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A stretch of waterfront — 1.8 kilometres in all — overlooking Dubai’s consulate area in Bur Dubai is going through a complete makeover into an Arabic heritage-inspired ‘Marsa Al Seef’ hospitality and retail cluster. Meraas is redeveloping the area, the first phase of which should be over by the third quarter of 2016. The full development — encompassing 2.3 million square feet — is scheduled for a 2017 second quarter finish.
“Dubai’s had limited offering within the ‘cultural tourism’ space, and this is what the Marsa Al Seef development will be looking to plug,” said Abdul Wahab Al Halabi, CEO overseeing the project. “We had an in-house team working on the design concept, and we also took inputs from a UAE-based architect and another who is international.
“The in-house team also took in Dubai’s traditional districts of Bastakiya and Fahidi districts, as well as toured souq locations in Oman and Qatar to get the true feel of heritage into the design.”
The masterplan has a meeting point where the heritage and contemporary portions meld seamlessly. It also incorporates dedicated bays for yachts, while the RTA will also have a base there to operate abra (water taxi) services.
The retail and F&B portion will offer up 700,000 square feet of gross leasable area. Meraas expects to start leasing by year end.
“We are still working on the lease rates, but the mix of retailers could include those offering traditional handicrafts and anything that can cater to a tourist clientele.”
The hospitality component is decidedly skewed towards a boutique flavour — there will be 200 rooms interspersed across the retail area. There will also be a 300-key ‘family’ hotel and another of 220 keys for an upscale property.
On whether the summer months can prove an impediment to Marsa A Seef’s all year prospects, Al Halabi said: “There are ways that can be avoided by shifting around the opening hours during summer, or integrating the shaded areas in a way to fend off the worst of the heat. It’s been done before quite successfully in our own operations at City Walk and at The Beach.
“In fact, at The Beach [the outdoor entertainment cluster at JBR], we had seen no tailing off in visitor numbers during summer.”
Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com