Green and serene: can this really be Dubai?

When Dubai was chosen to host Expo 2020, a global trade exhibition held every five years that attracts millions of visitors and billions of pounds, it was a first for the Middle East. The news was celebrated with fireworks cascading from the 2,723ft Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
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Dubai's outrageous skyscrapers, bright lights and increasingly flamboyant construction are the stuff of urban legend. The International Airport recently eclipsed Heathrow as the world's busiest, handling 60 million passengers a year. A second airport, Al Maktoum International, is being built and will be able to handle 160 million.

In the Eighties, before the Emirate became a holiday haven, the population was 370,000 and there was just a handful of hotels. Today over two million people call Dubai home, more than 85 per cent of them foreigners, and there are 634 hotels. The Four Seasons at Jumeirah Beach is latest to open in the car-obsessed, often gridlocked city.
The villas have full-height windows and uncluttered interiors

These will be spacious, contemporary flats with full-height windows and uncluttered interiors. Prices start from £538,000 with annual service charges from £2,000. Completion is expected by December 2017. Initial sales are strong to buyers from across the Middle East, Europe and the Far East.

Facilities at Al Barari include a spa, large gym and The Farm. There are future plans for a boutique hotel and more themed gardens. Zaal says: "I owned land in Jumeirah which was becoming a concrete jungle filled with identical tall hotels. We created Al Barari with a passion, believing people prefer this way of life."


Kamelia Zaal, above, eldest daughter of entrepreneur Zaal Mohammed Zaal and wife Lesley, runs the plant nursery at Al Barari, where she keenly oversees the nurturing of their stock. Her success there has been recognised with an invitation to be the first woman from the Emirates to show at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this summer. | Twitter: @cathyhawker 

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