With quiet cul-de-sacs, placid lakes and children's play areas, The Springs is one of the most family-friendly communities in Dubai.
The 14 gated developments provide a haven for people searching for a getaway from the hustle of business life along Sheikh Zayed Road or one of the many free zones across the emirate.
When The Springs was launched in August 2002, many people questioned the location – seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Built on land bordered by Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Khail Road and Al Barsha and Jebel Ali, the community was widely regarded as in the "back of beyond" when people started to move in, in 2004.
Five years on and it is now a thriving residential community, centrally placed for easy access to Old and New Dubai.
Due to the similarity of the villas, it was once derided as The Truman Show, after the "perfect" town featured in the 1998 film of the same name, but it has since become a popular place for growing families.
Ranging in number from one to 15 (there is no 13), each cluster is almost identical, and can be confusing to navigate, with villas and roads indentifiable only by number.
Properties, of which there are four designs, range from two- to five-bedrooms. Many are built in terraces, meaning end homes are more expensive due to their larger gardens, but inside they have the same floorplan. Outside, all have covered parking for two cars off-street, plus additional space on-street.
Simone Alexander has lived in The Springs for four years, first renting and then buying a villa two years ago after deciding it was the place to put down roots.
"When my husband and I moved here, we did so because it was cheap so we got more for our money but now we couldn't imagine living anywhere else and I love my house," said the 30-year-old British national.
"We chose Springs One as we can walk to the shops, it's away from the new road and the lakes are great for walking our dog."
One of the main complaints has been access to Sheikh Zayed Road, which for people living in Springs 14 or Springs 4, for example, can be a mission due to the high number of speed bumps on the main roads.
However, the Roads and Transport Authority is building a four-lane highway through the centre of the development to give direct access to Jebel Ali and Sheikh Zayed Road in the direction of Al Barsha, reducing commuting times.
The creation of this main road has been an issue of contention, with some residents complaining it is too close to their homes. They even proposed a different route, but the RTA has continued with its plans and the main road running between Springs 6 and Springs 14 is presently a collection of cones and barriers as building work takes shape.
But even without the new road, there are three exits from The Springs: One to Sheikh Zayed Road; one to Al Khail Road; another running through the rear of Al Barsha. An interchange at the Emirates Hills end also gives direct access to Dubai Marina and Dubai Media City, with Dubai Internet City and Knowledge Village a 10-minute drive. On the other side, the Barsha road goes straight to The Greens and then on to Al Quoz, while the Al Khail exit, adjacent to Jumeirah Village, gives easy access to Dubai Sports City and Emirates Road.
While residents whose homes back on to the motorway are concerned about the value of their property, the community has witnessed steep rises in house prices in recent years.
When first launched, three-bedroom villas started at Dh448,888, with four-beds priced at Dh628,888 and five-bedrooms costing upwards of Dh748,888. Those figures have now increased more than six-fold, giving early investors huge returns on their investment. Prices have reversed slightly of late, but three-bed villas now sell for anything between Dh3.2 million to Dh5.7m.
Many families are attracted by the added services that come with living in the area. All clusters have 24-hour security, which monitors visitors, plus swimming pools, lakes, tennis and basketball courts and barbecue areas, all of which are free. There are also a few community shopping centres within walking distance, including supermarkets, restaurants, shops, a medical centre, two schools and a mosque.
Additionally, there are gyms and two golf courses. The Montgomerie can be reached on foot from some clusters, such as Springs One, while the Emirates Hills course is a five-minute drive away, off Sheikh Zayed Road.
Landscaped gardens and grass verges lined with palm trees make The Springs an inviting community. Traffic, inevitably, builds up during rush hour but, at weekends and holidays, vehicles are scarce on the main roads.
Inside the clusters, however, due to them not being through-roads, traffic is light and residents drive slowly making it a safe place for children to play.
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