Located on a thin strip of land at the far end of Saadiyat Island, the Hidd Al Saadiyat development is Abu Dhabi’s latest attempt at a luxury beachside community.
Perversely for a city built on a collection of islands, few existing housing schemes in the capital are built with beach access.
“At Hidd Al Saadiyat it is all about location,” says Mahmoud Dandashly, commercial director for private development company Saadiyat Development and Investment Company which is developing the 1.5 million project that will one day be home to 4,000 people.
“Here we have seven kilometres of private beach so even if you are in a villa not next to the water, you are never more than a few minutes walk from the sea.”
But with the smallest villas starting at Dh7 million and larger homes marketed for around Dh40 million, Hidd Al Saadiyat is hardly a place for your average beach bum.
The largest villas, dubbed “beach palaces” by the developer, comprise just over 29,000 square feet — that’s almost the size of a small school. For this you get a seven-bed mansion with the option to add another two bedrooms if you wish.
Even nosing around a slightly more modest 14,000 sq ft seven-bed “Beach Mansion”, it’s hard not to be awestruck by its sheer size.
Villas come with separate indoor and outdoor kitchens, a driver’s room, a formal majlis big enough to play a game of five-a-side football and a separate family living space.
The master bathroom, with its huge marble hamam style bath and enormous shower is, again, an impressive size.
Looking around the show villas on the first day of marketing, it’s obvious no expense had been spared with the developer. A staff of around 50 were on hand to guide visitors around, including a cohort of kandura-clad men clutching golden coffee pots and cups.
So, I ask Mr Dandashly, where he’s going to find nearly 500 millionaires willing to part with their hard earned cash?
“The local market,” he says quickly. “We’ve already sold around 70 per cent of the villas off plan and we expect there will be a lot of demand for the rest.”
What will the finished scheme look like?
The project has been divided into two phases. The first will comprise 453 luxury villas while the second will be slightly more accessible to your average buyer, comprising 15 low rise apartment buildings with between 800 and 1,000 apartments. The project will also eventually include three mosques, a school, a women’s centre, shops and restaurants, a marina, a yacht club, a five-star resort and a collection of parks and beaches.
How many of these villas have been built?
Construction of the villas is now 40 per cent complete, according to SDIC while 78 per cent of the infrastructure in the first phase has been completed. The first phase is scheduled for completion at the end of 2016.
Do the villas in phase one come with a swimming pool?
Yes, that’s a standard in all but the two smallest villa types where they can be added by owners if they choose.
How many different types of villas are there?
In total there are eight different types of villas in the project, combining different sizes, layouts and designs.
What is SDIC?
Saadiyat Development and Investment Company is a privately owned Abu Dhabi based development company. The company, which is developing Hidd Al Saadiyat as its first project, does not disclose its exact ownership or how it is funding the project.