DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) is the largest business district in the region of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It is a special economic zone, where a large number of issues, including the ones related to the rules for transactions, real estate and labor relations, are regulated by specific standards, and a special governing body and judicial authorities operate there. Moreover, in DIFC, favorable environment has been created for taxpayers and business development, and ownership of real estate by foreign companies is allowed. The conditions for renting offices and retail space at DIFC are among the best ones in Dubai. Therefore, the offices of multiple large corporations and banks are located there.
Geographically, DIFC covers the area of 11 840 301 sq. ft along Sheikh Zayed Road. The district is adjacent to Downtown Dubai and is divided into three zones – commercial, residential and retail. The area is full of offices, residential properties, restaurants, art galleries, cafes and shops. It is perfect for those who are ready to live and work in the rhythm of the urban city. This district attracts qualified trade and finance professionals worldwide, as well as international business corporations and investors.
The DIFC area is located between Downtown Dubai (from the southwest), Za’abeel (from the east) and Al Satwa (from the west). The Sheikh Zayed Road is located along the western border of the district, very close to a large transport interchange, which makes it possible to exit the highway both towards the bridge over Dubai Creek and the city exit through Ras Al Khor, as well as to exit towards Al Wasl Road and the seaside areas of Dubai.
One of the peculiarities of DIFC with its dense development and settlement is traffic jams – to get out from the area, it is better to plan a route taking into account rush hours (the beginning and end of the workday, the time of public events). Also, visitors of DIFC may have difficulties when finding parking, despite the fact that it is not free of charge (from AED 10, USD 2.7 per hour), so it makes sense to order a taxi, Uber or the local analogue Careem.
The inconvenience of heavy traffic is compensated by the fact that public transport system is well-developed in the area. There are two metro stations – Financial Center and Emirates Towers (red metro line) and lots of bus stops: the buses No. 27 and 28 run through the area (both can take you to The Dubai Mall, and bus No. 27 – to the Gold Souk in Deira).
Main landmarks and directions:
There are many grocery and home goods stores in DIFC – they can be found almost in any large complex, including stores of such chains as Spinneys, BS Supermarket LLC, Choithrams, Fresh Mart, Al Maya and others. For instance, Spinneys, Choithrams and Al Maya can be found in Central Park Tower, Burj Daman and Park Towers.
In the large shopping center Gate Avenue, there are not only a lot of boutiques offering fashionable clothes, watches and luxury goods (for example, Sacoor Brothers, Suit Supply, Black Amber, His and Hers, Fiori Jewels, Collars and Cuffs), but also handicraft displays and art gallery.
The Dubai Mall is located in the neighboring area of Downtown Dubai and can be reached within 10 minutes by car.
Restaurants and cafes are also plentiful in the DIFC streets and can be found in each of its multiple buildings. ShanghaiMe and La Cantine du Faubourg are popular for the outdoor tables.
One can also note La Petite Maison (French cuisine), Gaucho Dubai (steakhouse), Cipriani Dubai (Italian cuisine), Royal China (Chinese) and Zuma (Japanese). As for the bars, there are BOCA at Gate Village and Original Wings and Rings at Liberty House.
Kindergartens and daycare groups are organized in almost every residential complex. There is an excellent kindergarten in Downtown Dubai called Blossom Downtown Nursery, where the EYFS development methods are applied in teaching. Nearby in the Al Satwa area, within 10 minutes from the road, are GEMS Wellington Primary School and Salma Al Ansaria Elementary School.
The closest medical center to DIFC is Zabeel Health Center (can be reached within 5 minutes by car). Also, there is a medical center National Screening Center-City Walk and a large Latifa Hospital about 15 minutes away (no traffic jams).
In the DIFC area, a branch of the well-known chain Life Pharmacy is to be found in the building of Up Tower.
Almost all DIFC residential complexes comprise gyms, swimming pools, beauty salons and spa centers. Among fitness centers, it is worth to mention such large chain centers as Fitness First, Barry’s Bootcamp, and among spa and beauty centers – Ritz-Carlton Spa, Mind & Sense Spa and Spa Cordon.
Living in DIFC, one can easily reach Downtown Dubai with its attractions such as Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Fountain.
One can get to the coast within 15 minutes by car and relax on the beach at Jumeirah Road. Besides, not far from the DIFC there is one of the main attractions of Dubai – the Dubai Frame, a massive gilded structure made in the shape of a photo frame with the adjacent infrastructure.
Accommodation at DIFC is convenient for those who work in the center and prefer both home and office to be within walking distance, and also to have a possibility of going to a cafe or restaurant, as well as shopping or visiting the latest exhibitions after work. However, the range of options for outdoor recreation and family vacations in a peaceful atmosphere is not very wide.
The area is popular with qualified professionals working in numerous DIFC companies and banks, expats and migrants. DIFC is mostly populated with people who do not plan to acquire a large family and live in a quiet place, and at this stage devote a significant part of their time to building a career, thus they look for property near their place of work.
One can either buy affordable housing in this area for themself (later, if one prefers to change the area to a quieter one, the property can be sold or rented out), and can also rent inexpensive apartments in order not to spend excessive amount of money on rent and transport.
Therefore, the demand for buying and renting apartments, including affordable ones, is stable in DIFC, and their purchase can be considered as a profitable investment.
Prices for studios start at AED 700K (USD 190K), one-bedroom apartments – from AED 1M, two-bedroom units – from 1.5M AED, which is about USD 270K. The prices for apartments with three or more bedrooms start from AED 2.5M (USD 680K). Besides, all units usually are quite spacious, and the service quality in the residential complexes is very high.
The average rental price for a studio is AED 70K (USD 20K), but one can find a small studio for AED 40-50K (USD 10-13K). One- and two-bedroom apartments can be found in the price range of AED 60-140K (USD 16-38K), three-bedroom units – from AED 160K (USD 44K).
Studios and one-bedroom apartments have the highest ROI of about 6%.
Besides, in DIFC one can purchase or rent prestigious and luxury property, which may also be an excellent investment as the international companies based in DIFC may be interested in both renting and purchasing such property.
It is also worth noting that due to the DIFC being both a business center and a place with many shops and other places attractive for foreign visitors, daily rent in DIFC is also in demand both among tourists and those who are visiting Dubai for a business trip.