BRITON Andrew Dukes could have bought a luxurious holiday home in Monaco or France.
But the 44-year-old retired businessman bought not one but two beachfront villas in Dubai, where temperatures can soar to a sweltering 50 deg C during summer.
|GRAND VISION: The Palm Jumeirah consists of a trunk, a crown with 16 fronds and a surrounding crescent island that forms a breakwater. The crown is linked to the mainland by a bridge and the crescent is connected to the top of the palm by a subsea tunnel.
Mr Dukes, who used to run an animation company based in Britain and Dubai specialising in electronic greeting cards, paid 5.6 million dirhams (S$2 million) for a five-bedroom villa at The Palm Jumeirah in 2006.
In February, he forked out 10 million dirhams for a four-bedroom seafront villa nearby.
Both properties, spanning 5,500 sq ft each, are located along one of the 16 "fronds" of the palm-shaped island.
Mr Duke tells Life!: "I heard about the villas from my friends a few years ago. At that time, I was considering a holiday home in Monaco because of its proximity to London.
"But Dubai is a better choice because it's a tax-free city. It is also cosmopolitan with a large expat community."
The Yorkshire-born entrepreneur, who now lives in his second villa, was among the first to move onto the Palm in February last year, according to its developer Nakheel.
He recalls, with a laugh: "I didn't even see the villa before I bought it in mid-2006. No one was allowed on the Palm until last January. But Dubai is known for its pristine beaches and I like the privacy the Palm offers."
Mr Dukes' homemaker wife Jane and two daughters - Georgia, 11, and Mariella, nine - live in London and spend about five weeks of the year with him in Dubai.
He says they had initially planned to move as a family but have put that plan on hold for now.
So far, he has spent about 430,600 dirhams furnishing his first villa, which has a modern and colourful interior. The second villa, which has a contemporary design, is still under refurbishment.
|LIFE'S A BEACH: The exterior of Mr Andrew Dukes' $2 million beachfront villa.
When asked why he bought the second property, he points to The Palm Jumeirah's positioning as a major tourist attraction.
He says he bought the waterfront villa so he could lease his first villa to holiday-makers.
He advertises it on his website www.dubai-holiday-villa.com.
Last year, he rented out his villa for 15 weeks when he was visiting his family in London.
With rental rates averaging around 35,900 dirhams for six days, and 1.7 million dirhams for a year, he could recoup his initial investment of 5.6 million dirhams in less than four years.
He says: "The properties have 12 to 14 per cent annual returns. When the theme parks and hotels are completed in the next few years, the property prices will appreciate even more."
But the Briton says he has no intention to sell his villas for a tidy profit.
He explains: "It's a wonderful experience waking up to a beautiful beach every morning.
Although it can get very warm between June and August, Dubai has a cool season from September.
"I have no reason to relocate anywhere else in the world. It's a paradise here."
This article was first published in Life!, The Straits Times on May 15, 2008.