Al Barari: Into the wild

When you live in the desert, a patch of foliage is a sight for sore eyes. The nature-loving developers of Dubai’s Al Barari community drew on nature’s ability to bring about peace and tranquility to create a luxurious and environmentally-conscious botanical haven only a stone’s throw away from the heart of the city.

Located just off Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road within the royal enclave of wilderness, is the brainchild of Zaal Mohammad Zaal, founder, and Chairman of the Al Barari family business. The 14.2 million square foot desert oasis features luxurious and modern villas and apartment complexes in the midst of lush greens gardens and waterways, as well as a spa, a restaurant, a health and fitness club, even a plant nursery.

Tree-lined pathways lead to different developments within Al Barari, a community that is appealing to affluent families since its introduction to the market. Its strongest suit? Aside from the spacious, light-filled homes and landscaped gardens, there’s no denying its seclusion from the hustle and bustle of the city is tempting. Still, the respite from urban life is momentary, with Al Barari only 20 minutes away from Downtown Dubai by car.

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The first residents moved into the leafy community in 2010, and rumour has it, the temperature is two to three degrees lower there, thanks to the microclimate formed with the help of 1,800 different species of plants and trees. The Greenworks nursery was part of the first phase of the development, offering a retail and wholesale plant nursery and landscape business of over 19 hectares.

A real labour of love, the nursery (which is kept green through a treated sewage effluent irrigation system and fertiliser made of composted waste) is a testament to the Zaal family’s passion for horticulture and the environment. Specialists have selected drought-resistant plants, which means they can survive in the UAE both in the winter and in the summer. The Farm, a serene cantilevered restaurant set amid a lush setting of greenery and streams, also opened up its doors early on, turning Al Barari from a private development to a social destination.

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Phase I of the project included the Residences, which features 189 villas inspired by Islamic and contemporary architecture, as well as the Reserve, which offers 28 fully customisable luxury villas, where buyers can have a say in the final interior layout of their home, its fixtures, fittings, and wallpapers. Resident Caroline Rossi De Rosiere says that the Al Barari community is one that makes you want to invest for the long term. “We open the gate, and straight away the kids have amazing surfaces of beautiful gardens, and as a parent, it’s important to know that the safety measures in here are really great. Now that the community is really growing, there is a nice atmosphere.” This sense of community is fostered through several events such as the Ripe Pop Up market, holiday menu tastings and Iftar and Suhoor buffets during Ramadan at the Farm, even tours of the Greenworks nursery for children affected by autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

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To appeal to a more varied demographic, phase II of the Al Barari community sees the Zaal family – who, incidentally, calls the development home – focus on offering more affordable, yet still high-end, residential spaces in the form of Ashjar and Seventh Heaven. Mohammed Zaal, CEO of Al Barari, has expressed his desire to turn the community into a destination, with a six-star boutique hotel currently in the planning stages, in addition to some retail spaces. Planned retail spaces will compensate for Al Barari’s current lack of a community supermarket, as plans to launch retail and F&B venues in the Seventh Heaven district are scheduled to be complete later this year.

In the meantime, the community is a short drive away from the nearby communities of Arabian Ranches and Motor City, which are home to a Geant Easy and a Spinney’s, respectively. There are no schools or children’s nurseries in the community either, but Academic City is just a 20-minute drive away and home to many of Dubai’s best schools.

Come what may, the developers will continue to build “green” and in line with Al Barari’s existing sustainable developments. For example, The Nest, scheduled for completion in 2017, features solar panels on the roofs, to reduce energy consumption costs. Al Barari representatives say they are looking into additional ways to incorporate solar energy initiatives throughout the verdant community, in addition to encouraging the use of locally sourced planting and the selection of hardscape materials based on the latest  Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) principles to create gardens, among other good environmental practices.

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