x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

In My Place: Room to roam in a new villa

A pet Saluki inspires a Dubai resident to trade an apartment for a villa, and she couldn't be more happy with the move.

Rebecca Rees and her two-year-old Saluki mix, Sam, hang out in their spacious new home in Jumeirah Village.
Rebecca Rees and her two-year-old Saluki mix, Sam, hang out in their spacious new home in Jumeirah Village. "After 10 months in an apartment with Sam, I just thought he deserved more space," Rees says. Amy Leang / The National

Rebecca Rees, a communications manager, moved into her Jumeirah Village villa in January.

I came to Dubai around four and a half years ago. It was a great time to be here and there was a real buzz in the air. I was living in a very nice apartment on a high floor in a tower overlooking the golf course. I was travelling a lot for work, always on the go and enjoying every minute.

I was also keen to do my bit, and as I grew up with dogs, I was keen to help out (the charity) K9 Friends whenever I could. I used to foster dogs for a few days, a week or longer, and it was great. You meet all sorts of people when you take dogs out for walks, and it was always good to come home to a great welcome, but it was never something I wanted to do permanently.

But then Dubai changed and times were tough. Some of my closest friends lost their jobs. Another friend was going through a hard time medically. I was in that kind of mood where you ask yourself, "What am I doing here?", and one weekend I made the decision to go and get myself a dog, a rescue dog, and make a difference.

When I went to K9 friends, one of their dogs really caught my attention, and that was Sam. He stood out for some reason, came across and put his paws through the bars of the cage and kind of held on to me. Initially I was just going to foster him, but he seemed so happy, even in the apartment, and walking around where I was living. I met so many other people and made lots of friends that I simply wouldn't have without him.

The problem was the apartment. Sam really didn't seem to mind, but he's a Saluki, and he needs space to run. My lease was coming up for renewal, and the idea of moving somewhere more suitable began to take shape. Every day I'd go back at lunchtime and take him for a walk, or make arrangements for someone else to do so, but it was never ideal. I asked my landlord if he could reduce the rent on the apartment, and when he couldn't, that was the catalyst for the move.

I'd known about this place, the Jumeirah Village Triangle, for a while but only really sat up and took notice when one came up on Dubizzle. A whole villa, for less than what I'd been paying for an apartment. So I started to look around properly. I came up here at different times of day; I brought Sam here for walks to see how he reacted; I checked out what was available. I had some fairly specific requirements for the villa. I wanted a big garden, because that, after all, was the main reason for moving. But I also wanted to still feel connected. What really persuaded me to go for this house is the fact that I can look out and see the city skyline, so I'm still "connected" in some way, but there's also open desert where Sam can run. And, in fact, at this end of the site I'm only 10 minutes away from Spinneys in The Meadows.

Now I'm here, I am more relaxed than I've been in a long time. I've not been here long, but I'm beginning to realise how important this move has been. Sam was perfectly happy at the apartment but I had a constant underlying guilt for not providing a better living space for him where he could run free, dig holes and just be a dog. I've realised that this move has been as good for me as it has for Sam. This place has a quiet, laid-back feel to it, which is a complete contrast to the hustle and bustle of The Greens, where I was before. And I love the quietness. I don't generally find it easy to switch off and relax but here I've had no problem at all. I sleep soundly through the night and wake up to the sound of birds instead of traffic. And it's all thanks to Sam.


Two-bedroom villa in Jumeirah Village Triangle. Both bedrooms are en suite, and the master bedroom features large walk-in wardrobe.


Rented for Dh100,000 per year.