The first stop on Lara and Terry's 'Grand Tour' was Dubai, where they stayed in a fabulous 5-bedroom villa on The Palm, owned by Andrew Dukes. In this fabulous home, they hosted a little pre-launch soirée with fellow travel writers and media. The villa provided the perfect base, with its own private beach and pool, as well as a huge kitchen perfect for preparing the cocktails and canapés.
Read all Lara and Terry's posts on Dubai
For those interested in buying in Dubai, Andrew shares his experience of owning and renting out property in the city. And for travellers thinking of visiting the second-largest emirate of the U.A.E., Andrew also offers his top tips for making the most of a holiday in Dubai.
Why did you choose to buy a property in Dubai?
I moved to Dubai for its tax free status, large expat population and reasonable flight time from London – 7 hours.
When did you buy the property and approximately how much did you pay for it?
The property was bought in 2006 whilst still under construction for AED 5,600,000 (approximately £500,000 at the time). Coincidently, the villa was the first one to be released and I moved in on 31st January 2007 and became the first Palm resident
Why did you decide to make it into a holiday home / rent it out?
I travelled a lot in 2007 and had lots of friends that wanted to stay there on holiday when I was away. It got used so much that I decided to see how it would rent on a chargeable basis, and it was so successful that I bought a second villa to rent too!
On average, how many weeks do you rent out per year, and during which months?
The villas are available for about 50 weeks of the year and probably rented on average for 47 weeks. We have near 100% occupancy in October to May, and a little less during the hot months of July and August.
Why should people come to visit Dubai?
Guaranteed sun would be most people’s answer! Dubai is also clean and safe, has great shopping, beaches, and is very family orientated. A villa on The Palm gives you your own beach, it's private, and at the luxury end of the market, with your own staff, and for some of the villas even a driver and car – a dream holiday.
What are your top three tips for ‘living like a local’ in Dubai?
For the sightseeing, you have to do the big bus tour, the trip to the top of the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa
, and the souks. Don’t miss going down into the art district, Bastakiya
, and definitely take a small river boat, an 'abra
', down the creek.
What is you favourite place in Dubai?
I love just wandering around the Al Bahar Souk
and then having dinner next to the fountains at the base of the Burj Khalifa.
What is your favourite local dish and the best place to enjoy it?
Dubai is so international it is often difficult to find a local Arabian restaurant – the Al Makan in the Souk Madinat
Jumeirah has great food and is located in a picturesque setting.
What’s the best thing for travellers to take home as a souvenir from Dubai?
The Old Souk sells a Mosque alarm clock – it goes off with the call to prayer, and is guaranteed to wake you up in a morning, and remind you of Dubai!
How would you describe the local people in Dubai?
Very friendly and very family orientated.