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Summer 2012

Contents 3


Comment SANDRA LANE Editor, The Journal

Culture, style, connoisseurship




Spaces, design, fine living


Properties The finest homes in the UAE


Insider Special places, best-kept secrets


The Hub Business, economy, markets

Harry Winston sparkles in Dubai by Jola Chudy

Jeweller to the stars Harry Winston cements its success with the opening of a new salon in The Dubai Mall – a 110-square-metre space that features the house’s most notable jewellery and timepiece collections. It is the second store in Dubai, opened in conjunction with Ahmed Seddiqi and Sons. Harry Winston traces its beginnings to New York, and a similarly bleak economic climate: the Great Depression. The eponymous founder – then aged just 12 – spotted a green stone in a pawnbroker’s window and bought it for 25 cents. It turned out to be a two-carat emerald, and the foundations were established for a jewellery empire. Winston’s glittering creations were worn by stars including Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, and still make regular appearances on the most exclusive red carpets. “We are thrilled to open a second new location in Dubai,” said Frédéric de Narp, President & CEO of Harry Winston, Inc. “This opening provides us with not only another stunning showcase for our jewellery and timepieces, but an extended opportunity to offer our clients here the most

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© Pinpoint Media Group, 2012

Luxury is About Feeling, Not Just the Label One of the most luxurious gifts I have received recently is a case of Chinese green tea, given to me by an Emirati businessman after an interview. Far from being ‘only tea’ – and infinitely preferable to the usual ‘corporate gift’ stamped with a huge logo and thereby rendered useless – it says a lot about the nature of luxury. Not long ago luxury meant in-your-face opulence or an instantly recognisable fashion statement that shrieked ‘status’. Now, though, with the word luxury used (as a grammatically incorrect adjective) to describe even a box of muesli – it’s the extra raisins, apparently – we are becoming more discerning. Today’s idea of luxury places greater value on discovering the unique than on flaunting the label. The ubiquity of ‘luxury goods’ that has come with the spread of global prosperity has eroded the value of the status symbol. Hence, the desire for individuality and deeper meaning is greater than ever. Where does the true value of a luxury lie and what is the relationship between that and its price? (I’m reminded of Warren Buffet’s aphorism: “Cost is what is charged; value is what a buyer thinks it is worth.”) These days, increasingly, the ‘worth’ is in how it makes us feel: the experience of using a thing, the pleasure of knowing how much skill and passion has gone into making it. As more of us have come to appreciate the feel of whisper-soft cashmere or to revel in the hidden skill behind a hand-stitched piece of luggage, we have moved on: true luxury is a deeply felt experience, not just a product. (That’s why abstracts such as time and tranquility are increasingly regarded as luxuries – not least by people whose material success would allow them to buy almost any object they choose.) Above all, creativity and craftsmanship set the luxurious apart from the mundane or merely expensive, regardless of its monetary value. In this sense we are returning to the roots of luxury. Many of today’s global luxury brands began, generations ago, as tiny craftsmen’s ateliers that were commissioned by

NEW STORY TO GO HERE De La Cour image and copy coming from Sandra.

Craftsmen at Hermès spend years perfecting the skill of making leather goods with every stitch identical in tension and length

Creativity and craftsmanship set the luxurious apart from the mundane or merely expensive, regardlessof its monetary value

well-to-do families to make whatever they needed, from a suit of clothing to the entire contents of a house. So, yes, the brand behind the product does matter – not for a logo or instantly recognisable design, but because a company that has invested millions of dollars, sometimes over the course of many generations, to develop its image de marque and the quality that underpins it, provides reassurance. Whether you

are spending 200 dirhams or 20,000, the piece that has the most human involvement in its making has a story behind it – and an energy that no machine can replicate. Thus it is with my green tea. The giver’s father sources it directly from a plantation in China; it came in a box embellished with the family’s name amid elaborate Chinese calligraphy; the box was in a carrier bag made to precisely the same dimensions. The tea is packed in six small re-sealable canisters, and inside each is a vacuum-packed foil bag of the precious, hand-rolled tea leaves, ensuring that its freshness is not compromised. Its flavour is, of course, sublime. Every day when I drink it (always from the finest cups that I own) I think fondly of the giver and the amount of care taken for ‘only tea’. A luxury is, by definition, not needed. Buying one is a choice. And that choice is driven by our values. What better value than something that gives you – and you alone –

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Summer 2012


Art Aficionado

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The Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes with Aquarium, commissioned by the Fondation Cartier and shown at this year’s Art Dubai. Adorned with diamonds, rubies, opals, sapphires, topaz and turquoise set in resin and metal it was made by Cartier craftsmen and the artist

The Brand Patrons Giants of luxury, such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Hermès, are helping to raise the profile of emerging artists here and abroad


By Jola Chudy

There’s always been a connection between art and fashion. After all, both stem from creativity. Fashion designers are inspired, season after season, by the rich tapestry of bygone masters, while artists use their medium to comment on prevailing issues in society, such as the perils of consumerism or the hegemonic dominance of luxury brands. Art is the authentic, serious (and broke) relative of fickle, shallow fashion – or at least that’s how it’s frequently and simplistically perceived. Yet, as the success of initiatives such as the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain illustrates, commercial luxury brands and emerging artists aren’t really the polar-opposites it may seem. In fact, brand patrons have helped several ‘starving artists’ get their big break. So, the question begs to be asked, what’s in it for the big boys? One answer is tax breaks, and Cartier Foundation president and founder, Alain Dominique Perrin, has admitted as much. But, given that foundations cost millions of dollars to run, there must be more to it. And, the question begs, is there not a danger that the luxury market is ‘polluting’ the authenticity and independent spirit of art? “I make a connection between all the different sorts of arts, and luxury goods are a kind of art. Luxury goods are the handicrafts of art, applied art,” explains Perrin. “I expressly forbid any link between Cartier products or advertising and the foundation. The only reference to the brand is the use of

the logo form in the foundation’s name.” “We have a duty to share with the local community,” adds Cartier’s Middle East managing director, Louis Ferla. Cartier sponsored Art Dubai in March 2012, bringing a bling-encrusted installation by Beatriz Milhazes to the show, as well as a bejewelled blitz of a ‘garden’ by Christophe Ponceau. But, while these two artists – who have previously worked with the foundation – were commissioned to produce work for the brand for this event, the main focus of the foundation itself is to help unknown artists gain a platform. “The spirit of the foundation is to promote young artists and to give them the exposure and opportunity to express themselves,” says Ferla. Since its inception in 1984, the foundation has helped make household names of photographer Herb Ritts and designer Philippe Starck, by providing a platform for them to exhibit in public for the first time. It offers a blank canvas to emerging talents in a series of rotating exhibitions and shows. The foundation’s Jean Nouvel-designed building in Paris has become an artistic and cultural destination in its own right, which surely cannot reflect badly on the brand. The foundation has certainly had an influence on how art is patronised, with brands such as Hermès, Rolex and Louis Vuitton also introducing an art patronage arm to their business. LV started the Espace Culturel LouisVuitton in 2006 to “express the creativity and artistic dimension of the Maison Louis Vuitton”. The space hosts three exhibitions each year that focus on art, fashion, heritage and travel. It feeds more directly back into the brand’s business concerns than the Fondation Cartier, whose artists, says Ferla, are “given a blank slate with no [specific] commissions”. The Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, meanwhile, includes in its remit the improvement

Clockwise from above: The Fondation Cartier’s current show in Paris, HIstoires de Voir, Show and Tell; Alessandro Mendini with his Cartier Column made of precious stones, shown previously at Art Dubai; a sketch by the filmmaker David Lynch from a Cartier project

of access to education, environmental conservation and the development of craft skills, especially those that are in decline. There’s a cachet to being associated with the art world, and it’s not new by any means: Coco Chanel was friends with Picasso and designed costumes for the Russian Ballet, and Jeanne Lanvin was a great collector.

And it works both ways: photo artists Pierre and Gilles got a break working for fashion designer Thierry Mugler and went on to become world-renowned in their field; Louis Vuitton’s famous graffiti handbags were designed by artist-designer Stephen Sprouse. It seems that we want value in our investments, whether it’s a canvas or a smart handbag.




Summer 2012

Aficionado Wish List



The Sleekest Link It’s been a while since a phone was just a phone. Strange, then, that with the notable exception of Vertu, nobody has thought to turn them into a statement of style. That hasn’t been lost on Jean-Christophe Babin, the savvy CEO of TAG Heuer. “It’s so rare to be able to create an entirely new category of luxury,” he says, whipping out his TAG Heuer LINK handset. “The technology is already way beyond what any of us need, so we have a fantastic opportunity to do something else.” Babin’s carbon fibre-trimmed version may be the most covetable to date – ergo it’s almost impossible to buy – but this model in red leather is deeply stylish and just as satisfying to use. With a customised version of Android 2.2 inside, it does all that you could want a phone to do and oozes TAG Heuer DNA. (Spot the chronograph case-back-type screws; the wristwatch-style crown that unlocks access to the SIM; the brushed stainless steel body – surgical-grade no less). If you’re a serial phone-dropper, fear not – this one’s as tough as nails, with almost indestructible (and wonderfully named) ‘Gorilla Glass’ covering the display. Link Smartphone AED 23,800, TAG Heuer, The Dubai Mall; 04 339 8555

A World of Time Rarely is the multiple-time-zone complication executed with such charm and artistry as in Breguet’s Hora Mundi. Not only is this timepiece a delight to look at, its beauty conceals a technical tour de force of the kind that made the company’s founder so celebrated in the 18th century. The signature Breguet aesthetics are all there: the rosegold case with fluted sides, three hands in flame-blued steel, guilloché à main framing the Roman numerals. The dial is hand-engraved with the owner’s choice of geographic motif: the Americas, Europe-Africa and Oceania – a neat reference to the watch’s time-travelling ability. Switching time zones is magical: the city disc flips to the city for the second time zone; the hour hand jumps to the correct time and the daynight indicator leaps to display daytime or night: all simultaneously, with zero loss of accuracy. An idea 10 years in the making, the watch was made possible only by the development of new technology to produce its microscopic parts. From AED309,110, Breguet, Mall of the Emirates, 04 395 1862

Something for the Weekend, Sir It isn’t easy to find a soft-sided holdall that’s not only elegant but just the right size for an overnight trip. That lumpy, borrowed-from-the-sports-locker number certainly won’t cut it with a smart suit. (Conversely, you don’t want anything too formal if you’ve changed down a gear into your weekend casuals.) And let’s not even entertain those aircraft ‘carry-on’ trolley cases: all of that hardware taking up space that would be better used for a cashmere sweater, a good book and an extra pair of loafers. Prada, however, has the answer (not surprisingly, since it made leather goods for Europe’s aristocrats for 70 years before ever producing a skirt or a shirt). The Weekender, in subtly grained calf leather, ticks all of the right boxes. The zip opens around the body so you can see all that’s inside; it’s comfortable to carry even when full; it keeps its shape. It comes in more mainstream brown but this cool, airforce blue is much more stylish, although increases the likelihood of your wife ‘borrowing’ it. AED 8,960, Prada, The Dubai Mall; 04 123 4567

Colour me Beautiful Baby pink, fiery orange, vivid turquoise, deep purple, rich greens, blues and reds: looking at a collection of Bogh-Art jewels is like being a child in a candy shop. Except that these candy colours are rare gems, often of exceptional size (a huge sugarloaf Burmese sapphire; not one but three emeralds of 50 carats each combined with briolette diamonds in a sautoir-style necklace). And some are not quite so rare: black jade, multi-hued opals, milky-white chalcedony, peach-toned morganite, coal-dark onyx, carbon fibre... Carbon fibre? Yes, inlaid with a delicate tracery of diamonds to form a pair of tapered drop earrings – at once utterly modern and recalling delicate Renaissance lace. “We wanted to bring something new to jewellery; for us there was no point in being just another ‘jeweller sur la place’,” says Albert Boghossian, explaining why, after a century-long history as diamond dealers and makers of high jewellery for other celebrated brands, the family launched Bogh-Art in 2008. This pair of ear-clips, with dark brown diamonds surrounded by blue-green paraiba and polished turquoise, embodies all that is so special about Bogh-Art. Not to forget their chameleon quality: with the intricacy and richness to match a grand ballgown, they have a colourfully playful nonchalance that would just as well complement a white linen ensemble at a summertime lunch party. Diamond, turquoise and paraiba earrings, POA,

Phantom Series II A New World Introducing Phantom Series II, where cutting-edge technology meets iconic design. Striking new LED headlamps feature daytime running lights and curve light functionality. The larger 8.8 inch screen displays intuitive satellite navigation maps and real-time camera images for effortless manoeuvring. And the new 8-speed automatic gearbox and rear differential enhance the already exemplary driving dynamics. Contact us to experience a car with endless possibilities; a car built for today and designed for tomorrow.

AGMC, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE For a private viewing please contact 04-3391555 or email us on Š Copyright Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited 2012. The Rolls-Royce name and logo are registered trademarks.

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Summer 2012

Aficionado Style

Lanvin’s Leading Light

The White Polo This wardrobe classic has an intriguing history: its crocodile logo arose from a casual bet, and the crisp white tennis top was once considered obscene By Jola Chudy

It’s a bit of a misnomer that the world’s most famous polo shirt actually has its roots in the sport of tennis, but with its timeless elegance and close links with fashion, the Lacoste polo shirt has become an everyday icon that has transcended its beginnings as a ‘tennis white’ to become one of the most popular wardrobe casuals in the world. René Lacoste, the French-born worldchampion tennis player of his day, designed the short-sleeved, breathable cotton shirts for himself in 1927, to better cope with the heat of the American summers while on the courts. The French Tennis Federation thought them indecent, so of course they were destined to become a huge success. The crocodile emblem came a little later, when René bet a crocodile-skin suitcase that he would win a crucial match. Journalists picked up the anecdote and thereafter, René – now nicknamed Le Crocodile – would wear a white blazer embroidered with a tiny crocodile, before every match. Knitted in a fabric called jersey petit piqué, the shirts were put into mass production in 1933, with the founding of La Chemise Lacoste, as René went into business with the largest knitwear company in France. A legend was born. In 1952 colour came into the equation and the shirts were marketed to the American consumer as the ‘status symbol of the competent sportsman’. In 1963, René’s son Bernard took over management of the company and expanded its products to include sunglasses, shorts, womenswear and shoes, as well as leather accessories. Lacoste continues to embody a relaxed style that celebrates its sporting history: sponsorships today include the Australian Open, but also the Coachella Music Festival. “The simplicity of Lacoste is something I love,” says its current design director Christophe Pillet. “It’s not simplistic – to make simple things you must go through complex processes – the simplicity in Lacoste is the obviousness that makes the brand universal. It is understood in every country and every culture and age, it’s something which is very inspiring. This is the magic of

Above: Ready for its final pre-runway fitting, a garment from Lanvin’s autumn/winter 2012 collection with its swing tag listing alterations requested by the designer. Above right: Jeanne Lanvin, who in 1889 founded the maison that bears her name

This year marks the 10th anniversary of creative director Alber Elbaz’s tenure at the helm of the Parisian fashion house. Credited with transforming the company’s fortunes, his visionary designs straddle the past and present By Jola Chudy

When Jeanne Lanvin, a talented seamstress and canny businesswoman, set up a milliner’s boutique on a Parisian street corner in 1889 she could not have envisaged that, more than 120 years later, the fashion house bearing her name would be the oldest haute couture maison in France. Jeanne Lanvin’s robe de style became a much-admired look – oversized skirts cinched around a tiny waist – and she evolved the look from season to season, gently developing each collection as a natural evolution from the previous one. In the 1920s the house of Lanvin grew dramatically, with 1,200 employees, three buildings in Paris and seven branches in France and worldwide. A dyeworks was created in the city of Nanterre, where the famous Lanvin blue was created. After Lanvin’s death in 1946, the house was run by Marie-Blanche de Polignac. More recently, with several designers having come and gone, it is Alber Elbaz who has guided the house back to its former glory.

To celebrate Elbaz’s 10 years as its artistic head and womenswear director, Lanvin is releasing a commemorative book. As Lucas Ossendrijver, lead menswear designer and Alber’s protegé puts it, “Evolution, not revolution,” is the ethos at 22 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Jeanne Lanvin’s organic approach to design endures. The fashion house is renowned for making its customers feel comfortable as well as well-dressed, without resorting to dramatic, headline-grabbing style statements. The stores are warm and welcoming, with none of the intimidating minimalism that a lot of haute designers seem to favour. Indeed, at the April birthday

Actress Tilda Swinton joined Alber Elbaz at the stylish New York party to mark his 10th year as creative director for Lanvin

party held in his honour at Barneys in New York, the perennially self-deprecating designer made jokes about his weight (he has a defiantly non-fashion silhouette) and even took to the stage to serenade his audience with a few bars of Que Sera, Sera. It was a typically ‘Alber’ moment from the man whose main aim is to make women feel, as well as look, good in his clothes. “I want to make women laugh and feel beautiful,” says the designer. “If it can’t be eaten, it’s not food and if it can’t be worn, it’s not fashion.” No one for a moment thought that his turn on the stage might be some sort of swansong; his latest collection received rave reviews and, despite the notoriously modest designer’s protestations that he “hated it”, the collection is one of his strongest yet. As he admits, “If I did love it all, I wouldn’t go anywhere. The fact that I don’t like it, that I can only see the mistakes, how it could be better, that is the only reason I go into the studio the next day.” Although Elbaz today sits at the top of the fashion tree, he comes from humble beginnings. Born in Morocco to a hairdresser, Elbaz was obsessed with drawing women and making tiny clothes. He spent years struggling to get work after studying fashion, before finally getting a job with New York designer Geoffrey Beene. A breakthrough role at Guy Laroche propelled him into the big league in 1996, where his work was well-received. He was poached by Yves Saint Laurent but fired after Gucci Group acquired the company, with Tom Ford eyeing Elbaz’s role for himself. First intimidated by, and then rejected by the great house, Elbaz took a two-year sabbatical from the fashion world. In 2001 he was approached about an opening at Lanvin, which had returned to private ownership after several years in corporate hands. The fashion house was in the doldrums: several designers had come and gone and it was no longer a highprofile brand. Elbaz set to work, creating a breakthrough collection that debuted in 2003. An unexpected boost came when Kate Moss wore his dress featuring a tullecovered antique crystal neckline. The photograph was picked up by media around the world. His collections ever since then have been critical and commercial successes. To commemorate his 10th anniversary at the company, Lanvin’s limited-edition book features a retrospective of Elbaz’s work, taken from his sketchbooks, personal notes and works in progress. Not bad going for the son of a poor hair colourist.

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A craftsman in Montblanc’s Hamburg atelier checks a pen nib; the nib tips are ground to micron accuracy, and, in the case of bespoke nibs, precisely echo the quirks of your handwriting style

Exactly the Write Thing Far from being an anachronism, the fountain pen is more treasured than ever as the handwritten word becomes increasingly appreciated for the values that it represents By Sandra Lane

Nothing can ever replace the hand-written word, declares Christian Rauch – and while that’s what you would expect to hear from a

man whose business card bears the splendid job title ‘Managing Director Writing Culture’ at Montblanc, its truth is evident. This goes beyond the fact nobody has yet come up with a satisfactory alternative to the signature. In this modern i-Age, when our correspondence is almost entirely via keyboard or screen, a handwritten letter has greater value than ever: it is unique, personal and – because it embodies the writer’s time and care – its contents will inevitably have a deeper impact. Even a typed letter that is simply ‘topped and tailed’ by hand carries

more meaning than an entirely machine-generated one (let alone an electronic one). If that writing is done with a well-chosen fountain pen, rather than scribbled out with a ballpoint, so much the better – and encouraging that is Rauch’s raison d’être. As evidence that the power of the handwritten word has never been stronger than it is today, he says, Montblanc’s business is “bigger and stronger than it has ever been”. “We sell fewer pens but they are of higher quality – and this is the case all over the world, not only in cultures with a tradition of calligraphy.”

Choosing a nib that suits your handwriting is key, says Rauch, which is why nine different nibs come as standard at Montblanc – and why the company now also offers a bespoke nib service. The standard and bespoke options are feasible only because Montblanc still makes all of its nibs by hand – a process involving 35 different steps. “Ninety per cent of people use a Medium nib,” says Rauch, “either because the pen was a gift or because they didn’t realise what effect a nib has. Either way, it’s about playing safe. Handwriting expresses a lot about a person and only a great pen can translate that properly to paper, so it’s worth being a little daring and finding your style of pen.” Writing the same short sentence with each of the nine standard nibs reveals how much difference it does make, in terms of comfort, smoothness and what my old school teachers used to call ‘neatness’. And, while the difference between some of the nib-tip shapes is barely discernible to the naked eye – I now understand why my own much-loved 30-yearold Montblanc (passed on to me by an old friend) has never felt quite right. Being taken through Montblanc’s patented handwriting analysis by Stefan Friedrich, the company’s Deputy Head of Nib Manufacture (another great job title), makes it clear just why a few microns’ variation in the nib tip is worth bothering about. The simple act of writing a few lines and signing my name (with a rather uncomfortable-feeling high-tech pen, on an electronically linked tablet) gives Montblanc’s computer screeds of information about my writing – and the ways in which it differs from everybody else’s: the pressure (how much, and on which strokes of each letter and which part of each word), speed (above average – meaning a ‘dynamic and spirited’ writing style), pen angle (relatively low – making my handwriting ‘relaxed and well-balanced’), pen rotation (‘steady, which ensures optimal ink flow and enables you to write with a broad nib’) and swing angle (my range ‘implies pronounced wrist movement within the writing process’). All of which adds up to my prescription of an ‘OF’ (oblique fine) bespoke nib – which could be fitted to my existing pen body or to a larger or smaller one if I chose. To commission it would entail a six-week wait for it to be handmade in the Hamburg atelier – part of the pleasure of having anything made to measure. In the meantime, though, I’m left with a dilemma: to change my vintage nib to the shape that would better suit my writing, or to keep the beautiful original and put up with it being

The New Heartland of Art From industrial wasteland to creative hub, Alserkal Avenue has become an important part of Dubai’s artistic landscape By Sandra Lane

It’s a Monday evening in Al Qouz, Dubai’s notoriously scruffy industrial area and the streets are alive with conversation as hundreds of people – some dressed down in ‘just-leftthe-studio’ mode, some in kandouras or abayas and some in cocktail party garb – stroll from one gallery to another. This is Alserkal Avenue’s Gallery Night, held once a month during the cooler months, when the contemporary art galleries in this complex of warehouses have simultaneous openings. The scene would have been unimaginable four years ago, when only the brave (and truly dedicated) would pick their way across the sand that lay between the pot-holed street and the front doors of The Third Line or The Courtyard – two of the earliest adopters of the

notion that a down-at-heel industrial area was a good place for an art space. Meanwhile, the Alserkal family had been formulating a vision for some land it owned close to those pioneering spaces: “We decided to build warehouses there,” says Abdulmonem Alserkal. “My father has always had a deep interest in traditional Islamic art and, as a family, we thought: let us develop a place that’s attractive for creative people – for art and other related activities – with big spaces at a reasonable price. We had seen this in industrial areas of New York, San Francisco and London, so why not here?” The first to move in, alongside such traditional industrial tenants as a car detailer and a tool shop, was Ayyam Gallery, in mid-2008. Despite (or perhaps because of) the fallout from the global financial collapse, others slowly began to follow, mostly moving from other locations in Dubai. Then, in late 2010, with the gallery owners deciding to co-ordinate their opening nights to make the trek (as it still seemed) more attractive to art aficionados, the place was suddenly on the map and the demand for gallery spaces took off. On the

Open throughout the week, Alserkal Avenue’s galleries play a key role in Dubai’s growing stature as the region’s artistic hub

eve of Art Dubai this March, six new businesses opened, including La Galerie Nationale, the region’s first gallery dedicated to collectible 20th-century design. Cementing Alserkal’s place at the hub of Dubai’s contemporary art world, Dubai One broadcast live from a temporary studio in Salsali Private Museum. “We feel so proud about what has happened here, and so privileged,” beams Abdulmonem. “The early galleries took the risk – they were the ones who understood the vision. From

there it has developed naturally.” Now, with a waiting list of galleries comes another challenge: “It’s important to keep a balance between galleries and more industrial businesses,” says Abdulmonem. “That mix creates a good feeling.”




Summer 2012

Portfolio The Space

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Lizzy’s passion for fine fabrics is reflected in the décor throughout the villa, with natural shades enhanced with splashes of green and blue to create a warm, welcoming home. The Al Barari villa has been the Pudner family’s main residence since 2009

The Light Fantastic Having watched her fabulous Al Barari villa grow from sand patch to sumptuous family home, Lizzy Pudner is still experiencing some ‘pinch me’ moments By Karen Iley

Every morning, Lizzy Pudner pads from her gorgeous bedroom, with its view of the lush garden and private outdoor plunge pool, through to the breakfast room where she slides back the doors and enjoys the morning sun, overlooking the swimming pool and jacuzzi. For some, this may be the stuff of fantasies but for this Al Barari resident, dreams have become a reality. “I know – we are so, so blessed to live here,”

says Lizzy who has lived in the luxurious villa complex since November 2009. “We bought it as a plot of sand but it was apparent from day one that this was going to be different,” she adds. “The greenery is wonderful and the villas are beautiful, built using all of the best, high-end materials.” The surroundings are idyllic. With its lush, green grounds, flourishing landscaped gardens and the ever-present chirrup of birdsong, it’s not a cliché to describe Al Barari as an oasis in the desert. And Lizzy’s home is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Skylights and floor-to-ceiling windows create a wonderfully airy space, which she has enhanced with natural shades and splashes of greens and blues to create a striking, yet welcoming, family home. “The landscape is so lovely here that, when it came to the interior, I really wanted to bring

the outdoors in, so you’ll see a lot of blues and greens in the house,” says Lizzy, who is coowner of the beachwear retailer Starblu. Using her natural eye for quality and luxury, Lizzy mulled over schemes and fabrics with her friend, Carolyn Hollands, an interior designer and director of Hollands & Burton. “Carolyn knows me really well, so we were able to work together to create all this. I love colour and fine fabrics from the likes of Jane Churchill and Colefax & Fowler, and Carolyn helped me crystallise my ideas,” she says. Not that styling the villa was difficult. As Lizzy says, “Al Barari homes are so beautiful to start with, that decorating has been a doddle!” While the décor is certainly magnificent, it is not without heart. From the old Chinese chicken coop in the breakfast room, to a pretty cabinet inlaid with mother of pearl from the Philippines, each room makes a

unique impact. “We’ve been all over the world, and it’s fun to collect bits and pieces from where you live,” says Lizzy. Vibrant Vietnamese paintings and an arresting multihued view of her husband’s childhood home show off Lizzy’s love of art and add shocks of colour. “They are extremely bright and I wonder, if we moved back to the UK, people might look at them and think ‘Woah!’ But here, they work.” One room that successfully combines style and function is the converted basement. What began as a very basic garage has been totally revamped into a delightful den/games room, which gets used to the max when Lizzy’s children, at school and university in the UK, come home for the holidays. “We gave Carolyn the centerpiece – a cricket shirt signed by The Ashes-winning England team – told her what we wanted and just let her run with it! We couldn’t be more delighted with the end result,” says Lizzy. Featuring books, games, a huge TV and even a table tennis table (cleverly hidden behind a false wall), it’s great for the kids to hang out with their mates, and has become a bit of a bolt-hole for Lizzy’s husband. “It’s very chilled out down here, so it’s a perfect place for watching the rugby,” she says. Back on the ground floor, Lizzy is keen to show off her pride and joy. “I can’t say it’s my favourite room – that would be a bit odd – but I really do love my guest loo!” she laughs, opening the door onto a restroom adorned with luxurious red and gold bird-motif wallpaper. “It really is beautiful – and while people may say ‘it’s a pity it’s just a loo’, I think that’s probably the one room where everyone goes. Everyone sees it, and they all come out saying ‘Oh wow!’ I know, it’s ridiculous, but it gives me a lot of pleasure!” Having lived in the Jumeirah area for about 14 years, Lizzy says that moving out to Al Barari took a bit of getting used to, but it’s a sacrifice she’s happy to have made. “I’ve had to get my head around the fact that it takes me half an hour to get anywhere, but it’s worth it, absolutely. It’s a privilege to live here. I have to pinch myself sometimes!”






Summer 2012

Portfolio Objects Meltdown rope chair by Tom Price (2011), for Victor Hunt Designart. Approx. AED 19,300 (€4,000)

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Hand-crafted silver pen pot by Patrick Mavros, approx AED 8,170


Kinkou occasional table by Bolier, AED 5,963


k Super- slee es by stea k kniv tlle t ui Eugeni Q fl e, to for Chr is ch ea 5 47 A ED

Leopar d C limbing d silk ha nd -t uf tene Von rug by D ia g for er Furs tenb ompany, C Th e Rug ed, iz cu st om -s per ,1 A ED 12 06 re et m re squa

Original Elda chair by Joe Colombo (1963) used on the set of The Spy Who Loved Me, unique piece, POA

Zoo crystal sweet boxes by Jaime Hayón for Baccarat, from AED 2,655

Handcrafted ‘Khatt’ coffee table with mother-of-pearl inlay by Nada Debs, AED 22,700

Sukma bergère chair with hand-sewn patchwork upholstery by Andrew Martin, AED 9,510

Items chosen by Sandra Lane. Photography by Richard Taylor Stockists: Andrew Martin: Gate Village, DIFC; 04 323 1388 t Baccarat: Tanagra, Wafi; 04 324 2340 t Bolier: Etcetera Living, Beach Road Jumeirah 1; 04 344 8868 t Christofle: Tanagra, Wafi; 04 324 2340 t Joe Colombo: La Galerie Nationale, Alserkal Avenue, Al Qouz; 055 997 5167 t Muuto: D.tales, Precinct Building 2, DIFC; 04 370 0520 t Nada Debs: Aati, Zabeel Road; 04 337 7825 t Patrick Mavros: t Stilwerk Design Gallery, Hamburg (exhibitor at Design Days Dubai); t The Rug Company: Gate Village, DIFC; 04 323 1161 t Victor Hunt Designart, Brussels (exhibitor at Design Days Dubai);

Summer 2012


The Report Portfolio On Huvafen Fushi in The Maldives the pool juts from the beach into the lagoon; it’s as white as the sand at its shallow end and pale ‘lagoon’ blue at its deepest edge. Here in the UAE, at Qasr Al Sarab, the pools are off-white, making the water appear pale blue. There’s no colour-clash with the dunes, and the palette enhances the sense of peace in the desert. Residential architects and designers have been picking up on the idea. In Al Barari the pools are lined with small-format mosaic in dark green and blue, a colour that blends with the greenery. When she redesigned a Palm Jumeirah villa as a home for herself, interior designer Julia Dempster – director of Dubai-based Interior Motives – turned a turquoise rectangle into a sunken lounging area, re-laying the surrounding area in pale limestone. The effect is wonderfully serene and cool and, with the pale aquamarine water flowing over the pool’s infinity edge, the lines between garden and sea are blurred. At home in Victory Heights, Gail Thompson designed her own pool with matte black tiles, surrounded by creamy-coloured limestone paving. “I wanted something glamorous that also wouldn’t clash with the green of the golf course,” she says. And that’s the point of this new approach to colour: it is chosen to enhance the surroundings – the effect is more naturalistic. Because water itself has no colour, designers are choosing tones that play off the interaction between light and water. Glass mosaic gives the water an almost ethereal quality as it reflects the light; white limestone will create a soft, almost milky aquamarine (and there’s also a practical reason for choosing white in a hot environment, since it will reflect heat better and stay cooler for longer). At the opposite extreme, black will not turn the water black but will give it a dark mystery – and the darker the colour, the more reflective the water’s surface will be. As more pools in the UAE are designed in different colours, is it only a matter of time before the request is “any colour so long as it’s not turquoise”? Probably not – it’s the iconic shade, after all. But its ubiquity certainly is a thing of the past, as homeowners and design-

Clockwise from main picture: Hotels have led the way, with pools that have inspired residential designers: at the Alila in Ubud, Bali, the black-lined pool is a mirror for its surroundings. At a villa in Dubai pale limestone, carried through in an unbroken expanse from the terrace to the base of the pool, turns the water a delicate shade of aquamarine rather than vivid turquoise and has a calming and unifying effect on the whole outdoor area. The designer of this pool in Emirates Hills lined it in deep cobalt blue, emphasising the rich colour with bands of white pebbles and black marble around the edge

The Coolest Pools The day of the ubiquitous rectangle of bright turquoise is no more, as swimming pool designers experiment with different materials and more naturalistic colours By Sandra Lane

Set amid dark wood decking, its water spilling over the infinity edge at treetop level, the pool at Como Shambhala Estate in Bali is at one with its jungle surroundings. That is due partly to its being level with the leaf canopy, which is reflected in its glassy surface, but also the dark bluish-green tiles with an edging of polished black granite. When Shambhala opened a little over a decade ago photos of the pool featured in high-end design magazines

as well as the glossiest travel publications. It was gorgeous, it looked so right… and it was not turquoise. Shambhala (then called Begawan Giri) had turned its back on the colour that had long defined resort swimming pools the world over. For decades, turquoise pools were synonymous with glamour: think Acapulco in its 1950s heyday and the sun-kissed Hollywood of David Hockney’s 1960s paintings. Being relatively rare, a pool was a status symbol – and it could come in any colour as long as it was turquoise. Indeed, the brighter and more turquoise it was, the more loudly it declared its presence. But in the past decade we’ve been seeing a different pool aesthetic – and, as with many design trends, hotels led the way. At the Alila in Ubud, Bali, the pool looks inky-black at certain times of day, reflecting the sky and the surrounding tropical forest in its surface.


BinHendi Jewellery The Dubai Mall, Tel: 04 4341421 Mall of the Emirates, Tel: 04 3410711 Mirdiff City Centre, Tel: 04 2843640

Summer 2012


Private Communities

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Exceptionally well designed and furnished by its current owner, this spacious home has a stunning garden overlooking one of Al Barari’s nature reserves. With six bedroom suites, a beautiful country-style kitchen, great, open-plan spaces for entertaining and well-planned indoor-outdoor flow, it is ideally suited to contemporary family living. A swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, home cinema with children’s play area and a large roof terrace with magnificent views complete the picture. AED 14,000,000. Property ref. 930

Available for rental, this newly built Emirates Hills villa offers dramatic design and very generous spaces, both indoors and out. Arranged over two floors it has nine bedroom suites and wide-open golf course views. AED 2,500,000 per year. Property ref. 509

In the well-established and family-friendly neighbourhood of Jumeirah Islands, this beautifully upgraded and decorated villa offers five bedroom suites, generous entertaining spaces and serene views of the lake. Price on application. Property ref. 896

Privacy, Peace and Space to Grow Offering quiet, security and seclusion, yet within a stone’s throw of the city, Dubai’s private communities have great appeal to families seeking a real sense of home By Karen Iley

Waking up in the morning to the sound of birdsong, it’s easy to forget that you live in the desert. To the accompaniment of the dawn chorus, you fling open the windows onto a lush green lawn, a swimming pool and perhaps an outdoor majlis, letting the fresh air and sunlight stream into your villa. As you sink back on the veranda with your favourite newspaper and morning coffee, the city seems a million miles away. And yet, in the best of Dubai’s private gated communities, it’s never

more than a few minutes away – Al Barari and Arabian Ranches are 15 minutes from The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates respectively; Emirates Hills is even closer to the heart of things. Living in one of these communities offers a complete escape from the madness of the city. Cliché or not, these gatherings of high-end villas are true oases in the desert. Surrounded by greenery, with their own gardens and patios, they are ideal family homes, where you can shake off the city blues, comfortable in the knowledge that you’re protected by worldclass security and complete privacy. These are places that you’ll want to rush back to at the end of a hectic day, the familiar greeting at the security gate a sign that you’ve come home. These communities encourage you to make the most of the whole neighbourhood, as well as enjoying your own outdoor space. In the cooler months (at least six months of the year),

the evenings are a time to get out and enjoy your surroundings by taking a walk, a jog or family bike ride. The green pathways, scenic lakes and – crucially – minimal traffic, make the community a great place for the whole family to safely explore and enjoy. In fact, these communities are geared up for family living, with some of Dubai’s top schools located on their peripheries. Both Al Barari and Arabian Ranches are an easy drive from Repton, for example, while the Ranches is home to JESS. And you’ll never hear cries of “I’m bored!” again, with ample play areas, swimming pools and sports facilities for your children and their neighbourhood buddies. The benefit of living in these gated communities is that, if you want it, friendship and social contact with like-minded neighbours is never far away. Some communities are very ‘social’ but if you prefer to be more private, everyone respects that.

Some communities have their own cafes, shops and restaurants; several have clubhouses that serve as a social hub and most have excellent leisure facilities, making it easy to get a group together for a regular tennis match or coaching session. In Arabian Ranches, you even have a riding school and polo lessons available on the doorstep. Whether you’re enjoying the greenery and serenity, or more actively pursuing a social or family life, you can experience the best of both in these elegant private communities.

Scan the QR code with your smartphone to




Summer 2012

Seafront Living

Intimately connected to its beach-front setting, with an entire facade of glass and beautifully designed outdoor pools and terraces leading down to the sand, this contemporary villa offers an exceptional level of luxury, peace and seclusion, thanks to its setting, on the private island of Nurai. The interior, with soaring double-height living areas, great entertaining spaces and six grand bedroom suites has been designed with great taste and style, using the finest quality materials. AED 43,700,000. Property Ref. 397

A beautifully upgraded five-bedroom family home on Palm Jumeirah with front and back gardens and a pool overlooking the private beach. The light-filled interior has been decorated in elegant, creamy tones. AED 12,00,000. Property Ref. 803

At the St Regis resort on Saadiyat Island, this newly built villa offers the best of sea shore living. With open-plan living spaces, four bedroom suites and great indoor-outdoor flow, it is ideal for contemporary family life. Price on Application. Property Ref. 891

Easy Living with your own Beach With your toes in the sand of your own private beach, and beautiful views of the water, life doesn’t get much better than in one of the UAE’s finest sea-front villas. By Karen Iley

Almost everyone harbours a secret desire to live by the sea, with their own patch of beach directly outside the door. Why? The feeling of sand between your toes, the sound of lpping waves and the invigorating scent and feel of the sea breeze on your face… it defines health, happiness and wellbeing. Living on the shore – be it on one of Palm Jumeirah’s fronds, a sumptuous Tiara apartment or a classic Jumeirah villa – gives you an energising experience of Dubai. The invigo-

rating, ion-laden sea breeze refreshes the air, even in the summer. Palm resident Patricia Boettcher, the founder and director of the upscale interiors business, B5 Living, says: “We regularly play golf at Emirates Golf Club and the humidity there is noticeably higher than it is at home. That’s definitely a factor in why we live here and not in any of the other prime areas of Dubai.” Seaside living lends itself to al fresco and sporty pursuits. On a whim you can drop what you’re doing and head out for a refreshing swim or an impromptu snorkel. The sea is your playground, where you can throw yourself into kayaking, paddle boarding or kite surfing. Or get the adrenalin pumping with wake-boarding – the Palm has its own Marina where you can berth your boat. Who needs a beach club with such an array of activities on the doorstep? Beach living feels as if you’re permanently on holiday, and you can extend

that vacation vibe into the evening with cocktails or barbecues at home or, on the Crescent of Palm Jumeirah, sophisticated nightlife at the upscale bars and restaurants. But it’s not all on-the-go activity. There is a quieter, more serene side to the shore. Living in a villa on Palm Jumeirah, for example, is delightfully tranquil. As you meander along the sand of your private beach, cast your eyes towards Atlantis, Burj Al Arab or Dubai Marina and you’ll feel completely removed from the commotion of the city. As one Tiara resident explains, “We are living the perfect Dubai experience. My children love it because there’s plenty for them to enjoy outdoors, from playing on the beach with friends to getting stuck into wake-boarding and surfing. I never tire of walking along the shore and imagining everyone in their offices in town! And my husband is happy because he’s just 20 minutes from the office, yet when

he comes home it feels as if he’s on holiday.” Dubai is, of course, a coastal city – so, even though you may feel pleasantly separated from the goings-on, you are extremely close to all of the essentials for day-to-day living. The Palm ‘trunk’ road provides access to Dubai’s shopping, schooling and entertainment amenities in a matter of minutes. As you relax at the end of a busy day, glass in hand (yes, ‘sundowners’ will become as much of your daily routine as breakfast), you appreciate that there are few better places to

Scan the QR code with your smartphone to

Summer 2012





Nakheel has sold a 60,000 sq ft plot of land on Palm Jumeirah. Residential plots on the Palm have increased by around 30% in the past year, reflecting confidence in UAE real estate.

The number of property transactions increased by 84% compared to 2011, according to the Dubai Land Department. Dubai’s stability has played a key factor in this, as does an increase in lending.

The Wealth Report 2011 shows that the number of HNWIs in the Middle East remained stagnant in 2011, despite increases of 100 per cent since 2006; with cautious investing & instability cited as factors.

Buyers from China, Russia, the Middle East and Latin America are investing in established markets. London, New York and Miami top the list, according to The Wealth Report 2011.

Emirates Hills in Numbers


The number of villas sold since the beginning of 2012. The prices achieved range from AED12.5 million to AED49 million


The number of different sectors in the development. They vary in terrain, orientation and density of villas, from the more elevated, lower-density S Sector to the mature and wooded H Sector


Number of lakes within Emirates Hills. An additional large lake skirts the edge of the development. As well as forming water hazards on The Montgomerie golf course, the lakes have become havens for bird life


Percentage of homes that are currently occupied. With an increasing proportion of the ‘built-for-resale’ villas now sold to end-users, the rate of turnover is slowing down significantly

One of Dubai’s most established upscale residential developments, Emirates Hills comprises elegant detached villas set amidst their own private gardens and lush, landscaped communal areas

Quality is Par for the Course in Emirates Hills Nestled in between two world-class golf courses, Emirates Hills offers more than just a lifestyle on the fairways by Samantha Armstrong

The day starts gently in Emirates Hills: with little sound other than the trees rustling in the breeze, the song of birds and perhaps a fountain splashing. Now and then, from beyond your back garden, you’ll hear the sharp thwack of a golf ball being hit. There’s no roar of traffic, only the occasional throaty roar of a Ferrari or Maserati as a neighbour drives off to work. Out on the street, workmen have already begun the trimming and clipping and weeding that keep the neighbourhood’s wellplanted verges looking immaculate. It’s hard to imagine, as you drive along streets where tall trees shade the road and front gardens overflow with massed plants that only a few years ago this was nothing but low, rolling sand dunes – and it seemed a long way from what was then the extent of Dubai,

whereas it is now surrounded by the city. “Our friends all told us we were mad,” say those who – based on a map and a sense of the possible – bought plots of land in the early days, “but they’re not laughing at us now.” The first part of the development to be completed was The Montgomerie golf course, which forms the heart of the estate, neatly interwoven with curving streets and groups of villas in order to give wide-open views to as many properties as possible. Today those views – and the sense of space they provide – are one of the neighbourhood’s greatest assets. It’s not uncommon to hear people remark that Emirates Hills is “not really a neighbourhood” as it doesn’t have its own shopping centre or cafés and yet, in another sense, it truly is a neighbourhood: there’s a feeling of cohesion, of belonging to a rather special and self-contained world. The great majority of residents have families and the comings-and-goings of the school schedules punctuate the rhythm of the days – especially in the cooler months of the year; in the late afternoon children ride their bicycles or roller-blade on the quiet streets; dogs are walked; smaller children are taken by their

nannies to the play area on the ‘village green’ in P Sector; as dusk falls whole families come out to stroll. Emirates Hills people treasure the feeling of security, of living apart from the crowds. “Privacy matters a lot to us,” said one resident, who asked not to be named for exactly that reason. “Living here, we feel free to be ourselves and enjoy the rewards that we have been so fortunate to have in life.” “You can be very social here – there’s quite a ‘set’ who give lots of parties and dinners,” adds his wife. “But that can get a little claustrophobic, too. The good thing is that we all respect each other’s privacy and if you don’t want to be so social you don’t need to be.” The people living in a neighbourhood define it at least as much as the physical surroundings do. And that’s why Emirates Hills feels so established: a lot of the families have moved here from other parts of Dubai; they came to the UAE in the early days, built suc– and each other’s children – for decades. Some of those children, now successful adults with families of their own, are among among those who have seized the opportunity continued on page 16


Number of villas in Emirates Hills. They range in size from the moderately large, at 12,000 square feet (1,115 sq.m) to the truly enormous, at 44,000 sq.ft or more

Current Prices Average prices for apartments in DIFC and Downtown Burj Khalifa, compared with those in Dubai Marina, JLT and Palm Jumeirah Average Prices (AED/ sq ft)

Dubai Marina JLT

1,200 800

Palm Jumeirah Downtown Burj Khalifa

1,400 1,600 1,500


Source: Luxhabitat analysis, June 2012





Summer 2012

Summer 2012


Property News DID YOU KNOW... Construction of Palm Jumeirah’s breakwater required 7,000,000 tons of rock, with each piece weighing between one and six tonnes. Because of the Crescent’s elliptical shape and the fact that, unlike most reclamation projects, it was not built out from a fixed point of land, engineers used Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) to position every rock to an accuracy of one centimetre. Rock was preferred to the cheaper option of concrete blocks as it would more rapidly encourage plant and animal life to develop.

Expert View

Mediterranean Elegance in a Prime Palm Location


Luxury Sales Specialist, Luxhabitat E: | T: +971 50 955 9498

Al Barari’s Green Vision Grows

continued from page 15

to have a house built to their own specifications. The one-off houses make Emirates Hills feel more like a neighbourhood. It has grown organically – albeit at ‘Dubai speed’ – without the uniformity typical of the emirate’s new developments. Now, with empty plots almost impossible to buy, even existing houses are attractive: for those wanting to shape their home to their own tastes and style, it is much easier to make significant changes to a house in Emirates Hills than elsewhere in Dubai. Because the villas have been individually designed there is no uniform look that must be adhered to. Within Emirates Hills, the areas feel different: Sectors S and V are elevated, with far-reaching views; Sector P is surrounded by lakes, whereas other parts have more distant lake views, if at all; Sectors H and R, among the first to be established, nestle cosily among mature trees and lush gardens. But what of the golf? With a world-class championship course literally on the doorstep, isn’t that the glue that binds the community together? In fact, as is the norm with high-end golf communities elsewhere in the world, only a small proportion of residents bought their properties in order to play the sport; for them the real attraction is the green and open space that the golf course provides. Here, behind the rolling greens, residents relish the opportunity to create a very personal haven in the heart of Dubai.


Sound environmental practices such as on-site water and waste recycling are used to maintain the lush greenery of the estate

When launched as a plan in 2005 Al Barari promised that it would be the most luxurious villa development in Dubai – a promise that has definitely been fulfilled. The houses have been built to international standards – with top-grade materials and well thought-out floor plans that are ideal for contemporary living – the promised greenery has exceeded all expectations, especially in the past 12 months, when the planting has become more mature. Going there today is like stepping into a lush corner of South-East Asia. As planned, Al Barari is the lowest-density project in the UAE with 80 per cent green areas. There are six ‘botanical gardens’ – areas preserved purely for planting – and there will be more than 30 when the project is complete. Currently, 189 villas have been completed,

Al Barari is the lowestdensity project in the UAE, with 80 per cent green areas

spread over 19 clusters or ‘leaves’, with threequarters of them occupied. Phase two villas – The Reserve – will be launched in May 2012. Because of its privacy and quality, Al Barari naturally attracts high net worth residents: 75 per cent of our Al Barari clients work in the financial and legal sectors based in DIFC. Some are high-profile figures including a private Russian investor in Facebook and people

from the world of sport; for them Al Barari provides seclusion, amid a community of likeminded individuals. Although some of Al Barari’s facilities have taken more time to launch than originally planned, that is changing fast. The Farm restaurant and deli has just opened, giving residents a place to relax, enjoy good food and meet one another. The tennis academy has recently been completed and a gym is being built. A spa is due to be finished this year and a boutique hotel is on its way. Today, everyone buying in Al Barari is an end-user. Of the 30 villas now on the market, two-thirds are for sale by original investors. Initial selling prices were high: up to AED 40,000,000 for a x size villa in Q1 2008. When the market dipped severely in 2009, Al Barari reduced its prices in line with market conditions, but some investors who needed to sell reduced them further, creating inconsistency. In the past six to eight months we have seen resale prices catch up; the people who needed to sell have done so and the development has been recovering strongly since the start of 2012. Currently the most expensive Phase One villa we have on the market is a 16,448 sq.ft home at AED25,000,000. In the first quarter this year we have sold two properties (at between AED12,000,000 and 14,000,000) compared to three over the 2011. Luxhabitat has central listing on 95 per cent of the resale properties available. Al Barari has always had a big plan that will see it evolve. Those who live here are part of something special both now and in the future. Paul Christodoulou was talking to Samantha Armstrong

A sleek family kitchen, which adjoins the informal living areas, is supplemented by a closed kitchen for food preparation

This beautiful Palm property has been built in a classical Mediterranean style, creating a sense of timeless elegance inside and out

While the pretty, yellow-painted stucco facade and white balustrades of this villa evoke memories of the Belle Epoque houses of the Italian and French Rivieras, the style translates particularly well to the beach-front setting of Palm Jumeirah.

FASCINATING FACT... The design of The Gate at DIFC, by the US architectural firm Gensler, was the winner of an international competition. Construction of the 15-storey building began in 2002, two years before DIFC officially opened. A pair of 60-metre high towers is connected at 12th-floor level by eight 27-metre long, 60-tonne steel trusses to form the distinctive arch.

The simple and elegant layout of the grounds, with topiary shrubs and a broad paved terrace surrounding the overflow-style swimming pool, complements the house perfectly. The bonus is direct access to a private, sandy beach, a few steps below the garden.

Measuring up 60,000

Here, Business meets Pleasure For Victor Leginsky, living in DIFC means an easy commute and the best of both worlds on his doorstep by Debbie Spalton

Victor Leginsky describes himself as “a serial expat who likes to live in fascinating places around the world”. A well-travelled Canadian who arrived in Dubai in 2007, he now lives in the sleek, modern Sky Gardens building adjoining DIFC: “I’ve lived in the neighbourhood for two-and-a-half years; initially I chose it because of the convenient location – it is very close to my office, convenient for the airport and you have very easy access to most areas of Dubai by car, taxi or metro.” A lawyer by training and now working as an arbitrator, he shares an office in Emirates Towers with his business partner Mark Nierada, but

pleasure in a natural and comfortable way. “I was one of the first residents to move into Sky Gardens when it came online; I live in a lovely loft apartment with its own private balcony and the sweeping view across DIFC gives the space a Manhattan-esque feel.” The one drawback, says Victor, is that the location, in comparison to more traditionally ‘residential’ spots in Dubai, sometimes feels a little remote, and short of everyday amenities – although that has improved recently with the opening of a grocery store at the nearby Limestone building. In contrast to his dapper city look during the week, Victor gets out on weekends to ride around the desert and wadis on his motorbike – a BMW GS1200. “It’s great both off-road and on the highways. Dubai can be a busy and stressful place to work in, so it’s good to just get away. My lifestyle here in DIFC suits that perfectly: I can just lock up and take off for the weekend and enjoy my life.”


Rental Yield

6.9% 53,226



10,000 0

% per year

7% 6%



20,000 10-minute walk, living here makes it easy for him to take full advantage of what’s on offer. Victor is also excited by DIFC’s burgeoning cultural life, as art galleries have sprung up around the cafes and restaurants. “On certain evenings they put on an ‘Art Walk’ and stay open late, offering food and drinks, and we can stroll around, look at the art and discuss it with like-minded people. The galleries are so different: some are edgy, some more traditional and others specialise in Emirati and regional artists. Having been to several of these art events, I have ended up buying a few smaller pieces for myself and I am looking forward to expanding my collection.” A typical day has Victor working out at Fitness First or going for a run first thing in the morning “There is a wonderful neighbourhood [Zabeel] just behind my apartment with lots of mature trees, animals and even peacocks, so it’s great to run there. But, we are here to make money, so I hit the office and work as long as I can – then there is always lunch with a colleague or dinner at the end of the day to discuss business and make plans for the coming day.” For Victor, living in this neighbourhood where offices and residential apartments exist in close proximity means being able to mix business and

AED 25,000,000. Property Ref. 966. Contact Linda Kuhn,

Asset Price

20,505 his work often takes him around the region – to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha – and sometimes further afield, to Hong Kong, Singapore, London or Paris. “A typical client would be a large construction or oil and gas company trying to settle a contract dispute instead of resorting to the courts. Usually the companies are from different countries and the arbitration is carried out in a third neutral country, so my work as an international arbitrator fits in well with my love of travelling.” Something Victor has come to love about living in DIFC is the social life right on his doorstep. “The bars and restaurants are sophisticated, fun and great places to meet people – and there is a good selection now. Vu’s Bar in Emirates Towers is good for a quiet drink and listening to jazz, which I love. For a more casual night, the Blue Bar at the Novotel is my favourite and for a more formal evening it would be The Gramercy or the Ritz Carlton.” There are other benefits too, he says: “They do a really good job of networking in the DIFC with breakfast meetings and many other functions, to make sure that people get to know each other and trade within the Free Zone.” With Victor’s ‘commute’ being just a five- or

Western and Arabian-style living. A majlis or formal living room, and a formal dining room are set to either side of the entrance foyer, beyond which is the villa’s central, double-height rotunda, through which daylight floods into the heart of the house. An open-plan family kitchen/dining room and family room span the sea-facing façade of the house, with a view of Atlantis and the sunset. A ground-floor guest suite is complemented by four ensuite bedrooms upstairs.





Adding to the European ambience is the Régence-style interior decoration: the original finishes have been completely upgraded and the furnishing complements it perfectly, from magnificent chandeliers to elegant drapery and fine furniture. All of this is included in the sale of the villa – meaning that the new owners can simply walk in with their suitcases. The spacious interior is laid out in a manner that encourages the relaxed style of family living that you would expect by the sea, while also providing an ideal setting for grand entertaining. Equally, it is well-suited to both


3.3% 18,066





5% 4%

2.9% 16,727

2.8% 15,388








3,393 London

Hong Kong






New York




1% 0%

Source: Global Property Guide, January 2012

In a polarising market, high-end purchase prices are rising again, while rental yields remain higher than global benchmarks by Luis Caminho

It’s a given that real estate markets are affected by the wider economy of the country where they are based. But the speed and scope of the UAE’s development in the past 20 years has done more, creating and defining the residential property sector from the ground up. It’s common knowledge that the financial crash of 2008 left the UAE with a serious oversupply of property, while a some developments never got beyond paper plans or a hole in the ground, leaving buyers with burnt fin-

gers – and the media with a good story. Jones Lang LaSalle, in its annual keynote research paper released in January, says that the market has polarised and that the division will become more marked as buyers become more discerning. The key issue now, says David Terry, Luxhabitat’s Sales Manager, is quality: during the boom many developers built hastily, and cheaply. “We’re left with a shortage of quality property. The impact on values is significant.” The profile of top-end buyers and sellers has changed, says Terry. Distress sales are now rare and vendors are aware that good property can command a premium. At the same time, the return of confidence has increased the number of high-end buyers. “With the UAE now seen as a safe haven rather than a short-term investment opportunity, buyers are looking for properties to live

in, rather than turn – which means a push to quality,” notes Terry. The third change in the buyer demographic, he adds, is a “significant influx of capital” from North and West Africa. The effect is seen in all prime areas: Palm Jumeirah prices have jumped by 20 per cent in the past year; Al Barari prices have risen from a low of AED 8m to around AED 10.5m in a relatively short period. In Emirates Hills low-end prices have risen from about AED 10m in 2010 to AED 16m at the end of 2011. For investors, the polarisation in Dubai’s rental market is even more marked: while average yields continue to fall at the lower end, they remain significantly higher than global benchmarks at the high end (see chart). Terry cites the ‘expat factor’. “Renting high-quality property here is relatively expensive compared to buying, and will stay that way.” That’s good news for investor-owners.




Summer 2012


Property Gallery

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EMIRATES HILLS: This stunning, newly completed villa in E Sector covers 16,000 square feet (1,486 square metres), arranged over three floors. A very spacious, family living area and dining room with a sleek, open-plan kitchen is complemented by separate, formal entertainng spaces. All of the main ground floor rooms open on to the well-designed terrace and generous swimming pool, which overlook a lake. There is also a home cinema and gym. Price on Application. Property Ref.762 Contact Suzie Qureshi:

AL BARARI. This beautiful Dahlia villa offers five ensuite bedrooms, a country-style kitchen, and a home cinema. Total floor area is 12,714 square feet (1,181 sq.m) AED 14,000,000. Property Ref.930. Contact Paul Christodoulou:


A superb, newly built duplex penthouse with three ensuite bedrooms. AED 5,500,000. Property Ref. 853. Contact Alexander von Sayn-Wittgenstein,

ARABIAN RANCHES: A delightful 6-bedroom family home located in a tranquil corner of Mirador.The villa has been beautifully upgraded, with solid maple floors and a superb kitchen. AED 6,700,000. Property Ref. 905. Contact Linda Kuhn:


A fully furnished. four-bedroom penthouse with excellent security. AED 23,000,000. Property Ref. 750. Contact Alexander von Sayn-Wittgenstein,


A spacious family villa with six ensuite bedrooms and open-plan living areas. AED 9,450.000. Property Ref. 749 Contact Suzie Qureshi,

Summer 2012


Marina Living

Set in the heart of Dubai Marina, yet utterly private and secluded, this extraordinary villa is a home like no other. Created by combining and completely redesigning two townhouses, and finished with the highest-quality materials and fittings, its three floors offer 15,000 square feet (1,393 sq.m) of living space. Five bedroom suites are supplemented by generous living and entertaining spaces, beautiful views from every room, numerous balconies and a huge roof terrace. Price on Application. Property ref. 852

With six ensuite bedroms and almost 13,500 square feet (1,250 sq.m) of living space,this penthouse apartment in Le Rêve spans an entire floor. As may be expected, the building offers exceptional privacy and security. AED 65,000,000. Property ref. 525

With a great location and jaw-dropping views, this fantastic penthouse apartment has four bedroom suites, several terraces and great open-plan living spaces. Its neutral decor offers great scope for personalisation. AED 8,000,000. Property ref. 885

High Style on the Waterfront With enviable views of the sea and a vibrant lifestyle on your doorstep, living in Dubai Marina offers a fresh perspective on the city By Karen Iley

In this city of jaw-droppingly dramatic architecture, having ‘a room with a view’ takes on a new meaning. And few views are better than those from an apartment on a high floor of one of Dubai Marina’s prime buildings. Living here provides stunning panoramic views – in some cases of the Marina itself, in other cases the open sea, and in many cases the city and desert as well. Dubai Marina is perfect for the chic urbanite who adores city living with a relaxed twist.

While managing an impressive career by day, you enjoy an enviable social life in the evenings right on your doorstep, while having your boat or the beach just moments away. A bonus is that, in comparison with a villa, an apartment is hassle-free and inexpensive to run and benefits from a concierge and high security. It also offers absolute privacy for those who seek it – which explains why some globally famous faces have chosen superprime Marina buildings as their Dubai homes. As more penthouses and apartments come online in comparison to villas, these premium properties also offer great value for money, even at the top end of the market. For those already enjoying the best of the lifestyle Dubai Marina has to offer, simply stepping out of the elevator is usually reminder enough of what the area has to offer. A well-chosen apartment means that you’re

just minutes away from the city’s top bars and lounges, award-winning restaurants and exclusive nightclubs. Marina living is great for the gregarious. Your like-minded neighbours will become part of your social scene, as you venture from your beautiful home in the sky and dive into the city’s fine-dining scene and nightlife. “I work hard and play hard – and that’s the way I like it,” says one Dubai Marina resident who works in Dubai Media City. “I have a car, but I hardly ever use it, especially in the cooler months. I walk to the Marina for nights out with my friends, so I don’t even have to worry about getting a taxi home.” With prestigious towers in prime locations, there is little need to venture far. Marina Mall serves the area particularly well, with all of the shops and amenities you need for day-today living, plus a cinema. Dubai Marina Yacht

Club offers an excellent opportunity for socialising close to home, with views of the Marina and its passing dhows and gleaming yachts. The spas and beach clubs of the nearby hotels are just a stroll away. Of course, everyone needs down time, and chilling by the communal pool, working out in a state-of-the-art gym furnished with the latest exercise equipment, or playing tennis on a rooftop court will ensure that, mentally and physically, you stay in top condition.

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Summer 2012

Golf Estates

Designed by the renowned architect Sir Michael Hopkins, this elegant five-bedroom family home is set in a large, well-established garden with wide lawns and a beautiful swimming pool. in a sophisticated and contemporary take on Arabian style. It has a well thought-out floor plan, high ceilings and double-height living room; the interior is flooded with natural light. The internal space is approximately 7,500 sq.ft (697 sq.m). Price on application. Property ref. 748

A grand Emirates Hills villa of 44,000 sq.ft (4,087 sq.m) with nine bedroom suites, magnificent spaces for formal entertaining and very generous family areas. The pool and garden have panoramic golf course views. AED 50,000,000. Property ref. 773

A lovely family villa in Lime Tree Valley with its own garden and swimming pool overlooking the Earth golf course. Five bedroom suites, open-plan family and entertaining rooms, and very good-quality finishes throughout. AED 7,500,000. Property ref. 558

At Home on the Greens Whether it’s for their wide-open, verdant spaces or the pleasure of playing the game, golf courses are a magnet for some of the UAE’s finest residential developments. By Karen Iley

Given how many golf fanatics would sell their caddy for the occasional trip to Dubai’s worldclass golf courses, it’s hardly surprising that green-side villas are so popular among the ‘clubbing’ set. But, for many who have never struck a ball in their life, the spectacular greenery – particularly dazzling in a desert setting – is proving equally irresistible. This being Dubai, there is an abundance of private communities wrapped around world-

class golf courses – ranging from the opulent one-of-a-kind homes of Emirates Hills on The Montgomerie course, to the charming villas of Lime Tree Valley, set on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates; these stylish homes represent the ideal abode for an active family. The major perk of living in these areas is obvious if you’re a golfer. Indeed, you’ll think you’ve landed in paradise, being able to roll out of your front door and, in a few steps, be on the golf course. Even if you’re not actually out there on the greens, you can be admiring the wide-open view of lakes and fairways or watching your fellow golfers drive and chip. And when some of these courses host major tournaments, such as the Dubai Desert Classic, Race to Dubai and Omega Ladies’ Masters, you have the kind of vantage point that most golf fans can only dream of. In Dubai, though, as in similar golf-estate

communities the world over, only a minority of homeowners (or renters) play, or even care much, for the sport. The great majority – about 70 per cent by most estimates – are attracted by the peace, privacy and sense of space inherent in living beside the fairways, as well as the premium such properties generally command upon resale. (That said, most who have bought homes in one of the UAE’s golf estates are there to stay, building a life for their families in an environment that is not only conducive to healthy living, but also enjoys the security of being a gated community.) The non-golfing facilities are also a big attraction. Clubhouses in the UAE are the polar opposite of their fusty, wood-panelled equivalents at Europe’s traditional golf courses. Grand in both scale and design, they bring together a wealth of facilities and activities, from tennis courts and gymnasiums to tem-

perature-controlled swimming pools and top-class spa facilities, not to mention some of the best restaurants in town. Golf clubs make great family hangouts, and there is usually plenty going on for children, too, with golf lessons (naturally), swimming classes, tennis leagues, regular kids’ events and familyfriendly brunches. What’s more you’re only a stone’s throw from the urban buzz: all of Dubai’s golf communities are within a five- to 25-minute drive

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Summer 2012


Lifestyle Council Insider Patricia Boettcher FOUNDER AND MD OF B5 THE ART OF LIVING, DUBAI

I n s id e r

Born in France and raised in Germany, Patricia moved to Dubai in 2008 with her husband, Anders, a board member of several wellknown European companies. For 22 years she ran her own construction company in Germany, building private residences for the super-wealthy, then worked in real estate in the South of France. On moving to the UAE Patricia saw that the choice of high-quality, well-designed furniture was limited, so she opened B5 at the beginning of 2011. Patricia and her

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FAST FACTS Favourite holiday destination: St Tropez – I used to live there and it will always be special for me Indispensible item: High heels – always in a bright colour Favourite movie: François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim Design hero: Frank Lloyd Wright Style tip: Never do head-totoe designer; mix high street pieces with high fashion Object of Desire: a wall-to-wall natural sheepskin for our bedroom – the

Patricia’s Recommendations RESTAURANTS For fine dining it’s Ossiano at The Atlantis hotel for its star kitchen – which produces beautiful seafood dishes, especially the gourmet menu – and its stylish and relaxed atmosphere. For casual dining Eau Zone is a long-time favourite: you sit on the water’s edge, the food is a mix of Mediterranean and Asian – very good and tasty – and I love the relaxed style, especially at the Jetty Lounge. If you didn’t have The Palm in front of you, you could be at Nikki Beach in St Tropez or on Ibiza. They’ve got it just right.

BAR/LOUNGE For early evening it’s The Jetty Lounge at One & Only Royal Mirage – super-stylish and relaxed Late in the evening Buddha Bar at Grosvenor House is still my favourite. It’s a great case of ‘when something is right, don’t change it’, and has become a Dubai classic.

INTERIORS SHOP Well there can be only one – and this is my own B5 The Art of Living!!

FOOD SHOP I go to a small butcher near Emirates Post Office in Al Wasl – he’s called Yousef and has the best meat and service in town. Spmetimes I go to the gourmet section at Wafi – but I miss the nice traîteurs I know in France!

BUILDING OR SPACE I love Burj Khalifa as it is just an amazing building, both inside and outside. I have been there to visit some of my customers and the views are just incredible!

Discovering the Right Mix SALON/GROOMING For mani-pedis I go to N-Style at Mall of the Emirates, which is very convenient for me and they do a good job. My hairdresser is Version Française in Dubai Marina. Alex and Carine, the French owners, are amazing hairdressers!

SPORTS OR BEACH CLUB We have our own private beach at home on Palm Jumeirah, just three steps in front of our house – so we do not need any of the hotels’ beach clubs. We play golf at Emirates Golf Club and I try to play twice a week.

FAVOURITE VIEW IN DUBAI We certainly have the best view at home on the Palm, with the beach and the Atlantis hotel right in front of us!

CULTURAL VENUE I love Sharjah Museum and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi – they are fantastic places that create real emotions and an affection for this special part of the world. I love the Louvre in Paris and look forward to seeing it and other museums in Abu Dhabi. Ayyam Gallery is my favourite in Dubai for contemporary art.

CHILL-OUT/ESCAPE Our favorite places to escape are Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman – we can drive there from Dubai yet it feels as if we are on another planet – and Le Prince Maurice in Mauritius, which is chic and beautiful, with a perfect beach and great golf course. Because it’s in the same time zone as Dubai there’s no jetlag.

FASHION SHOPS Big brands: I am not a huge fan of the international designer stores – although I do love Gucci and Hermès! For everyday high street gems Zara is perfect – its quick turnover of collections means that there’s always something new to buy, which you can combine with designer piece to create your personal style. Zara trousers fit my shape perfectly, so I can buy them without having to try them on! Local secret: Al Motahajiba. At first glance this looks like just another abaya shop – albeit higher quality than many. But they also have beautifully cut, brightly coloured, beaded and embellished kaftans jellabiyas and tunics. They are so comfortable and stylish – perfect for at-home here, as well as for entertaining at our holiday house


Mall of the Emirates | The Dubai Mall | Mercato | Burjuman | Mirdiff | Dubai Festival City

Summer 2012


Move Insider

Stephenson’s (Newest) Rocket Takes Off Emotions and adrenaline run high as the new McLaren MP4–12C supercar is put through its paces during an exclusive road test By Sandra Lane

It’s not often that you get talked through the details of a supercar by the man who designed it, so being given a one-on-one ‘tour’ of McLaren’s much-lauded MP4-12C by Frank Stephenson was something special. Like a beaming parent introducing an unusually beautiful child, he explained the reasoning behind everything from the carbon-fibre ‘blades’ set into the side panels to the tiny ribs on the wing-mirror struts and – viewed with both of us on all fours on the showroom floor – on the front underside. (It’s all about a sailfish, since you ask.) This is the car that Europe’s top motoring journalists have taken out and tested to the nth degree against its most direct rival, the Ferrari 458 – and even the most petrol-headed among them have come away saying that it’s just as good. Except, they say, it lacks emotion. This matters, of course. In cars, as in boats, watches, jewels – indeed, all things that we group under the ‘luxury’ label – emotion plays a part. (We’ve all heard it: “If you need to get from A to B, a Chevrolet Spark will do the job.”). When it comes to emotion and the 12C, though, I beg to differ, but I should declare a personal interest: Bruce McLaren was one of my earliest heroes. As a child in New Zealand, I shared the nation’s obsession with his motorracing successes. There was pride in his typically Kiwi skills as a ‘backyard tinkerer’ (learnt in his father’s car workshop) that made him one of the greatest innovators of his era. So, just as the tifosi get all misty-eyed at the mere mention of Ferrari, for me, anything that bears the McLaren name comes with emotion by the bucket-load. The 12C (the MP4 moniker, by the way, is used for every McLaren chassis, including the Formula 1 cars: M for McLaren and P4 for Ron Dennis’s pre-McLaren business, Project 4) is the product of an £800 million investment into developing a brand-new fully-fledged automotive brand, rather than being another of those ‘rare animals’ that’s more usual in the world of supercars. Not a single element of the car has come from anywhere other than Stephenson’s drawing board and McLaren’s engineering boffins – even the engine is 100 per cent McLaren, developed in-house and harnessing its F1 experience. And that F1 link is far more than just paying lip-service: at McLaren’s

Invited to drive McLaren’s new supercar, The Journal’s editor found designer Frank Stephenson’s creation to be a triumph in every respect, from its gorgeous lines to its great performance

headquarters the racing and automotive departments are separated by only a glass wall; the staff eat in the same canteen, along with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton when the drivers are there. The intention is that they all should exchange ideas: one result is that the

Not a single element of the car has come from anywhere other than Stephenson’s drawing board 12C incorporates technology that was developed for F1 and deemed illegal under the sport’s ‘unfair advantage’ rules, such as brake steer, whereby the inside rear wheel is braked during fast cornering to reduce under-steer. That’s just one of the countless things that make the car such a blast to drive: it behaves as if it is glued to the tarmac (notwithstanding Jeremy Clarkson’s complaint that brake steer prevented him from fishtailing when he tracktested the 12C). I happen to like a high-performance car that allows me to safely focus on the sheer joy of driving it (the 12C chassis is based on the same McLaren-invented carbon fibre tub that keeps today’s F1 drivers so much safer than before). From the driver’s seat, Stephenson’s logical

design thinking is everywhere: the sleek and simple instrument panel, the great sight-lines (the centre of the steering wheel is exactly aligned with the highest point on the wheel arch and the extra-deep windscreen maximises forward visibility); the seating position, moved as close as possible to the centre for weight and balance, which also makes driving more comfortable; and the contour of the windscreen pillar, designed to reduce drag, also minimises wind noise (as a windowsdown girl, rather than an air-conditioning addict, I like that a lot). As for driving, the first great surprise is how happy the MP4–12C is at low speed and in city streets: there was none of that temperamental champing at the bit that you might expect with a finely tuned 600-horsepower engine. It was unfazed by the speed humps along Emaar Boulevard (there’s something deeply un-cool about having to slow down to 10kmph in a supercar to avoid scraping the undercarriage on a bump), and then, well beyond city limits, on an empty stretch of highway, it rejoiced at being able to hit its stride, showing off its 7-speed Seamless Shift dual-clutch gearbox. Nought

For more images see

to 60 in under four seconds is well within its capabilities – as is a top speed of more than 300kmph and braking from 200kmph to a complete stop in under five seconds. And therein lies another piece of MP4–12C magic: it is three cars in one. You can switch from Normal to Sport to Track mode, according to where (and how) you want to drive the car. The change is instantaneous and the difference is marked – from the handling to the volume of the engine noise in the cabin, it’s more than just the tweak that would-be competitors’ cars offer. And, like everything else about the car, it is ridiculously easy to operate. Bruce McLaren would always say to his engineers, “Make it simple enough so even I can understand it.” Ron Dennis’s team in Woking has done exactly that with the MP4-12C and created a package of sheer joy in the process. Emotion? It’s love. Pure and simple.

The Cool of the Wild For a complete escape from the city, it’s hard to beat hiring a Harley-Davidson and heading out to the desert vastness By Luis Caminho

There’s nothing quite like getting out into the vastness of the desert to clear your mind – and there’s nothing like being there on a great motorbike that enables you to truly feel the space, the emptiness and the wild beauty. If you already own a bike you’ll know that; if you don’t, renting a Harley-Davidson is prob-

ably the best way to find out. It could hardly be simpler: in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Harley-Davidson rents bikes by the day or weekend – helmet included. So you can be astride a Buell (Dhs450 per day) a Softtail (Dhs600 per day) or a Touring (Dhs700 per day) and on the road in no time, provided that you have a UAE Driving Licence with a motorcycle permit (or, if you’re visiting, a VAA International permit). If you’re the kind who prefers company, the local Harley owners’ club organises regular rides that you can join. And if you become so addicted that you want to buy your own Harley, they’ll deduct the rental cost from your purchase.

Fadi Kalassina heads for the open road and empty desert on a Harley-Davidson Road King




Summer 2012

Insider Secrets

Take a shine to bespoke footwear Few things feel as good as a perfect pair of shoes and now The Cobbler brings the art of made-to-measure to our doorsteps By Sandra Lane

Considering how much time we spend on our feet, and considering that how comfortable we feel has a direct effect on how good we look (couch-potato moments in trackies excluded, obviously) we should all be wearing shoes that fit like, er… a glove. It seems bizarre that, whereas it was once normal even for non-designer shoes to be offered in half-sizes and multiple width-fittings, it’s rare nowadays to find a brand that offers those options – even at the high end. Cue bespoke: shoes that are hand-made for you, and you alone, cut and stitched to the precise shape of your foot; shoes so beautifully crafted that they only get better with age. Shoes that give you the pleasure of being part of the process of their creation. How wonderful, then, to discover The Cobbler, a modest little shop tucked away in DIFC that not only has its own master cobbler, but also its own atelier – right there, in full view. Sybille Arnold co-founded the business with her husband (who works in finance, at offices in DIFC) after they moved to Dubai from France. “We couldn’t even find a shoe-shine service of the right quality, so that was our starting point,” she says. Based in DIFC, the service was, not surprisingly, an instant hit; high-quality shoe repair soon followed, and then came the step up to bespoke shoe-making. “We are not experts; we just knew what we wanted, believed that there were others out there who wanted it too, and knew that we would have to find good people to do the work,” says Sylvie. Two minutes in the company of their master cobbler, Morgan Papin, and you know they have indeed found a very good person: a mere 23 years old, he sparkles with passion, and to watch him work is to watch an artist. That’s thanks to his training: the rigorous apprenticeship of Les Compagnons du Devoir and experience at Weston, Berluti and the shoemaker for Paris’s music hall dancers, Claire-Voie. [CHK] The process begins, prosaically, with Morgan standing you on a sheet of paper and drawing the outline of your bare feet, then taking a few swift and deceptively simple measurements. That’s it – at least for a couple of months. During this time you can, of course, play around with ideas about style, colour and type of leather – although Morgan will almost

On master cobbler Morgan Papin’s work bench at The Cobbler, a pair of bespoke shoes that he is making for his father

The Cobbler, a modest little shop tucked away in DIFC, not only has its own master cobbler, but also its own atelier in full view

certainly have guided you to that decision already. (“Since these are shoes for life our first-time clients generally choose classical styles,” says Sybille. “But some of our regulars are becoming bolder in their choices.”) Then comes a call: your forme is ready for the first fitting. Over two months your measurements have been transformed, by a formier in France – an almost-extinct breed of craftsmen – into a hand-carved three-di-

Hide Away at The Farm By Jola Chudy

An organic restaurant has opened in the exclusive residential development of Al Barari, offering a peaceful place to retreat from the city and underpinning Al Barari’s ethos as an eco-friendly, ecologically conscious development. The green-minded eatery, called The Farm, serves an array of dishes produced using locally grown and organic products. An on-site bakery and a grocery section allow residents of Al Barari, as well as visitors, to choose high-quality foods to take home or enjoy in the relaxed setting of the restaurant.

The Farm’s philosophy is to serve food that is aligned with nature – nutritious dishes that nourish the body as well as the senses. Locally sourced food has become increasingly popular in the UAE among consumers concerned with the carbon footprint of food that is airfreighted in from around the world. Food retailers such as Baker & Spice have helped to popularise the idea of locally produced food being of an equal, if not higher, standard than the produce available in supermarkets. “Our concept menu has been specially created with the UAE’s diverse audience in mind, with items for all

tastes and dietary requirements,” explains Yves de Lafontaine, The Farm’s head chef. In addition to its culinary offerings, The Farm also offers activities that complement the ethos of healthy living through nutrition. These include yoga and cookery classes. “We want to create a hub where food, entertainment and education merge, all in an eco-friendly setting where people can enjoy themselves in this peaceful getaway and where children can play amongst the greenery”, says Maheesha Retnayake, general manager of The Farm. The Farm, Al Barari; 04 392 5660

mensional wooden facsimile of your feet. Smooth to the touch, they have been sanded to millimetre precision; holding them for the first time is a special moment, as if alchemy has taken place.


Summer 2012


style Aficionado

Suitably Attired Bespoke outfitting has come a long way in the UAE, with well-known names moving in alongside established local suit makers by Jola Chudy

Local tailors such as Whistle & Flute in Satwa have long been popular places to get measured up for a made-to-order suit or shirts. More recently, international luxury brands, such as Brioni, Ermenegildo Zegna and Dunhill have been offering UAE clients made-to-measure services, while the English tailor Leonard Logsdail (originally of Savile Row; latterly of New York, and the man responsible for the sharp suiting of Michael Douglas and Shia LaBoeuf in the Wall Street sequel) offers a full bespoke service. Ermenegildo Zegna’s ‘Su Misura’ made-tomeasure service was introduced globally in 1972 and is available at the store in The Dubai Mall. Su Misura allows customers to select their fabric, buttons, lining and colour. “The thing that differentiates [Zegna] from other companies is that the entire production process is done internally,” explains Zegna’s director of made-to-measure, Augusto Cantone. Our [wools] are produced on Australian farms and chosen by our experts. The raw materials are woven into yarn by us, the fabric is made by us and the suit is fully personalised. Decisions on colour, style, weaving and so on, are all controlled internally. This gives a greater advantage.” So, how does one get suited up? It starts with a comprehensive measuring process at the boutique. There may be two or more fittings, with advice offered on everything from selecting the right fabric for your complexion, to the nittygritty of ensuring the optimal pairing of shirt colour and tie pattern. Matters such as the correct weight and lining style are discussed. “When a new client comes in, we take all the measurements; it takes around half an hour,” reveals Cantone. “We give the advice on what is in fashion, we check if they want a single vent, full lining or without, but it is always a personal preference. They have the final say.” In the Middle East, trends have quickly emerged: lightweight, ‘cool effect’ fabric is understandably popular in a region where wearing a heavier suit outdoors swiftly becomes a losing battle against the searing heat. Colours reflect seasonal fashions elsewhere: lighter browns, dark and lighter blues remain classically popular, but in less heavy fabrics. New patterns are presented in brochure form so that clients can feel the fabric, and see the combination modelled in a photograph, to assist with their choice. Once made up, the suit returns to the UAE, where its owner is reunited with it and undergoes a second fitting, after which minor adjustments are made in-store by the Zegna tailor. At Logsdail London’s showroom in Al Quoz, customers for the bespoke service are welcomed by Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxxx, Leonard Logsdail’s hand-picked master tailor, who ‘takes as long as it needs to take’ to understand the client’s real wishes, take measurements and

‘Made-to-measure’ is cut from a standard pattern that is adjusted to a client’s measurements; a bespoke garment is unique, cut and sewn by hand from scratch, using a pattern that has been made specifically for that individual client

choose fabrics from a vast array of sample books. Customers’ orders are sent to the company’s UK workrooms to be made up. There’s a great deal involved in helping a client discover what he really wants, says Xxxxxxx: “My relationship with clients is that of confidant as much as clothing advisor, given that the process of bespoke is not just about what a man wears but who he is and what he represents. And, while photographs of existing styles may give some indication of preferences, the process is about creating a unique garment that expresses a unique personality – and also feels and looks fantastic when worn.” As Logsdail himself explained, during a visit to

Dubai, every element requires careful consideration – the choice of fabric, for example, goes far beyond pattern and colour: “There are many aspects to take into consideration. How heavy is the man, does he sweat a lot, is he very active or does he lead a more placid life, does he travel, does he wear his suit when he travels, does he always feel hot or does he usually feel cold. Also, does he live in a constantly warm climate or does he reside in a seasonal country, and does he find some fabrics uncomfortable against his skin. And does he dress for himself or someone else. If your tailor cannot be bothered to find out the answers to any of these, you need to go and find a different tailor.”


RADISSON BLU (SAS) TEL 04 2297 936

Summer 2012


Escape Insider

News of the World

Spinning through Beirut Cosmopolitan and cultured, Lebanon’s capital is close enough to be ideal for a weekend escape from the UAE By Jola Chudy

The first thing you notice about the centre of Beirut is just how brand new everything is. From the Parisian-style edifices in warm sandstone to the gleaming boulevards bursting with designer stores, smart cafés and polished monuments, the city oozes upwardly mobile chic. It’s an elegant and reassuring introduction to a city whose reputation – perhaps a little unfairly – is still sometimes tainted by its troubles; the most recent of which rumbled ominously on the brink of civil war in 2009. Today, the city’s two million-plus inhabitants look to the future, and the opportunities that peace has brought are apparent in Beirut’s bustling, cosmopolitan vibe. Regarded as the Middle East’s gateway to Europe, Beirut seethes with well-dressed inhabitants speaking French, English and Arabic (frequently switching animatedly between all three in one sentence). It’s a city whose past – Roman ruins in the middle of the city and buildings pockmarked by 20thcentury gunfire – exists side by side with its future.

If you’re diving into Beirut for a long weekend, start with a walk around the Downtown area, with its smart boutiques and cafés. Next, follow the coastline along Zaitouni Bay for about an hour into Hamra, which offers a wearier face to the world, ironically because many of its buildings escaped the worst of the war and thus haven’t been renovated. Local stores crowd along the pavements here. Bear back towards the city and stop at Robert Mouawad Private Museum (www. for a dose of history and culture. This fiendishly ornate property boasts ancient codexes (including one of the first printed Qur’ans), Phoenician pottery, jaw-droppingly large diamonds and ancient weapons. Oh, and the world’s most expensive bra, as modelled by Naomi Campbell. It may be worth returning to your hotel to take a nap as Beirutis are notorious night owls. Meeting at 11pm is normal, so eat around 9pm and go for pre-party drinks in Gemmayze, a popular nightlife area. It’s crammed with quirky bars such as the faintly industrial Angry Monkey or tiny Torino Express, and boasts many impossibly small restaurants. Afterwards, head down to Music Hall, the city’s notorious cabaret. Here, a procession of performers belt out Western and traditional Lebanese songs until the small hours. Dining in Beirut tends to be a relaxed and protracted affair. We enjoyed a laid-

back French-style brunch of tuna Niçoise and croque monsieur at Relais Foch, a bright lime-coloured café on a cobbled corner of Saad Zaghloul St in Downtown. Also in this stylish neighbourhood, but offering a completely different perspective, is Indigo on the Roof, a stunning rooftop restaurant that boasts views across the city – and an excellent list of Lebanese wines. Of course it’s mandatory while in Beirut to find a street café, where you can sit with a pineapple shisha and dig into freshly made specialities that will be familiar to Dubai dwellers: shish tawouk served with mountains of pillowy bread, crunchy, tangy fattoush salad and bowls of olive-oil-drenched hummus. One of the first international hoteliers to set up shop in Beirut was Gordon Campbell Gray, who fell in love with the passionate, culture-infused city despite its tumultuous past. Le Gray opened in 2009, a triumph of modern design, and it’s a great place to call home while in the city: centrally located on the edge of Downtown and Solidère, the property boasts an incredible attention to detail, from original art throughout, to great service – and the aforementioned rooftop restaurant and bar. And if you hanker for something a little rougher around the edges, the tatty but utterly cool bars of neighbouring Gemmayze are just a 10-minute walk away. Le Gray:

NIYAMA OPENS IN MALDIVES With the opening of Niyama in The Maldives, Per Aquum has added another property to its award-winning collection (which includes Desert Palm in Dubai). Uniquely, the resort has an underwater nightclub and restaurant. There are studios on the beach or over the water, and eight luxurious pavilions boasting their own private pools.

COOL AIR AND LAKESIDE CHARM Escape the summer to cooler climes, by staying in the Swiss resort town of Ascona. Set on the stunning shore of Lake Maggiore and surrounded by mountains, the AlbergoCaffe Carcani is a boutique property of 25 rooms. Harmoniously restored, it has a beautiful terrace overlooking the lake. To mark its reopening, there is a special offer until the end of May 2012: CHF360 per person for three nights and entrance to the Botanical Gardens on the islands.


e b i r c s Su b



Summer 2012


Comment The Hub

Safe-Haven Status Spurs UAE Growth The UAE economy is rebounding as foreign corporations flee regional unrest, says Nick Maclean, the managing director of CBRE Middle East. By Joanne Bladd

Last year’s Arab Spring upheaval – and its continuing aftermath in parts of the region – has been good for the UAE economy. That’s a view shared by many, not least Nick Maclean, managing director of CBRE Middle East. With the firm’s activities often providing a barometer for the region’s overall economic health, the Dubai-based arm of the global property consultancy chalked up its best year yet in 2011, says Maclean, aided by a surge of foreign firms seeking to enter the UAE and capitalise on its safe-haven status. “The market within Dubai particularly is looking robustly healthy. We’ve got plenty of demand. Foreign corporates are moving within the market or coming to the [Middle East] market fresh, and have less choice of where they can go geographically. The main beneficiary of that is the UAE.” Two years on from Dubai’s debt crisis, the UAE is reinforcing its position as a stable business hub within a volatile region. Dubai’s Department of Economic Development issued 14,360 business licences last year, a rise of 3.8 per cent on 2010. DIFC, the tax-free business zone, reported a seven per cent rise in firms operating there last year. For CBRE, which opened in the UAE in 2004, there has been an immediate pay-off. The consultancy has 83 clients clamouring for a total of one million square feet of real estate, its largest order book to date. In a CBRE-commissioned poll of Fortune 500 firms operating in the GCC, 65 per cent named Dubai as their first choice for a regional hub. Each of those firms could bring vital capital, trade and property demand to the emirate. “People want to do business around the region and, increasingly, through the whole of Africa, from a base in Dubai,” says Maclean. “The UAE is a very good springboard.” The uptick in the demand for commercial real estate tracked by CBRE is a sign that the UAE is in good shape. The economy is expected to grow by nearly four per cent this year, Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said last month, driven by Brent oil at more than US$100 a barrel. But, while the UAE’s recovery has been

T he H u b

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The outlook for the UAE economy is bright, according to Nick Maclean, although threats to growth remain, most of which are completely beyond the country’s control

aided by its role as a trade hub, this role also leaves it vulnerable to global economic woes – notably, the Eurozone crisis and the continuing weakness of the US economy. “One of the biggest threats [to the UAE’s economic stability and growth] is a lack of momentum within the powerhouses of the global economy,” says Maclean. “If Europe stays depressed or if America’s job numbers continue to perform as they have been, that’s not great for us. We’re such an international market here that… we need the Asia-Pacific market, Europe and the US to be firing properly to maximise our potential.” Also casting a shadow over the UAE’s promising economic growth is the tension between Iran, the US and Israel, Maclean points out. Although hostilities are currently confined to rhetoric, any escalation could disrupt vital trade flows into and through the GCC, as well as deterring investment.

“Political issues within the region are a key threat and are completely outside the control of the UAE’s government,” he adds. For now, however, Dubai’s commercial real estate sector is again beginning to attract investors’ attention. Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management in October announced the launch of a US$1bn property fund with Investment Corporation of Dubai, aimed at snapping up real estate assets in the emirate. European investors have also begun looking again, Maclean says, having fled the market towards the end of 2008: “Last week we had a team of six European fund managers visit the UAE for the first time in three years. They can’t get the kind of returns they need for their funds at home, so are prepared to look at new markets. As an investment opportunity it’s quite interesting because the yield differential between

here and London, for example, for the same covenant strength [of a tenant] such as HSBC is 300 or 350 basis points. It’s very good value.” It would be naïve to expect a return to the UAE’s pre-crash boom years – even questionable whether those extreme conditions would be a good thing – but the oilrich state is holding a steady course amid the global economic turmoil. If this country can maintain its steady growth path, says Maclean, its property market will be well placed to capitalise on the recovering US and European economies: “That we have such strong demand without support from the European or American economies puts us in pretty good step. If, by the end of this year, we see Europe going back to general growth and America creating more than 120,000 jobs a month, that’s great for us because we’re al-



More Lending Means More Spending Villas in Dubai’s more expensive developments are proving more attractive to buyers than apartments, with favourable lending conditions buoying a segment that, unlike other property categories, is seen as having limited availability. Mortgage lending for Dubai properties in 2011 jumped by 59 per cent to AED 5.95 billion (US$1.62 billion), according to the UAE Land Department. Home sales increased by 67 per cent in Q4, to AED 2.85 billion. This equates to 2,605 units sold, a 64 per cent gain from the previous quarter. More end users are investing, attracted by lower interest rates and fixed-rate mortgages, along with a perception that property values have finally bottomed out.

Gold Rush on the Golf Course Emaar’s newest residential development at Arabian Ranches Golf Course has received a sterling response from investors, with a flurry of offers for the 18 luxurious villas, which are priced at around AED 100 million. The ultra high-end villas have been built in three different styles, which all evoke Spanish architecture and feature Hispanic design elements such as mosaics, courtyards and arches. Located at the heart of the well-established and successful Arabian Ranches Golf Course community, the premium properties overlook the fairways and are surrounded by plots ranging from 17,000 to 27,000 square feet. According to a sales agent, the villas range in floor area from

7,000 to 9,000 square feet, and are priced from AED 7.3 million to AED 11 million. Ahmad Al Matrooshi, managing director of Emaar Properties, said: “The strong demand for the limited inventory of just 18 premium Golf Homes at the Arabian Ranches Golf Course, demonstrates the continued preference of customers for attractive residential investment options in established lifestyle communities. The success of the first launch by Emaar in 2012 will further energise our development strategy to offer premium residential and commercial property with a focus on Emaar’s core differentials – an attractive location, world-class design and highquality construction standards.”

Metro Stops KickStart Property Values Property prices in areas near Dubai Metro stations have risen by up to 34 per cent, according to Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Abdul Mohsin Younes, CEO of RTA Strategy and Corporate Governance Sector said: “[We] studied the impact of the metro stations on surrounding lands in coordination with the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), which provided the data.” Neighbourhoods linked by the feeder bus service have also grown in value. “A comparative study with countries such as the UK, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong and the USA, revealed that public transit has a positive impact on [property values], and that such rates made hikes ranging from three to 50 per cent,” he added.




Summer 2012

The Hub Economy

UAE not Immune to the Eurozone’s Woes The UAE’s oil wealth may help cushion it against Europe’s debt crisis but, like everywhere else, the Gulf state is not invulnerable to global economic turmoil By Joanne Bladd

Just last month Europe appeared to be winning the battle to tame the debt monster that haunts it. Following a second $172bn bailout deal for Greece and a raft of rescue measures from the European Central Bank, eurozone leaders hailed a turning point in the crisis. Such optimism now seems misplaced. In the second week of April fears over Spain and Italy, the bloc’s third and fourth biggest economies again sent Europe’s financial markets into a tailspin. Borrowing costs for both nations have jumped, alarming investors. For the UAE, the continent’s economic woes raise the spectre of the 2008 global financial crash, which brought a swift end to Dubai’s boom. The emirate was plunged into crisis in 2009 when Dubai World asked for a standstill on $25bn of debt. The news wiped more than 60 per cent off house prices in Dubai and drove developers to stall or scrap more than $500bn worth of projects as credit lines dried up and speculators fled. This time around, the UAE has played down its exposure to the euro. The Central Bank said in October that it had no eurozone debt in its reserves, while bank governor Sultan Nasser al-Suweidi said in January that Europe’s woes would not have an impact on the UAE’s banking sector. Similar reassurances were peddled before Dubai’s debt debacle in 2009, says Jim Krane, energy researcher at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, raising concerns that the OPEC member is more vulnerable to the European storm than it will admit. “The UAE tried to shop that same idea around in 2008, that emerging markets were disconnected from the wider global economy,” said Krane, author of the book City of Gold, Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism. “It soon became apparent that it wasn’t the case and the entire world fell into a recession. I wouldn’t

With one global crisis under its belt, the UAE is older and wiser, pruning back its spending in view of wider economic turmoil

take [the current reassurances] at face value.” The muted trading on Gulf bourses suggests that investors are hedging their bets. Certainly, rising oil prices will play a vital role in cushioning the UAE from economic shocks. Oil prices have nearly tripled since the end of 2008, with the International Energy Agency recently predicting that the European Union alone would pay $500bn for oil this year. Analysts have warned of a possible fall in demand from both Europe and the US, but this is likely to be offset by the decline in production from oil exporters such as Iran, Syrian and Sudan. The UAE’s trade ties are also relatively protected, with the eurozone accounting for about 20 per cent of trade, whereas the rapidly growing economies of China, India, Hong Kong and Singapore account for more than half of exports. Of greater concern is the risk of a shortfall in funding if European banks were to scale back their activities in the GCC, in order to deleverage and build up capital buffers. European bank financing of the UAE economy amounts to 25 per cent of GDP, Moody’s Investors Service stated last month, warning that any withdrawal of activity would “pressure the local economy”. Debt remains a big issue: Dubai and its state-controlled entities have an estimated $10.3bn due for repayment this year alone, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a hangover from the city’s 2009 crisis. “A number of these government-related entities (GREs) will look to refinance their debt,” said Ayesha Sabavala, a UAE analyst at the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit. “In the past, European investors supported Dubai but, with the eurozone crisis, many are reducing their exposure. This poses a slight risk as to whether the GREs will meet their debt obligations.” A number of state-backed firms may look east for funding instead, Sabavala added. “Asian buyers are stepping in to fill the demand for Dubai debt… [and] if push comes to shove, I don’t think the government would stand by and let a major entity default.” Crucially, with one global crisis already under its belt, the UAE is now older and wiser. The country has already been pruning back its spending in light of the wider economic turmoil. Abu Dhabi last year placed some $30bn worth of projects on hold, to review their viability, overhauling budgets and schedules to rein in costs. Dubai, meanwhile, has pledged to cut government spending by up to 25 per cent to 2013. “Both emirates are looking cautiously at their spending,” pointed out Sabavala. “The UAE is some way from trouble but it is looking ahead, simply because it is uncertain about

Cooperation is Key to Meeting Gulf Challenges While the far-sighted aviation strategies of several GCC countries has been central to the region’s development, its continuing value should not be taken for granted WAM

Aviation has been at the centre of the Gulf region’s economic transformation over the past 25 years. Now the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on all parts of the aviation value chain in the region to work together on issues critical to

the sector’s ability to serve as a catalyst for continued economic growth. A study by Oxford Economics shows that aviation in the Middle East supports 2.7 million jobs and $129 billion in GDP. Its role is set to grow rapidly as international passenger numbers rise from 77.1 million in 2010 to 220 million in 2030. “Aviation’s ability to play a leading role in GDP growth is not guaranteed. It depends on having the right conditions in place to support competitive, sustainable businesses,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO, in his address to this year’s Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi. “Many of these are beyond the direct control of air-

Summer 2012


Market The Hub

Luxury Brands in Good Mood

Mind the Gap

Confident consumers and emerging markets add gloss to retail sales

Quality, service and maintenance problems are creating a split in the market, for both property investors and home-buyers

by Jola Chudy By Joanne Bladd

Luxury brands are doing well. Companies including Audemars Piguet and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars have reported crunch-beating sales figures: Rolls-Royce reported record sales for 2011, with the number of cars shipped to the Middle East rising by 23 per cent on 2010. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton reported revenues of 23.7 billion euros in 2011, up by 16 per cent. And they’re not the only ones, as can be seen from an array of new openings in Dubai. International names from fine dining – such as Rivington Grill and Alfie’s – to luxury watchmaking, such as IWC, which is soon to open a boutique in Abu Dhabi, show a confidence that defies predictions of doom. Chalhoub Group is about to launch a new shoe retail concept and a new Tanagra showroom, while the furniture group PF Emirates – the umbrella for Poltrona Frau, Cassina, Capellini and others, is shortly to open a large showroom on Emaar Boulevard (next to McLaren, which opened last year). Global brands are doing well here and it’s not just because of wealthy regional shoppers. Although its status as a hub for tourism and business is a factor, the growth of newer economies such as India and China is fuelling sales in Dubai, with many hotels reporting large increases in visitors from those countries. “For us the difference is marked,” says Natalie Glorney, Director of Communications at Shangri-La Dubai. “Last year Chinese guests accounted for 1,141 room nights, up from 754 room nights in 2010.” And it’s not just hotels. Brands are working to appeal to this new niche market, from Paul Smith suits tailored specifically for the slimmer, more petite customer, to luxury watch brands producing timepieces with Chinese calendars incorporated (such as Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar). “In this market there’s an interesting mix of strong local demand and high-spending tourists,” said Audemars Piguet CEO Philippe Merk, in Dubai for the opening of the brand’s second stand-alone boutique in The Dubai Mall. “While there was a slowdown in the first half of 2008, especially with the drop in tourism, their reduced numbers have been

lines, and most require industry and government to work together with a common vision and purpose.” Tyler identified a four-point agenda for the region based on safety, security, infrastructure and the environment. Last year’s accident rate of one Western-built jet hull loss for every 2.7 million flights was a 39 per cent improvement on 2010. In the MENA region, there was one hull loss for every 500,000 flights. “Safety must continue to be addressed as a community, working in partnership with governments and based on global standards,” said Tyler. Infrastructure investment has been high, with more than $100 billion spent on airport projects in the MENA region. This must be matched by commitments to efficient air traffic management through harmonisation and optimal routings. But,

Philippe Merk, CEO of Audemars Piguet, Nicolas Garzouzi and Mohammed Seddiqi open AP’s new Dubai Mall boutique

offset by significant growth in spending by locally-based clients.” The growth of connoisseurship is having a noticeable effect, with the highest growth coming from the quality of purchases, rather than quantity of sales, he says. “As people become more educated and discerning about luxury products generally, and watches in particular, they are moving from being purchasers to collectors, which means greater demand for our higher-value and rarer pieces.” For this reason, and because Dubai has become the region’s hub for high-end shopping, “there is still a lot of potential to keep growing”, he adds. A. Lange & Söhne, a leading luxury watch brand is also to launch two stand-alone shops. A new boutique in Abu Dhabi will bring Lange’s watchmaking artistry one step closer to followers, offering fascinating insights into the world of haute horologerie. “This opening is a logical milestone for the brand in the Middle East. We will continue to develop perceptions of A. Lange & Söhne, enhancing the brand’s image and relationship with our ever-increasing number of aficionados,” explains Matthieu Dupont, Middle East Brand Manager. This trend is reflected in advertising spend figures released by MP. Mouawad led the luxury sector, spending US$5,550m in the region, followed by Rolex with US$3,495m. While economic hard times have hit some income groups hard, elite customers remain largely unaffected. Luxury brands, it seems, are confident that wealthy consumers are spending again, and spending big.

The head of Dubai’s real estate watchdog signalled a shift in the city’s property market last month when he cited maintenance woes as the agency’s top concern. Investor disputes, which dominated the fallout from Dubai’s property boom-andbust, have been sidelined by rows over poor upkeep and slack service, he told an industry conference. “The story has changed,” said Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). “Everybody is talking about defects, bad maintenance and the slow response from FM [facilities management] companies. There are a lot of crazy buildings… from outside, they look fantastic but when you go inside, it’s a different story.” The quality gap is a legacy of Dubai’s rapid rise and fall. Hundreds of thousands of homes were built between 2006 and 2008, fuelled by speculators and excessive lending; building quality took a back seat. At the top level of the property market, the scarcity of high-quality real estate is particularly acute. David Terry, sales manager for specialist brokerage Luxhabitat, says that properties typically require complete renovation before they can be deemed suitable for his niche clientele. “We struggle. When we have clients that approach us with huge budgets, say AED 150m, they can end up buying in a different city because we just don’t have the quality here,” he says. The problem is exacerbated because the city’s prime locations have already seen significant construction: “All of the best locations are taken, really,” says Terry. “The problem is that you need to be frontline on the sea, or the marina, and the majority of those lots are gone.” Lately, rows over shoddy building maintenance and service fees have soared as homeowners battle to secure the value of their investment. “Poorly maintained properties lose value,” says Matthew Green, head of research and consultancy at CBRE. “The

property’s shelf-life is reduced [and] if it’s a buy-to-let property it risks deterring tenants. The properties doing well in the market now [are] those that are well managed and have good-quality facilities.” Dubai’s high-end developments have been the first to see a price rebound – be that smaller units in higher-quality buildings as for family-sized apartments and large villas. For example, rental apartments in Downtown Dubai saw a five per cent rise in average yearly prices in the first quarter this year, to AED 70,000, according to property consultancy Asteco. By contrast, investors in poor-quality developments face the twin blows of high annual service fees to maintain their properties and much-reduced rental and sales income. “It’s a major issue for investors looking at buying to let because the high cost of service charges eats directly into

‘There are a lot of crazy buildings... from outside they look fantastic but when you go inside, it’s a different story.’ potential rental yield,” says Green. The long-term implications are serious as Dubai is beginning to show signs of developing a two-tiered property market, with poor-quality villas and apartments proving difficult to let or sell, further squeezing prices: “The worst properties will continue to struggle,” says Green. “Landlords will need to offer rent-free periods or shorter leases [to attract tenants].” For new developments RERA has made efforts to push build quality to the top of the agenda, encouraging developers to involve facility management experts at the start of the construction cycle. However, any real change is likely to be driven by increasingly discerning investors, says Terry. “Any developer starting now from scratch has to offer a better product than that already in the marketplace. Buyers now spend a lot more time and energy on viewing properties.” Even small flaws in finishing and building quality “can be a deal-breaker”, he adds. “Dubai is a very different market now.”

Tyler warned, “Technology for technology’s sake will not help us to reduce emissions, save fuel or increase air-space capacity. [We should] develop procedures using existing technology that offers a sustainable business case for all.” With regard to the environment, aviation’s ability to fulfill future demand depends on sustainability. Tyler singled out the Qatar Advanced Biofuel Platform, a consortium formed by Qatar Airways, Rolls-Royce and others to develop the world’s first large-scale algae bio-jet value chain as being a positive development. Security will always remain an area for concern, but it needs streamlining, Tyler said. IATA is developing a Checkpoint of the Future that will use information to differentiate screening and allow passengers to walk through checkpoints without stopping, disrobing or unpacking. In post-crisis Dubai property buyers have become much more discerning; as a result high quality homes command a premium


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THE JOURNAL - Summer 2012 - National Edition  
THE JOURNAL - Summer 2012 - National Edition