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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Viral property video ad debunks the stereotypical Dubai dream

1 JBR advert. Youtube grab.
1 JBR advert. Youtube grab.

“You won’t find any ostentation displays of wealth. So, if you like your bathrooms blinged out with gold taps, you’ll be out of luck,” says a British man dressed in a grey blazer, as he sits in a bathtub fitted with a stainless-steel faucet.

That’s the opening line of a new promotional video posted last week by Dubai Properties, as a sales pitch for its latest residential building: 1/JBR.

“If you want a downtown address, you’ll be left downhearted,” he continues, while gazing at the sea out of a floor-to-ceiling-window.

The 36-second advertisement goes on to challenge the stereotypical elements of downtown-Dubai living one by one, while showing luxurious scenes of a JBR home that, by most standards, could be described as equally upmarket.

“If you love chandeliers dripping with diamonds, you’ll be disappointed,” the man goes on to say, while walking through a posh dining room decorated with minimalist black lights. But, it is his script’s closing line that hits the hardest.

“And, if your sunsets have to have Instagrammable dancing fountains,” he scoffs, “your hopes will be dashed.”

It’s clear the advertisement is a direct dig at competitor property developers, and within just five days of the video being posted on YouTube, it had over 2 million views.

Within 12 hours, it gained another half a million. It’s on its way to going viral, partly because it’s so unlike other property ads coming out of Dubai.

Rarely do brands criticise their competitors’ projects outright. But, if you dig deeper, it’s more than just a clever instance of cut-throat advertising. Sure, there’s an overall sarcastic tone to the script, and the building it promotes, 1/JBR, is arguably just as luxurious as any downtown-Dubai apartment complex, but that’s not the point.

What the video also does, is open the door to a conversation about the different definitions of luxury, and viewpoints of Dubai residents. Gaudy gold interiors, it argues, are not the only benchmarks of an expensive home. They are however, what comes to mind when a person mentions to another that they live in Dubai.

There are many instances of over-the-top, utterly flamboyant showcases of wealth that one may come across while exploring homes in Dubai. Indoor swimming pools snaking through various rooms, private cinemas equipped with big screens and popcorn machines, and vintage cars parked alongside antique pianos, are just some examples of what you may find in a privileged, pimped-out Dubai home.

These luxury residences are located behind selectively-placed trees in Zabeel, at the end of long driveways in Emirates Hills, and on penthouse floors in Downtown Dubai.

The word “Downtown” typically denotes the centre of the city, thereby taking claim to its most “attractive” portions. But it certainly isn’t everybody’s preference for building a home or raising a family.

I for one, have lived in Dubai for 13 years, and have never once wished to live Downtown. While the idea of being a short walk away from the mall sounds convenient enough, the noise, traffic, closely clustered buildings and constant hoards of camera-clicking tourists that come with downtown-living, are not for me.

Downtown Dubai may be home to The Dubai Mall, the world’s tallest building, and other various symbols of grandeur, which have led to the city often being referred to as the “Las Vegas of the Middle East", but by no means is it every resident’s goal to one day live there.

And while most of the city’s inhabitants can afford neither Downtown homes, nor lavish apartments in JBR, many are quite content right where they are.

Areas like JLT, Motor City, Umm Suqueim, Al Barsha, Satwa and Karama are home to happy residents experiencing their own versions of the so-called “Dubai lifestyle".

And each comes with its own package of perks. Be it the option to hire an affordable gardener, swim in a shared residential pool, or order Burger King delivery in the middle of the night, the luxuries offered by the city are wide and varied, and extend far beyond the stereotype of inhabiting a high-rise overlooking the Burj Khalifa.

Was it the intent of the Dubai Properties' advertisement to shed light on the colourful, though lesser-thought-of neighbourhoods of the city? Highly unlikely – the developer was simply marketing its own lavish building. Nonetheless, it took a swing at the façade of the “Dubai dream", by vocalising that things like diamond-studded chandeliers don’t define luxury across the board, and definitely don’t top everybody’s list of requirements for a happy home.