With 4000 villas (at the last count), Arabian Ranches is one of Dubai's biggest gated communities with a perimeter of around 10 km (and growing). It's also one of its most established, which on the positive side means that it is greener than most and actually has pavements; while on the negative, older villas may have structural issues so do your due diligence.
Developed by Emaar the development has however, for the most part, been thoughtfully done. Its centrepiece is the Arabian Ranches Golf Club, formally known as The Desert Golf Course - an 18-hole, par 72 course designed by Ian Baker-Finch in association with Nicklaus Design. The community also has its own Polo Club, and community centre.
The area is relatively close to the Spring Community, along Emirates Road leading towards Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. There are a variety of villa types: Contemporary, Spanish and Portuguese, Arabic, Moroccan - which also come in a variety of sizes. A 2-bed will cost you, approximately, 180,000 to 200,000 AED per year, a 3-bed will cost around 250,000 AED per year, a 4-bed from 275,000 AED per year and a 5-bed from around 330,000 AED per year.
Because it is a big community, it is very self-contained with many residents saying on a weekend they have little need to leave. Arabian Ranches has tennis courts, basketball courts, pools, and a lake (good for cycling and skating around) as well as its own medical centre and shopping facilities (supermarket, Pizza Hut, book store, Costa, Burger King...). The golf and polo clubs provide more "refined" dining opportunities, and are licensed...
Most importantly however Arabian Ranches has its own school, and a very, very good one at that - JESS Arabian Ranches. However, please do not move to Arabian Ranches and expect to get your child into it. The UAE does not work on the basis of locality and the school is heavily over-subscribed with a long waiting list and corporate debentures which eat up places.
Fortunate then it is not the only choice: Nord Anglia will open in Al Barsha South in September 2014, a few minutes drive away. GEMs World Academy just a little further up the road. Note: While all of these schools may be very good, they are also some of its most expensive.
Arabian Ranches is fairly disconnected from the rest of Dubai. If you want to get anywhere you do need four wheels and an engine. The area is connected by bus, and - one day - it will be connected by the Metro along Emirates Road, but don't hold your breath. For now, real freedom comes in the form of a car. For those over 17/18 with a license, it's 15 minutes drive to the Dubai Marina, 25 minutes to DIFC and a 20-minute drive from TECOM. It's also a 15-20 minute drive to the airport. *Subject to traffic!
Because it is gated, safe, quiet, and with a large number of sport and recreational facilities Arabian Ranches is a big draw for families. Parents can largely chillax, and let their kids out to explore their universe without worrying about traffic, roads, cars or other 21st century issues. Kids safe = parents happy.
The community is growing. Emaar has been active over the last 6-12 months announcing new projects, and extensions to Arabian Ranches are on its master plan. The developer recently announced the launch of Yasmin Villas, its first Arabesque style villa community - 98 “culturally inspired” villas of four to six bedrooms. The company has also just launched Rasha villas in the development.
There will be more to come: Last year Emaar announced plans to expand Arabian Ranches on a plot of land which it bought from Dubai Properties Group in 2012, and which was originally earmarked to be part of DPG’s massive Dubailand project.