PARIS // Luxury living might not be available for a song, but that did not stop Dubai Pearl from having one of the world's most famous singers serenade potential clients as part of the rollout of the Dubai Pearl. Sir Elton John sang a few of his hits to a French dining-room full of wealthy clients considering investing their money into the development. "Dubai Pearl is the Manhattan of Dubai," said Santhosh Joseph, the president and chief executive of the project. "No, this is the Park Avenue. This is luxury and this is only the beginning."
Situated next to the Palm Jumeirah, the recently announced mixed-use community of Dubai Pearl has the slogan "Work, play, stay, live", ostensibly because, for better or worse, after settling in one never needs to leave the compound ? which boasts 2,000 residential and office units, 1,500 hotel rooms and retail and leisure spaces, including a theatre. The project's designers like to think of it as a luxury city within a luxury city.
And to drive home just how swanky it is, Dubai Pearl this weekend announced a partnership with the prestigious French crystal company Baccarat, which will stamp its name on the Dh1 billion (US$272 million) Baccarat Hotel and Residences component of the development, scheduled for completion in 2011. Residential and office units here are far from cheap; Dubai Pearl wants only the most elite within its perimeter.
But with a new luxury development going up seemingly every day, how will Dubai Pearl stand out from the others? "Luxury in Dubai was defined in the past by the quality of the materials," said Abdul Majeed al Fahim, the chairman of Dubai Pearl. "We have to top that with ease of use and technology." Blair Hagkull, the managing director of the regional office of Jones Lang Lasalle, said that while middle class housing remains urgently in demand, the niche market to which developments such as the Dubai Pearl appealed were thriving.
"Dubai is increasingly focused on high-track investors," he said. "And while there has been a global downturn in many markets, the UAE has effectively targeted a market for real estate that others haven't, like those in Pakistan, Russia, India." However, Mr Hagkull says buyers in the saturated luxury market need to do their research more than ever. "Once you recognise there's lots of luxury in the Gulf, it becomes increasingly important to differentiate between true luxury and aspirational luxury," he said. "A project like Dubai Pearl may be in a great location, but the key thing to ask is whether or not they can deliver."