Villa Architecture of the Northern Emirates by Jaime Puebla
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are famous for ground-breaking architecture, but this flair isn't confined to the large cities.
Truly opulent houses have exploded with the expansion of the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme that offers Emiratis land, grants and interest-free loans. The Government granted 667 grants and loans in the UAE between February and April in 2011. By contrast, 1,319 were granted in all of 2006.
The construction of these houses corresponds with a time where the preservation of heritage is framed as a national duty. But many of these houses are the products of travel and cross-cultural exchange, particularly within the Arab world.
These palatial mansions are designed by Emiratis whose families often lived in stone or palm houses 40 years ago. In many cases, the families of these neighbourhoods were given a plot of land on city outskirts, government grants and the chance to build the house of their dreams. Other families have invested their personal fortunes.
Despite a culture that cherishes the communal, some Emiratis strive to outdo each other in home design. Their family abodes rival the icons of Dubai and Abu Dhabi - if not in award-winning design, then at least in flair and ambition.
For more details about these extravagant homes including quotes from the owners please follow the link below to our online story written by Anna Zacharias. Photos by Jaime Puebla.