With its non-stop development, luxury accommodation in Dubai is easy to come by for those wanting to buy or rent.
Though it has historic origins as a focal point for the gold trade and a bridge between Europe, Arabia and Asia, Dubai is today a forward-looking city of almost unparalleled development.
Westerners may well find themselves drawn to the typically Arab souks and even enjoy the picturesque sight of dhows ploughing through the Arabian Gulf. But when it comes to living accommodation even those on relatively short contracts can expect luxury above and beyond anything to be found in Europe. Happily, property ownership rights in Dubai were changed in 2002 to allow foreigners to purchase freehold land and property.
Feverish development of new homes and hotels makes for a plethora of choices - albeit modern choices.
Single buyers/investors: Single buyers looking for an investment will find much to suit even a modest budget. Laguna Tower on Jumeirah Lake Towers offers state of the art living and unobstructed views along the length of the lake, golf courses and to Dubai and the Arabian Gulf beyond.
Laguna Tower is a 40-storey mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and a five-star luxury hotel which occupies the fist to ninth floors. The presence of the hotel means that those who live here also get to use the comprehensive facilities provided by the hotel. Prices start from £78,000 for a studio apartment, rising up to £257,000 for a three-bedroom property.
Family buyers: Family buyers looking to get the most from local facilities will not find much in the way of quiet suburban enclaves - Dubai offers too radical and dramatic a landscape for such cosiness. However peace, quiet, and access to great facilities are all readily available.
The Golden Mile on The Palm, Jumeirah, consists of ten waterfront buildings, and offers homes ranging from one bedroom apartments to exclusive penthouses. Residents will enjoy access to the Fairmont Hotel Resort with features such as a private beach, gym, swimming pool, restaurants, cafes, children's playground, gardens, underground parking and a 24-hour reception, concierge and security service. Prices here start from £238,649 for a one-bedroom apartment rising up to £555,470.
Executive buyers: Executive buyers really do have an abundance of choice in and around Dubai. Located on a site of 2,700,000m2 in Dubailand, The Villa is a Spanish inspired development of homes, which can be interior designed to any requirement. The Villa has three distinct areas, which offer a range of plot sizes from 740m2 to 1,300m2. All offer themed landscaping and the opportunity to live next door to some famous names from the world of sport and entertainment. Prices from £350,000.
All properties are available from Harlequin Property (see below)
Buying: Home buyers in Dubai must pay one to seven per cent to legal and administrative transaction fees. There is also a fee of two per cent to be paid to the seller's estate agent. A deposit of between five and 15 per cent deposit is payable on new properties.
If buying second-hand ensure that all payment schedules and service charge debts on a new home have been paid otherwise sales cannot be legally completed.
when it comes to living accommodation even those on relatively short contracts can expect luxury above and beyond anything to be found in Europe
In certain circumstances an overseas owner who subsequently rents out their property may have to pay tax of up to five per cent of the rental income.
A new home will usually benefit from one year of free maintenance and a 10-year structural defect guarantee similar to those found in the UK
Renting: Rents in some areas of Dubai climbed by 40-100% over 2005. Luxury serviced studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments can be rented from AED 1,150 per night. A furnished one-bedroom flat can be rented for around AED 5,000 per month.
The main types of property available to rent in Dubai are studios, apartments, villas and hotel rooms/serviced apartments. It is the norm for properties to be let unfurnished. You may be asked to provide a full year's rent upfront or three or four post-dated cheques.
Cars: Dubai's drivers are fiercely keen on their cars and occasionally just plain fierce in their driving styles. In a city where every single car accident, no matter how small, must be reported to the police, you should drive cautiously and defensively. Car hire is relatively cheap and does offer much in the way of freedom if you want to travel at your own leisure between the many attractions of the other Emirates.
Public transport: Public transport is cheap, and there are regular services. A taufeee - a monthly bus pass - allows for unlimited travel on one side of the Creek or the whole of the city depending on your need. Pedestrians make use of Abras - small motorboats - to cross the Creek dividing the two halves of the business sector. These leave every few minutes until around midnight.
Taxis: Taxis are cheap, plentiful and by far the easiest way to get around the city or between the major cities of the UAE. Air-conditioned taxis can be pre-booked by phone or hired from the street. In Dubai most taxis are metered.
Air: Dubai International Airport runs daily services to most major European cities. In 2005 the airport was voted the world's best for the third year running.