Dubai Diaries: Time to stop and smell the flowers

I never thought my family and I would actually live in a villa in Dubai.


Kirstin Bernabe

Published: Wed 3 Nov 2021, 1:00 PM

I didn’t know I missed living in a townhouse until I saw two kids on bicycles, picking purple flowers on a street in Dubai’s Akoya Oxygen neighbourhood. There was also this family who excitedly unloaded a brand-new grill from their car, their eyes already daydreaming of the barbecue feast they were about to have for dinner and perhaps on every other day thereafter.

I never thought my family and I would actually live in a villa in Dubai. Why would we? High-rise blocks of flats have everything you need within an arm’s reach. You have a gym on the eight floor; a swimming pool on the rooftop; the mall a couple of blocks away; plus a convenience store and an eatery at the ground floor.

Yet here we are, ready to sign our new tenancy contract in Akoya.

Before anything else, here’s something you need to know: This neighbourhood is ‘far’ — from wherever you are right now, unless you’re in Al Qudra, that swathe of desert known for its Love Lakes.

Driving to the community meant watching the clusters of skyscrapers fade into a stretch of nothing but desert. The colour of the sand, however, remains the same, which would assure you that you’re still in Dubai. You’d know you’ve reached the community when the rolling dunes end and a long tree-lined avenue begins. An abundance of greenery, that’s the Akoya welcome.

This real estate development is divided into several clusters, with each having its own gate. Security guards are strict. No car sticker, no entry, but if you can give them the name of the real estate agent offering you a villa for rent, you’re free to go and have a look inside.

Houses within the Dh37,000 to Dh42,000 rental range look exactly the same, except for minor layout differences. Some have the kitchen on the left, while others on the right. All homes have a mini garden at the back where you can finally grow your own spring onions and tomatoes.

Don’t expect spacious bedrooms, though, as I believe one is just big enough for a king-size bed. Two rooms have their own balconies and the one attached to the master’s can accommodate some comfortable lounge chairs. The garage can fit about four cars plus, of course, kids’ bicycles and scooters. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly family home, this is it.

Akoya may be a faraway land but it has its own community centre with a supermarket, leisure spaces and sports areas, so you won’t have to drive to and from downtown all the time.

Going home to this neighbourhood really feels like ‘going home’, as your daily drive would literally whisk you away from work, the traffic, the grind, the big city. It gives you the right to leave everything behind for a moment. It offers you the opportunity to enjoy your stroll, and then stop and smell the roses— or some purple flowers, perhaps.

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