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There’s a lot you can buy for $34 million. In different parts of the world, it will buy you towering castles, sprawling coastal mega-mansions or majestic estates that stretch for miles. It can buy you powerful Lamborghini sports cars or fleets of gorgeous Rolls-Royce Phantoms. He can even buy you your own private jet.

It brings you a pile of sand in Dubai.

Well, not just any pile of sand. The sand in question is a vacant lot on the luxury island of Jumeirah Bay that recently sold for more than $34 million — an eye-watering price even in a part of the world where real estate prices can reach as high as skyscraper architecture.

Umar Kamani, a British entrepreneur and co-founder of fashion retailer PrettyLittleThing, has sold the 24,500 square meter undeveloped property. The sale for 125 million dirhams (AED) represents a whopping 242% gain from the initial purchase price of AED 36.5 million in 2021, or just under $10 million.

The identity of the buyer is unknown.

The plot is one of 128 islands that originally existed on an artificial island connected to the mainland by a 1,000-foot bridge. Its rising price reflects not only the resilience of some Dubai real estate to downward trends in global economies, but also what realtors say the mega-rich want to spend their dollars on.

“Jumeirah Bay is the most exclusive of exclusives,” says Andrew Cummings of Knight Frank Dubai, the real estate agency handling the sale. “It’s for very high net worth individuals: ‘What’s the best I can get?’ It represents the best in terms of accommodation and property in Dubai.”

The 6.3 million square meter island is shaped like a seahorse and has a five-star hotel that opened in 2017 and was developed in collaboration with Italian luxury brand Bulgari, which immediately took the crown. the best new luxury hotel in the world. Jumeirah Bay Island is also home to many sandy beaches and a marina for dozens of yachts, high-end restaurants, a gym and a spa. A limited number of luxury apartments are also available in the Bulgari hotel complex.

In 2022, two similar plots on the island sold for a combined price of AED 180 million, or just over $49 million, indicating an increase in land value. “The land is highly valued not only for its proximity to the Bulgari, but also to the Four Seasons, downtown Dubai and the business district,” Cummings said. “But it’s also because of the privacy and exclusivity that comes from an island with only about 100 properties, as opposed to somewhere like Palm Jumeirah, which has thousands of properties.”

Google Earth view of Jumeirah Bay Island.

In fact, Palm Jumeirah It is perhaps the most famous of Dubai’s artificial islands. Popularly known as the Palm Tree, it is also the world’s largest man-made island at about 2.2 square miles.

Jumeirah Bay Island, on the other hand, is smaller at just 0.22 square miles and is considered more exclusive. “It’s really for the 1% of the 1%, building their forever home or long-term vacation home,” Cummings said. “The type of property being built there now is unlike anything you see in Dubai. Jumeirah Bay will be more like Beverly Hills or LA.

According to Cummings, the real estate market in Dubai has been booming recently, with 93 property sales valued at $10 million or more in 2021, more than the total of the previous seven years. In 2022, this number increased to 221 sales. This year has already seen 88 during the first quarter.

The pandemic played an important role in this rise. “Over the last two years, people have been wanting to move to larger areas, they’ve been wanting to live on the coast,” Cummings says. “If you look at New York, people have moved to the countryside, the same in London and other big cities. In Dubai we have seen this, but also the huge influx of international investors attracted by the country’s incredible handling of Covid, high vaccination rates, safety and security, but also really the lifestyle.

The original 128 plots on the island have dwindled to just over 100 as some buyers have bought more than one to build larger villas. Most of them are still empty, and Cummings estimates that only one in 10 are currently inhabited. However, he predicts that this sale will further increase the value of the land, as well as the mansions that may come on the market after construction. “It’s under construction, which we’ll bring to market toward the end of the year, and it’s probably going to cost over $100 million,” he says.

Current listings show a Vacant plot of land for sale in Jumeirah Bay Island For AED 90 million or about $24.5 million. 3-room, 4-room apartments are offered in Bulgari complex located on the island For AED 60 millionor approximately 16.3 mln.

As for Kamani, he probably doesn’t regret losing his plot of land – because he has the same plot next to him. Who knows if he will sell this too – at a higher price.

“He set the benchmark,” Cummings says, “so now he can set another record.”

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