PNC Menon of Sobha Realty tells us how Mayfair helped inspire his Dubai development Sobha Hartland.
Words by Hardeep Sandher
Dubai is becoming an attractive place for serious investors, second home owners and retirees, according to PNC Menon.
The founder and chairman of the multinational group Sobha Realty predicts that within 10 years there will be a surge in people from the UK and elsewhere buying retirement homes in Dubai.
Meanwhile, it has become one of the most populous and fastest growing cities in the United Arab Emirates.
Its population is growing by a sizeable 10 per cent annually.
Yet expatriates make up more than three quarters of the people living there.
Thus there is a continued push for major new residential and leisure developments across the region.
One of the largest schemes currently under way is Sobha Hartland, a £3 billion 183-acre luxurious freehold community.
Set in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, the development is due for completion in 2024.
It includes 5,000 luxury apartments and penthouses as well as 358 premium villas and townhouses.
Furthermore, the community will have access to worldclass amenities, restaurants, retail centres, educational and entertainment facilities.
The design also includes 2.4 million square feet of greenery in the form of parkland, landscaped areas and gardens.
Meanwhile, the garden squares and townhouses of Mayfair helped inspire the group’s design for Sobha Hartland.
“I like the way that garden squares and communal gardens in London give people outside living spaces and gardens beyond their own private home,” says Menon.
“We have designed Sobha Hartland around the landscaping. And the contemporary townhouses at Sobha Hartland were inspired by those in Mayfair.
“We have designed it to be contemporary in style. In my view, buildings work if they are either historic or contemporary, but not a fusion of the two,” he adds.
More UK buyers
It is perhaps no surprise, given its UK influence, that two out of every 10 Sobha customers either has a home in London, or is a regular visitor.
Recent changes in visa policies for Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates make it easier and cheaper for UK nationals to both visit and retire in the Emirate.
UK expats aged 55 or over are now eligible to secure a five-year retirement visa.
So more buyers of Sobha Hartland homes are likely to be from the UK or connected to it.
“Pre-2008, the market suffered from speculators,” says Menon.
“But now the Dubai property market is maturing and appeals to serious investors, second home owners and retirees.”
“This is the ideal market for Sobha Realty since our brand builds homes for owner occupiers and long-term investors,” he adds.
“Over the next 10 years, I think there will be a significant uplift in people from the UK, continental Europe, Asia and Africa choosing to buy retirement homes in Dubai.”
Last year, with the launch of Sobha Global Studio in Park Lane, the award-winning group took its first steps towards the UK property market.
“Firstly, the studio acts as a showcase for all of Sobha’s luxury residences to a domestic UK audience as well as international visitors to London,” says Menon.
“Secondly, it provides clients with a UK-based team to contact.
“And, in addition, it facilitates brand alliances and joint ventures with London-based luxury brands and real estate partners.
“Perhaps most interestingly and importantly, a UK base provides Sobha Realty with a base to exercise its long-term plan to list on the London Stock Exchange and officially enter the UK property market.”
Crossrail and love of Mayfair
“The new Crossrail Elizabeth Line stations provide a series of bookmarks that highlight some of the potential up and coming areas for regeneration across London.
“The right location along the Crossrail route could be a perfect location for a new Sobha Realty development in London, but there are also other opportunities across the capital,” he adds.
“I am very fond of Mayfair, which is a global village in the heart of the UK capital.”
“People from all around the world come to Mayfair to live, socialise and visit the world-renowned shops, leisure facilities and hotels.
“I love the classic architecture of Mayfair and the beautiful garden squares.”
London Mark 2
“London should preserve the city that currently exists. Trying to redevelop or replan London is not the solution [to London’s lack of housing supply].
“London and its surrounding commuter region benefit from great infrastructure.
“Therefore, in my view, there should be a new vertical city, a London Mark 2, built up to one hour away from the capital, which will create a new urban hub for London, yet allow people to easily commute into the capital for work and leisure.”
A longer version of this article appeared in Mayfair Times.
Main picture: Creek Vistas Reservé.
Second picture: Hartland Canal Villas lounge and dining room.