We met dynamic duo, mum and daughter Bea and Noa Bolz, in the heart of Dubai Marina, where they live. Bea is German-born and has lived the life of a traveller, flitting through countries such as Iran, Holland, Oman and Indonesia. Noa, an energetic and affectionate little four-year-old, was born in the US and she is very knowledgeable about the community she lives in now. Together, they share their three-bedroom apartment with a menagerie of cats, a shoal of fish and a lot of love. We chat with them about their life in Dubai and how the Marina has changed since Bea first moved there in the ’90s.
You have lived all over the world. How did that come about?
Bea: I came to the UAE in 1992. My parents had just moved here and I was in university in Cambridge [in the UK], so it seemed like as good a place as any to come to after I graduated. Up until then, I had lived the life of a true expatriate child, travelling with my parents as they moved through the globe with work. I have lived in so many diverse and interesting places, I have been very lucky. Noa and I are citizens of the world.
How long have you lived in the Marina?
Bea: Since then. My parents bought their home off-plan and so did I. We were one of the first families to move here. It was a very different place in those days. It was just beginning to be developed. In fact, one of my favourite memories of those days is of riding my dirt bike through the mud. A far cry from the boats and yachts and shiny pedalo bikes you see today!
Your home in Marina Towers seems to be right in the epicentre of Marina living. What is it like living here?
Bea: This was the first building to be sold freehold to Dubai and, to me, it feels like a real local community. It’s almost like a launch-pad for all the new communities in Dubai. Before I had Noa, it was great to be able to come in from work and pop down for a coffee or a bite to eat. Since having my little girl, it feels even more like home. It’s a wonderful mix of families, single people, retired people and children – almost like a proper village. We love it here and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. One of the best bits is that my parents live right across from us in the other tower. [Points out their apartment from the window.]
Your home is certainly very spacious and you have a very interesting collection of beautiful things from all over the world.
Bea: I have collected some nice bits and pieces from many of the places I have lived or visited. It makes for some great conversation openers!
Noa: I like this clock. Do you want me to show you how it works?
Bea: Noa loves her clock – it’s from Ikea! I have elephant bells from Indonesia, ornamental doors from India and shells from Oman, and her favourite thing is a black shiny clock! [Laughs.]
The apartments are very roomy. There are six towers here and each tower has 37 towers with about 150 units. It’s a mixed development, so there are one-, two- and three-bedroom homes in our tower. It’s nice because we meet all sorts of people, from families with young kids to retired folk, and I think this is really important for Noa.
The idea of living on the Marina for some would conjure up a hectic lifestyle with the medley of restaurants and entertainment options on offer here. So, how does it measure up for a young family?
Bea: You know what – it might seem to be a very busy place, but it’s actually quite peaceful. Noa and I love to walk downstairs at the weekend and get an ice cream at Baskin Robbins and just sit on a little bench by the fountains. She scoots around and plays with the neighbourhood children,
while I watch on. Or we sit and chat about all the little things that mums and their daughters talk about. It’s calm and it’s quiet and it’s lovely.
Noa: I love chocolate and mavilla ice cream.
Bea: Chocolate and vanilla [correcting Noa]. It’s her favourite, isn’t it Noa? And you love the fountains, too, don’t you?
Noa: I do. I can dance in them and get all wet.
Bea: Noa actually learned to walk right there by the fountains. A pretty special memory. We used to totter around there, me holding her hand while she found her balance and one day she just took off.
Are there facilities here that make life a bit easier?
Bea: So many! For example, we can walk to the grocery store, load our trolley and wheel it right back up to our kitchen. We have no need of a car or a taxi for our day-to-day life around the Marina, as we can walk everywhere. Right on our doorstep we have grocery stores, a dentist, a doctor, a pharmacy – everything we need really.
So no worries about fighting traffic or finding parking?
Bea: None at all. When I am not at work, I tend to park up the car and then let the wonderful public transport system, or indeed my feet, take over. We love to go to Black Palace Beach with my whole family on a Friday, so we often catch the tram down there. My sister and her husband and kids live out at Arabian Ranches which suits her because her children are older, but they will often come to us to spend family time. The metro station is right by us, too, and it’s only three stops to the Mall of the Emirates.
What kind of things do you like to do, Noa? Do you like to cycle around the Marina and look at the boats?
Noa: Yes, but I love sitting on the back of Mum’s bike and we go round and round and I sing Baa Baa Black Sheep. That’s so much fun. And on Thursday after school we always go to the carousel and I love sitting on the horse that goes up and down.
Bea: Under lots of the bridges around the Marina there are cute little playgrounds, where she can let off some steam. This area has really been developed nicely with families in mind and these playgrounds are shaded and really well equipped. We love them.
What are the best bits about Marina Towers?
Noa: Scooting! I can scoot everywhere.
Bea: It’s very safe here and the team that works in the building has been here a long time, so they all know Noa and I well and really care about us. I feel like it’s a really safe environment for my daughter to grow up in. They watch out for her. When my new nanny started with us, she was an unfamiliar face around the place and the security team took great care to make sure that Noa was comfortable with her.
Noa: And we go to the playground, so that I can play with my friends and sometimes to the pool. I love splashing.
Bea: Each tower has its own pool and gym and then there is also a communal 25-metre lap pool for when we’re feeling very energetic.
Noa is at school now, so how is the school-run in terms of traffic out of the Marina?
Bea: Noa goes to school on Hessa Street and it takes us an average of 20 minutes, so not bad at all. We chose her school there because we wanted her to be a confident German-speaker.
That’s important to us as a family and I hire a German-speaking nanny to look after Noa while I’m at work.
So is the Marina a home for life?
Bea: Yes, as far as I can see right now, anyway. Sometimes I miss the greenery you might get in the more suburban areas – maybe a garden would be nice – but this works better for our family.
Noa is an only child, so perhaps she wouldn’t really play out in a garden by herself anyway.