Protect your valuables from fire, water and theft by keeping them in the Sentry SFW123FSC Digital Fire Safe, Dhs1,699, featuring 60% larger bolts in comparison to traditional safes and a pry-resistant hinge bar. Ensure property security with the Vimtag Outdoor Cloud IP Camera, Dhs499, a stationary camera equipped with a high-definition optical lens and four times zoom for clarity, including night vision and wireless connection to provide mult-user access from any location.

Available from Al-Futtaim ACE,


We called on the experts at Mr Odd Job ( and We Will Fix It ( for some practical advice on keeping your home in tip-top condition over the summer



Your air-conditioning is probably going at full blast and no one wants a horror show A/C breakdown scenario when it’s 45°C outside, so fork out for a full service at the start of the summer with a follow-up check within three months to ensure optimum efficiency. A well-serviced A/C will be more efficient, deliver improved air quality and be utility bill friendly.


We’re so used to consuming bottled water that we may not give as much thought as we should to what comes out of our taps. During summer, the combination of high temperatures


and standing water can create a fertile environment for all manner of bacteria and micro-organisms. If you live in a villa, protect your water source by having your water tank cleaned. Hi-tech solutions, including the use of UV technology, offer long-term protection, plus it’s chemical free.


Make sure your home is in full working order before you disappear on holiday. Have the electrics checked and don’t ignore anything minor that may indicate a potential major problem (such as random buzzing noises, heat-scorched plugs and melted insulation).

Vacation ready ● It might sound simple, but save electricity by unplugging unnecessary electrical equipment (except the fridge, of course) and make sure sockets are switched off. Don’t forget timer devices – you don’t want to annoy the neighbours by forgetting to switch off your 6am alarm. ● A/C on or off? There are no hard and fast rules. If on a timer, we recommend setting it to come on for a couple of hours a day just to cool down the home or leave it set at around 27 degrees so it only kicks in when necessary. Leave all doors open to promote airflow. ● If you plan to leave only one A/C operating in your villa, choose an upstairs unit – cooler air naturally falls, so the ground floor will benefit. Ask a friend to keep an eye on your home and to pop in at least once a week in case of any unexpected issues. ● Leave curtains and blinds drawn in rooms that receive direct sunlight to keep the temperature down. ● Flooding is one of the most common problems that people return to when leaving their homes empty for a long period of time. If you don’t have a garden or other dependent services, turn off your main water supply while you’re away by isolating the supply.


dots on mattress edges or headboards and get the professionals in to eradicate them – this isn’t a DIY job.

FLIES House, drain, fruit and blowflies are a common problem and usually attracted to dirt, moist dark places and rotting food. Hygiene is paramount but natural deterrents such as using lavender or eucalyptus oil may help. Remember, they are disease carriers – treat an invasion seriously and call in the pros, if necessary.

COCKROACHES It’s obvious but a dirty house is a five-star cockroach pad. Pay extra attention to your kitchen and garbage disposal areas and don’t leave leftover food lying around. Roach gel is the hardcore option and a do-it-yourself solution, but call in the experts if you are overrun.

RATS A problem in some villa communities. Again, it’s all down to keeping your home and garden clean and tidy (they love a messy home). A problem best addressed by professionals, with poison and traps. Be sure to keep animals and children safe until the problem is resolved.

KEEP CREEPY CRAWLIES IN CHECK Insects and potential infestations are a fact of life in this climate and while you may see less house flies buzzing around, subterranean termites thrive in warmer temperatures. BEDBUGS You’ll probably itch just reading this, but always check yourself and your belongings after travelling. Not just confined to hotel beds, bedbugs also love soft furnishings, and they love to travel with/on you. Look for small black

TERMITES Teeny tiny termites are the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the insect world and can completely destroy prized pieces of wooden furniture before moving on to their next meal. They love damp areas, so keep an eye out for possible problems and control humidity where possible. Heavy duty pesticide treatments carried out by the professionals is required.

Get a round of pest control done in your home before temperatures soar

Photo credit:

HOW GREEN IS YOUR GARDEN? ● During summer, make sure you water early morning or early evening; not during the midday temperature highs. This gives plants time to hydrate properly ● Add low-cost mulch and/or bark chippings to your borders to help retain moisture, and cool soil and roots ● Install some garden shading to help protect your plants during the 11am to 5pm sunlight peak



Home comforts Make sure your new home is clean, well lit and in top condition from the get-go THE DEEP CLEAN Your property should have been given a thorough clean before you move in, but if you want a super speckless space, consider having an extra deep steam cleaning service, which trades chemicals for heat, to polish your home from top to bottom. Mangrove Services (04 368 9941/052 964 8070; offers this, and can also sanitise your carpets, mattresses, curtains and upholstery. Another company championing a chemical-free approach is Saniservice (04 368 9941/052 964 8070; saniservice. com). It's a top choice for cleaning and disinfecting A/C

units, using specialised tools to get to every nook and cranny. For help with keeping on top of everyday chores as you get settled, from vacuuming to washing dishes and making the beds, Helpling (800 989; helpling. ae) lets you book online and has a handy guide on how many man hours you will need, according to the size of your home.

A LICK OF PAINT A fresh coat of paint is ideal for putting your stamp on a space. If you’re renting, however, keep in mind that if you paint your home a different colour, you may need to return it to the original hue before you move out. Still, if you

Hire a professional for the perfect paint job


want to take the plunge, use the Jotun ColourDesign app (04 341 8957; for a sneak peek of what your chosen shade will look like: simply upload a photo of your space and select a shade to apply for a virtual snapshot. Need an expert paint job? TipTop Technical Services (055 271 9291; will prepare and paint or stain walls and ceilings, and can even spray doors and banisters – all while keeping surfaces well protected. Plus, they carry out a thorough clean up at the end of the job. For special textures and decorative coatings, Italian brand MAS Paints (04 347 9242; will hand treat your walls.

ILLUMINATING ACCENTS Make sure your home is well lit for an instantly homely touch. IKEA (800 4532; is the go-to for your lighting needs, from lamp shades to cords and decorative lighting – and get your bulbs while you're there. Or, head to Home Centre (800 694 663;, which offers all kinds of solutions, from ceiling shades to table lamps, in a variety of styles. If you want to make a statement with innovative and futuristic looking designs, be sure to check out I light you (04 321 6272;

GETTING THE JOB DONE Call in the experts to get those little jobs around the house blitzed. HandyMan Dubai (055 649 2270; handyman-dubai. com) offers a range of services, from hanging shelves to repairing water leaks. What’s more, the team can access any area in Dubai and offers around-the-clock emergency call out, so you needn't be kept waiting. Long-term Dubai resident and self-proclaimed ‘handy Scandy’ Bjorn and his team at Handy Scandy Home Services (052 167 5464; handyscandydubai) specialise in quality paint and wallpapering, electrical services, tiling and more, but they can also help with the smaller errands that need sorting, such as putting up shelves, fixing picture frames to the wall or just assembling some flat pack furniture. From plumbing to DIY work, We Will Fix It (800 349; has more than 10 years’ experience in the UAE

White goods

and boasts a reliable team of maintenance professionals. They’re also the unsung local heroes of Dubai; they take care of the dogs at non-profit shelter K9 during their spare time.

DRESSING THE WINDOWS Unless you’re a dab hand at DIY, when it comes to curtains and blinds we say make your life easier and get the professionals in. You can choose from more than 3,500 designer fabrics at Danube Home (800 3131; that can be made to measure. Plus, there's an elegant range of window blinds, as well as a wallet-friendly readymade curtain selection to browse, along with finishing touches such as rods and tie backs. IKEA (800 4532; is a popular stopoff for affordable new curtains that can be made to measure, and then delivered and installed, while Sedar Global (04 338 8663; is home to coveted designs from luxury brands, including Armani, Marco Polo and Swarovski.

Be sure to measure the space available in your new kitchen so you can order your white goods in advance for a timely delivery. Carrefour (800 73232; carrefouruae. com) and Sharaf DG (800 344 357; uae. offer a wide range of brands, including Bosch, Indesit and Whirlpool, online so you can compare prices and features easily.



Make your house a home Choose a UAE-inspired artwork to personalise your space

We love Dubai-based pop artist Maria Iqbal's bold Delicadence, Dhs12,000,

Paper Pop boutique design studio offers a diverse range of illustrative and photographic styles that are printed or hand-designed locally. We rate the Burj Khalifa in Pink (pictured), from Dhs85,

If you're seeking a piece by a well-known regional artist, Gallery One is sure to impress. We love this limited edition Allah Akbar artwork by Ghiath Lahham (from Dhs895),


Clare Napper's Highlife Vintage Posters take a tongue-in-cheek look at life in the emirates. This Year Round Sunshine print costs from Dhs85,

Changing rooms Design the Dubai home of your dreams



DO YOUR HOMEWORK Looking to add a pool, knock the kitchen through or build that dream walk-in closet? Don’t reach for the hammer just yet. There are several hoops to jump through and boxes to tick – so make sure you have all the necessary permissions in place first. Different developers and communities have varying requirements but to get you started, here’s our quick step-by-step guide:

Go public

Your project NOC must be displayed and ready for inspection outside the property while works are being carried out. Your contractor will also need to provide a skip or refuse receptacle for any project refuse/ discarded materials

● External alterations and structural changes are usually strictly prohibited (so forget about vertical additions or changing the stucco) ● A refundable deposit* prior to issue of the No Objection Certificate (NOC) is the norm, and is refundable upon completion of works – once they’ve been checked for health and safety, environmental and community compliance ● Factor in administrative/NOC fees, from Dhs1,000-3,000 per application depending on project scope and documentation urgency ● Dubai Municipality approvals (including architectural/structural drawings, affection plan and permitted area schedule) are the next steps once an NOC is obtained – don’t take the NOC as a green light ● You’ll also need a contractor entry permit. This can be applied for once the NOC is issued. Required documents include copies of the company’s trade license, owner passport copy, labour card, vehicle registration(s) and workers’ Emirates ID. *Emaar, for example, requires Dhs5,000 deposit



enough, we offer 100% custom vinyl – a truly bespoke service. Select from an artwork collection of over 150 million images and we will custom-make a vinyl just for you. The possibilities are endless.


Looking for a hassle-free solution to changing your home? Cre8ive Wrap Solutions offers cost-effective, semi-permanent and removable materials in more than 600 colours and effects Aaron Mitchell and Lloyd Williams, Managing Partners at Cre8ive Wrap Solutions, on wrapping up


What quick fix cupboard/door options are there for renters? If you have concave/convex (with grooves, for example) designs, we can provide our unique Flat & Wrap system, which can be easily reversed. This creates the look and feel of a new and modern flat surface in a matter of minutes. What’s more, the door can be returned to its original state at any time without damage. Alternatively, if you want to keep the convex or concave design, we can wrap into, or over, the grooves where required. Whatever your door type, you can choose a myriad of differenteffect colours and solutions, including wood, marble, stone, metal and more. We can also wrap tiles with our 100% custom, removable back splashes, while our unique, heat-resistant vinyl is perfect for wrapping counter tops. This material is also resistant to scratching, water, oils and discolouration, making it the perfect material for a counter top application at an affordable price.



How easy is it to lay/install and to remove the wraps? We have two options available: removable and semipermanent. Both can be removedq professionally. However, for renting, we would recommend the removable vinyl, which can be easily removed when required without damage to existing doors. Our team can complete a standard-sized kitchen in as little as one day. The room that we wrap within can then be used immediately afterwards – we aim to work around our clients and cause as little disruption as possible. We stand by the quality of our work and our motto of “No mess, no stress”.


Is there a custom design option for a different look? If a choice of 600+ material colours and effects is not


What should homeowners be aware of? Go with European Standard materials, as a guarantee that the adhesive used does not contain formaldehyde. Also, check with the company that its warranty covers any damage to existing doors. Many vinyls are not meant to be removed and, if they are not removed by a professional, can cause extensive damage to existing doors. To ensure a professional installation service, ask for testimonials from the wrapping company and try to see actual samples of their work; not just photographs. To certify that the warranty provided is valid, always ensure that the chosen company is registered in Dubai.


How much will it cost? Our kitchen wrapping service starts from Dhs1,800. If you are looking at a full kitchen transformation, including backsplash, counter tops, kitchen cabinet wrap and flooring, our comprehensive bespoke package starts from as little as Dhs8,000.


QUIZ THE CONTRACTOR We’ve all heard the horror stories of cowboy builders, so choose your contractor wisely... How long will it take? “Ask for an honest timeframe, and get it in writing. The contract should include the project delivery date plus a penalty clause for late handover, or if the finished work is not up to scratch,” advises Martin Hibbit of Another Level Technical Services (055 340 0959). How much will it cost? “If you have a project in mind, that’s a good starting point for your contractor. Make sure you get a full costing upfront. Ask to see samples of the materials/ fittings to be installed to check the quality is in line with your brief and the costing. A make-good Defect Liability Period (generally 12 months) should also be factored into the contract, which obliges the contractor to fix any problems without any additional cost to the homeowner,” says Shane Curran of Interact Group (04 442 6886). What are the usual payment terms? “Between 20% and 50% upfront for major renovation projects is standard, followed by phased payments and final balance of 10% on handover. Request a bank guarantee or security cheque to mitigate the possibility of a contractor going rogue,” reveals Daniel Tetley of ReHubic Home Building Contracting (050 236 5923). What licenses are required? “Internal home modifications involving structural changes

require a general fit-out or technical license (covers plumbing, electrical, tiling works, ceiling works etc.), and contractors doing electrical works must be DEWA registered. A civil contractor license is needed for major internal changes/extensions/exterior work (G+1),” says Martin. What insurance do contractors have? “The contractor should have an at-risk policy to cover any sub-contractors, plus third party building insurance and workman’s compensation insurance for onsite labour. Insurance requirements may be specified by the developer or community manager,” explains Daniel.

Renovation ABC


sk to see permits, insurance and copies of all documentation pertaining to the company’s legal right to operate, and to complete your project e aware of the possibility of any additional costs from day one – ask the contractor for ballpark costs so you don’t get a shock halfway through the build heck out the company by asking to see testimonials, go and view actual finished projects and talk to previous clients





Splash out

Dive into the ultimate Dubai expat lifestyle with your very own statement pool. Beena Pagarani of swimming pool consultancy United Technology & Trading gives the lowdown: COST: ● From Dhs80,000 for a basic 4x5-metre pool ● Monthly maintenance from Dhs400 CONSIDERATIONS: ● Pool plans and designs have to be submitted to and approved by Trakhees (, the Dubai government planning body, through your appointed consultant, and also needs to gain developer or community permission ● Dubai Municipality requires all pools to have a safety fence installed (or risk a hefty fine) ● If you’re moving into a home with a pool in place, have an expert give it the health and safety once over. Not all pools are built with correct/adequate drainage, which can create dangerous suction points CARE: ● Do not empty the pool if you plan on being away for an extended period, as tiles tend to fall off – it’s cheaper to have your pool guy come in on a regular basis ● A pool cover is also a great idea, as it offers additional protection and helps to reduce evaporation


Jargon buster

Defect Liability Period is applicable to all new properties in Dubai and to renovation/upgrade projects. This is usually a one-year period, starting from building/project completion (not handover). The developer or contractor has a responsibility to repair, replace or snag any defects that you report within this period



Just because you rent doesn’t mean you can’t inject some personality into your blank canvas apartment or villa. Check out these affordable quick fixes Stick ’em up Fancy a wall of flamingos, Dubai cranes or a tropical forest? Peel and stick wallpaper is the answer with Dubai-based Paper Pop offering 100x100-centimetre rolls from just Dhs175 as well as custom design solutions (plaster mug shots of the little ones across an entire wall or room, for example).

Peel and stick wallpaper by


It’s a wrap Grungy kitchen cupboard doors or tiles are no more thanks to Cre8ive Wrap Solutions. It offers a choice of more than 600 different-effect solutions, from wood, marble, stone, metal and more for doors, plus 100 solid colour options and custom back splashes for tiles. The company also wraps counter tops using a unique heat resistant vinyl. Products come as removable or semi-permanent options, both of which can be professionally installed and removed in one day. From Dhs2,500.

Ground up Vinyl flooring has come a long way from 1970s bedsit-ville and is an easy-to-install solution to dated underfoot surfaces. Floorworld’s 100% waterproof luxury vinyl tiles, hardwood boards and laminates are adhesive-free and ‘float’ above existing flooring via an underlay. From Dhs3,00015,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. Keep your cool If your budget doesn’t stretch to a permanent investment, an above ground pool is a more affordable alternative – although a decent one from a reputable company will still set you back around Dhs25,000. Adequate space and a flat base is the main requirement and while you won’t be swimming laps, they’re great for a quick dip. And next time you move, the pool goes Safety first with you. Don’t forget “Go with European Standard to check with your products as a guarantee that the landlord/community adhesive used does not contain manager regarding formaldehyde. If renting, check the permissions. that the warranty (must be from a Dubai registered company) covers damage to existing doors,” Aaron Mitchell, Cre8ive Wrap Solutions




Real home makeovers BRIEF: Flooring upgrade for a two-bedroom apartment LOCATION: Executive Towers, Business Bay COMPANY: Floorworld The client was looking for a flooring upgrade solution for her rented 75-square-metre apartment and called the company hotline. Within 24 hours, a site inspection and assessment was carried out and she opted for Gerbur luxury vinyl tiling. Floorworld sent a trained estimator to take formal measurements, a quotation was issued and the installation was completed in one day. “We thought it would take three to four days, as we had furniture to move around as well, but the team finished the job in a single day,� Ms Sharma, tenant



BRIEF: Kitchen upgrade, villa LOCATION: Damac Hills SUPPLIER: Kaiser Kitchens Interior designer Ash Young (@ adoredecordxb) moved into a brand-new villa in mid-2017 but the kitchen space didn’t work for her needs. Working with Kaiser Kitchens designer Tarek, she chose a layout that provided more storage, seating area and

ceramic sink. Ash sourced brass hardware, handmade tiles and other accessories to add a unique finishing touch. “The renovation was completed in just three weeks and Kaiser were professional and helpful, from start to finish,” she says. “My top tip for getting work done in Dubai is to pick your contractors carefully. Personal recommendations are definitely the way forward!”


Why not buy? Here for the long haul? Then perhaps it’s time to put down some Dubai roots

No one likes to throw good money away on rent, but switching from tenant to homeowner is a big step and a major financial consideration. Betterhomes has been on the ground, helping Dubai residents for over 30 years, and we think this city is a great place to invest. Let’s start with some facts... A high achiever in every respect, it’s not often that Dubai wants to drop its global rankings, but in the Mercer 2018 Cost of


Living survey, which compares cities around the world, the emirate was ranked 26th in the Middle East (down from 19th place in 2017). Dubai also bagged 18th spot in a Deutsche Bank ‘quality of life’ index of 50 top global cities and was also named third safest city in the world. Residents spend at least 40% of their income on paying rent. If you’re a ‘Dubai lifer’, simply do the maths!

5 REASONS TO BUY 1. Recent price reductions now show real value 2. Low interest rates mean repayments are low (often lower than renting) 3. Equity upon selling (paying down the mortgage and hope of capital growth) 4. If you leave, you can rent it out and earn an income 5. You can renovate and remodel to add value



Richard Waind, Director of Brokerage, Betterhomes Is it a good time to invest? We are seeing more and more expats choosing to own, rather than rent. There are great opportunities for residents to buy a home in Dubai and prices have come down considerably since the 2014 peak. There is now (2018) real value to be found in the secondary market, in particular. Lower prices and low interest rates mean that for many people monthly mortgage payments would be lower than their rent on a comparable property. What are the other benefits? The main benefit of owning is that, upon selling, you will have some equity in the property through mortgage repayment, and hopefully some capital growth. While not all property investments see capital returns, buyers in today’s market might be more positive about prices in the next five years than the last five years. Even if prices remain flat or slightly soften further, a buyer who bought today and paid down their mortgage is likely to have a nice amount of equity in five years. Anybody renting a property over the same time will likely have paid out more on a monthly/yearly basis and will have nothing to show for it at the end of the tenancy. What if I don’t have the 25% down payment? For those who can afford the 25% deposit, buying makes a lot of financial sense. For those who don’t have the 25%, the off-plan market has some fantastic offers and deals from developers.

MAKE ME AN OFFER Home loans are capped at 85%, which means that your monthly mortgage payment covers 85% of the property value plus interest. Valid for a period of up to 25 years, fixed rate mortgage products, which usually run for a maximum of five years before switching to a variable interest rate), currently range from 3-4%.

Cost it out A hefty down payment isn’t the only financial outlay with a number of upfront fees and related home purchase costs to build into your budget. These add up to around 7% of the total purchase price and include: ● 4% Dubai Land Department (DLD) transfer fee (based on total property purchase price) ● 0.25% DLD mortgage registration fee (% of total agreed home loan) + Dhs290 admin fee ● Dhs2,000-4,000 property registration fee (dependent on value of property) ● Dhs2,500-3,000 property valuation fee ● Bank mortgage set-up fee (could be zero, or anywhere up to 1% of total loan amount) ● 2% real estate broker fee, plus 5% VAT for agency fee ● 4% Oqood fee for off-plan sales only ● Plus, once you’ve bought, there are annual community service/maintenance fees

BEFORE YOU BUY Grab a clean sheet of paper, sharpen a pencil and ask yourself the following questions: How long do I plan on staying here? If it’s only a couple of years or there’s a strong possibility that your company might relocate you, and the thought of renting your home out down the line sounds like too much hassle, stick to renting. Can I really afford it? How stable is your job? If you have a regular income and your company is doing well, it’s potentially less risky. Word of warning: your mortgage is linked to your residency, so if you do end up having to leave Dubai, your mortgage will either need to be paid off (cash or house sale) or you’ll need to renegotiate the terms with the bank (if you want to rent it out, for example). Can I afford the down payment? The first hurdle is the average 25% upfront down payment (a significant amount for any investor in any market) as well as the mortgage repayments. It’s worth noting, however, that personal loans cannot be used to finance down payments for property investments in the UAE.



Should I stay or should I go? Moving out or selling up? Streamline your exit strategy

ADVICE FOR RENTERS So your tenancy contract is coming to an end and it’s time to decide whether to stay or go. Most landlords or management companies will send out a renewal notice (with updated terms) well ahead of time, but tenants are required to give notice or confirm renewal 90 days out. If you’re on your way out, here’s how it goes… Done and dusted. Normal wear and tear aside, you’re legally required to hand over your apartment or villa in pristine condition. That means the walls need to be restored to their original colour and condition, and that everything is generally in good working order. Failure to do so could see you lose a chunk of your security deposit.


Need to cut short your tenancy contract? Check the small print for early exit penalty clauses. Also, don’t forget that your current Ejari contract remains live until all issues are resolved. If you have issued postdated cheques, ask for them to be returned or written confirmation of non-encashment. can transfer your account through the online ‘Move To’ service. With Empower, it’s a similar process but you’ll also need to visit their offices in person to make the final payment and get clearance.

Ready for inspection. The landlord, management company or appointed agent will inspect the property to make sure all is in order. The final step is to hand back the keys, at which point your deposit should be returned.

Please hang up. For Du, call their customer care line (800 155) at least three days prior to moving out to request a 72-hour callback to explain the process, then pop into one of the customer care centres to pay your final bill (and collect any monies owed). It’s a similar story with Etisalat (800 101). If you have an eLife package, don’t forget to read the small print, as you’ll probably be locked into a contracted period with penalties for early cancellation, plus there’s a standard 30-day cancellation notice period.

Cut the connection. On the day your tenancy expires, you need to either call or put in an online request to DEWA to let them know you’re moving out and to prepare the final bill. This usually takes 24 hours. There’s a Dhs120-320 disconnection charge (excluding VAT), plus final bill amount. Any DEWA deposit will be refunded. If you already have a new pad, you

Moving within Dubai? Accounts can be transferred fairly easily. Call the helpline at least four working days before you relocate to set the wheels in motion and schedule a technician visit to your new place (fees apply). Same as moving in, some communities will require you to obtain a moving-out permit. Some buildings may also request a landlord NOC.


Due to renew Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you check: ● What’s going on in the ’hood? Any major construction projects coming up that could drive you crazy noise-wise or potentially affect your home, such as blocking out the natural light ● The RERA Rental Index to make sure that you’re paying a fair rate for the area. Find it at ● If you think you’re paying over the odds, negotiate! If the situation isn’t resolved and the RERA Rental Index is in your favour, you can consider filing a complaint with the Dubai Land Department’s Rental Dispute Settlement Centre. A 3.5% fee (based on total annual rent) is payable, but if you win the case, this is refunded. Other fees may apply ● It’s also worth negotiating terms and conditions if you are looking for a better deal, such as paying in four or more rather than fewer cheques, or asking for an extra parking space

Notice of eviction An unexpected eviction notice can be a shock to the system, so be aware of your rights. If your landlord wants to move into the property himself or sell it, a written 12-month notice period is required. Eviction (upon expiration of current contract) is only possible if the landlord plans to demolish the property or if it needs serious maintenance/ renovation (Dubai Municipality technical report required).



Selling up? Richard Waind, director of brokerage at Betterhomes, shares a six-point plan…

HOMEOWNER’S ANNUAL CHECKLIST Keep on top of all of your responsibilities, as a property owner…

Buildings and home insurance is a legal requirement and covers structural damage, plus fire, flood, natural disasters, malicious damage and theft. If you’re a landlord, it also covers tenant liability issues. Before renewing, it’s always wise to shop around for the best deal. Worth noting: If you leave your home empty for more than 60 days, this may render your home insurance invalid. Housing fee This 5% fee, which is charged by Dubai Municipality to support civic services, is calculated against the potential rental value for the area in which you live (as per the RERA Rental Index). Worth noting: There’s no need to register, as the fee pops up on your DEWA bill for 10 months of the year. Service charge Covers maintenance of common

areas (from elevators to swimming pools) and is payable to either the community owners’ association or developer. Calculated on a per sqft basis, payment is usually annual or split across the year. Worth noting: This is not a standard citywide property fee and can vary greatly from community to developer. If you sell your property, all outstanding service charge payments must be made.

GET MORTGAGE SAVVY Taking out a mortgage? Jonathan Oliver, owner of MENA Mortgage Services, has this advice: ● If you’re not happy with your current mortgage situation, then shop around to see if you qualify for a better deal, such as a longer fixed rate or lower interest rate ● A better deal may save you thousands of dirhams over the year ● It’s a competitive market out there for lenders; some banks will tempt you with zero processing fees to move, but be careful of other hidden costs. Experienced mortgage brokers will make you aware of these

“Once you’ve decided to sell, it’s well worth investing some time and money in making sure the property photographs and shows well as, in a competitive market, you want it to stand out from the crowd. Replacing old or broken units, fixtures and fittings can go a long way to leaving a positive first impression. If the property is vacant, consider home staging. Keep the garden in good order, too,” Richard Waind 50

1. Have a property appraisal by a local market expert. Make sure it’s a face to face meeting at your home so they can see any unique features, assess current market conditions and look at recent and comparable sales in the same area. 2. Be exclusive. Listing your property with one agent comes with a number of benefits. It gives the broker some security over the listing, making them more likely to invest extra time and marketing know-how to attract buyers. It’s also easier to deal with one, as opposed to multiple brokers. What's more, over-exposure through different brokers can come across as a desperate sales measure and attract low offers. 3. Make sure you choose a brokerage with a strong local presence and wider market appeal to ensure that your property is marketed to all potential buyers. 4. While most fees fall on the buyer, sellers can expect to pay a small fee for a No Objection Certificate (‘NOC’), which is needed in order to sell the property and up to 2% to their broker. 5. Sellers who have a mortgage on their property will need to go through ‘blocking’ and obtain a liability letter from their bank (costs and fees apply – buyer or seller settles in full). 6. Engaging the services of a professional conveyancing company is recommended, and will cost you around Dhs5,000.

Instruct your conveyancer to act as your Power of Attorney for the full, hassle-free experience

THE SALES PROCESS IN A NUTSHELL If you would like to accept an offer and are happy to agree terms with the buyer, your agent will help you prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be signed by both parties, which locks you into the deal. The buyer and seller will then meet at the offices of the developer to apply for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to sell the property (this is usually paid for by the buyer). Any outstanding service charges owed by the seller must be settled at this point. Once the NOC is issued, both parties head to Dubai Land Department to transfer ownership. Payment must be made by manager’s cheque on the day of the transfer. Once completed, the new title deed will be issued in the name of the buyer. Important to note: If you have a mortgage on the property, both parties must also visit the Registration Trustee office to officially ‘block’ the property, while the seller settles it in full prior to the NOC application.



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All the names and numbers you need, at your fingertips




Al Ameen Service from Dubai Police (for reporting crimes anonymously) 800 4888 Al Ameen SMS service 050 189 4444


Crate & Barrel 04 399 0125; Offers contemporary and classic pieces, including kitchenware and home essentials.

Etisalat 101 (24/7) for callers within UAE Non-Etisalat customers 800 101 (24/7) within UAE

Marina Home Interiors Luxury modern home furniture from a brand homegrown in Dubai.

Du 155 or 800 155 (consumer mobile) Landline, broadband and TV 04 390 5555

Ambulance 998 Fire 997 Electricity and water (in case of a water leak, electric shock or technical incident; DEWA) 991 Government hospitals (there are four in Dubai) 800 342;


Al Manara Center For Ejari registration (you can also find a list of typing centres for Ejari registration at ae;, DEWA and telecommunications connections, UAE driving licence applications, visa and real estate services. 04 221 5555; Dubai Land Department For real estate services for homeowners, Ejari registration, Dubai Rental Dispute Center and more. 800 4488; Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) 04 203 0425/04 203 0219/04 203 0197;


DEWA 04 601 9999; Empower 04 375 5555;

OSN 04 367 7817; Provides various TV packages.

CLEANING SERVICES Dial a Maid 800 5151; Boasts a low turnover of committed cleaners, and affordable rates. 800 404; A punctual, professional service from a company that has its own transport for its employees.


Chattels & More 04 609 7555 ; Statement pieces from upand-coming interior designers, manufacturers and artisans.

NOISY NEIGHBOURS If your neighbour’s party, pet, drill or musical instrument is disrupting your sleep, try earplugs first, followed by talking to your neighbour. If that fails, ask your building security to help; and then raise the issue with your landlord. If the noise persists, you could consider calling Dubai police. The number for nonemergencies is 901.


Rentokil 800 73787; The experts use the latest tools to ensure they stay ahead of the critters that can cause havoc. National Pest Control 04 324 2342; Tackles the problem, while using minimal amounts of pesticides.

"The service was exceptional and staff suggested excellent ideas" Mohammed Zakir


Al Khayat 04 393 3329; Established in 1984, the team specialises in cleaning, security guard, pest control and building maintenance services. Hitches & Glitches 800 42634; The biggest independent home maintenance company in the UAE, which also offers renovation and refurbishment services.



HomeGenie 04 448 9595; Offers a seamless end-to-end maintenance service, from booking a professional to paying electronically. HomePro 800 8200; Offers a variety of affordable annual packages, covering everything from A/C and water tank maintenance to emergency callouts and pest control. Nitty Gritty Maintenance & Contracting LLC 04 346 7766; Customer service agents work around the clock, providing support in English and other languages by experienced staff. Prime ME 04 447 2873; This company promises that its specialised and trained staff will reach your doorstep within two hours of your call. VFix Maintenance 054 7670077; Provides painting, A/C, electrical, tiling and plumbing services. Get a speedy estimate by filling in the online form.

GAS DELIVERY For those in villas who require a gas cylinder, there are 55 gas distributers that deliver to your door in Dubai. These can be found via Emirates Gas (800 36427;, and include: Abbas Gas Trading LLC 055 789 4747 Green Park Gas LLC 0393 3620/050 455 8026 Oasis Gas 0396 1812/055 876 7441


GROCERY DELIVERY Carrefour 800 73232; Offers a free grocery delivery service for orders over Dhs150, and large kitchen appliances. Farmbox 058 961 2864; Delivers bespoke subscription organic fruit and vegetables in reusable boxes.


Al-Futtaim ACE 800 275223; Whether you’re looking for security lighting, window and patio locks, a deadbolt for your front door, a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector, AlFuttaim ACE is the go-to DIY and hardware store. Hartmann Tresore 04 380 8099; Offers German-manufactured, tested, certified and customised safes alongside extremely highquality door locks and the latest technical expertise for top-notch standards. Lock Repair Dubai 055 211 9393 ; Promises to reach you within 30

"I was amazed by the creative approach of the designers at Zylus" Piero Ricotti

minutes, whether you’ve lost your car or home keys or need extra keys cut, and be at your disposal 24/7.

WATER DELIVERY To save multiple trips to the supermarket, most people have a water cooler that takes five gallon bottles. Here are just a few of the companies offering doorstep delivery: Mai Dubai 800 6243 8224 Masafi 800 5455 Oasis Water 600 522 261


The Box 800 843269; This reliable storage and moving provider can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Easytruck 04 800 3279; This award-winning company offers a range of services, including removals and mobile storage.


ReHubic Dubai 04 323 3143; Specialises in interior design and renovation, producing 3D infographics so you can monitor your own project through a personalised space on their website. Zylus A unique online platform, with multiple design options by experienced interior designers, photorealistic 3D visuals and a shopping service.

Betterhomes - Setting Up Guide'18  

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Your Ultimate Guide to Setting up Home in Dubai, so whether you’re brand new to Dubai or you’ve li...

Betterhomes - Setting Up Guide'18  

We are thrilled to announce the launch of Your Ultimate Guide to Setting up Home in Dubai, so whether you’re brand new to Dubai or you’ve li...