New Dubai Creek - The great harbour

New Dubai Creek - The great harbourImage Credit: Supplied

A new downtown set along the historic banks of the Dubai Creek is in the making, as developers get busy with the construction of phase one and sales of the first residential buildings at the Dubai Creek Harbour at The Lagoons. Jointly developed by Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding, the creek-side development has a new master plan that replaced the original The Lagoons project.

Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar Properties, emphasizes the importance of the project's location along the creek, as it symbolizes the emirate's heritage and lifeline, helping steer its growth as a society.

''The history of the Creek is Dubai's story — where it came from and where it is going,'' says Alabbar. ''Dubai Creek Harbour will repeat this story of Dubai. It is a wonderful chance to come back to where we belong at the edge of the creek.

''With this huge land mass of six million sq m, we can create an extension of the city back into the city. We have to thank Dubai Holding for their support and this incredible journey we're going through together, changing the landscape forever.''

The CEO of Dubai Holding, Ahmad Bin Byat, is equally excited about the project, lauding His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for his vision to drive this project forward.

''Dubai Holding is a firm investor in Dubai's future and we strongly believe in the economic fundamentals of the city and our partnership with Emaar, with whom we are sharing synergies and core competencies to add value with a lifestyle choice unprecedented in the city,'' says Bin Byat.

According to Alabbar, the joint developers worked on the design for almost a year and are now starting construction work.

''Today we are at the execution level with contractors on-site,'' he says.

RTKL has been tasked with constructing the master plan. Harold Thompson, Vice-President of RTKL — Dubai, says he is convinced the Dubai Creek Harbour will become one the great harbours of the world, in the same category as Sydney, Cape Town, Baltimore Inner Harbour and Honk Kong.

''Our first thought was to make this the next downtown of Dubai and the heritage of the creek is our prime inspiration,'' says Thompson. ''It has an opportunity like no other to take Dubai to the next level of multi-use waterfront developments.''


The project site is ideally located between the Dubai International Airport and Downtown Dubai. It is near the Ras Al Khor bird sanctuary where the Dubai Creek culminates, around 12 kilometres from the Arabian Gulf coast.

Thompson says protecting the wildlife sanctuary is a priority.

''As the project sits on the banks of the creek and adjacent to the wildlife sanctuary, it's critical to have a network of green spaces throughout the site,'' he says.

The urban planner has created central parks to serve this purpose, highlighting the Crescent Boulevard as a key piece of the project.

''It provides a green necklace that connects the Creek, the island and all the way around the wildlife sanctuary,'' says Thompson. ''It's really a linear central park if you will, similar to the one in Valencia, Spain, which is based in a former creek bed, with a variety of uses.''

The Sanctuary District, one of the development's nine districts, is the closest to the bird sanctuary and will follow the examples of other projects around the world, such as the Eden project in the UK, where environmental sanctuaries have been preserved and enhanced.

''We will keep the density low with only villas and other residential units,'' says Thompson. ''It is a great opportunity for environmental education, allowing people to engage with the sanctuary. To be sensitive in the design and construction is a priority for Emaar.''

It could take up to three decades to complete the project, according to Thompson.

''The project will take 20-30 years to complete within six-year increments, beginning on the island, extending to the core and eventually all the way to the edges.''

Phase one includes the Island District, which Alabbar says should be completed within 30 months.

''Phase IA, the residential and hotel towers with the marina, will be first to come out of the ground,'' says Thompson. The island will have three hotels, including Emaar's own brands.

Residences launched

Over the weekend, the developers launched the sale of 350 one-, two- and three bedroom apartments in two 40-storey luxury residential buildings, which are part of the six-tower Dubai Creek Residences surrounding the marina. The apartments are designed to provide panoramic views.

''The view from the site to Downtown Dubai is one of the most spectacular in the city,'' Thompson enthuses.

The project will also include the Dubai Twin Towers, which at just under 600m will become the tallest twin towers in the world.

''The twin towers sit in the urban core anchoring the project, surrounded by lots of activity, with the other districts ringing around it,'' Thompson explains.

The other districts are the less dense Docklands and Canal District, modeled on canal cities such as Amsterdam, Business District, Retail District, which features a series of malls and underground and high-street shopping, and the purely residential Central Park and Park South Districts.

''The remit from Emaar was to create a high-quality public realm and infrastructure, as well as a smart technology and walkable city,'' says Thompson. ''The city is about 2.5 times the size of Downtown Dubai, housing around 165,000 residents, 38,000 residential units and 6,000 hotel rooms. With 400,000 daily commuters expected, an efficient transport network is vital.''

The Roads and Transport Authority plans to extend the Dubai Metro Green line with three stops to be located in the development.

Sustainable project

Meanwhile, Alabbar is confident Dubai will move ahead at a pace that will help create demand and generate funding for the project.

''The balance sheet of our company is healthy. We will be announcing the total development cost as we move forward,'' he says.

The developers also say they will determine the pace and prices of the different projects according to the market and past experiences.

''There is something called affordability level. Last year, when things went crazy, there was no supply and for me, as a long-term developer, this spike scared me,'' he says. ''I am glad people are saying the market is cooling down — that's healthy. With a project of this size, we're looking at the long term.

''We should remember the lessons from the past and continue supplying according to demand, which keeps prices at a reasonable level for our customers.''

Get a glimpse on Aladdin's magic at Dubai Creek

Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly

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