Sobha Hartland: Green-themed Dubai community starts to bloom

In the shadow of Dubai’s futuristic Meydan racecourse, thousands of villas and apartments are taking shape.

On a dusty road close to the Dubai Quarantine Centre, one of the first, Sobha Hartland, a planned gated community of 6,000 homes, comes as a shock of landscaped green.

The development by Dubai-based developer Sobha promises, like many others in the area, to provide luxury homes surrounded by peaceful and harmonious greenery.

According to Sobha’s charismatic chairman, PNC Menon, who appears in a white Bentley to talk the media through the new project, around 30 per cent of the 185 acres of land in Sobha Hartland will be reserved as green space.

A first phase of 70 villas is due to be completed by the end of next year and heavily advertised show homes are already up and running.

Certainly the 8,028 square foot five bedroom show villa opened to the media last week includes greenery at its very core, being built around an internal courtyard. The courtyard also includes a swimming pool and barbecue area connected to the internal areas through large double doors.

Inside is a large light double hight free-flowing reception room big enough to include both a large glass lift and the sort of staircase you only see in hotels and black and white American movies.

Bedrooms are also generously sized with en suite bathrooms, even in the maid’s room, and with lots of built in cupboards. The master bedroom is so large it feels more like a hotel suite, with its own sitting room and study as well as separate changing area and a large bathroom including a free standing bath and his and hers sinks.

But all of this comes at a cost with a price tag of Dh19.02 million – and in a Dubai housing market where prices have fallen by an estimated 15 per cent over the last two years, it’s hard to see why buyers would splash out on an off plan villa here when for the same price they could acquire a similarly sized house which is already built at Palm Jumeirah or Emirates Hills.

Q&A with PNC Menon, chairman of Sobha

Where is Sobha Hartland?

Sobha Hartland is located in Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City which is 10 kilometres from the centre of Dubai. If you go to any city in the world right now there is a demand from people who want to come and stay in the city and they are prepared to pay a little bit more to do that.

This sounds familiar. Is it being built with Meydan?

No. Sobha Hartland is not to be confused with Sobha’s other major development in Dubai, the nearby District One, a 400 hectare development comprising 1,500 villas spread around 7 kilometers of manmade lagoons and beaches. That is a villa community. Hartland is a mixed use community. The villas in Hartland will be similar in terms of luxury and specification but there will be only 135 villas in Hartland.

When will Sobha Hartland be finished?

The first 70 villas and apartments will be handed over in December 2017. The entire project is expected to be completed in 2021.

What is sentiment like in Dubai at the moment?

Let us look at Dubai. It is not oil dependent. If you really look at what is happening today, while globally things are very bad, our growth story is different. The real estate business all over the world is cyclical. Global cycles have become very short – perhaps four or five years. Many times, at the end of the day, the buyer has got his money but he will not cut a cheque because of the sentiment. But you cannot do anything about it. It’s a herd mentality. The moment the market picks up I tell you it will be as if there is no apartment available in the country.

What infrastructure will be here?

The RTA has already planned a new purple metro line running under the ground at Hartland. But there is also another line, a green line which has been planned to run near the project. It’s hard to say because city planning is so dynamic. Sobha Hartland is the only luxury community development located on the Dubai Water Canal.

Top 5 biggest Mohammed Bin Rashid City projects currently underway:

1. Dubai Hills, Emaar and Dubai Holding – 2,700 acres

2. District One, Meydan Sobha – 1,100 acres

3. District 11, Meydan – 234.7 acres

4. Sobha Hartland, Sobha – 185 acres

5. Millennium Estates, G&CO – 87.23 acres

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