Site visit: dar wasl, Dubai

Construction Week visits the dar wasl development, a slice of Morocco in the heart of Dubai

Site Visits, Dubai, GCC region, Site visit, United Arab Emirates

Residents of Dubai who have driven down the city’s Al Wasl Road recently, might have noticed construction workers giving shape to a cluster of white-walled, Moroccan-flavoured villas. These homes form part of the flagship project of wasl, a semi-government developer based in the UAE. The project, called dar wasl, is a 63,032-sqm community comprising apartments, villas, a clubhouse, and high-end retail units.

The project is in close proximity to Safa Park, with schools, hospitals, supermarkets, and leisure centres located in its vicinity. The $136m (AED500m) development is billed as a superior residential neighbourhood. It features attached two-storey villas with impressive views of Business Bay, and a three-storey residential, road-facing building, which boasts retail outlets on the ground level. The development has been designed to maximise comfort and convenience with dedicated parking, a health club, swimming pools, and a children’s playground.

dar wasl is owned by Dubai Real Estate Corporation (DREC), a government entity established in June 2007 by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. DREC owns a sizeable land bank, which includes properties registered to the Government of Dubai. The company’s mandate extends to building and investing, as well as the utilisation of commercial and industrial lands and properties.

dar wasl is being managed by wasl Properties, a subsidiary of wasl Asset Management Group. The semi-government entity was created by DREC to manage and develop its assets. wasl operates a wide spectrum of property management, project management, and investment management services for its parent organisation.

The dar wasl community comprises 166 three-, four- and five-bedroom villas, and 112 two- and three-bedroom apartments. The development offers eight five-bedroom, 136 four-bedroom, and 22 three-bedroom villas.

The main contractors have made substantial progress on the project, which is nearing completion according to Mohamed Yousif Al Ali, senior projects manager at wasl Properties.

“Construction of the villas began in April 2013 and is around 95% complete, with handovers due to finish by the end of 2015,” he tells Construction Week. “Work on the apartments is 85% done, and their handover will be carried out in the first quarter of 2016.”

Up to 800 construction professionals are currently working around-the-clock on site to add finishing touches to the project. “Earlier, we had 1,400 workers [at] the project, but as it is approaching completion, we have reduced the numbers,” Al Ali says.

“Once the villas are ready, our inspection team will certify it [as acceptable], and we will hand it over to the tenants.”

Contracting works are being carried out by UAE-based Al Oruba Contracting, while Khatib & Alami is the lead consultant for the development. Marble items for the project have been supplied by Emirates Marble.

“As wasl, we never compromise on quality, [and therefore], we have satisfied customers with zero complaints,” Al Ali says.

The project is available only through leasing plans. Rents for the five-bedroom villas begin at $100,170 (AED370,000), and four-bedroom villas at $70,783 (AED260,000).“All the villas cater to the needs of families,” Al Ali remarks. “The project stands apart by melting historical Andalusian architecture with modern conveniences.”

dar wasl also features a clubhouse, which includes a gym, swimming pool, and a play area for exclusive use by residents. Ample parking is available in the basement for retail customers, whilst each apartment has been provided with an assigned parking space. Villas, meanwhile, have been allotted two shaded parking spaces.

The entire development also features 87 units for commercial applications, dedicated to retail, including supermarkets, fashion outlets, spas, laundry services, high-end restaurants and cafes.

“dar wasl’s retail centre is expected to open by March 2016, providing residents with a full array of shopping options right at their doorstep,” Al Ali says.

At Cityscape Global 2015, held in September, Hesham Al Qassim, CEO of wasl, said Dubai’s real estate market is currently undergoing a healthy correction. He added that the property market is being sustained by the strength of the UAE’s economy, and that he expects the current correction to last until the end of 2016.

“I predict that the real estate market will reach a new level and will move upwards in the right manner,” Al Qassim said at the time. “It is the perfect time to invest, especially with the Expo 2020 ahead of us.”

wasl has also ventured into the freehold property market through apartments in its Creek Heights development, near the Grand Hyatt hotel in Dubai’s Oud Metha district.

“We have announced four major projects this year, out of which three are freehold, with a total value of $10.8bn (AED40bn),” Qassim said at Cityscape Global 2015.

Qassim also used the property show as a platform to share details of the company’s burgeoning hospitality portfolio, which is progressively expanding from its present 13 hotels that house 5,000 rooms. With dar wasl as the jewel in its crown, wasl Properties looks set for a busy few years.

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