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22 July 2024

Eat, sleep, live and work with legends

By Gary Meenaghan



Wake up with Giorgio Armani, throw on your Hugo Boss chinos and Ralph Lauren polo shirt and head out for a round of golf with Tiger Woods.

On the way, drop the boys off with Manchester United where they can work on their ball control. After nine holes receive a call on your Dolce & Gabbana Motorola Razr calling you into the office.

Make your apologies, get in your car and head back to Business Bay, where you share the road with Michael Schumacher, before parking and heading in to see tennis legend Boris Becker.

As unlikely a morning as that sounds, in Dubai, “the city that makes the impossible possible”, it could well become a reality.

Designer labels have long been the fulcrum of the well-to-do, but now, rather than clothes, phones and accessories, celebrities are lending their names to real estate. Signature developments are the new must-have item for any self-loving celebrity, and a growing band of investors are ready and willing to make it happen in order to strengthen their global brands.

Armani has signed on with Emaar for guesthouses and suites at the summit of the Burj Dubai. Woods’ first foray into golf course designing has led him to Tatweer’s Dubailand. And Schumacher and Becker, along with F1 legend Niki Lauda, have lent their names to Alternative Capital Invest (ACI) as the Dubai-based German developers create a trio of projects in Business Bay. 

Robin Lohmann, Managing Director of ACI Real Estate, is confident that by using celebrity endorsements, the projects will increase in popularity and attract a larger market. “By adding a celebrity brand that matches our standards of excellence, we ensure that we do not just deliver a great product to our customers, we create an iconic landmark that is instantly recognisable,” he said.

ACI have signed up Schumacher, Lauda and Becker for three separate office buildings at various locations in Business Bay.

“We’ve worked really hard to get Michael Schumacher on board as it adds a lot of value to our product and we are delighted that he has involved himself. To have him on board means that we are convinced that he wants to look after the project himself.

“Few properties anywhere in the world can boast of the direct involvement from the world’s greatest ever F1 driver. Schumacher represents the energy, commitment to excellence and ambition needed by every business enterprise to get to the top, and only a city like Dubai is befitting of such an association.”

Faris Gavi, Manager of Corporate Communications at Damac Properties, says that while his company has yet to use celebrity endorsements, he believes the market will continue to grow.

“We haven’t signed on with specific celebrities,” he said. “But there are so many celebrities out there and so many different fields. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Sachin Tendulkar development or something similar in the future because that is a market yet to be targeted.”

1 Niki Lauda Twin Towers

The first of Alternative Capital Invest’s (ACI) three branded developments. The legendary Austrian former F1 driver has endorsed a pair of towers in the Business Bay area. As well as offering wholesale office space, the towers – 29 and 26 storeys – will be the first in the region to offer leisure facilities to tenants, including a swimming pools and a state-of-the-art gymnasium.

When will it be ready? 2010

2 Michael Schumacher Business Avenue

Introduced by ACI as the “biggest legend” involved in their three

superstar projects, the seven-times World Championship winner has put his name to the ambitious 29-storey building. The offices will also host the Schumacher Business Centre, a cutting-edge facility offering high-tech amenities and The Sky Garden, a quiet respite from the everyday stresses of the office.

When will it be ready? 2010

3 Boris Becker Business Tower

Few details have been officially revealed about Becker’s signature development, the last of ACI’s three projects to be announced. The former Wimbledon champion from Germany will visit Dubai next month to officially unveil the project, which, like the other two endorsed projects, will be in Business Bay. It is expected to comprise three separate towers.

When will it be ready? 2009

4 The Tiger Woods Dubai

When Tiger Woods announced he was designing his first golf course, the whole world wanted to claim it as their own. Dubai chiefs fought off competition from China for the privilege and in December the world No1 revealed the blueprints for his par-72 course. The development will also include a golf academy, 320 exclusive villas and an 80 suite boutique hotel.

When will it be ready? 2009

5 The Els Club

World No5 Ernie Els has designed courses across the globe, but Dubai once again broke new ground by becoming the global base for the South African’s international design operation. Launched this week, the Els Club is one of the landmark projects at Dubai Sports City and the par-72 course is the first major development to be completed in the mega-project that is Dubailand.

Already open

6 The Montgomerie Golf Course

Since launching in 2002, The Montgomerie Dubai has become one of the Middle East’s most luxurious golf destinations, acting as the focal point to one of the area’s most exclusive residential areas, Emirates Hills. The first of the UAE’s signature golf attractions, the Scotsman’s par-72 championship course also boasts a swing studio that can analyse players’ swings.

Already open

7 Manchester United Soccer Schools

The Emirates’ most successful soccer academy launched in

November 2005 and searches for elite players of the highest quality. Participants are trained by professional coaches and often visited by current stars of the Premier League champions. MUSS will have a new home in Dubai Sports City by the end of 2008 and will aim to unearth football stars for the future. 

Already open

8 The Nick Bollettieri tennis academy

If it was good enough for Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova, it’s good enough for Dubai. The Russian, who won last week’s Australian Open, flourished in her youth under the watchful eye of Bollettieri’s academy in Florida and was quickly signed up as the ambassador of Dubai Lifestyle City, which will host the

American’s first academy outside his homeland.

When will it be ready? 2009

9 Butch Harmon School of Golf

Dubai Sports City will be home to golf’s most renowned coach when Butch Harmon opens his School of Golf here – his only academy outside America. It will boast state-of-the-art computer and video equipment to help players graduate from amateur to

professional. Having coached the likes of Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the UAE hopes Harmon will help it compete globally.

When will it be ready? 2009

10 FC Barcelona Football academy

Emaar and FC Barcelona unveiled the FCBEscola Dubai Soccer Academy at Raffles International School. Aimed at promoting

football-skills in the UAE, the academy will be run by top

coaches from one of Europe’s most famous clubs. Trials for the academy begin in March, as the region looks to develop its own stars to compete with the likes of Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho.

When will it be ready? Sep 2008