After hundreds queued in 40 degree heat last year to buy serviced apartments, Emaar Properties is hoping to repeat the feat with a new townhouse development.
Yesterday, the Dubai-listed, government-backed property developer said that it would launch sales of 188 townhouses at its Mira scheme in the Reem area with prices for three-bedroom town units starting at Dh988,888 (US$269,254).
Emaar said that the new gated community, which will be the first to be developed in the Reem area located on Mohammed Bin Zayed Road between Emaar's Arabian Ranches and Global Village, would include a desert botanical park, camping facilities, sand surfing and camel riding trails, a go-karting track, dune buggies, a rock climbing wall and a skate park.
Units are due to go on sale on Saturday on a first come, first served basis. The homes are scheduled to be completed by 2016.
Prices for villas in Dubai have risen 24 per cent over the past year as the city's property market continues to recover from the global financial downturn, according to figures published by the property broker Asteco.
It found that villas on The Palm Jumeirah fetched the highest prices at around Dh20,450 per square metre. During the first quarter of this year, prices rose the fastest at Emaar's The Meadows neighbourhood, where they increased 10 per cent over the period to reach Dh11,850 per square metre.
Property agents say that the smallest existing townhouses in Dubai measure around 158 square metres. If Emaar's new villas were built to that size, the price given would equate to Dh6,258 per square metre.
"Mira will be the first of many similar exclusive residential communities to be developed in phases within Reem," said Ahmad Al Matrooshi, the Emaar managing director.
Dubai property brokers were surprised at the advertised prices. Brokers questioned by The National said that two-bedroom townhouses at Emaar's nearby Arabian Ranches development sold for around Dh1.7 million to Dh1.8m.
"I don't know what Emaar's reasoning can be on this," said the Cluttons director Richard Paul, the head of the residential valuation team for the broker in the UAE.
"I can't believe that villas in Dubai would sell for under a million dirhams when you could put 20 per cent on that. I suspect there must be something else to it."
However, some analysts said the advertised prices reflected the discount demanded by buyers for off-plan investments.
"Emaar tends to offer off-plan properties at a 30 per cent discount to completed value," said Helen Tatham, the director of residential at Knight Frank's Dubai office.
"I think we would all like to see the developer taking steps to ensure that people cannot buy these properties off plan and then resell them for a higher price."