By Binesh Panicker, Freehold Monthly

While thousands braved traffic and crowds to catch a glimpse of the opening ceremony of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, Karim Al Bassatne simply walked to the balcony of his three-and-a-half-bedroom apartment in Burj Residences to witness history in the making. He even invited some friends over, giving them all a moment to remember for the rest of their lives.

Image Credit: Kishore Kumar
Image Credit: Kishore Kumar

Does he think the launch of the Burj Khalifa will have an impact on the area? “Yes, it will have a huge impact as people will be flocking from around the world to have a look at this architectural wonder,” he says. “But, from a resident’s point of view, I find the area provides so much more than just the Burj.”

Cafes, clubs just a stroll away

Karim, who was born in Lebanon and brought up in the UK, bought the apartment in April 2009 and moved in two months later. For Karim, someone who loves shopping and walking around, Downtown Burj Khalifa is the ideal place to live. “The location is logical,” he says. “It is very open and easy. I love the social aspect of living in this area because I can walk wherever I want without any hassle.

Walking around is difficult anywhere else in Dubai, but in Downtown I can easily walk to restaurants, shops and spas. I like going to Thiptara, the Thai restaurant at The Palace, and Rivington Grill at Souq Al Bahar. I can walk to these places any time I want to. Also, when I come back from work a bit tired and I don’t want to dress up, I can just walk to Al Manzil hotel, which is about five to ten minutes’ walk away. So this place is absolutely ideal for a normal city living, single guy.”

Also within strolling distance are the spas of The Palace and The Address hotels and the shopping and entertainment options in Dubai Mall. And despite the area’s popularity with singles and couples, he believes it’s also a very liveable area for families, “especially given the kids’ zone in Dubai Mall, the park outside and the walkways around.”

Architectural eye candy

While there are many developments in the UAE that have amazing views, including Karim’s previous apartment on Shaikh Zayed Road, he believes Burj Residences has some of the finest vistas. “When I look out of my window, I can see the Burj, the Burj Khalifa Fountain, the lake and even the sea in the distance,” he says. “I chose Downtown simply because I love the views.”

A public relations and creative professional, Karim inspected a number of other apartments in Downtown Burj before zeroing in on his current residence, which he loved instantly. “The moment I saw this apartment, I wanted it. I had seen a similar apartment on a lower floor in another building but the view wasn’t as spectacular as this. I waited for a few months until I found the right location. At that time, prices had come down somewhat, so it was the perfect time to buy.”

Right price, right pad

Karim, having invested in Dubai Marina a few years ago, believes he made the right choice. “When the Downtown development was launched, it was way out of my reach. When the crash happened, I took advantage of the falling prices. If the prices had not gone down, I wouldn’t have thought of investing in Dubai, I’d have invested abroad perhaps.” He likes the area for a number of reasons.

“I find the Burj Residences development spectacular. It has a lot of problems to iron out in terms of quality and services, but in terms of ‘wow’ factor, it is phenomenal. The architecture of the Downtown Burj development is appealing. You have the Old Town, th e Residences, the Burj and The Address.”

The flip side

Although vistors flock to see the Burj Khalifa and the fountain, Karim says there are disadvantages of living in the area. “There is some construction activity outside my window which is slightly annoying. The work starts pretty early in the morning. The fountain sometimes goes on till late at night. Initially, of course, it [the noise] was a big shock and I used to wonder whether it was thunder, but I got used to it.

Nowadays it doesn’t bother me. I love the sound of water and it offers me spectacular views. What’s great is that when I have guests over, it’s an attention grabber. I don’t have to provide any entertainment to my guests because of the fountain.”