What makes Dubai the perfect family destination

Jason Hayes, Founder and CEO of LuxuryProperty.com, shares his views on what makes Dubai the place perfect for families to live. From its choice of private and peaceful communities, access to world-class schooling and wonderful outdoor spaces, Dubai is a great option for families looking to settle and purchase property.

Dubai is an ever-changing city. In the span of less than five decades, it has grown from a port town and a hub for traders and tourists to one of the key players in the global economy. It is also one of the best cities in the world for families to live in, a fact that is still perhaps not as widely recognized by much of the international community.

The prevailing image of Dubai for most is as the home of the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah and other feats of architecture and design that border on the fantastical. It is a city whose heartbeat thrums along the bustling Sheikh Zayed Road and whose spirit flows over its famous beaches and coastline. This however, has not been my experience.

Having moved here with my family not so long ago, it is my belief that Dubai offers the quintessential family lifestyle.

To be fair, this is a relatively new phenomenon. There was a time when looking beyond the gleaming spires that form the city’s skyline, you would find nothing but sand and dirt. Perhaps a handful of secluded villa neighbourhoods, most of which were in areas where foreign expats could not purchase property at the time. It wasn’t until the mid-2000’s that we saw the inception and gradual rise of the residential community in Dubai. Looking back, one might say that Arabian Ranches (established in 2005) was the first of its kind, followed closely by Emirates Hills. These two communities are particularly interesting as they present two different aspects of family living in Dubai, which I will explore further a bit later on. Since that time, several more communities have come up, such as Jumeirah Golf Estates and Al Barari, and there are many still in the pipeline.

These communities are set apart from the main urban districts of Dubai, giving them a sense of privacy and peace that can sometimes be lacking in the city. And yet, one is never too far from the vibrant Dubai lifestyle. Thanks to an evolving landscape and accompanying infrastructure, the neighbourhoods that would once have been considered on the outskirts of the city now enjoy strong arterial links to its centre. For anyone living in Arabian Ranches or Jumeirah Golf Estates, a drive of less than 20 minutes would take you to Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah or the ever-popular Dubai Marina. There are two international airports on opposite ends of the city that can be reached in no more than half an hour. Whether you want to go shopping, to have a day out on the beach, to dine in a Michelin-worthy restaurant or to enjoy a show at the famous Dubai Opera, everything is within your grasp.

Then of course there is the incredible access to some of the finest schools in Dubai with world-class educational standards and a choice of British, European or American schooling systems.

My own two children had a seamless transition moving here from the UK and are receiving a level of teaching that is easily on par with what they had previously. Not only that, but the schools here also cater to a variety of interests, from art to science and sports, ensuring a well-rounded education that goes beyond the classroom. We are also fortunate to have some truly excellent healthcare facilities very close to us. Whatever might ail you, there is undoubtedly a speciality clinic for it and an internationally accredited specialist who can provide treatment. There are few cities in the world that give you so many options so close at hand.

This perhaps leads to the obvious question – which is the best family community in Dubai? That is a bit harder to answer as each community offers something unique for its residents and ultimately, where you choose to settle down would depend on what you consider to be most ideal for your own family life. However, these are some of my personal favourite picks.

Arabian Ranches

One of Dubai’s original master communities, Arabian Ranches is spread around an 18-hole championship golf course. The community is split into 15 separate villa neighbourhoods, some of which are further subdivided and most of them bordering the course itself. Arabian Ranches also has its own school, medical clinic and shopping centre. The popularity of this project led to an adjacent expansion, Arabian Ranches II, which adds in a further 9 neighbourhoods with a 10th still under development. This year, I was amazed by the announcement of Arabian Ranches III, which is already shaping up to be a stunning new addition with an abundance of parks including a community water park.

Jumeirah Golf Estates

This is the community I live in, so I am perhaps a bit biased to include it on this list. But truthfully, this is a wonderful place to live. Upping the ante from the previous entry, JGE (as it is popularly known) boasts two championship courses – Fire and Earth. Surrounding them are more than a dozen communities of Italian-style villas that give the whole place a very pastoral atmosphere. As you walk around the neighbourhood, it can be hard to believe that you’re in Dubai. Rolling greens, crystal clear lakes and nary a skyscraper in sight – it feels so much like a country estate that’s far removed from everything. And yet, getting to the urban centres is so easy.

Dubai Hills Estate

Since it was first launched, Dubai Hills has been a hotly anticipated community and one that brings a fresh wave of excitement with it every year. As seems to be a running theme for residential communities in Dubai, Dubai Hills also features an 18-hole golf course. The course opened to the public in late 2018 and is already in the running to be one of the city’s best. It will also have one of the largest parks in the city, a shopping mall that will be on par with Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, international schools and healthcare options such as the world-renowned King’s College Hospital. The homes run the gamut from ultra luxury mansions along the golf course to more affordable apartment units. The first residential handovers should begin sometime this year and even now, new projects are being launched.

District One

Breaking from the pattern, District One swaps out a golf course for the world’s largest man-made lagoon. This unique waterfront neighbourhood is a key part of the expansive Mohammed Bin Rashid City. Divided between mansions, villas and a selection of waterfront apartments known as District One Residences, this is one of the most exclusive places to live in the city. The lagoon is for residents only, though other major amenities such as the upcoming Meydan Mall (expected to be the largest mall in the world) and 9 km of jogging and cycling track, are open to the general public.

Emirates Hills & Al Barari

Those with exceptionally deep pockets may want to consider either Emirates Hills or Al Barari. The former is still the most exclusive residential community in Dubai, set around the renowned Address Montgomerie golf course. Originally sold as plots of land, Emirates Hills is dotted with custom-designed villas, any of which would make the grandest of family homes. Al Barari, on the other hand, is known as Dubai’s greenest community due to the sheer abundance of foliage and landscaped spaces it contains – over 60% of the community is dedicated to greenery. It is home to expertly designed custom villas and a newer wave of residences that includes villas and apartments.

By Jason Hayes, Founder and CEO of LuxuryProperty.com