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Propsearch guide to Dubai real estate: Developments

Living Legends

District, DubaiLand, Dubai
Living Legends Key Information
Location type
District
Area
Phase
Complete

Living Legends Overview

Living Legends is a freehold project by Saudi developer Tanmiyat in DubaiLand just north of Global Village.

Spread over 14 million square feet the project includes 500 villas surrounding a 9-hole golf course and 12 high-rise buildings containing over 2,000 apartments. The scheme also includes a retail plaza (currently under construction), a nursery and an international school.

When complete Living Legends will be home to 20,000 people.

The term ‘Living Legends’ is a hangover from the days when this place was to have been a massive theme park; now the Legends are the apartment buildings, named Sinbad, Caesar, Shakespeare, Hercules and so on.

Launched in 2007 and subject to an almost immediate go-slow, it wasn’t until 2016 that the first villas and apartments were handed over. The community benefits from a variety of sports courts though the golf course remains incomplete.

Companies Associated with Living Legends
Master Developer
Financier
Architectural Consultant
Engineering Consultant
  • The project was launched in 2004.
  • The handover process began in 2016.
  • The estimated handover date was 2008 which was later revised to 2013.
  • The master developer is Tanmiyat Global.
  • The architect of the project was TPM Engineering Consultancies.
  • The main building work was done by Delta Al Emarate Building Contracting Co. LLC.
  • Other companies involved with Living Legends include Al Burj Engineering Consultants and Gulf Finance House.
  • From Living Legends it takes roughly 23 minutes to drive to Dubai Mall, 24 minutes to Palm Jumeirah, 24 minutes to Burj Al Arab and 27 minutes to The Walk JBR.
  • Dubai International Airport (DXB) is roughly 33 minutes' drive and the new Al Maktoum International Airport is roughly 37 minutes' drive. All durations are calculated by Google Maps and assume the fastest route in typical traffic conditions.
Living Legends Milestones
Date Launched
2004
Estimated Handover Date
2008
Revised Estimated Handover Date
2013
Handover Started
2016

Living Legends Amenities

Facilities and amenities in the 14 million sq ft development include a 9-hole golf course (as yet incomplete), a jogging track, two football pitches, a basketball court and a volleyball court.

Dunecrest American School in Dubai opened in September 2018.

The 12 residential towers will each have its own swimming pool and fully equipped gym.

Proximity to landmarks
Palm Jumeirah
24 mins drive
Al Maktoum International Airport
37 mins drive
La Mer by Meraas
31 mins drive
Mall of the Emirates
23 mins drive
Dubai Mall
23 mins drive
Burj Al Arab
24 mins drive
Ibn Battuta Mall
26 mins drive
The Walk JBR
27 mins drive
Dubai International Airport
33 mins drive

Living Legends in the News

Carrefour to open in Dubailand next year
The National, 2nd Apr 2015
60 Living Legend investors plan march
Emirates 24|7, 23rd Mar 2011
Tanmiyat's Living Legends takes off
Gulf Business, 9th Jun 2006
Dubailand Legends for Tanmiyat
Gulf News, 21st Sep 2005
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Living Legends History

The Legend of Living Legends

Riding on a tide of optimism as the new millennium dawned, Dubai announced its grand strategy to augment its dwindling oil income by redefining the emirate as a world class tourist destination, and launched dozens of new development and construction projects. The biggest of these was DubaiLand, a massive collection of entertainment and residential districts in the undeveloped hinterland.

But then the unexpected happened. In 2008 a banking crisis that had started in the United States went global, and by 2009 when it hit Dubai, construction ground to a halt. Not surprisingly, when the financial crisis struck DubaiLand was one of the biggest casualties.

Living Legends is in DubaiLand.

The Grand Plan

It all began in 2004, when the Dubai Development and Investment Authority and Bahrain-based Gulf Finance House signed an agreement to co-develop the Arabian Legends Theme Park Resort.

This ambitious 25 million square foot, Dhs 18 billion project was to be one of the region’s largest destinations for entertainment, tourism and leisure facilities.

The masterplan envisaged not one, but three world-class indoor theme parks, augmented by four themed hotels, a housing estate, a commercial district and, you guessed it, a golf course.

The theme parks, Legends of Arabia, Legends of Nature and Legends of the World, would be inspired by the magic of mythology, natural wonders, and sensational places on the planet. The themed hotels would be based on Arabian, Caribbean and medieval concepts.

The nine-hole golf course was to be surrounded by spacious villas, and apartment complexes would skirt the entire development.

The commercial district, fetchingly dubbed ‘Trade Legends’, would comprise commercial towers and four apartment hotels all enveloped in a covered arcade.

The design throughout was to incorporate ‘traditional rich colours and opulence related with exquisite Arabic architectural creativity’.

Two French design firms, Edifice and Jean-Michel Ruols Architectes, were appointed to develop the concept and master plan for the theme parks. Glen Corporation, a Canadian firm, was hired to develop and manage the amusement operations.

The Timetable

The first phase of Legends-DubaiLand was set to begin in March 2005 and be completed by 2007, when the first of the theme parks, Legends of Arabia, was scheduled to be operational.

There were to be five sectors in Legends of Arabia: Tales of the City, Tales of the Sea, Tales of the Desert, Tales of Adventure and Travel, and Tales of the Future. Each would offer visitors a variety of themed rides and entertainment.

The Saudi-based real-estate and investment group, Tanmiyat, joined the project as a strategic investor with responsibility for the project management and design of the first phase of the project.

By October 2005 work on the final design of the theme park component of the development had already commenced and the Legends Development Company began preparing the ground for Legends of Arabia with a revised completion date of 2008.

In May 2008 Tanmiyat cancelled the Legends theme park. Why did they do that? Could it have been a cautious reaction to the looming global financial crisis?

The Housing

In 2005 Tanmiyat acquired the full residential and commercial components of the development.

The residential component included 12 apartment towers and 500 villas. The villas were to encircle a nine-hole golf course, while the towers would line the periphery of the development.

The commercial component included office towers, a conference centre, the 50-storey Legends Tower Hotel, plus Arabian, Caribbean and medieval themed hotels located at the entrance of each theme park.

In June 2006 Tanmiyat officially launched the AED 7 billion residential component, now to be known as ‘Living Legends’. The US firm Gensler & Associates was appointed to design the villas, residential towers and various community facilities, and Hyder Consultants won the infrastructure contract.

In 2008 CSI (Chinese State International) Construction Engineering LLC were awarded the construction contract, and work began on building the villas and apartment towers.

The whole project, including the 9-hole themed Legends Golf Course, a Golf Academy, a 120-room themed Golf Course Hotel, and the Legends Leisure Complex, was to be undertaken in three phases with an overall completion date of 2014.

The Slow Down

The global financial crisis was hurting developers across the region, and many of the smaller firms had gone to the wall. After five years of slow construction progress, Living Legends investors were becoming alarmed. Some believed that the developer had ploughed their investments into other projects. They began to petition Tanmiyat who reassured them that despite the delays the Living Legends project would be going ahead, and that the apartments would be handed over by October 2010.

Gradually evidence of buildings began to appear. By October 2009 structural work on 25 villas had reached the second floors, steelwork had been finished on another 50, and excavation work had been completed on around 200 more. Ground works for three of the towers had begun.

But the first batch of villas would not now be delivered until November 2010, and the towers, which were being developed in phases, would not all be completed until 2013.

No doubt aware that the growing global financial crisis was grinding construction projects in Dubai to a halt, at the end of 2008 the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) set a payment rule ordering developers and banks to stop taking payments of more than 20 per cent of the cost of properties from buyers or investors before the beginning of construction.

The Crisis

By the beginning of 2010 the full effects of the global financial crisis were all too evident. Nevertheless, in October Tanmiyat announced that they would be handing over 200 villas and almost 400 apartments in the first phase of Living Legends by the end of 2011.

According to Gulf News the remainder of the first phase, comprising 500 villas, 12 residential towers, a golf course, golf hotel and a mall, was set for completion by 2013.

When completion of Phase 1 looked distinctly unlikely, 60 investors staged a protest march to the developer’s site office in DubaiLand to demand answers on completion of the project. This soon led to the switching of the main contractor from CSI to Delta Emirates, who was now working to deliver the 500 villas in phases, the first 100 to 150 of which they expected to complete by March 2013.

The first  172 villas were eventually completed in 2014 but they couldn’t be handed over because there was a delay in hooking them up to the electricity and water supplies.

Completion of Living Legends was now projected for 2016 and the bridge linking Living Legends directly to the Mohammed bin Zayed Road was planned for completion at the end of 2017.

Delivery

In June 2016 the Phase One quota of 184 villas and one tower block were handed over.

The second phase of Living Legends was now scheduled for handover in the last quarter of 2016, and the entire community, including the full line up of facilities, would be ready by the end of 2017.

Roads and utilities infrastructure was now fully completed, and 88% of the entire project was sold out, but not all the new-comers were entirely happy. There were complaints of poor finishing to some of the villas, the lack of landscaping, the non-existent golf course, and in some cases the lack of power and water connections.

It transpired that because tenants were so keen to move in, the developer had released the villas before obtaining completion certificates from DEWA, the electricity and water supplier. After having kept them waiting so long the developer no doubt thought it was better to hand over the villas before having finished the services or landscaping.

As for amenities, the much awaited golf course was expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2018, and the international school and the hotel by the end of 2019.

By June 2018 the second phase of 500 villas and 144 apartments had been completed, and additional 400 apartments were said to be four months away from handover. Parts of the golf course began to appear; the driving range with tee and putting green, including holes no.2 and 3, had been grassed.

By 2019 the villas were occupied, but because the temporary boundary fences had not been replaced, the new residents were joined by desert snakes and ‘other species’ in their houses and gardens.

The nine-hole golf course that was sold to buyers as the development’s centrepiece also remained unfinished.

Living Legends Today

When we visited in 2020, Living Legends certainly felt established if not completely finished. There are plenty of trees, shrubbery and lawns alongside the roads and walkways, and the villas are well spaced out with decent sized gardens. It has to be said, though, that they lack variety.

Only one of the twelve apartment buildings, Hercules Tower, was finished and two others, Aladin and Cleopatra, were nearing completion. Of the remaining buildings three are classed as ‘ongoing’ (Caesar, Marco Polo and Cinderella), three are ‘on hold’ (Sinbad, Alibaba and Napoleon), and three have been cancelled, according to Zawya.com (Shakspeare, Queen Shiba and Rapunzel).

The community park was complete, with two five-a-side football pitches, a tennis court, a volleyball court, a basketball court, and two single-hoop basketball rings. But apart from a couple of children’s playground there are no other amenities for the villas, not even a communal pool.

The proposed Legends Mall, ‘Andalusia Court Yard’, was under construction and will include a Carrefour supermarket. It is not due to open until 2021, but nearby Majan has plenty of offerings, and there is a new Waitrose in neighbouring Al Bararri.

The biggest disappointment was the golf course which is in a very sorry state. It has been shaped but there is no sign of grass, not even those parts that were grassed in 2018, and the lakes which once held water are empty. What remains is a barren wasteland with no sign of any work being done. According to the developer the project is on hold, but considering it is the focal point of the masterplan it is unlikely that it will be scrapped.

Dunecrest American School has been open since 2018.

Masterplan

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