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Dubai’s latest property craze: luxury underground bunkers

Interior/exterior cross section for a mansion's planned underground extension
  • Prices $10m to £100m for state-of-the-art underground facilities
  • Requests range from pools to high security property extensions

A Swiss design firm is tapping into the latest must-have property desire for the UAE’s super rich – luxury underground bunkers.

Prices start from $10 million and the developments are used for everything from pools and garages to panic rooms and secure meeting rooms.

Oppidum, a design firm established in 2015 in Lucerne by entrepreneur Jakub Zamrazil, said it has seen “significant interest” from the UAE.

However, it declined to reveal any names of clients who have installed underground facilities in their homes.

“In general terms, we have had interest from people who wish to protect significant collections of rare and valuable art or automobiles,” a spokesperson said.

“Likewise, some clients require a highly secure space to conduct sensitive business meetings. It may also be a luxurious extension of an existing property that does not intrude on their grounds at surface level.”

Underground garage for a billionaire’s car collection

While prices for the underground bunkers start from $10 million, the largest available, the L’Héritage design, can cost upwards of $100 million.

It is built using around 24,000 tonnes of concrete, and reinforced with 1.5 tonnes of steel for the foundations and walls.

The entrances of many of the underground facilities are airlocked, and fully equipped with a decontamination chamber. Some also have custom-made blast doors, with security in the form of a multi-biometric reader that simultaneously scans face, iris, palm and fingerprints.

Other options for the underground bunkers include installing an independent air filtration unit, which provides breathable air when there is insufficient or no fresh air entering the building.

Water can also be supplied from deep underground by a private well, independent of external public supplies. And, in the case of a power outage, the facilities have their own independent energy sources, including twin diesel generators and back-up batteries.

“Price depends primarily on location, size and fit out. Every client has different requirements, and every Oppidum is bespoke – that is, designed to meet those individual requirements,” the spokesperson added.

The demand for these underground bunkers comes as the UAE’s super rich population continues to grow at record pace.

Indoor swimming pool and spa adds luxurious additional space under a house

The Wealthiest Cities in the World for 2022 report, compiled with data from global wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth, found that Dubai currently ranks 23rd globally and is home to 67,900 millionaires, 202 centi-millionaires (those with net assets of $100 million or more), and 13 billionaires.

The UAE city is predicted to be in the top 20 wealthiest cities in a few years, with the number of residents having wealth of seven figures rising by 18 percent this year.

Other cities in the region have also seen strong growth, Riyadh up 20 percent to 17,200 millionaires, Abu Dhabi added 16 percent more to total 23,800 and Doha’s millionaire population growing 12 percent to 21,300.