DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) is the largest business district in the region of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It is a special economic zone, where a large number of financial matters, including ones related to the rules for transactions, real estate and labour relations, are regulated by specific standards, as well as a special governing body and judicial authorities who operate there. A favourable environment has been created in DIFC for taxpayers and business development, and full ownership of real estate by foreign companies is also permitted. The conditions for renting offices and retail space at DIFC are among some of the best terms in Dubai. As a result, the offices of multiple large corporations and banks are located there.
Geographically, DIFC covers an area of 11,840,301 sq. ft just off the Sheikh Zayed Road. The district is adjacent to Downtown Dubai and is divided into three zones – commercial, residential and retail. The area is full of offices, residential properties, restaurants, art galleries, cafes and shops, and is perfect for those who are ready to live and work in the rhythm of the urban city. This district attracts qualified trade and finance professionals worldwide, as well as international business corporations and investors.
The DIFC area is located between Downtown Dubai (from the southwest), Za’abeel (from the east) and Al Satwa (from the west). The Sheikh Zayed Road is located along the western border of the district, very close to a large transport interchange, which makes it possible to exit the highway both towards the bridge over Dubai Creek and the city exit through Ras Al Khor, as well as the exit towards Al Wasl Road and the seaside areas of Dubai.
One of the peculiarities of DIFC, which is a dense development, is the traffic jams – to get out of the area, it is better to plan your route before or after rush hour traffic (the beginning and end of the workday, the time of public events). Visitors of DIFC may also have difficulties when finding parking, even though parking is not free of charge (from AED 10 (USD 2.7) per hour), so it makes sense to order a taxi, Uber or the local Careem service.
The inconvenience of heavy traffic is compensated by the fact that the public transport system is well-developed in the area. There are two metro stations within walking distance– Financial Center and Emirates Towers (red metro line) and lots of bus stops: the buses No. 27 and 28 run through the area (both can take you to The Dubai Mall, and bus No. 27 terminates at the Gold Souk in Deira).
Main landmarks and directions:
There are many grocery and home goods stores in DIFC which can be found in almost any large complex, including stores such as Spinneys, BS Supermarket LLC, Choithrams, Fresh Mart, Al Maya and others. Spinneys, Choithrams and Al Maya can be found in Central Park Towers, Burj Daman and Park Towers.
In the large shopping center of Gate Avenue, there are not only a lot of boutiques offering fashionable clothes, watches and luxury goods (for example, Sacoor Brothers, Suit Supply, Black Amber, His and Hers, Fiori Jewels, Collars and Cuffs), but also handicraft displays and art gallery.
The Dubai Mall is located in the neighbouring area of Downtown Dubai and can be reached within 10 minutes by car.
Restaurants and cafes are also plentiful in the DIFC area and can be found in each of its multiple buildings. ShanghaiMe and La Cantine du Faubourg are popular for outdoor tables.
One can also experience fine dining at La Petite Maison (French cuisine), Gaucho Dubai (steakhouse), Cipriani Dubai (Italian cuisine), Royal China (Chinese) and Zuma (Japanese). Bars include BOCA at Gate Village and Original Wings and Rings at Liberty House.
Kindergartens and daycare groups are organized in almost every residential complex in DIFC. There is an excellent kindergarten in Downtown Dubai called Blossom Downtown Nursery, where the EYFS development methods are applied in teaching. Nearby in the Al Satwa area, which is 10 minutes away, are GEMS Wellington Primary School and Salma Al Ansaria Elementary School.
The closest medical center to DIFC is Zabeel Health Center, which can be reached within 5 minutes by car, as well as the National Screening Center-City Walk and the large Latifa Hospital which are both about 15 minutes away, provided there are no traffic jams.
In the DIFC area, a branch of the well-known chain, Life Pharmacy, can be found in the building of Up Tower.
Almost all DIFC residential complexes comprise gyms, swimming pools, beauty salons and spa centers. However, for fitness enthusiasts there are large fitness centers such as Fitness First and Barry’s Bootcamp in the DIFC area, and spas and beauty centers include the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Mind & Sense Spa and Spa Cordon.
Living in DIFC, one can easily reach Downtown Dubai which houses some of the city’s most famous attractions such as the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountains.
Residents can get to the coast within 15 minutes by car and relax on the beach along the Jumeirah Road. Not far from DIFC there is one of the main attractions of Dubai – the Dubai Frame, a huge gilded structure made in the shape of a photo frame with the adjacent infrastructure.
Accommodation in DIFC is convenient for those who work in the center and prefer both their home and office to be within walking distance, as well as having the possibility of going to a cafe or restaurant, go shopping, or visit the latest art exhibitions after work. However, the range of options in DIFC for outdoor recreation and family amenities in a peaceful atmosphere is very limited, compared with other areas in the city like Dubai Marina.
The area is popular with qualified professionals working in numerous companies in DIFC and corporate banks, as well as expats. DIFC is mostly populated with career driven professionals who do not plan to acquire a large family or live in a suburban area, and for those wanting to live as close to their place of work as possible.One can either buy affordable housing in this area for themself now (or later, if they prefer to change to a quieter area, then the property can be sold or rented out after), or you can also rent inexpensive apartments in order not to spend excessive amounts of money on rent and transportation.
Therefore, the demand for buying and renting apartments, including affordable property, is stable in DIFC, and their purchase can be considered as a profitable investment.
Prices for studios start from AED 700K (USD 190K), one-bedroom apartments cost from AED 1M, and two-bedroom units are from 1.5M AED, which is about USD 270K. The prices for apartments with three or more bedrooms start from AED 2.5M (USD 680K). All units within complexes in DIFC are usually quite spacious, and the service quality in these residential complexes is very high.
The average rental price for a studio in DIFC is AED 70K (USD 20K) per year, but one can find a small studio for AED 40-50K (USD 10-13K). One and two-bedroom apartments can be found within the price range of AED 60-140K (USD 16-38K), and three-bedroom units cost from AED 160K (USD 44K) per year.
Studios and one-bedroom apartments have the highest ROI in DIFC, which have a rate of about 6%.
In DIFC, one can purchase or rent luxury property, which may also be an excellent investment as the international companies based in DIFC may be interested in both renting and purchasing such property for their employees.
It is also worth noting that due to the DIFC being both a business center and a place with many retail shops, restaurants and other places attractive for foreign visitors, daily rent in DIFC is also in demand both among tourists and those who are visiting Dubai for a business trip.
Almost all residential real estate projects in DIFC are located in multifunctional complexes, where there are offices and shops, in addition to apartments. Among the most popular residential buildings are Park Towers, Sky Garden DIFC, Central Park Towers and Burj Daman. Residential real estate in DIFC consists of studios, apartments (1-4 bedrooms) and penthouses.
Park Towers by DAMAC Properties was built in 2011 and was recognized as the best mixed-use development in the world. The complex consists of two 49-storey high-rise buildings – Park Tower A and Park Tower B. The lower 7 floors are occupied by offices, and the residential area starts from the 12th floor. One can buy or rent studios or 1-3-bedroom apartments, as well as penthouses. The complex has a unique architecture as the buildings are two identical towers, with smooth lines that are created by a continuous canvas of high-tech panels ensuring the energy-saving features of the buildings.
Sky Garden DIFC is a project by Al Mazaya Holding which was completed in 2008. The development is a 40-storey building, with 26 of the floors housing residential units (there are 575 units in total). The complex offers studios, 1-3-bedroom apartments and penthouses.
Central Park Towers by Dubai Properties Group and Deyaar Development, like Park Towers, consists of two similar towers. These both offer studios and 1-3-bedroom apartments, and the residences are located next to other complexes.
Burj Daman is a Perkins & Will project that was completed in 2013. The development is a mixed-use complex consisting of a 65-storey residential tower and a 15-storey building with commercial spaces. The building is also home to the Rosewood Dubai Hotel, which is known for its swimming pool on the roof. It is possible to buy and rent premium 1-3-bedroom apartments in Burj Daman.
Central Park Towers was designed by Hopkins Architects Ltd, and Dubai Properties Group and Deyaar Development collaborated in the construction of the complex which was completed in 2014. The residence consists of two buildings – a 47-storey residential block and a 45-storey office tower.
Most of the property in DIFC is located in high-rise towers of multifunctional complexes, with office and retail spaces, shops and restaurants, and sports facilities located on the lower floors, and the upper ones are often occupied by expensive penthouses.
Park Towers is considered the most famous and popular complex in DIFC in terms of real estate acquisition. Park Towers residents can use the complex’s underground parking facility, and the building also features an ultra-modern air conditioning and fire safety system, 24-hour security and video surveillance, as well as several high-speed elevators. The help desk and reception also has a 24/7 concierge service which is available for all residents. In Park Towers, one can rent a banquet hall and conference room for events, and also can visit the on-site gym and swimming pool.
Apartments are available both furnished and unfurnished, but each unit has a fully-equipped kitchen. A parking space may or may not be included in the price of a unit, however this issue should be discussed separately. All apartments with one to three bedrooms feature a balcony.
There are small studios in Park Towers (from 409 sq. ft), but currently there are almost no available units for sale or to rent. The area of one-bedroom apartments with one or two bathrooms in Park Towers varies from 602 sq . ft to 1,022 sq. ft. Prices start from AED 800K (USD 218K).
Two-bedroom apartments range in size from 893 sq. ft to 2,152 sq. ft and comprise three or four bathrooms. The area of apartments with three bedrooms varies from 1,797 sq. ft to 3,229 sq. ft. These residential units feature four or five bathrooms, a maid’s room, and organized storage space. It is also possible to purchase a full floor (about 96,875 sq. ft) within the building.
The Park Towers one-bedroom apartments of 1,001 sq. ft with two bathrooms can be purchased for AED 1M (USD 270K).
Burj Daman is located on Al Mustaqbal Street, which is a 15-minute walk from Emirates Towers MRT Station. The complex has a 24/7 reception, concierge service and security management. Comfort in the building is provided by a modern centralized air-conditioning system.
The complex has parking for 2,360 vehicles and the building also offers dedicated venues for events and even a barbecue area. Facilities for recreation and sports are also provided, as there is a large gym, a squash court, indoor gardens, and a rooftop swimming pool. There are also restaurants, coffee shops, a spa, a health club, a kindergarten and a mosque. Burj Daman is one of the few pet-friendly residential buildings in DIFC.
Burj Daman apartments cannot be classified as a cheap segment as they are much more comfortable and spacious with high-quality interior fittings. All apartments in the development have built-in wardrobes and come with balconies. The residential units for rent offer fully-equipped kitchens with a full range of appliances.
The living areas of one-bedroom apartments are from 882 sq. ft to 1,291 sq. ft, two-bedroom apartments are from 1,593 sq. ft to 1,786 sq. ft, and floorplans of three-bedroom apartments are from 2,045 sq. ft to 2,152 sq. ft.
A one-bedroom apartment of 925 sq. ft with two bathrooms in Burj Daman can be purchased for AED 1.6M (USD 440K).
The multifunctional complex of Sky Gardens DIFC is a 40-storey building with underground parking. It is served by four high-speed elevators and security is provided to the highest standards within the building, in addition to 24/7 video surveillance. All visits within the whole complex by both residents and guests are recorded.
Due to its convenient location, low rental prices and high-quality service, this residence is one of the most popular complexes for rental apartments.
In Sky Gardens DIFC everything is created so that residents can relax and unwind after a workday, as there is a fitness club with a gym, a sauna and a jacuzzi, as well as a swimming pool. A beauty salon and a floating center have been opened in the building too. There are private gardens on several floors and a play area and kindergarten can be found there as well.
A professional concierge service is available 24/7 in order to serve the needs of both residents and guests. The complex has a modern ventilation and cooling system as there are no balconies in the apartments. However, in some cases there are indoor terraces. The apartments feature built-in wardrobes, fully-equipped kitchens, and units are available both furnished and unfurnished.
The complex offers studios (ranging from 516 sq. ft to 839 sq. ft), one-bedroom apartments with two bathrooms (785 sq. ft to 1,657 sq. ft), two-bedroom apartments with three or four bathrooms (1,033 sq. ft to 1700 sq. ft) and three-bedroom apartments of 2,109 sq. ft with four bathrooms.
Apartment prices in Sky Gardens DIFC start from AED 900K (USD 245K) for a studio. The minimum cost for a penthouse (3,767 sq. ft) is AED 4M, and penthouses can be rented for a minimum of AED 350K per year (approximately USD 95K).
The rental price for a furnished one-bedroom apartment of 904 sq. ft with two bathrooms amounts to AED 70K (USD 19K) per year.
The complex of Central Park Tower provides all the necessary amenities and services for its residents, including an 8-level parking lot with 3,000 parking spaces. The building features a central air-conditioning system, and the customer service, front desk, security service, and the visitor control system work 24 hours a day.
There is everything a resident needs to relax in the building, including a barbecue area on the roof, a squash court, two swimming pools and a playground. There are also jogging and cycling paths around the building as well.
The residential tower offers studio apartments (742 sq. ft – 904 sq. ft), one-bedroom apartments (1,044 – 1,280 sq. ft), two-bedroom apartments (1,603 sq. ft – 2098 sq. ft) and three-bedroom residences (2.023 sq. ft – 2.970 sq. ft), as well as penthouses from 6,404 sq. ft. There are many types of different layouts in this complex, and the apartments are available with a fully-equipped kitchen. Prices start from AED 700K for a studio and AED 1.3M for a one-bedroom apartment. The annual rental price of a studio in this tower is approximately AED 50-60K.
The rental cost of an unfurnished one bedroom apartment of 1,270 sq. ft with two bathrooms is AED 85K (USD 23K) per year.
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