In just 38 years, Dubai has grown from a rather barren desert into a bustling modern metropolis. If this record-breaking growth continues, what will our fair emirate be like by the year 2020? In 2007, UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum unveiled what he called the ‘Strategic Plan 2015’, entitled ‘Dubai… Where the Future Begins’. It pointed out that oil contributes just 3 per cent to Dubai’s gross national product. ‘Dubai has succeeded in diversifying its sources of income and reducing its dependence on oil,’ he declared. And this was achieved by the jaw-dropping property projects for which the emirate is world-famous.
In short, the city has unstoppable ambition. ‘The fundamentals of Dubai’s market remain strong,’ says Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president of the Dubai-based Damac Properties. ‘It never changed – even after the financial crisis.’ Meanwhile, architect Steven Miller, managing director of Planning & Design Consultants, explains that the master plan has been developed and will continue until at least 2030, when the city is set to house three and a half million residents (Dubai’s current population stands at about two million).
Yes, the past is littered with some crazy and outright bizarre ideas that, thankfully, will never see the light of day, but there are plenty more incredible projects planned for the future. With Cityscape, one of the region’s biggest property exhibitions, taking place on September 27-29, the city’s mind is on development – the focus now is to realise Dubai’s potential and to make it work as a benchmark global city of the new century. Over the next few pages we introduce how our city will look next decade, outlining the projects to expect (as well as some that developers would rather forget). The future’s coming. And it’s looking positively electric…
Projects in the pipeline… Dubailand Completion date: TBC Highlight: Life-size replicas of the seven wonders of the world at Falcon City of Wonders
Grandiose thinking is always second nature to Dubai’s developers, but the Dhs335 billion Dubailand mega-project by Dubai Properties Group (DPG) requires a whole new level of superlatives. The original aim was for this resort to be twice the size of Walt Disney World, boasting attractions such as Universal City Studios and Legoland, as well as the world‘s largest shopping centre, the Mall of Arabia.
Launched at the height of Dubai’s real-estate bubble, the project involves a plethora of developers for its seven themed areas. For example, Falcon City of Wonders is based on architectural marvels, such as the Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Spread over 4 sq km, it’s shaped to represent the falcon. It will also feature the Pharaoh’s Theme Park. The project is still under way, although Universal Studio City has been cancelled.
Dubailand represents the Emirate’s aspirations to develop inland in New Dubai. In May this year, it was announced that DPG was ‘renegotiating the terms of the contracts; the other issue is the size of these projects’, said DPG CEO Khalid Al Malik, adding that a revised master plan was imminent. www.dubailand.ae.
The original aim was for dubailand to be twice the size of walt disney world.
Al Sufouh Tram Completion date: 2014 Highlight: On the ground transport connecting Umm Suqeim to Dubai Marina
The Al Sufouh tram project will be manned by drivers and will stretch 14km along Al Sufouh Road; the initial phase includes the construction of a 9.5km track from Dubai Marina to the Mall of the Emirates station. The tram network will comprise 19 stations, nine of which are covered under the first phase, and each train will accommodate about 300 passengers. Once complete, a total of 25 trains will carry about 5,000 passengers an hour in each direction. The tram project will link up with Dubai Metro at three stations along Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as connecting to the Palm Jumeirah monorail.
In May this year, Dubai transport chief Mattar Al Tayer revealed it had held talks with the Alstom-Besix Consortium to ‘step up the tempo’ on the tram project. The main contractor had announced a slower timeline in January amid cash concerns and refinancing issues. Despite this, the RTA has stated that the first stage is set for completion in 2014. www.dubaimetro.eu/category/al-sofouh-tram
The tram will stretch 14km along al sufouh road, with 19 stations.
Jumeirah Golf Estate and Jumeirah Village circle Completion date: In part by 2012 Highlight: Golf courses designed by pro golfers Greg Norman, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia
In June this year, master developer Nakheel confirmed that the Dubai government will fund completion of Jumeirah Golf Estates. Infrastructure work has recommenced, with Nakheel stating that completion of the 306-villa project is on track for 2012. The Fire and Earth championship courses have been designed by Australian pro golfer Greg Norman.
Meanwhile, CHI Development Group, which built the 121-villa Lime Tree Valley in Jumeirah Golf Estates, has lodged a Dhs308 million claim against Nakheel over infrastructure delays. Many villas were completed two years ago, but owners have been unable to move in due to lack of electricity and road access. Nakheel has declined to comment. In February, Nakheel invited bids for completion of Jumeirah Village Circle, one of the stalled projects it has since revived.
The already partly inhabited Jumeirah Village will become a self-contained community of more than 6,000 villas, interlinked by landscaped areas and canals. The scheme offers 2,883 two- to four-bedroom villas and 3,184 one- or two-bedroom townhouses. The exact completion date is unknown, but Nakheel has just received government funding to finish stalled projects. www.jumeirahgolfestates.com
Dubai World Central Completion date: In part by 2012 Highlight: The biggest airport in the world
Dubai World Central (DWC) comprises the new Al Maktoum International Airport – set to be the world’s largest in volume and size upon completion – and adjacent free zones focused on logistics and aviation industries. DWC occupies 140 sq km next to the UAE’s largest free zone, JAFZA, and Jebel Ali Sea Port, the sixth-largest container terminal in the world.
As well as the dedicated link to the sea port, DWC is supported by links to all main motorways in the country, the upcoming GCC high-speed rail network (which will connect from Kuwait to Oman by 2017) and Al Maktoum Airport, which will be able to handle up to 120 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of air cargo a year upon completion. Phase 1 is already up and running, which includes the first stage of Al Maktoum Cargo, with the capacity to serve five million passengers and handle more than 600,000 tonnes of cargo a year. The Al Maktoum passenger terminal was scheduled to open in October, but Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths confirmed in February that this was likely to be delayed until mid-2012. www.dwc.ae
Al Maktoum airport will handle up to 120 million passengers a year.
Arabian Canal Completion date: TBC Highlight: 75km of fresh waterfront with shaded, walkable streets
Forming a horseshoe from Dubai Marina, flowing west from the new Al Maktoum International Airport before turning back towards the new Dubai Waterfront development, the 75km man-made Arabian Canal will be fully navigable, with marinas, bridges, islands, beaches and walkways. It’s planned to be 150m wide and 6m deep, sufficient to accommodate yachts up to 40m long. However, construction has been suspended after developer Limitless reassessed its project portfolio.
Excavation is set to begin near Dubai Marina and extend around Al Maktoum airport. As the first phase of the larger Arabian Canal, Dubai Waterfront will cost Dhs40 million and will involve the excavation of 1.1 billion cubic metres of land. Dhs183 billion has also been allocated to build a new 200 sq km ‘city within the city’ on the bank of the canal. www.limitless.com/en-GB/Projects.aspx
Downtown Jebel Ali Completion date: TBC (a major office complex is complete, but the connecting roads are yet to be finished) Highlight: A community with shaded streets and plazas that promises car-free living
In June this year, developer Limitless announced that infrastructure at the Dhs47 billion Downtown Jebel Ali mixed-use development had been completed. Finished projects include The Galleries, comprising six office buildings and two residential towers: the latter will feature more than 600 residential apartments. Wondering how this was managed during the tough financial climate? Limitless, the company behind Downtown Jebel Ali, received a fifth extension on a Dhs4.4 billion loan in August, allowing time for it to rethink its overall payback plan. Meanwhile, Dubai World (yes, the company behind the stalled Dubai World project), stated in July that it had shifted ownership of developers Nakheel and Limitless to the Dubai government, as part of its own debt repayment scheme. We’ll have to wait for full completion, then… www.downtownjebelali.com
Palm Islands Completion date: TBC (construction of the two new Palms is in progress) Highlight: Palm Jebel Ali is set to have four theme parks, including SeaWorld, and it will be bigger in size than the Palm Jumeirah
Today, the Palm Jumeirah is a global icon. A 5km x 5km artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, its fronds have given Dubai an extra 78km of beachfront. However, it is only one of a trilogy of artificial island developments intended for Dubai. The breakwater on the Palm Jebel Ali was completed in December 2006, and infrastructure work began in April 2007. However, major construction activity has been scuppered by the downturn. The Palm Deira was announced in 2004; it was intended to be eight times larger than the Palm Jumeirah and five times larger than the Palm Jebel Ali, housing a million residents. Palm Deira was already 20 per cent complete by October 2007, with 200m cubic metres of sand already in place. The original design called for a 14km x 8.5km island with 41 fronds, but a redesign was announced in 2008 to reduce the size (the current land reclamation is three times the size of the Palm Jumeirah).
Palm Jumeirah is as famous for its completed projects, such as Atlantis, as it is for cancelled developments such as the Trump International Hotel & Tower on the Golden Mile. A victim of the downturn, the latter was meant to be a 62-storey building housing a hotel and apartments. In May 2009, developer Nakheel stated that work on the project had been suspended indefinitely. However, several months later, Donald Trump Jr commented that ‘it is going to take some time’. Hmm… www.thepalm.ae
The palm deira was intended to be eight times larger than the palm jumeirah, but a redesign was announced in 2008.
And the projects we may never see… Dubai Opera House Status: ‘On hold’ since 2009
With seating capacity for 2,500, a 5,000 sq m art gallery, a performing arts school and a ‘six-star’ themed hotel, the Dubai Opera House was intended to be the cultural centre of the Lagoons District near Ras Al Khor. Plans included two libraries, an outdoor theatre and a marina.
The design itself was the result of a competition won by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, famed for her impractically fluid projects that must give many an engineer nightmares. In collaboration with German architect Patrick Schumacher, the team triumphed over other famous architects including Sir Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel. Hadid described the design as ‘a gentle winding form evoking images of mountains or sand dunes.’ www.zaha-hadid.com
Waterfront City near Jebel Ali Status: Originally planned for completion between 2010-2018. All has gone quiet since 2009
Superstar Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (the man behind the iconic CCTV Headquarters building in Beijing) proposed a 139 sq km self-contained city on an artificial island twice the size of Hong Kong. Dubbed Waterfront City, it would have generated a million jobs and housed 1.5 million residents, effectively doubling the population of the emirate. Described as a generic version of Manhattan, Waterfront City was set to contain a logical grid layout of streets; the landmark feature would have been a 44-storey spherical skyscraper, dubbed the Death Star. www.waterfront.ae
Waterfront city’s landmark feature would have been a 44-storey spherical skyscraper dubbed ‘the death star’
Nakheel Harbour & Tower Status: Cancelled in 2010 On October 5 2008, master developer Nakheel announced it was planning to build a 1km-tall tower as part of the world’s only inner-city harbour. The 2.7 sq km development was set to house 55,000 people, a workforce of 45,000, and attract millions of tourists every year. ‘There is nothing like it in Dubai,’ Dubai World chairman HE Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem announced at the time. This was quite a prophetic statement; the only reminder of this project today is the Nakheel Harbour & Tower metro station, located on the Red Line. www.nakheelharbour.com
The Dancing Towers, Business Bay Status: ‘On hold’ since 2007 Another Zaha Hadid design, this three-tower, mixed-use project in Business Bay was unveiled at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2006, giving an indication of the high-profile status of some of the emirate’s more outlandish ideas at the height of the property boom. At the time of its launch the project was known as the Dancing Towers, later changed to the more prosaic Signature Tower & Dubai Financial Market Development. Iraqi-born Hadid won the design competition for her ‘bold approach and choreographed fluidity that combined the three towers in one overall gesture’ – on paper, anyway. www.zaha-hadid.com
Huge new beach district opening in Dubai on October 15
Meraas’ La Mer to bring 130 cafés, licensed restaurants, hotels and a water park to Jumeirah
Dubai Police self-service stations to open at Last Exit
One of Dubai’s most popular food stations now offers smart police services
Dubai launches fire-fighting drones
Drones to help with support and operations for tackling tower fires
Art & Culture
Avatar Cirque du Soleil show coming to Dubai
Huge theatrical spectacular at Dubai World Trade Centre in January 2018
zahidhabibsheikh Jan 05, 2015 08:01 am
Dubai is the most beautiful and safe city in the world.Now Dubai is going to 22century fastly. its all credit goes to great ruler of Dubai Sheikh Muhammad Bin rashid Al maktoum.
Faisal Butt Oct 07, 2014 05:08 pm
I like see the new dubai.
Vishal Sep 13, 2011 06:04 am
Well that was misleading..........i was expecting a supreme graphic design effort to show us 'actual' images of Dubai in the future, the new transposed with the existent......instead I see a list of projects that may or may not be part of the future Dubai......I think we all know the likelihood of any future major real estate project completions by now
Andres Sep 12, 2011 05:59 am
If the picture is anything to go by, it looks horrible! Where has the desert gone and why? Hardly the Arabian City one could be proud of.