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Dubai Creek Harbour: the next ‘big city within a city’

Posh self-contained mega project is fast taking shape

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 22:12 July 17, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Ahmed Ramzan
  • Welcome sign: A newly constructed boulevard leads to the Dubai Creek Harbour project.
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Dubai: Anyone travelling on Ras Al Khor Road will have noticed a new boulevard taking shape not far from Dubai’s mangrove forest and bird sanctuary at the head of its iconic creek.

The signage identifies the new project as “Dubai Creek Harbour”, though the boulevard seems to lead straight to a construction site near a protected area where thousands of wild pink flamingos feed.

Newly-planted date palms line both sides of the road. Cranes, trucks and earth-movers, conspicuously absent from the site for years, can be seen on site.

The groundwork shows it is in overdrive where the stalled The Lagoons project was supposed to be built, but developers have given only scant details.

But it indicates that Dubai is back on the master-planned community mega-projects trail.

In May, Dubai Holding announced that they will revive The Lagoons jointly with Emaar Properties.

The original The Lagoons project, launched in 2006 but stalled by the financial downturn, was to have seven islands with residential units, shopping centres, office buildings and marinas linked by bridges.

A visit to The Lagoons’ old sales offices now shows a dilapidated structure that has suffered years of ill upkeep.

But a closer look shows it’s become a hive of activity as engineers and designers are busy at work.

Workers are also seen jazzing up a giant hoarding that remained empty for years.

Industry experts had speculated that Dubai Creek Harbour is the The Lagoons rebranded. Asked if this was the case, an Emaar spokesperson declined to answer and referred us back to the June 9 statement by the company on the project.

Emaar’s June announcement made through the Dubai Financial Market stated that Dubai Creek Harbour will have “a central business district and a mix of cultural, commercial, technology, educational, healthcare, sporting, entertainment, shopping malls and residential uses, all designed around a series of lagoons and green boulevards.”

Whether it’s a rebranded The Lagoons or a separate project altogether, work on the Dubai Creek Harbour comes on the heels of a real estate recovery.

Property consultant Knight Frank reported that Dubai real estate prices jumped 18.3 per cent in the past year, though Deutsche Bank said apartment prices remain between 43 and 61 per cent below their peak.

Dubai Holding announced Dh1.2 billion in net profits for 2012, a near six-fold increase from 2011. For its part, Emaar announced a Dh2.12 billion net profit last year.

It’s not the first time the two Dubai property giants have joined hands.

Emaar and Dubai Holding are jointly developing Dubai Hills as part of the master development of Mohammad Bin Rashid (MBR) City, where the world’s biggest mall, a Universal Studios theme park and a park larger than London’s 350-acre Hyde Park are planned.

Fact Box

Dubai Creek Harbour

Budget: Dh64 billion

Size: 6.5-million sqm urban district

Location: Dubai Creek, next to Ras Al Khor

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