With shops, services and leafy recreational spaces all within walking distance, a car isn't a necessity in this self-sufficient Dubai community.
Living in The Greens
Galina Medylkova, with her 10-month-old daughter strapped into a pram, is out for her morning walk. They carefully navigate the zebra crossing before turning onto a paved walkway that follows the perimeter of a large, man-made lake.
She passes other mother-and-child duos following the popular path, ice creams and distracted expressions in tow. Nannies entrusted with their employers' offspring do their best to discipline wayward tots who have taken advantage of a perceived lack of authority.
Reeds bend silently in the warm breeze and, every so often, the light scent of frangipane flowers floats in the air. Palm trees, planted at carefully measured intervals, line the way. On one side of the lake are the tall, contemporary-style apartment towers of The Views; on the other are the neat low-rise blocks, finished in ochre or yellow with arabesque detailing, that make up The Greens. Although the two were developed separately, they have effectively merged into one as residents of the towers have come to appreciate the leafy area on their doorstep, complete with local shops and cafes.
With its mix of homes - studio, one-, two-, three- and four-bedrooms - The Greens is an Emaar-built community success story. Lying just off Sheikh Zayed Road, opposite Dubai Internet City, it owes at least part of its popularity to the convenient location. As in the newer Old Town next to Dubai Mall (which perhaps drew on The Greens model of an enclosed, pedestrian-friendly, self-sufficient neighbourhood of low-rises), residents enjoy an enviable lifestyle.
It's one of those rare areas in Dubai where the lack of a car may barely be noticed. "There's no need to take a taxi, metro or bus to get the shopping," says Medylkova, a stay-at-home mother who has recently moved to the area.
"We moved here because of the closeness of a school for my six-year-old son. The Greens really wowed me - coming from Bur Dubai, our last home - the greenery, playground and local facilities are a complete change."
While his mother enthuses about not needing cars or buses, her son is getting to grips with public transport for the first time.
"He gets on the school bus by himself - it stops outside The Greens Centre. I don't need to go with him any more, which frees up my mornings to look after the little one."
Medylkova spends an hour and a half walking every day; an amount that probably puts most UAE residents to shame. She goes around the lake, circling the edges of the neighbourhood, before turning in to the shopping centre. Her daughter stares at the tempting display at Marble Slab Creamery with an unwavering gaze.
"I've been walking around with my camera, taking pictures of the birds and wildlife. I feel like I am living in a poem; but it's equally important that I can walk to the supermarket."
The Greens comprises 10 low-rise apartment blocks, set around communal courtyards, pools, gyms and barbecue areas. When the development was launched, the apartments - the first freehold properties to be offered in the UAE - sold very quickly. At the time, Emaar offered an option to rent the apartment and then buy it, redeeming the rental costs against the total.
Maria Petrova has lived here for seven years with her husband and young children. They moved in on the rent-to-own plan. "We have lived here since the beginning; we moved out for a year when we bought a villa in Arabian Ranches, but moved back because The Greens was more convenient.
"In the Ranches, you reach the security gate and then it takes another 10 minutes to get to your villa. It is much easier here."
Petrova and her busband now own the apartment they live in, and another in Al Ghaf block, which they rent. "I like living here, but once you buy, no one listens to your woes. There are a lot of green areas, jogging places and a good community, but the fees break my back and break my heart. Every year since we bought, the fees have gone up. We now pay 40,000 dirhams a year; combined with our mortgage it is more than it would cost to just rent the apartment. Sometimes we ask ourselves why we came to this country, but on another day we remind ourselves that we do not have a lot to complain about."
Petrova runs an interior decoration company with her husband, catering to clients with palatial tastes.
"We have become more open to the world since moving here from Russia, and we won't go back. It is really easy to meet people in the neighbourhood. I'm a mother: we just stop our prams and strike up a conversation with each other. And I think I would be just as happy here if I was single, as people are friendly.
"It's not a particularly cheap neighbourhood, so the people who live here are successful. At least we get something for our money here, and you can't say that for all the areas in Dubai. I look around at the trees and the nice blocks and the feeling of community and I say to myself, 'OK, well at least at the age of 30 I have achieved something, here I am secure and safe'."
What residents say
Gerhard Loos, Germany
I’ve lived here since 2005 and working from home as an investment consultant means I am in the neighbourhood frequently. The most important thing is that the infrastructure is here, as well as the school for my daughter. My wife and I are keen golfers and Emirates Golf Club is right next door. Living here means we don’t have the hassle of traffic jams, and all the most important things like Choithram and a pharmacy are inside the neighbourhood. There are even two or three small restaurants, like Wagamama, that we’ll walk to and eat at when we don’t want to bother with the hassle of driving to places.
Pippa Dilley, Britian
I lived in Bur Dubai before; The Greens is much nicer. I live here with my cat, and I am very happy. It’s a really nice little community; it’s clean, cosy and the little Greens Centre has lots of shops. There is a gym and a pool that come with the apartment. I do say “hello” to people at the pool. It’s a mix of all nationalities and there are singles, couples and families here. It’s a quiet neighbourhood. I don’t really hang out in the area, but I do go for coffee at Caribou or relax by the pool at the weekend.
One-bedroom apartments in The Greens rent from about Dh60,000 upwards. Two-bedroom apartments start at Dh110,000.
Dubai International Academy in Emirates Hills, Emirates International School Meadows, the Winchester School and Wellington International School are all nearby and on school bus routes.
Rosary Medical Centre is located at The Greens, while Welcare Hospital in Knowledge Village is easily accessible by car.
Emirates Golf Club is next door, overlooked by The Links apartment towers. Within the neighbourhood is Greens Centre, a covered mall housing a beauty salon, a Choithram supermarket, a pharmacy, Early Learning Centre, bookshop, internet cafe and other stores, as well as several small restaurants.