The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence is a magnet for ten million visitors each year, with a new mall and the world’s largest Ferris wheel off the coast both under construction. With the traffic already a major talking point, Shane McGinley investigates what’s happening in JBR.
JBR, the iconic string of Lego-style sandy tower blocks along the beachfront in Dubai Marina, was the largest single-phased project in the world when it was unveiled in 2007, and the first of the city’s extravagant mega developments. Containing more than 305 shops and eateries serving more than 30 types of international cuisine, it’s common to see streams of luxury supercars slowly revving down the one-way seafront strip: people-watching is now a national sport among the cafés and bars dotted along The Walk.
With a new 1km mall being built along the beachfront, more hotels opening and construction of the world’s largest Ferris wheel set to start this month off the coast, the already overburdened traffic problem has increased and the phrase ‘what on earth is happening in JBR?’ has become standard among residents, those hunting for a parking space, and taxi drivers reluctant to do battle with the traffic gridlock.
Sahar Nasser Al Ansari, director of real estate management at developer Dubai Property Group, which built JBR, is quick to point out that tackling the traffic and parking issues are a top priority; she says some of the plans in place include a multi-storey car park, which is under way at present. ‘The whole traffic management system is being looked at and we’re working very closely with the government authorities. As you know, with any popular destination there is congestion, but that is all positive – it just means that The Walk is very popular,’ she adds.
The area’s management has confirmed that during the current construction phase, plans to minimise inconvenience include additional temporary parking and more police being deployed to manage the traffic flow. Some residents have also complained the new development will spoil their sea views, but the management company has promised that ‘the new development has been planned so as to ensure that sea views will not be blocked for any residents within the community’.
Marc Voller, resident manager at the recently opened JA Ocean View Hotel, concedes that ‘although construction always has negative connotations, it’s only going to make JBR a better place to live, work and visit. At present, Ocean View Hotel is achieving great occupancy rates and we’re finding our guests are understanding.’
Despite the grumblings, The Walk already attracts more than ten million visitors each year and this fast-evolving area is only just getting started, with even more still to come. ‘We are enhancing the area; we’re looking at various things that will make sure The Walk is a good destination,’ says Sahar. ‘There are numerous things that will come up, but this is all in study and discussion at the moment… There will be new things that we announce in the near future.’ Want to know what’s new at JBR, and what’s coming up soon? We’ve rounded up all the essential new attractions.
1 NEW! Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Residences
The newly opened Hilton property includes new restaurant Crave, which features a range of special theme nights each week: Sunday is Local Fish Market, Monday is Arabian, Tuesday is South-East Asian, Wednesday is Mediterranean, Thursday is Prime Steak, Friday is Seafood and Saturday is Eastern European (04 318 2914). Other must-stop venues at the Residences are Cubar, which has tapas and is perfect for a late Cuban beverage (04 318 2530), and the property’s swim-up H2O poolside bar.
(04 318 2551)
2 NEW! The Ritz-Carlton Dubai hotel expansion
To mark its 15th anniversary in the UAE, The Ritz-Carlton this month unveiled the expansion of its property along the JBR beachfront. The new wing will be named ‘Shorooq’ after the Arabic term for sunrise, and will feature 148 new guest rooms and suites including two royal suites, a club lounge, new dining venues and a new spa concept. It will also boast additional swimming pools, gardens and indoor and outdoor spaces for hosting events.
3 NEW! Yoshis Gaming Lounge
A first of its kind in JBR, this facility is perfect for teenagers: it offers billiards and foosball tables, computer network gaming, internet browsing facilities, Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, all under one roof.
Rimal 3, plaza level (04 457 4250).
4 NEW! More arty projects
Earlier this year, management set out to improve the arts and culture offerings in JBR and hosted a month-long exhibition dubbed ‘Your City is Your Canvas’. Organised in partnership with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, XPOZE and the Idea Factory, the event showcased the work of more than 20 Emirati artists, whose works were displayed along the Rimal area of The Walk. ‘It’s expected that more such events will be held during 2013 in this popular destination,’ management company Taziz promised.
5 Coming soon! The Beach project
This prime beachfront mall, between the Sheraton hotel and the Hilton, will include 70 new retail, food, drink and entertainment outlets across four distinct low-rise plazas. There will also be a large cinema complex offering ten screens, including one outdoor screen, a beach club, a park, a watersports hub, a central meeting area and what has been described as the ‘Jewel’ icon building. Located on the site of a former parking area, developer Meraas Holding confirmed there will be underground parking for 1,200 cars. Announced in August 2012, the project is under construction and will be completed in spring 2014.
6 Coming soon! Bluewaters project
Construction is due to start this month on the Dhs6 billion Bluewaters project, with the focal point set to be the Dubai Eye, which will be the world’s largest Ferris wheel. Being built by Meraas Holding, the development company owned by Dubai ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, it will be located just off the coast of JBR and will include retail, residential, hospitality and entertainment zones. The plans include a souk encircled by a promenade of retail and hospitality venues, plus a luxury five-star hotel. The 250-metre ‘Dubai Eye’ will have a large LED screen mounted on the wheel, which can be used for broadcasting, adverts and ‘interactive information’.
Access to the development will be via a direct roadway from Sheikh Zayed Road, a monorail system from the metro station, a pedestrian bridge from the JBR beachfront and a cable car. The new area is set to attract more than three million visitors annually.
7 Coming soon! Enhanced
Islamic facilities Two prayer rooms have been completed in Murjan and Rimal towers, and an additional prayer room has been built at the Amwaj Plaza level, which will host Friday prayers for Islamic residents at JBR. Plans are also being developed to set up an Islamic library, which will host a wide range of Islamic literature for JBR’s Muslim community.
8 Coming soon! Tram works
The first tram cars for the Al Sufouh Tramway, the 10.6km line currently being constructed alongside JBR, arrived this year. Able to accommodate 300 passengers, the track will run from Dubai Marina to the depot near the Dubai Police Academy in Umm Suqeim and will comprise 17 passenger stations. Eleven will be covered in the first phase, due to be completed at the end of 2014. Authorities expect 3,500 passengers in each direction every hour in phase one, which will increase to 5,200 in phase two. The tram will also link to the Palm Jumeirah monorail.
9 Coming soon! New gyms
Work on community gyms in the Sadaf, Bahar and Shams sectors is progressing well, according to management company Taziz. The premises are in ‘the final stages of internal fit-out works’ and installation of the gym equipment is currently taking place. ‘These gyms will offer a great health fitness experience and add value to living in the JBR community,’ management said.
10 New! Café Baroque
This casual and affordable independent eatery opened in late 2012. Menus are brought to you on an iPad: we recommend the wonderful-sounding Viking sandwich, which is stuffed with smoked salmon.
Open daily 8am-10pm. Murjan 5 (04 361 4252).
11 New! Fogo Vivo
Part of the growing trend for Brazilian churrascarias, this venue – which opened a month after Fogueira, below – offers much more than your average barbecue or brunch.
Open daily 6.30pm-11.30pm. JA Ocean View Hotel (04 814 5599).
12 New! Fogueira
Billing itself as Dubai’s first Brazilian churrascaria when it opened in November, this eatery specialises in the rodizio-style barbecue typical to the South American country. The terrace also offers great 35th-floor views over the sea.
Open Sun-Thu 7pm-2am, Fri-Sat 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-2am. Ramada Plaza (04 439 8888).
13 New! SimSim
Open since January, this stylish Levant-focused restaurant boasts an open-style kitchen. It has attracted a steady crowd and is already a busy spot along The Walk.
Open Sun-Wed 8.30am-midnight, Thu-Sat 8.30am-1.30am. Sadaf 4, opposite Meydan Beach Club (04 4542319).
14 Editor's Pick: BiCE
Despite being one of the city’s more expensive Italian restaurants, BiCE is also the most consistently busy and was highly commended in the Italian section of the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2013. Main courses are consistently excellent.
Open daily 12.30pm-3.30pm,7pm-11.30pm. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, www.hilton.com (04 318 2530).
15 Frankie’s Italian Bar & Grill
The brainchild of star jockey Frankie Dettori, this is a favourite with JBR residents and is one of best venues for grape lovers, affordable meal deals and fans of piano music.
Open daily 12.30pm-4pm, 6pm-1.30pm. Oasis Beach Tower (04 399 4311).
16 Editor's Pick: Da Shi Dai
This discreetly located Cantonese venue was shortlisted for Best Chinese Restaurant at our 2013 Restaurant Awards and is a favourite among dim sum fans.
Open daily noon-midnight. Murjan, www.da-shi-dai.ae (04 426 4636).
17 New! Girders and The Whistler
While a bit grey in its decor, Scottish-themed Girders (04 814 5599) was shortlisted as best new pub by Time Out Dubai this year. Alternatively, head upstairs to The Whistler (04 814 5599), which has some great grape and cheese on offer. Both are located in the Ocean View Hotel.
18 New! Fogueria
This al-fresco terrace bar is located on the 35th floor. While the decor is fairly nondescript, it’s the views that make it worthwhile. Ramada Plaza (04 439 8888).
19 New! Café del Mar
The legendary Ibiza chill-out brand has arrived at a pristine spot along the beach, offering unrivalled sunset views and trademark tunes. It was this year shortlisted by Time Out Dubai for Best New Club, so expectations are high.
Meydan Beach Club (04 433 3777).
20 Editor's Pick: Speakeasy
Named Best New Pub by Time Out just a few months ago, this US prohibition-era-themed venue, with jukebox and live band, is a great bet for relaxed drinks.
Ramada Plaza (04 439 8888).
Shortlisted for Best Pub and highly commended in the Ladies’ Night category, Rosso is a favourite with grape fans.
Amwaj Rotana (04 428 3088).
22 The Hub
Dubai has many Irish bars, but this one feels more like a modern dockside Dublin pub. Sample the speciality shepherd’s pie.
Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (04 448 4733).
23 Editor's Pick: West Beach Bistro & Sports lounge
Voted Best Sports Bar by Time Out Dubai, this JBR spot wins us over with its widescreen TVs, great service and welcoming vibe.
Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach (04 449 8888).
24 Coming soon! Pure Sky Lounge
Officially launching in September, this new bar is located on the 35th floor and has great indoor and outdoor views of the marina and seafront. Also new at the same location is Hartisan Wine Bar.
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Residences (04 399 1111).
Shopping & beauty
25 New! Savile Row
Offering tailor-made suits and shirts for men, this venue is one of the newest additions to JBR’s shopping scene.
Murjan 5, Plaza Level, www.savilerow.ae (04 423 3813).
26 New! Calm Spa and Salon
This Balinese-style spa is decked out in deep blue hues for a relaxing, laid-back vibe. We particularly recommend the exotic coconut rub and milk ritual wrap, which claims to be excellent for smoothing and softening the skin.
Ocean View Hotel (04 814 5599).
27 New! Rami Jabali
This hair colour specialist is a wizard at choosing the perfect shade: he promises to sort out any hair disaster. He has saved us from one too many ill-advised haircut choices and is now a firm favourite.
Murjan 3, www.ramijabali.com (04 363 0369).
28 New! Aqua Gym, Mövenpick Hotel
Perfect during the warm summer heat, enjoy classes in water aerobics every Monday at 9.30am for an hour at the hotel’s swimming pool.
Dhs50. From 9.30am. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach (04 449 8888).
29 Mood and Singways
Two shops in one, Mood sells high- end designer gifts and homewares, while Singways offers high-design-inspired goods made in China.
Opposite The Ritz Carlton Dubai, The Walk (04 437 6488).
30 Covent Garden Market
A lively outdoor market along The Walk, the 35 stalls have everything from affordable original gifts and souvenirs to unique hand-made accessories and clothes.
Shams, opposite Sheraton Hotel, www.coventgardenmarket.ae (050 425 0543).
31 Vindemia Art & Antiques Gallery
The brainchild of Jordanian-born architect Ghada Kunash. As well as displaying antiques, this outlet also offers occasional art shows from artists throughout the Middle East.
Murjan 5, Plaza Level, www.vindemia-inc.com (04 427 0219).
32 Tickles and Giggles
Designed to cater for kids parties, this is a perfect spot for all your house party needs.
Sadaf 1 (04 432 8681).
33 Editor's Pick Boutique 1
Selling high-end designer wear, from top-line names to one-off celebrity ranges, this gorgeous three-level store has everything a fashion fan could ever need.
Opposite The Ritz Carlton Dubai (04 425 7888).
34 Al Fattan Mall
Tucked between Bahar and Sadaf, this multi-level mall has plenty of quirky little stores and outlets, and it’s worth a visit for the deli counter hidden at the back of the Russian supermarket.
(04 399 1444).
35 Editor's Pick Style Outlet
On the site of the former Saks Fifth Avenue, this essential store is a multi-brand designer outlet boutique that specialises in offering world-leading designers at discounted prices.
Murjan (04 435 5681).
Better Homes’ Residential Sales Consultant Sandrine Loureiro says annual rentals in JBR differ according to the view. Average prices start from Dhs70,000 for a studio, from Dhs75,000 for a one-bed apartment, from Dhs110,000 for a two-bed, from Dhs125,000 for a three-bed and from Dhs260,000 for a four-bed.