Just what is the Dubai Marina? Well, it is a lot of things: water, canals, apartments, hotels, people and shops. Dubai is famous for having the tallest building in the world and the biggest flag. Apparently, Dubai Marina is the biggest marina in the world and is expected to house 120,000 people when it is finished.
The Dubai Marina is actually a manmade concept at the Jebel Ali end of Dubai on the Arabian Gulf, at least 20 kilometers from the Dubai Mall area. Apart from the shops and malls in the Marina area, the nearest major malls would be Ibn Battuta in one direction and Mall of the Emirates in the other. But people who choose to live in the Dubai Marina do not make the choice on the basis of its nearness to malls. It is all mostly the water and water views.
Dubai Marina is not far from Palm Jumeirah and like the Palm, required careful engineering to ensure the water flowed and stayed fresh. The design was the concept of a Canadian company for Emaar Properties. Huge earthworks dug deep channels into the sand to bring the sea water inland, along the coast for a distance of approximately seven kilometers and back out to sea again. For several years, the making of these channels was the key feature of the construction site. Then, almost overnight, the way a lot of things happen in Dubai, there were towering buildings lining the sparkling blue water. Although there are many completed towers and other buildings in the Dubai Marina, there are still plenty of opportunities to buy existing apartments and new ones as well.
Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is one of the famous areas of the Dubai Marina. It is actually made up of some forty towers of which five are hotels or hotel apartments. I believe it claims to be the biggest single residence in the world, but how can it be a single residence when it is towers and hotels? This is a stretch too far for me. Along with the apartments and hotels, there are numerous restaurants, some with great reputations. Wagamama and Burger Fuel are great places to fill up, but there are many options. From JBR, the views of the Marina or the coast can be spectacular with sparkling water stretching out before you, framed by surrounding tower blocks. Words fail me for once when it comes to getting across the views in the Marina, but photographs tell it all.
At ground level, it is possible to get beside the water on foot. The walkways along the canals are very pleasant in the cooler months of the year. The Dubai Marina Walk winds through the Marina for seven kilometers with cafes and shops lining key parts of the waterfront. There is also a popular market held at weekends in the cooler months of the year bringing a community feel to the Marina and providing residents and visitors with access to produce and goods not found in the usual shops. It is well worth a visit.
But the roads are actually very narrow considering the number of people and their cars that have moved into this space. Traffic congestion can be a problem and it is made worse by on-going construction, which of course will eventually come to an end. Efforts have been made to deal with the congestion. Al Sufouf Tramway, scheduled to open in November 2014, will take some of the transportation load as it connects with Palm Jumeirah’s own monorail and continues on to the Burj Al Arab and Mall of the Emirates connecting with the Metro’s Red Line. But of course, building a tramway as an afterthought means more congestion.
Dubai Marina Mall, while not as large or as well-known as some of the other malls, has everything a mall in the UAE must have: movie theatres, restaurants, shops and cafes with views of the water. Pier 7 is a new project, a tower of gourmet restaurants. Like the Mall, the Pier 7 restaurants offer great views of the Marina. You can walk from your nearby residence, valet park or moor your yacht and walk on in. These options make the Marina Mall unique in Dubai. It is irresistible really and means there is little need to venture out of the Marina area if you are in your comfort zone.
If you like dense living with a lot of life-style choices right outside the door, this could very well be the place for you. In fact, the Marina area is known as a buzzy place to be. There are plenty of state-of-the-art bars and restaurants in the hotels in the Marina or nearby. The Buddha Bar in the Grosvenor Hotel is a legendary hot spot. Baristi, which has a reputation for fun and food, is a large, beach front restaurant, a part of the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Hotel. It also has a small, relaxing beach for enjoying a dip when the temperatures rise.
Yes, there are marinas at Dubai Marina. And they cater for regulars as well as visitors where possible. The Arabian Gulf is often smooth, but it can be surprisingly rough when certain winds blow. Little of this touches you in the Marina. There are four marinas offering different experiences from the exclusive to the more chummy approach and providing for yachts from 8-50 meters. The marinas are under the control of a management team that works hard to cater to the needs of its members. It is possible to book a berth without belonging to the clubhouse, but there are definite benefits to being a member. It is a wonderful sight to see the berths packed with beautiful yachts in stark and startling contrast to the skyscrapers that surround them; however, if you want a spot there, you need to plan ahead as it is a very popular place.
In May 2014 Dubai Marina launched a magazine, The Walk, that was delivered as part of Grazia magazine. If the first edition does not turn out to be the only edition, it will be a good source of information in the future.
Dubai Marina has such a range of attractions it is suitable for families, sporty types and the hip young things about town. I love water views, so I am always ready to be charmed by Dubai Marina, and once the tram is completed, any inconvenience with the roads should be a distant memory.