Only day two but the need to put down roots a new and very different location is overwhelming so the search for an apartment begins in earnest. The various online forums and guides to Dubai that formed part of my pre-travel research are not particularly illuminating on the different residential areas because of course it depends what you are looking for and this is naturally subjective.
The Greens is an area that sounds promising but after an abortive visit, we learn that the kind of fully furnished and equipped accommodation that we would like is apparently rarely on offer here.
A few months back we came on a recce visit and were immediately attracted to the area around Dubai Marina. We have since found out that traffic congestion is a real problem and Tim’s route to work would be a daily bind if we settled there. A new tram service has made the situation even worse as the traffic now banks up while the tram proceeds across a main junction at about two miles an hour. Confident, savvy Dubai seems to have installed a toy tram by mistake.
The Marina does have another important attraction for the new kids in town, though. For it is here in the offices of Better Homes that we are reunited with the redoubtable Julieta – the estate agent, originally from Bulgaria, that will help ‘dear Ross and Tim’ to find their ideal apartment.
Julieta is a remarkable multi-tasker – she drives, negotiate complex deals on the phone, finds addresses that are not yet on the map, whilst all the while relating tales of her experiences with awkward landlords to the two stunned Brits in the car that occasionally nod in astonished agreement.
She uses the word ‘welcome’ frequently – when she invites us to get in the lift or her car, we are ‘welcome’ but god help the over- zealous local security guard that stands in the way of a client viewing. Her, ‘Don’t be giving me this hassle’ and KGB tone indicates commission is threatened. There is no salary – only commission – so Dubai estate agents are like tigers circling their prey – and we are lunch. Despite that, I like Julieta. She spends a whole morning with us and thanks to her efficiency we view seven apartments. She leaves us at a café in Downtown Dubai to mull over the two best options which are far from ideal. The tiger leaves her prey unguarded and another spots an opportunity.
The smart young man at the next table immediately notices we are looking at details and offers to help us find a suitable property. What sort of thing are we looking for? Fully furnished in the Downtown area? Price range? No problem. I can you show one now, just over there – Arabian style. You might like it.
With our British sensibilities ruffled we stiffen. This has all the hallmarks of a scam, doesn’t it? OK, let’s proceed with extreme caution. We quickly google the company on the business card we demand to see. Seems to check out as legit. Actually quite upmarket. He promises to return in half an hour with keys and in the meantime Tim phones a contact to double check the company is to be trusted. Seems it is reputable.
While we are waiting, the penny drops. The ‘Arabian style’ apartment he gestured towards is in Old Town, a unique low rise development, built to resemble a heritage village. It is surrounded by gleaming, shimmering, skyscraper tower blocks, including the mighty Burj Khalifa landmark. Most of the apartments are in the tower blocks where the views either look out onto other blocks or construction sites. We were told that furnished apartments in that more attractive development rarely become available.
The young man – his name is Farhad – returned and delivered what he offered. It was perfect for our requirements and when we have picked over every tiny detail of the contract, (as we have been strongly advised to do to avoid problems further down the line), the deal will be completed.
So sorry Julieta.