By Muby Asger, Staff Reporter  XPRESS

Dubai: Brian Caldwell, a resident of the Old Town Island in Downtown Dubai is proud to call the area home. “Back in the UK, everyone is astounded when I tell them I live next door to the world’s tallest tower. It’s a monument they watch on TV and cannot believe that for me, it’s my everyday reality.”

* Image Credit: XPRESS/Megan Hirons Mahon * The iconic Burj Khalifa is a towering sight in Downtown Dubai. The area has all amenities and many groceries.
* Image Credit: XPRESS/Megan Hirons Mahon * The iconic Burj Khalifa is a towering sight in Downtown Dubai. The area has all amenities and many groceries.

Caldwell isn’t alone in his sentiment. Thousands of residents of Downtown Dubai are paying top dollars to live in a neighbourhood purely for the prestige tag it comes with.

Nestled under the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai is home to some of the city’s most important landmarks including the Dubai Mall, Dubai Fountain and ,of course, Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

Rent watch

Distinction like that, comes at a price. Rents in the neighbourhood vary, based on the size, view and location of each apartment. On the higher end of the scale are apartments in Burj Khalifa itself. Starting at Dh130,000 for a one-bedroom, and going up to Dh220,000 for a three-bedroom, these apartments are among the most coveted in the world — and at a fraction of the price they were upon launch.

Meanwhile, still holding onto a piece of the Burj pie but with a lower rent are the 8 Boulevard Walk, Lofts and Burj Views districts. “A one-bedroom apartment in any of these areas starts for as little as Dh65,000, going up to Dh95,000 for a two-bedroom with a full Burj and Fountain view,” says Pooja Banwani, Sales and Leasing Consultant at Harbor Real Estate.

The area is peppered with various residential districts, including Old Town, Old Town Island, Burj Views, Southridge, 8 Boulevard Walk, The Lofts, The Residences and Burj Khalifa. “Any apartment with an unobstructed view of the Burj Khalifa and the Fountain are more expensive than others,” explains Banwani. “Accordingly, developments such as the Burj Khalifa, The Address Lake Hotel, the Burj Residences and the Old Town Island are the priciest to rent. Meanwhile, the cheapest in terms of rents are The Lofts, Burj Views and 8 Boulevard Walk, as they have some smaller sized apartments without full views of the fountain or the Burj. Accordingly, while a two-bedroom apartment in Old Town begins from Dh90,000 onwards, a similar home in Burj Residences can rent for Dh135,000 due to the views.”

After having lived in the Downtown district for two years, Caldwell admits that he’s rarely had the opportunity to see the rest of Dubai, since his neighbourhood offers just about every amenity, service and luxury that one could want. “The Dubai Mall is a five-minute walk from my building, as are all the lake-side restaurants. Old Town has its own gym and pool for residents, so I never need to go elsewhere for my fitness needs. Next door to the Old Town Island is Souq Al Bahar, with bars, pubs, restaurants and shopping. For a taste of the five-star life, we have the two Address hotels, The Palace Hotel, Al Qamardeen, Al Manzil and the Armani Hotel. Honestly, why would I feel the need to travel to another part of Dubai when home, work and everything in between is right here!”

A community such as this, of the city’s rich and famous, seems all peaches and cream from the outside. Insiders however, often have a different tale to tell.

For starters, the Metro station is a long walk away from the residential areas and the mall, and those wishing to commute need to wait for the half-hourly public buses to pick them up. There are also no hospitals, nurseries or schools in the community, with the nearest option being on Shaikh Zayed Road.

“There are constant parades in Downtown which, although a joy to visitors, slows down our life and crowds up our neighbourhood,” says Caldwell. “For example, during the Dubai Shopping Festival, there were always street performances going on, which meant that we were unable to drive into or out of our buildings.”

That, however, is the price to be paid for living next door to the world’s most prestigious building, for having the world’s largest mall at your doorstep, for having the world’s highest dancing fountain for your view, for having state-of-the-art cinemas next door to your apartment, the world’s largest indoor gold souq for your jewellery needs, or the world’s only Armani Hotel as your weekend getaway.

At a glance

  • Retail: The Dubai Mall is a 12.1 million square foot retail, lifestyle and entertainment hub, hosting over 1,200 stores
  • Restaurants: Besides five-star dining at Armani Hotel, Palace Hotel, Al Manzil, Al Qamardeen, The Address Hotel Dubai Mall, and The Address Hotel Downtown, the Dubai Mall and Souq Al Bahar provide hundreds of dining options for residents.
  • Service providers: Both etisalat and du
  • Medical facilities: While both Dubai Mall and Souq Al Bahar have pharmacies, Downtown Dubai doesn’t have a hospital on its premises
  • Entertainment options: The area has a host of entertainment options like Burj Khalifa’s observation deck, Dubai Fountain, ice rink, aquarium and underwater zoo, SEGA Republic, Kidzania and Reel Cinemas
  • Taxis: Available aplenty due to the proximity of Dubai Mall and various hotels