If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about Dubai, it’s that nothing stays the same for very long. Yes, there was a lull, when tools were downed and the rapid pace of construction ground to a shuddering halt, but that’s all in the past now: Dubai is back, with some audacious megaprojects in the pipeline.
Right on our doorstep, it would seem.
“Look,” I exclaimed to DH the other day, as we drove into our compound. “How did I not notice that before?” I was referring to the rows of half-built houses, rising out of the desert like a mirage.
“Yep,” said DH. “That’s the end of the Cliffs of Despair and Devil’s Ditch,” he sighed, recalling the geographical features we’d named and rolled toy dump-trucks down while entertaining our boys in the vast patch of desert wasteland across the road from our compound.
When we first moved to our current villa, it all felt rather pioneering, with very little out here other than sand – miles and miles of the stuff, stretching into the far blue yonder and punctuated by wirey, heat-resistant shrubs. Now, we’re firmly in the Dubai ‘belt’, and developments are springing up all around us.
Not all that far from where we live is the site for the proposed Expo 2020. If you’re a resident of Dubai, you would had to have been living under a rock with the scorpions for the past year to not know about this – and with just TWO days to go until the decision is made, it’s fair to say that the anticipation has reached fever-pitch.
(If we don’t get it, I’m not sure I could bear the disappointment [crosses everything and wishes Dubai good luck!].)
The other candidate cities are Yekaterinburg in Russia, Izmir in Turkey and Sao Paulo in Brazil, and the word on the street is the emirate is a strong contender [C’mon Dubai!].
We’ve been writing about the Expo-factor at work for months now, as it’s undoubtedly triggering swathes of developers to descend like hawkes – but, the fact is, even without the Expo, Dubai is in the ascendant again. Here’s just a sample of some of the projects the emirate has up its sleeve – coming soon in your neighbourhood:
• An opera house is planned for Downtown Dubai. Earmarked to be built next to the Burj Khalifa, it’ll form part of a new area called the Dubai Modern Art Museum and Opera House District.
• Five theme parks in the Jebel Ali area have been given the green light to go ahead, at a total cost of AED10bn. There will be parks based on both Hollywood and Bollywood, as well as a marine park, a children’s park and a night safari.
• An extension to the Dubai Mall is being developed, comprising a fashion avenue next to the existing mall.
• The Mohammed bin Rashid City megaproject will house the world’s largest shopping mall, more than 100 hotels and will also contain a Universal Studios theme park.
• An island project off the Jumeirah Beach Residence coastline was launched in February this year and will include the Dubai Eye, a 210-metre-high Ferris wheel (do I need to add that it’ll be the biggest in the world, or are we oblivious to superlatives now?). Bluewaters Island will also host retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment zones, and will be connected to the mainland by a monorail and cable car.
• A water canal project will connect Business Bay to the Gulf. In addition to crossing Sheikh Zayed Road, the waterway will cross Al-Wasl Road and Jumeira Beach Road before entering the sea.